Those taking this year’s online 45-minute Advanced Placement (AP) exams may think they’re in for easy, open book experience.  More likely, this will be many students’ first experience with the style of take-home exams given by a typical college professor – just a few questions, but high expectations for a quality answer if you hope to score well.

Know the Novel Format for this Year’s Exams

Begin your preparation by carefully reviewing the materials posted on the College Board’s website, especially those related to your specific exam.  Here are the highlights on how the exam will work

  • Students may take the exam on a computer, smart phone or tablet.  
  • All exams will be 45 minutes in length and most will consist of two free-response questions.
  • With school closures limiting in-classroom coverage of all course materials, units typically covered later in a given course will not be tested.
  • The exam is open book but students may not communicate with others during the exam.
  • “Plagiarism technology” will be used to detect material copied from the Internet. 
  • Each exam will be offered twice. 

Manage Your Calendar

Decide which exam you want to take.  When possible, opt for the earlier test date so course information will be fresh in your mind.  If you take more than one exam, use a calendar to map out a schedule that gives you time to focus on preparation for the fewest number of exams at once.  Work backwards from your exam date and begin studying three to four weeks in advance.  Find out how your teacher will conduct exam prep, but plan to block multiple two-hour windows to study independently or with a virtual group of classmates.

Take Stock of Your Resources and Create A Study Guide

Ensure a low-stress experience by investing time early in an audit of your course materials.  If your class notes aren’t thorough and well-organized, or you are missing your teacher’s study guides, fill these holes before you begin studying.  Putting materials into a study guide will give you an added advantage on test day.  (Consider taking the time to put printed pages into a binder that you can flip through easily during test time.)  Less is more – you don’t want to waste precious time sifting through reams of papers during a brisk 45-minute exam. 

Prepare for an Open Book Exam

The test creators are aware that pupils will have access to course materials when completing their work so expect an exam that really tests the thematic expertise and critical thinking skills students will need to be successful in college.  Preparation should begin with a careful review of the free-response questions of past exams.  Then, practice answering them without additional materials in a timed setting.  Following that, review your responses (a trusted adult can help) and examine whether you included the concepts, themes, formulas, or facts that should be typical of a sophisticated, complete, and accurate answer.  (Read our past blog on how to approach AP free-response questions.)  

Tungsten Prep offers customized test prep for 18 separate AP exams.  This year we are offering our AP exam prep services at a discounted rate.  Contact us to discuss one-on-one tutoring or build your own small group class at a discounted rate. 

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