From a Teen’s Perspective: How to study for your AP’s

by Dylan Lanier on April 25, 2023

It’s AP season, folks, a.k.a the busiest time of the year for many of us high school students. It can be overwhelming to deal with just one AP exam, and some have four or five! Studying for these tests can seem like a Herculean task. However, if done right, studying can be a breeze. Okay, maybe not a breeze, but at least manageable. Today I’ll share some of my top tips for studying and staying sane during crunch time.

1. It’s All About the Environment: Choose a study area without distractions, such as a cleared desk or a quiet nook in the library. Put away all devices unnecessary for studying, and set app and website restrictions on devices you do need to use. Additionally, try to pick a place that will simulate the real exam — while studying on your bed might be comfy, it will hurt your memory recall when you take the test in an unfamiliar room at a plain table. Once you’ve found the perfect spot, try not to vary your study location — it’s been scientifically proven that this will improve your ability to recall information!

2. Schedule, Schedule, Schedule: The most important tool for studying is a robust schedule, and I have a couple recommendations to create the most efficient one. First, make sure you’re blotting out more time for tests that are sooner. You can increase your studying for the others as they get closer. That being said, allot smaller study periods to tests that are further out so you won’t come in blind by the time those tests roll around. Second, determine the subjects and topics you need to improve on most. These should be your primary focus initially. At the end of your studying, you want to feel confident reviewing all the material, so you need to spend extra time on those harder things. However, be sure you’re still reviewing all the other concepts intermittently, as well. You don’t want to spend so much time on your current weak spots that you develop new ones.

3. Eat, Sleep, Repeat: Maintaining a nutritious diet and generous sleep schedule are just as important as a rigorous study plan. After all, you can’t ace your test if you’re having trouble keeping your eyes open. I recommend at least eight hours of sleep each night and replacing super sugary foods with brain fuel like eggs, yogurt, leafy greens, and nuts (although maybe not all of those at once).

4. Believe in Yourself: Yeah, yeah, I know it’s cheesy, but it’s true! The key factor in your success really is believing that you can succeed. While studying, try not to get frustrated when you can’t quite seem to memorize that history fact or use that calculus formula correctly. Remind yourself that just because you’re having trouble now doesn’t mean you can’t improve in the future. Trust that your discipline and drive will get you through!

I know how stressful this time of year can be. I am often tempted to throw down all the review packets and study guides and just sleep right through my tests. However, I know that all this studying will pay off and that I will be grateful to have practiced these effective study techniques. Wherever you stand with your studying, I hope these guidelines help, and I wish you the best of luck during this taxing — but soon rewarding — time of year!

From a Teen’s Perspective is a weekly column contributed by Menlo-Atherton High School Junior Dylan Lanier, who has lived in Menlo Park since he was two.

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