With the school year winding down I know many of you are gearing up for finals or have just emerged from the steamy pits of the underworld that are AP tests. I am writing this the day before the AP US History exam, of which I have spent three weeks studying for. Since all this studying is fresh on my mind, I thought I'd share my best tips and tricks. And I know, I know. I've read every article there is on how to study better, so I'll try to stray away from the typical boring tips and shake things up a bit to keep you entertained.
Use Various Methods
Flashcards. Crash course videos. Getting your Mom to help you study for five (since we know studying with parents can be a real pain sometimes). Listen to a podcast. Take a practice test. Quizlet. Do jumping jacks while listing off the causes of the Great Depression. Paraphrase your notes in a very cute and fancy manner. Highlight important things in class notes. Pretend you're a teacher giving a lecture (this one is my favorite). Go over past tests and quizzes, retake some. More crash course. Create a rhyme to remember the New Deal programs. Watch an episode of a TV show from the 1950s.
It can get very boring very fast just sticking to the same studying method, and by experimenting with various forms you'll find which methods work not only for you personally, but for the material you're studying. Going over vocab words with flashcards will be helpful, but trying to work through a calculus equation will require more than a notecard.
I took four AP classes this year. I was concerned going in because the counselors literally told us during registration, "Do not take more than three or else you will literally die." But the thing is, it taught me to prioritize. I took my AP Spanish test on the 2nd and the extent of studying I did was listen to Bailando by Enrique Iglesias for 30 minutes before I took the test. Spanish wasn't something I felt like I had to freak out and study for, mostly because it was testing me on things I really couldn't study for. There's no way to make flashcards for every word in the Spanish language.
The same goes for my AP Language and Composition class. I feel well prepared since all year I've been writing essays, and same with spansih, its hard to study on how to write an essay, all you can really do is, well, write essays. So both of those classes were low on my list of priorities, so I didn't waste a bunch of time studying for them.
Instead I studied for US History, because my God is that a lot of information that I learned so long ago. That was my highest priority since I knew I would need a lot of time to remember what we studied at the beginning of the year. Calculus was my next priority, since the same thing applies, I need time to remember how to subtract decimals without a calculator.
When you spend time studying what you need and less time studying what you don't need you won't walk in to test day wishing you had studied more, or cursing yourself for studying something you were already good at.
I recently downloaded a meditation app called Relax Melodies. Something messed up and I became a premium member for free so I now have access to every meditation they offer, which includes meditation to increase focus. There are tons of focus enhancing meditations on YouTube or other free meditation apps as well, if you don't want to pay for Relax Melodies, or aren't lucky enough to have it given to you for free.
You don't even need a guided meditation, simply sitting in a quiet room and just breathing deeply and thinking only of your breath will help to increase focus and calm. When your mind is going a hundred miles an hour and you're thinking of what to study and how to study and when the test is and what other tests you have to take and what will you wear and when do you need to be at the testing location and how much college credit will this test even give you anyways, it can be really hard to have a beneficial study session.
So get focused and then dive into your notes or pretend classroom lectures.
*Bonus Tip: If you feel yourself getting fatigued in the middle of a study session, stop and meditate. Its a great way to get refreshed and refocused and start again.
Yes I said it. Give up. That is my legitimate studying tip for you. But don't take this the wrong way. I don't mean give up in the sense that you're standing on an edge of a cliff, the history notes you have just thrown into the wind swirling around you and you throw your hands into the air and scream, tears running down your face, "I give up!"
No, I don't mean that.
I mean when you're sitting there listening to John Green talking about the significance of cars in the Jazz Age and all you can think about is going and getting some Starbucks and maybe looking at the sun for the first time that day, you should give up on John Green, head over to Starbucks, and come back when you're ready.
If your mind is doing that thing where its looking at words, seeing them on the page and not comprehending a single one, you should give up on reading and maybe give a lecture instead, or listen to a podcast, or ditch studying entirely for 20 minutes and doodle fire breathing dragons.
Know your limits. Know when you need to push and when you need to give up for a bit and come back when you're ready. Its better to study for ten minutes with an amount of focus that is so laser sharp it could behead a hundred heathen warriors than to study for thirty minutes with an amount of focus as sharp and threatening as a wet noodle.
My history teacher gave a really great speech in class and I thought I'd share it with you all today.
Your grades really, really don't define you. In the heat of the moment in July when a 2 is staring back at you from the College Board website it may seem like its all over. This tiny number has altered every aspect of your future. This is a lie.
I know a girl who got an F but still received an acceptance letter from her top University because she is a good hearted and hardworking person and colleges can see that. And even more than that, when you are laying on your death bed, surrounded by those who love and care for you, no one will come and break down the door and spit on you because you received a poor score on your AP test, or failed one class in high school. It just won't happen.
So take a breath. The worst is over and you gave it your all and your very best. You are worth more than a score and you should be proud of the fact that you even took the test to begin with, because many others backed out, but not you. You stuck with the class till the bitter end, and you should be grateful for the knowledge gained and the experience of getting to sit in an advanced class.
For those that have yet to take difficult tests, believe in yourself, all shall be well. And for those of you who have braved the storm, you did it! Eat a cookie and dance around, things are going to be great.
What were tests like for you this year? Have any other studying tips that really helped you out? I'd love to know! Be sure to follow us on twitter and Pinterest, both links can be found on the homepage under the recent posts!
As a little update, I've finally finished all my AP tests! Every one of them accept for calculus went very well, and hope you all left the testing center feeling very accomplished.
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