Advanced Placement

AP Exam Tips

Improve scores with advice from expert AP® teachers.

Having a few key strategies at your command can boost your confidence going into an Advanced Placement® (AP) exam and be crucial to scoring those extra points. We asked our experienced AP teachers, many of whom are seasoned AP exam readers, to share their strategies to help you prep to maximize your performance on the AP exam.

In preparation

For practice. A four- to six-week review can significantly improve your test scores. Taking sample test after sample test, both free response and multiple choice, will expose you to question patterns, allow you to predict topics, and increase your chances of success.

Make a dry run. If you can muster the discipline, practice taking a three-plus-hour exam prior to the AP exam. Just as a marathon runner should have already run close to a marathon in preparation for a race, you should be building the mental and physical stamina to stay fresh throughout the exam.

Do your memory work. If there are certain elements, concepts, functions, or words that you always forget, play some memory games before taking the test. You can employ mnemonic devices such as acronyms to remember lists or to practice the order of operations in math problems. Take a moment to jot some notes once the test has begun.

Bring backup batteries. Don’t risk losing calculator power during statistics, calculus, physics, and other AP exams that include computation. Bring those extra batteries.

General test-taking tips

Preview test content. Take a few moments to look through the content when you start the test. Scan for terms you recognize and take note of the reading passages. See how long the test is, what questions you can easily answer, how long the reading passages are, and how many questions go with different reading passages.

Answer all multiple-choice questions. Statistics show it doesn’t hurt to randomly guess answers rather than skip questions. Even a little knowledge and the ability to eliminate a single answer choice will pay off over the course of an entire AP exam. If time is running short, fill in the remaining answers. There is no longer a guessing penalty.

Think of answers before looking at choices. For multiple-choice questions, first read the question and think about what the answer should be before looking at the choices. This will help you identify the best choice from a selection of answers that are similar enough to cause confusion. Also, make sure you read all the choices carefully before selecting one.

Answer what you know first. For multiple-choice questions, complete those you know first and then go back to questions that require more time. Test questions tend to go from easier to more difficult, so make sure you start with the first questions.

Additional tips for success on the AP exam

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The College Board® also provides a broad range of useful tips on taking AP exams, such as what to bring and what not to bring on exam day, study skills, test scoring, and more.

*Advanced Placement® and AP® are registered trademarks and/or owned by the College Board, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse this product.