WHY TAKE AP COURSES?
AP (Advanced Placement) courses are one of the most rewarding but difficult courses to take during high school. There are 38 AP courses to suit your interests. They are designed to prepare students for university/college level courses. Moreover, many AP courses can be used to save money on university courses. As generally a score of 4 or above on an AP course can be used to replace its equivalent course in many universities. The structure of AP courses can also hone students’ writing abilities, guide them to think critically, and improve their problem-solving skills. They also help students learn to navigate the academic expectations that they will encounter in university or college. Additionally, enrolling in AP courses can open up scholarship opportunities for students and aid them in filling out their university or college admission applications. Here are some tips that can help students navigate their path to success in the AP:
1. FOCUS ON TIME MANAGEMENT SKILLS
One critical skill all AP students should have is being able to manage their time effectively. AP courses are designed to be more time-intensive. Moreover, they are more challenging compared to your standard courses. So to succeed, you must learn to plan and understand how to balance your various extracurricular activities and studies.
2. RESEARCH THE COURSES BEFORE TAKING THEM
The AP program offers a wide variety of course options. It is essential to not only choose the courses that appeal to you the most but to choose the ones that would give you the best chance to use towards university admissions and possibly credits. For example, if you want to get into a science program, you must take calculus, physics, and chemistry if possible; taking AP French, AP Environmental Science, and Geography will not help you get into a science program! It is also important to understand that not every AP course you take can be used towards the university or college program you are applying to. Furthermore, several courses are broken down into different parts (e.g., AP Physics, which is broken into AP Physics 1, 2, and C). Some universities or college programs will only accept one of the subgroups. Therefore, it is essential to research the possible careers and programs you would like to go into in the future and choose subjects that resonate with you. This will also make the learning experience more fulfilling and rewarding.
As discussed on the page “AP, IB and college admissions.” taking AP Calculus is a smart choice no matter what you apply to. Especially because most teens are not 100% sure about the major they will take at university even when they are in grade 11, it becomes even more essential.
3. SPREAD OUT THE COURSE LOAD
In a survey conducted by HYC from our science tutors, most of them put the difficulty of AP higher than IB HL (10 vs. 8). AP courses can become very daunting if you do not organize your schedule effectively from the beginning. You must plan when you will take each course not to overwhelm yourself in your last year of high school. It is recommended that you start planning the number of AP courses you plan to take even as early as your first year of high school. This may vary from school to school. In addition, spreading out your course load will allow you to take self-study courses if your school doesn’t provide specific courses that you may be interested in.
There are a lot of free resources on the internet that you can use for self-studying. However, if you have the means, getting help from a reputable tutoring company like Hack Your Course AP and IB Tutoring Service is the best choice.
4. TAKE THE CLASS TESTS, ASSIGNMENTS, AND SYLLABI SERIOUSLY
Often, students will underestimate the material in the classes that they are more confident in. It can be detrimental to their grades as well as their confidence down the road. Make sure to take each test, project, and assignment seriously, as continuous testing is one of the best ways of retaining information. It is also essential to reflect on what you did well and need to improve on after every test. It will help you realize the parts that you are the weakest in (and therefore need to put more time into) and can be a great way to guide the rest of your studies. Remember that, unlike IB, your score in an AP course is determined by one exam, so you must prepare yourself for this exam; however, you will not be able to cram, so enjoy the ride! This is especially important for students doing self-study or working with a tutor!
5. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF SOURCES FROM THE INTERNET
There are a plethora of online resources that can help you understand topics better. There are websites, blogs, and videos dedicated to various topics covered by the AP, which can simplify concepts or present them more interestingly. However, bear in mind that the AP curriculum can change over time. To ensure that you are not learning outdated information, always look at the course guidelines on the College Board website or ask your teachers. The best and most effective way of obtaining help or getting ahead is to utilize tutoring services like Hack Your Course AP and IB Tutoring Service. However, if you do not have the means to access this support, there are still ways! Check our page on free resources for AP students and tutors!
Hack Your Course AP and IB Tutoring Service is Canada’s Premier AP tutoring service. Our focus on AP and IB courses, the caliber of our tutors, our experience, and our one-of-a-kind quality control system that we have amassed during all these years by carefully observing every student will yield results!
We are focused on students in Vancouver and Toronto, so we are distinctly familiar with all the schools and, in some cases, teachers. From Canada to Canada!
6. FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH EXAM PAPERS AND MARKING SCHEMES
Many students wrongly put too much emphasis on reviewing material by reading the textbook over and over. In fact, active recall is one of the best ways to ensure understanding and retention. Active recall is the act of learning by constantly testing yourself, for which you have to recall answers without looking at the solutions actively. Practice papers are one of the best ways of achieving this and can be found online for every course.
Besides reviewing the material, it also helps familiarize yourself with the format and plan how to compose your answers. We also recommend that you try to simulate the test conditions in the last few weeks leading up to the AP final exams. This can be done by giving yourself the exact number of hours given to you on the actual test day without accessing your notes. This will help you manage your time on the real exam and help calm any nerves. Additionally, some exams may have additional formats that you may not be aware of. For example, AP chemistry has a long answer portion that is focused on more experimental questions. Finally, going through practice exams will help you develop outlines and guidelines for yourself to help optimize your test-taking process. For instance, with more practice in writing essays for the AP Literature exam, you can create an essay outline that you can recall and reuse to help you complete the exam on time.
Many past test papers will additionally come with marking schemes, which show “ideal answers” with various keywords that you must use in your answers. Marking schemes are incredibly valuable in showing you how to format future solutions and understanding which points examiners are looking for.
However, we do not recommend that you delve into exam papers without learning the material. Memorizing exam papers won’t help.
7. BE PROACTIVE AND REACH OUT FOR SUPPORT
If you are having trouble understanding something, do not ignore it and move onto the next topic. Try to understand it immediately! AP courses are designed to be university or college-level. Avoiding topics that you are weak on will affect your score. If you do not understand something and ignore it, it might prevent learning newer concepts, leaving a gaping hole in your knowledge.
Be proactive and ask your teacher, brainstorm with your friends, research on the internet, etc. If you are having a lot of trouble with a subject, look at other options, such as getting a tutor or creating a study group with your friends. If you have the means, the best option is to use the services of tutoring companies like Hack Your Course AP and IB Tutoring Service, which have AP expertise and a proven record.
8. DON’T GET BURNT OUT
By your last year of high school, you will have spent a lot of time taking various AP courses. AP can be overwhelming if you choose to focus on academics solely. Besides academics, make sure to hang out with family and friends, engage in activities that you love, and make time to take care of yourself and do not forget to sleep well. A better mental state can go a long way in increasing your self-confidence and performance, even if that means sacrificing a bit of study time. You are still in high school. Make sure to make your time memorable!
9. DON’T GET OVERWHELMED
Your AP score is dependent on the official test you take. If for any reason you felt that you didn’t do as well as you could have, don’t stress about it. Always remember you have the option to retake or omit your AP course from your university or college application. It will not affect your admission.
10. TIPS FOR EXAM DAY
Make sure you have looked through the college board guidelines for your AP exam. Ensure that all the material you bring to the test site is valid, especially your calculator and writing utensils. It is essential as breaking any guidelines could prevent you from being able to take the test. Prepare everything the night before.
Sleep well the night before. Arrive early at the test center. Read the questions carefully and address each section of the question individually. Moreover, answer all the multiple-choice questions. If you feel stressed out during the test, take a small break and some deep breaths, then get back and continue. Sit comfortably in your chair! Pace yourself and try to have time for a review and if you finish earlier, spend some time reviewing your paper; you will not get a trophy for leaving early!
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