Five ways to a 5: a helpful guide to scoring well on your AP test


Graphic by Elisa Cobb

By Kayla Boon, News Editor, Social Media Editor

Every year many juniors, seniors, and some sophomores, begin Advanced Placement (AP) classes. Despite the importance, many students neglect the preparation for the AP exams in May as the idea falls to the back of their minds over the course of the fall semester. But, every year they come around faster than many would expect. After taking multiple AP classes throughout my high school experience, I have been on both sides of preparation; from dangerously last minute to creating good study habits from the start. So, from fellow Tam AP individuals, here is the best advice I have gathered to score a five on your exams from your Tam peers.


  1. Pay attention in class

Although this first suggestion may seem obvious, it is easy to get distracted. Tam AP teachers are very seasoned and extremely knowledgeable on the way AP’s are graded and broken down. At Tam, many classes prepare for AP’s with practice questions. Use the practice those teachers give you to save yourself time later down the road. Taking class practice seriously could truly cut your studying time down as test day approaches, and it increases your overall knowledge of the subject. Graduating senior Jasper Kunz has been successful in this strategy. He has taken a total of nine AP classes in his time at Tam and will be attending Washington Univerity in St. Louis next fall, he described his success on the AP Language and Composition exam, to which he received the coveted 5 score his junior year.
“Taking in-class practice seriously and trying to do well on them is important because for AP Comp specifically, it is not necessarily about knowing content but more about knowing how to approach the problem style and manage your time,” Kunz said.

Genuinely investing yourself in attempting to put your best foot forward during these in-class practices is important if you hope to score high; use class to your advantage and create a foundation of knowledge that will allow you to not study but instead just simply review.


  1. Start studying early on 

Studying early on in the year can make a huge difference. After class, reading over the notes you just took in order to build that long-term memory will help you cement information in your brain instead of just simply forgetting it after 20 minutes of the section has gone by. Studying from the beginning of the year can make a big difference and just remember it is never too late to start … Start now!


  1. Create good habits for review

Using the material you are provided with can only take you so far in many cases. Finding interesting ways to keep up with different events pertaining to your classes is also important. Keeping up with climate change progress and setbacks for AP Environmental Science or listening to TED Talks for AP Biology, going beyond just studying can get you that extra step to a 5. Senior Abigail Marciniack highlighted her success in AP French, to which she received a 5 on, can be credited to immersing herself in the language. Although the language AP’s differ in their dependance on years and years of knowledge and language preparation.

“For anyone taking a language AP, it is important to immerse yourself. I would go on YouTube and watch news shows in French and also listen to French music,” Marciniack said. “You can absolutely succeed on [language] exams if you are not a native speaker. Don’t think about it as a class, but as an activity.”

Not only for language exams but for all of the AP’s, creating sustainable habits is important. Find a way to study that you can do little by little. Read over your notes, or watch the daily video. Finding ways that work will help you succeed and set yourself up for success.


  1. Use the resources the College Board gives you! Practice a lot of AP questions, as they post the old ones online, which display exactly what to expect.  

The College Board is known for having certain formats and styles of problems. To do well, it is important to study the materials they are giving you. If you know how the problems will be formatted or asked, it will help your approach to the test.

Senior Trevor Islam who is attending Stanford University in the fall and has taken eleven AP classes. He explained his study habits for the exams.

“I used AP Classroom and in-class materials and that was enough for me to do well,” Islam said. “I used practice tests online as they have multiple tests from past years and I would just do a bunch of them.”

Senior Freddy Goldstien, 9 time AP veteran, explained he also used mainly College Board materials.

“[College Board materials] are the only things that are truly gonna be comparable to the real test,” Goldestien said. “If they’re giving it to you as practice, they expect you to know it. I found these were the best materials whether it be AP classroom or the old tests posted online.”


  1. Good luck!

As the night before the exam approaches faster than you know just remember it is just a test. Of course get a good night’s rest and eat a good, filling breakfast. Sharpen your pencils and just take a deep breath. As little knowledge as you think you have, I promise you there is more in that College Board-coded brain of yours. And, also know many passing scores (3, 4, 5), although they differ, can range as low as a 50 percent correct. So give it your best and good luck on all your AP adventures!