Top exam study tips

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Kaitlin Anderson

While AP exams and finals round the corner, TRL’s Lily Bouldin shares her top five study tips for students.

As AP exams, EOCs, and finals are in the near future,stress and anxiety are taking over high school students. Below are five study tips to make test taking easier. 

Purchase a review book 

This has been a lifesaver, especially for my many AP exams. These books can range from $10 to $20, and elaborately summarize the whole course material. My personal favorite review book is the “Barron’s Review.” This specific book highlights the main points throughout the course, and simplifies it into text that is easy to read. In order to fully utilize the book, I recommend working through it from page one, focusing the most attention on vocabulary. Start thinking about how you can use this vocabulary in your long essay questions, while also thinking about three or four examples to help support each topic. By doing this, I have found that it results in great preparation for the free response portion of the exam. After you have looked at vocabulary and the summary of each topic, try a few practice tests in the back of the book. Not only does this help you understand how the questions will be formatted, but it also helps jog your memory about certain information. Once you’re done with the practice test, check with the key, and your result should tell you how prepared you are. I know AP exams are stressful, but I have been studying for my AP exams like this since freshman year, and have received credit for all of them. Take each chapter at a time, and don’t cram. 

Organize a study group 

Sometimes you think you know more than we really do. Until you start sharing ideas and information with other people, it’s hard to realize how little we know. Get together with three to four other people in your class, and look over material from the course. As each other questions, create a group study guide, or even play a Kahoot together. Three brains truly are better than one, and there’s nothing better than grabbing coffee and having fun while simultaneously being productive. 

Space out your studying 

This may be one of the do what I say not, not what I do, pieces of advice, but when I don’t procrastinate, I find my life a lot easier. I find that I memorize a lot efficiently when I’m not trying to shove tons of information into my brain 12 hours before a test. I should’ve told myself this last night when I was trying to memorize the first 30 amendments, but besides the point, a busy mind is a forgetful mind. To execute this, try studying one chapter at a time. Focus on chapter one for two to three days, studying in 20-30 minute increments, and then do the same for chapter two, and so on. Once you cover all of the materials and you feel confident, that information stays in your unconscious mind ready to get pulled out whenever needed. The night before a test, it would be a good idea to look over the few things you still have questions about. This way, the next morning, these topics will be fresh on your brain. It will be easy for you to answer questions that relate to the topics you were struggling with the night before. 

Listen to music you enjoy 

Studying can be such a burden, and many times I’m extremely passive about it. In order to make myself sit down and study for an upcoming exam, I have to create a study environment that is enjoyable. This can cause studying to be something to look forward to, instead of dread. Make a studying playlist, put your favorite songs on it, and occasionally reward yourself with a  dance break. When I am studying, I love listening to The Lumineers, Maverick City Music, Novo Amor, COIN, and so may others. Listening to music that I enjoy, helps me remain focused for a long time while also being entertained. 

Change up your setting 

It is so important you get out of your bedroom, and find a place that is open, quiet and bright. Personally, I love to go outside and spend time on my patio. The sunshine gives me energy, which is fuel for my studying. I spend hours a day on my patio, and I highly recommend it to online learners who feel they are stuck and trapped in the house during the day. If you don’t have somewhere to sit outside, an alternative is always a coffee shop. This is another great way to get out of the house, yet stay in an environment that is beneficial to your studying and school work. By changing up your setting, excitement as a result of studying and who knows maybe you will start to enjoy it. 

I hope that these five tips help reduce your stress as AP exams and finals start creeping up on us. Stress can be prevented and considering the year we have all had, I think we need to do everything in our power to do so successfully.