Young White male in sweater and glasses holding up chalk in front of chalkboard

Tips for Surviving AP Classes

No one said your AP classes would be easy--in fact, they said the opposite. But that doesn't mean you won't survive, especially with these tips.

Any seasoned AP student will tell you that surviving such a rigorous course isn’t a piece of cake. Most AP students will be more than happy to talk about the seemingly endless workload, high-stress exams, and paragraphs of highlighting. Before I began the trek that is AP, I had no idea what to expect. Was I smart enough for this class? Would I pass the exam? If you’re new to AP, or still just trying to figure out what you’re doing, use these simple tips to get on track.

Actually read the textbook

Most courses use a textbook, and some are based entirely around reading. I know, reading 50 pages on the French Revolution isn’t the ideal way to spend your night (if it is, then good for you!), but it can be the difference between acing your test or totally bombing it.

Plan ahead

Reading an entire chapter—or two or three—isn’t something the average student will be able to do the night before a test. If you plan ahead, you might only have to read 10 pages a week rather than 50 the night before. As you move from chapter to chapter, think about how many pages you’ll be able to read a night, and when you’ll be able to do assignments.

Use free time

There will be plenty of times in a class where you won’t be doing anything. Instead of sleeping or texting, use this time to be productive. Trust me, you’ll thank me when you finish your homework in a second period study rather than at home, when you’d much rather be binge watching your favorite show on Netflix.

Related: 4 Techniques to Improve Your Time Management

Ask for help

Unfortunately, most students can’t roll through an AP class without applying themselves at least a little. It can be scary to ask for help, but sometimes a quick meeting with your teacher or staying after school for tutoring can make a huge difference. Your teachers are there for a reason, and they want to help you!

Pay attention

In lecture-heavy classes, it’s so easy to zone out. I’ve been there a million times, especially first thing in the morning. So do whatever you can to be mentally present. If that means loading up on coffee or eliminating other possible distractions (for me, it's my phone), make sure you drink a big cup of joe or leave your phone in your locker.

Share notes

If you go to a school that gives you computers, taking and sharing notes with peers is as simple as pushing a button. Note sharing has gotten me through the times where I zoned out and has kept me on track when I’ve missed classes. It also helps to read your classmates interpretations of the lesson! Your peers may be able to help you grasp topics you didn’t understand from the teacher by explaining them a different way in their notes.

Related: How to Take Better Notes in High School and College

Remember, stress is okay!

When you sign up for an AP course, you’re not necessarily signing your school year away to 24/7 stress and work, but there will be times when it can all get overwhelming. It’s okay to stress! It’s also okay to take a break and treat yourself to some “me time” and relax.

Buy the review book

Kaplan and The Princeton Review have the best AP workbooks out there. The $15–$25 price tag can be off-putting, but if you’re planning on taking the exam, they’re vital to passing. They’re full of all of the information you’ll need to know for the exam and how to approach every section.

Get organized

I know, this one is obvious, but I cannot stress enough how important it is to stay on top of things. Everyone has a different method of organization, whether you use a planner, a calendar, or an app on your phone, it's important to keep all your due dates and tests in one place. It's also a good idea to keep all your notes organized in one folder or binder.

RelatedHow to Put the “A” in AP Classes

Use the internet

We’re lucky in this day and age to have pretty much all the information we ever need at our fingertips. Websites like Quizlet are great for last minute reviewing, and Course Notes has outlines for just about any textbook. YouTube has great content for AP classes like Crash Course and Overly Sarcastic Productions. There are also plenty of online forums like eNotes geared toward helping students.

Got more advice to share? Tweet us all your AP-surviving hacks! Just tag @CollegeXpress!

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

Tags:
AP classes study tips studying

About Tayler Butters

Tayler Butters

Tayler Butters is a high school student with a passion for music, photography, and writing. She loves spending her time in church and with her golden retriever, Lilly.

 

Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
CollegeXpress Logo

$10,000

Are you our next winner?

Register now for our scholarship giveaway

Caitlin Eaton

Caitlin Eaton

$10,000 Scholarship Winner, 2021

I first discovered CollegeXpress during my sophomore year of high school while researching colleges that interested me. My SAT prep class the following year further familiarized me with the opportunities available through the organization. CX has personally helped me by exposing me to a diverse selection of schools as well as scholarships and life tips that have provided valuable guidance in my college search.

This scholarship will help me adjust to college life without worrying as much about tuition. This gives me more room to truly explore and benefit from all aspects of higher education. I plan to study Conservation Biology and work protecting species/ecosystems. I’m looking forward to getting field experience and seeing firsthand the problems research is solving.

Rana Slosberg

Rana Slosberg

Slosberg College Solutions LLC

My favorite part of CollegeXpress is the 800+ lists which have all kinds of hard-to-find information. These lists are helpful when I’m creating college lists, and I also use them to give students a feel for a particular college or university.

Damian Rangel

Damian Rangel

September 2021 Mini Scholarship Winner, High School Class of 2022

CollegeXpress has helped me tackle college expenses, which will allow me to put more of my time and effort into my studies without the need of worrying as much about finances.

Jeannie Borin, M.Ed.

Jeannie Borin, M.Ed.

President and Founder, College Connections

I frequently visit CollegeXpress to answer questions from students and parents. There are countless hot topics in admissions that need to be addressed. I enjoy reading what my colleagues post and gain additional insight from different perspectives.

Jada Bohanon

Jada Bohanon

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress has helped me find scholarships for the colleges I applied to. It was very hard for me to find scholarships in the beginning that I was qualified for. My teachers recommended this website to find some, and not only did I find some scholarships but I also got to look into some schools I hadn’t heard of before. I was very happy to have discovered this website, especially with the coronavirus spreading all over as I can’t really go visit many colleges.

College Matches