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How to best prepare for your AP Exams

Five things to, or not to do, to ensure a good outcome

Finn Wagner 

Staff Writer 

May 3, 2024

Keep calm, rock on! - You’ve prepared well, don’t doubt yourself, you’ve got this!

Many Westfield students are worrying about the AP Tests that begin next week (myself included). So I would like to gather some research for you, hopefully to save you some time, and release a bit of the tension. Before I begin to rattle them off, it is vitally important to realize the work you have done in your classes will pay off, and that your teachers have spent the last 2-3 trimesters preparing you for that day. I will begin with the most common and end with the ones you may not have known/thought of. Anyway, most importantly, remember you’ve got this!

Eat a good breakfast

It will probably not surprise anyone that there are a myriad of reasons you should eat a filling and healthy breakfast in the morning, but though it is common knowledge, it is very often overlooked. Students who eat a healthy breakfast before any school day, but specifically standardized and thought-provoking exams, perform higher in math, reading, science, and art

fields. Furthermore, a good breakfast increases attention and decreases insecurity. An added benefit is that you may not have to worry about your stomach growing every couple of minutes. 

A good breakfast is person-dependent, but a good base is eggs or fruit, and I would add some complex carbs (if you can) to ensure you satiate that hungry itch for as long as possible. If able, it may not be a bad idea to splurge a bit and spoil yourself with a breakfast food you don’t normally consume as it might lighten your mood and ease your worries,

Read your notes

I recommend looking over all of your notes at least once in the week before your exam, then looking back at the areas you struggled with the most on unit tests or quizzes. This will allow the information to be fresh in your mind as well as get rid of any false presumptions you had about topics. 

Studies have found it is much more efficient to study with as little background distractions, whether that be music, social media, or video games, as possible. Studies are not personalized though, so it is imperative that you do what you’ve found works best for you, as you are unique and may not be represented in the study. 

Another piece of interesting information is that studies do not support staying up late studying, as even if you cram more into your short-term memory, then lack of sleep will lead to side effects like difficulty concentrating and irritability, which leads me to my next suggestion.

Get a full night of sleep

Shocker, I know. Studies have shown that getting a full 6-8 hours of sleep will best support your test-taking needs. Benefits include an increased ability to stay on task, decreased worry, and more logical and rational thought processes. 

There are many more factors that affect the quality of your sleep besides the amount of time. Try to create a room with as little light as possible, minimal complex noise (sounds or walls of noise are okay), and a proper temperature for you and your sleeping desires. 

Drink water

Water may definitely help you stay on task during your tests, whereas caffeine may cause you to be jittery and too distracted if consumed in excess. A little bit is, of course, fine, but ensure you don’t try to overcompensate and go over your limit. 

Discuss with friends who are also in the class

This topic, at least in my opinion, may be the most important. Having conversations with friends who know the same amount of you if not a bit more will greatly increase your ability to retain information, as well as smooth out any rough patches. Psychological studies focusing on memories have found that memories that are formed with a strong emotional bond, so with someone you like or a place you enjoy, will increase your ability to retain and recall information (which will help your chances on the exam).

I could continue giving lists of best ways to study, but that would be too self-involved, to almost forget why I am writing this in the first place. Instead of continuing to read, I recommend looking through your notes, as reading a list of things you could be doing better will only worry you more, and that may be the last thing you need; so go study, talk with friends, and reassure yourself, as nobody else can do well on your exams but you. Good luck, Rocks! You will do amazing. 

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