How to Ace IB and AP Exams

Louise Holway, Senior Editor/Staff Writer

Gone are the days where the end of the school year meant a lighter workload. From May 1st to May 19th, many KHS students are taking AP and IB exams in hopes of putting their hard work to good use and getting a high score to possibly receive college credits. It’s important to be adequately prepared for your exams so you don’t find yourself drawing a blank come test day. Following is a few things to keep in mind when preparing for your exams:


  • Organize your notes and papers from the year(s).

If you’re like most AP and IB students, you probably have at least one notebook or binder overflowing with notes, old tests, and handouts. Take time to sort out what could help you review and what you don’t need. It’s helpful to organize by topic in each class, so that all of your notes, old tests, and handouts on differentiation or World War II are in one place. Going through old papers is also a great way to figure out your weak areas.


  • Use a prep book

Prep books are one of the best ways to review for exams. These books cover all of the material that will be on the test so you know exactly what to study. In addition, the prep book uses simple and coherent language to help trigger your memory from things you studied earlier in the year. Prep books also include several practice exams to help you get ready.


  • Attend after school review sessions

AP and IB classes are very demanding with the amount of workload and material that needs to be covered, and classes often don’t get the opportunity to take multiple class periods to review. Because of this, many teachers hold after school review session where students can ask questions on any part of the course. In addition, you might get some additional study material like practice exams and past questions. Mr. Carp–who has taught IB SL and HL math, AP Stats, and AP Calculus–thinks “the best methods for review are going over old tests and quizzes as well as coming to review sessions out of class.”


  • Use online resources like Khan Academy and Quizlet

If you are an AP or IB student, you most likely use one of these resources on a weekly basis. Khan Academy has video tutorials and note sheets on a variety of subjects that are great for reviewing. In addition, Quizlet had a database of thousands of study sets that were made by students taking the same courses. You can use note cards, use a listen feature for foreign language, and even play games! If you don’t find a set that works for you, you can make your own.


  • Take practice exams

This is by far the most important. While AP and IB exams require you to be nearly an expert on your topic, they also demand stamina to stay focused for up to four hours of testing. While it is extremely time consuming to take multiple practice exams before test day, try to take at least one or two, and supplement by doing practice essays, free response questions, and multiple choice sections. This will not only work your brain power, but it will also get you familiar with the type of questions that will be on exams. On exam day, you’ll know exactly what to expect.


  • Take time to unwind

As a student who has taken AP exams and is embarking on jam-packed three weeks, the most important advice I could give is to study hard and not stress. While it’s necessary to hit the books, it’s equally important to keep up your mental and physical health. Make sure you’re eating well and getting enough sleep to power your studying, and also making time to relax. If you go into your exam prepared and confident, you have nothing to fear.

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