Advanced Placement (AP) classes are college primers in high school-class form. They are designed to download a wealth of information into a student’s head before taking the associated exam. If you score well on them, you’ve already earned college credit. However, it’s much easier said than done.
Use these 10 AP class tips to when approaching these difficult but rewarding classes, preparing you for future success.
Organize Your Materials
Most advanced course teachers aren’t going to hold you by the hand when it comes to organization.
They are going to leave that up to you, just like in college itself. That’s why you’ll have to figure out the best way to organize your materials for yourself. In our opinion, you can’t go wrong with the following setup: a notebook, folder, and associated binder.
Figure out your own system of organizing the notes, associated handouts, and other study materials you’ll receive. Whether by specific topic or date, whatever helps your mind recall where to find information when you need it, that’s what you should use.
Complete Summer Assignments Before Class Start
Very often, AP class teachers will require students to complete an initial assignment before the first day of class.
These assignments are designed to provide students with a head’s up of what to expect before class begins. Assignments usually involve a lot of reading, some writing, or a combination of both. In many cases, this homework is used to either teach new content or present refreshment of previous topics that the year’s curriculum will build on.
Ignoring this assignment can set you behind before class even starts, so take it seriously and set aside time during your summer break to complete it. To be safe, give yourself four to five weeks before the school year to complete it. On the first day of class, have everything ready to turn in. You’ll be ready for what’s to come next.
Review The Syllabus
When class begins, you should receive a syllabus outlining the course work, exam schedule, covered content, homework, etc.
As your instructor breaks down the syllabus, pay attention carefully and take notes where necessary. When you’re at home, review it again and mark down all the assignment deadlines and exam dates in a calendar, so you can plan for them ahead of time. In AP classes, you can never plan early or thoroughly enough. You will thank yourself for it once you’re in the thick of it with readings, exams, and homework.
Approach With Confidence
If you’ve never taken any kind of advanced course before, an AP class can appear daunting.
Don’t let it psych you out. Don’t compare yourself with others or your own previous academic performance when approaching AP classes. Yes, the work is harder and you are expected to do much more. But if you do what the teacher assigns, keep up with the readings, and ask questions for clarity, you will be fine.
All you need to do is adjust to the faster pace, which is doable. As long as you keep that mindset, your confidence will grow and you will be in control of the class, not the other way around. Be confident and excited to learn.
Understand Class Expectations
AP classes demand more from you than regular courses.
As long as you understand that fact, you’ll be fine. AP classes are designed to replicate college-course conditions as much as possible, while still being high school classes. Get used to having to absorb much more information in shorter amounts of time.
You will have to take more responsibility for completing the class assignments and readings than before. There will no short cuts to rely upon either. Get your mind used to the higher expectations ahead of time.
Keep Up With Reading Assignments
In high school classes, readings are always important but not necessarily essential.
That dynamic changes in AP classes. In AP classes, just as in college, the assigned readings will often contain information that won’t be covered in the corresponding lectures. Reason being that there’s normally too much sheer information to cover in a short time frame. However, the exams will cover all information, whether it was discussed in class or not.
That’s why you have to do the readings consistently. Your teacher won’t force you to do them but know that what’s covered during class won’t be everything you must know come exam-time. If you skip readings, there will be blind spots on quizzes and exams that you won’t be ready for period.
Complete Assignments On Time
Time management regarding homework is important in AP classes.
A lot of material is presented pretty quickly, so if you fall behind even a few days or a week, it can be quite difficult to make up ground. That’s why it’s very important to stay on top of completing your homework on schedule, so you can keep up with the course pace. More importantly, because of these courses’ grading systems, homework will count significantly towards your final grade.
Whether it’s a simple assignment or complex, make sure they’re done and turned in, because every single point you gain from them will help offset any rough exams or class projects. Even if you have to prioritize AP class work over regular class work schedule-wise, make sure the AP work is always completed on time.
Take Helpful Notes
This may seem like a no-brainer, but note taking is serious business.
In advanced placement courses, you’re going to go through a lot of material that you’ll have to recall in detail. Don’t assume that writing a few associated keywords here and there will help you in a pinch. You need to synthesize what your teacher says into cohesive summaries.
They don’t have to be full transcriptions. However, you need to write down enough information where if you completely forgot the subject matter, you could review your notes and immediately recall the content. Bullet points work well, as long as they’re detailed enough to jog your memory.
Share Notes With Classmates
Don’t be afraid to work with classmates.
Together, you can share each other’s notes for reference. If you miss a class due to illness or other circumstance, having a friend who can share their notes is invaluable. You will avoid any gaps in information you’ll need later on.
Moreover, comparing notes with others is a great way to look at the material with fresh eyes. Often, they’ll emphasize information you may have missed or write it down in a more accessible way than you did. If there’s a topic you have trouble with, looking at someone else’s notes on the same thing can help clarify your understanding.
Don’t Skip Studying
While AP classes are ultimately designed to prepare you for their corresponding exams, don’t skip studying for other class tests.
Whether or not you take the actual AP exam, you’re still going to receive a class grade. That grade will end up on your high school transcript and either help it or hurt it, depending on your effort. Take every test seriously and review accordingly for them.
Your final grade will end up being much better, and these tests will help you become comfortable with what’s on the exam itself. Look at each class test as a solid prep for the exam. Cramming for an AP test won’t help; use these tests as your practice exams.
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AP Class Tips FAQ
How do Advanced Placement classes help me?
Advanced Placement (AP) classes are college primers in high school-class form. They are designed to download a wealth of information into a student’s head before taking the associated exam. If you score well on them, you’ve already earned college credit.
What’s one of the first things I should do when taking an AP class?
Very often, AP class teachers will require students to complete an initial assignment before the first day of class. These assignments are designed to provide students with a head’s up of what to expect before class begins. Don’t skip working on this assignment over the summer.
What else should I expect when taking AP classes?
AP classes are designed to replicate college-course conditions as much as possible, while still being high school classes. Get used to having to absorb much more information in shorter amounts of time.
How important is keeping up with the assigned readings?
In AP classes, just as in college, the assigned readings will often contain information that won’t be covered in the corresponding lectures. The exams will cover all information, whether it was discussed in class or not.