Remember that saying, “work smarter, not harder”? Well, the same goes for studying. Use our APUSH Cram Packet to help you study smarter, turning your prep time into an efficient, effective way to get ready for APUSH!
How to Study “Smarter”
Studying “smarter” is a practical way to manage your study time. How you study can be just as important as what you study. When using this APUSH Cram Packet to study, keep these key objectives in mind:
- Make the most of your study time: Research shows that the brain’s optimal recall time is around 30 minutes long. So those 3 hour weekend study sessions you had planned aren’t actually the best use of your time. Try studying for shorter times more frequently throughout the week. If you aren’t sure where to start, aim to study for 1 hour, 2-3 times a week.
- Study concepts, not fine details: Instead of spending time memorizing minor facts and obscure names, focus your study energies on broader ideas. Work on understanding how concepts work across time periods, or the causes/effects of major historical events.
- Actually study during study time: That means silence your cell phone, turn off your notifications, close down Netflix and just study. If you are breaking your concentration to answer random text messages, then 100% of your attention is not devoted to studying. Minimize your distractions so you can actively learn and remember the information you are reviewing!
- Test yourself frequently: Use your study time to not only study, but also to monitor your progress. Use online quizzes, tests or flashcards to see what material you understand well and what you need more work on.
APUSH Cram Packet Materials
Below are lists of our favorite APUSH materials for studying. Use them to supplement your own APUSH class notes and resources. Find what works for you and incorporate those activities into your daily study routine.
The best practice tests are full-length and include every portion of the APUSH exam. Don’t let the 3-hour duration turn you away – if you don’t have time all at once, test yourself a section at a time. Time yourself and total your score upon completion. Not only is this a great way to get an idea of what the actual test will be like, practice tests also give you areas to focus on while studying!
Like practice tests, online quizzes are a great way to review for APUSH. They are a quick and easy way to monitor your study progress. There are quizzes available for APUSH chapters, historical events, people and vocabulary – if you are looking for something specific, chances are there is a quiz for it! Use quizzes to focus on individual concepts and target your studying.
Like quizzes, flashcards provide a speedy way to review material. Make your own sets with information catered directly to your needs, or study from one of the thousands of APUSH sets already available online. Even better, some of the sites keep track of your scores so you can tell how accurately you know information. You can easily see what areas you need more work on, and which you already know well!
Course Notes and Chapter Outlines
Your personal notes and outlines from class will most likely be your best bet for review, but if you ARE looking to supplement them, there are great options online. Some of the sites listed below contain more than just chapter notes; they are also useful resources for essay practice, quizzes and interactive study activities.
Using Our APUSH Cram Packet to Study Smarter
Fortunately, if you have been attending class regularly, you are more prepared for the APUSH exam than you might realize. Your chapter notes and reviews from class are valuable study resources. Refer to them often while you study!
1. Create a study calendar
Begin by marking out the time you have left until the APUSH exam. Then divide that time by the 9 historical time periods you need to review before test time. This helps establish how many days you have to study each individual time period.
For example, if there are two weeks remaining before you take your test, your study calendar could look something like this:
Day 1: Take an official practice test.
Days 2-10: Review one time period per day.
Day 13: Review any sections you struggle with, including essays if necessary.
Day 14: Take the day off and relax before your test.
Make sure you review…
- Key concepts: The APUSH exam doesn’t look at tiny historical details. It tests for a deep understanding of broad historical concepts, and how they interrelate to one another. As you study, review both the causes/effects for any major event (including people significant to the cause) that happened in each time period.
- Vocabulary: While there is no section of APUSH where vocabulary is tested explicitly, it is always a good idea to brush up on important chapter words, phrases and terms. Using these words properly in context – think short answer or writing an essay – displays your grasp of overall content knowledge and APUSH comprehension.
- Key terms: Just like vocabulary, using language and terms specific to APUSH shows that you can actively use and apply your content knowledge.
2. Make the most of your study time
With only a short time left until your exam, make the most of the time you spend studying. This means staying engaged and motivated throughout your entire study session. You should minimize distractions, so put down that phone, turn off the TV and silence your notifications!
- Find a space and make it your dedicated study area. Every time you sit down in that area, tell your mind to focus only on studying – nothing else.
- No matter how long your study session is, try to take a break every 30 minutes. Research shows the optimal time for maintaining brain focus is only around 30 minutes! Taking a quick break every half hour or so allows your brain to recharge and approach the next task fresh.
- Try to stick to a set study schedule. Creating a daily routine may sound boring, but it actually makes your study time more effective. Knowing when and for how long you are going to study helps you stay focused on the task at hand – which in this case, is APUSH.
- Alternate how you study. Even if you have a set day for studying Period 4, you don’t always have to study the same way. Avoid boredom by reviewing course notes, then taking an online quiz, then studying from flashcards. Same content, different activities!
- There is nothing wrong with setting goals and providing an incentive to reach them. If you have trouble staying motivated, consider giving yourself a small reward for each day of successful studying.
- Keep in mind why you took this APUSH class in the first place. Are you hoping to get college credit? Did you want a challenge? Is this class going to look great on your transcripts? Whatever your reason, use it to keep you motivated during your final weeks of studying.
- Finally, remember to keep the bigger picture in mind: This one test will lead you to new opportunities!
3. Take time to test yourself
As mentioned earlier, testing yourself is a major component of studying smarter. As you review the materials listed below, schedule time into your study plan to allow for self-testing. It is a simple and easy way to discover potentially difficult sections, review material and monitor your progress.
There are many ways to self-test. If you have time, consider taking the full-length practice test from College Board. You can also use our APUSH study plans if you still have one month or more before the test to study.
4. Keep studying!
To properly cram for APUSH, you actually have to study. As tempting as it might be to blow off studying, reviewing material before a test is always the smartest way to go. Final review keeps information actively searchable in your mind so that you can retrieve and apply accurately during your test.
We hope our APUSH Cram Packet will help you save time (and stress!) when preparing for the upcoming exam. If you do have one or more months available to study, try using a tailored APUSH study plan to space out your studying.
Will you be using this APUSH cram packet? What are some other techniques that have helped you study smarter?
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About Beth Gonzales
Beth is an educator and freelance creative designer who devises innovative and fun-loving solutions for clients. She works with families, students, teachers and small businesses to create and implement programs, campaigns and experiences that help support and maximize efforts to grow communities who critically think, engage and continue to learn.
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