Welcome to AP testing. Hopefully, by this point, you’ve already started studying. And if you haven’t, I highly suggest that you stop reading this blog post immediately and crack open the nearest review book. (You can mail me a thank you letter later). These two weeks are inundated with pockets of stress and fleeting moments of relief; for many students (especially for we seniors), AP season marks the closure of a long, long year. To ensure that everything goes as smoothly as possible, here are 7 fundamental pointers that can make all the difference:
1. Get there early.
Similar to the SAT or ACT, it simply isn’t worth getting up late and being worried about the time (you’ll have enough of that in the test room itself). Most facilities are extremely rigid about when they close their doors, so allow yourself a solid buffer in case of freak traffic or a wrong turn. Those extra minutes that you’re milling about can be used to set up your testing station and socialize with friends (a great way to distress and wake up your brain!).
2. Don’t fall into the trap of the pre-test freak out
No – you can’t! As you huddle together with other students from an array of high schools, there is a 99.99% chance that people around you will be losing their sanity.
“I didn’t study at all!”
“I’m so going to fail this.”
“There’s absolutely no way…”
I’m a firm believer in the contagiousness of negativity. Do not let yourself begin to doubt your capability. The moment you are standing outside of that testing building is the moment you need to accept that there’s nothing more to be done. It is what it is, at that point. So stay focused and execute – even if it means extracting yourself from several conversations.
3. Leave the notes at home
Don’t be “that kid,” who somehow thinks final cramming in the car ten minutes beforehand will make all the difference. It won’t. All that’ll do is freak out your brain and turn up your nerves, until suddenly you become convinced that you no longer remember half of what you did the night before. Plus, having notes anywhere near the testing facility just asking to get accused of cheating. What happens when you forget to take those flashcards out of your pocket, and someone inside catches you slipping them into your bag? Like I said – not worth it.
4. Eat a solid breakfast
The best bet for what to eat beforehand is whatever you normally eat on a day-to-day basis. In other words, if you’re a cereal kind of person, now is not the time to try eggs benedict. The last thing you want is an upset stomach half way through your scantron form. Not to mention that finding the bathroom in those huge, silent, concrete halls is the most inconvenient and impractical thing ever.
5. Bring snacks
Every test will have some sort of short break in between (separating the multiple choice and free response, the reading passages and the essays, etc.). Everyone will flock to their bags, the drinking fountain, and that tiny, aforementioned bathroom. (Side note: make sure to keep Tip 2 in mind here too!). Having something to munch on – a banana, a granola bar, half of a sandwich – during these recesses will help replenish the energy you lost from such intense concentration. And, while you’re at it, don’t forget to stay hydrated; the air gets pretty dry in those AP testing buildings. But remember: they only allow you to take water bottles to your testing stations if they are completely see through (no label),
6. Dress with Layers
Along with having dry air, these rooms also tend to be on the cold side. You’ll most likely be sitting on a hard plastic bench folded over a long table thinking away and bubbling furiously. Comfort is key. Sweatpants are your best friends, and so are jackets. If you ever get too hot, they’re simple to slip off, and in the likely event that you start shivering, you have a nice, cozy hoodie to bundle up in.
Take a deep breath, and give it your all. At the end of the day, that’s all you can ever do. There is no value in psyching yourself out or beating yourself up. These tests are difficult, and you need to be proud of yourself for taking them in the first place.