3 Tips to Prepare Your Students for AP Exams

AP teachers: It’s time to start thinking about how you will prepare your students for the upcoming AP exams in May. If you’ve been doing this for a long time, maybe you feel ready to look for a refresher — a new approach that could give your students the extra boost they need to score just one point higher. Or, if you’re a new AP teacher, then you can start thinking about the core components of your AP test prep strategy. There are a multitude of successful approaches to exam prep, and every group of students will respond differently to every approach. To help drive your efforts, we’ve selected three foundational components of AP exam prep that are likely to work in any setting, and for any student:

Promote Self-Sufficiency

This piece is all about empowering your students with the tools, self-awareness, and organization skills to study efficiently outside of the classroom. AP exam prep will inevitably be partially dependent on the work students do during homework and study time, so it’s important to ensure they have a deep understanding of their own studying habits, strengths, and weaknesses. As an educator, you can take the time to help them identify how, when, and where they study best — you can also help them map out a study plan. Self-awareness goes a long way in exam prep, and will also carry them into college or career. You can also prepare your students for AP exams by empowering them to feel organized, ready, and truly confident on the day of the test — and we can’t underestimate the power of an optimistic mindset on an AP test.

Collaborate and Share Ideas with Peers

In any educational space, it’s important to develop a strong personal learning network, and seek out like-minded peers for continued growth and fresh perspectives. With AP courses, checking in with other educators is particularly important, because the stress and pressure of such a high-stakes test can feel inhibiting to your creativity. Continually connecting with other AP teachers will expose you to new strategies to prepare your students for AP exams in innovative ways — perhaps through technology or gamification. You could also consider connecting and brainstorming with teachers who don’t have any AP courses. In some cases, you might be able to apply their various test prep strategies to AP for a refreshed and energized approach.

Use Adaptive Technology

It’s absolutely crucial that you integrate purposeful technology into your efforts to prepare your students for AP exams. But technology use shouldn’t be a force-fit, or be in a lesson just for the sake of its presence. It should drive instruction and make learning more meaningful for every student. Adaptive technology is particularly powerful — adaptive programs will identify a student’s gaps in learning and present the information that student is ready to learn next. It adapts to student needs, and returns to key concepts to review based on the pieces where each student needs more practice. Truly adaptive programs will also provide comprehensive reporting to help teachers iterate instruction based on class-wide knowledge gaps ahead of the exam.

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