By: Emma B. 

High school is one the biggest transitional periods in a person’s life. You’re discovering who you are, what you like, and trying to earn good grades while also balancing out a personal life. On top of all of this, students often start pushing their limits with classesThey take the hardest possible ones, the most infamous of which are the Advanced Placement classes, commonly known as AP classes. An AP class is a type of class that allows a student to take a college-level course in high school in order to earn both college and high school credit. As such, AP classes are fairly intense because they are very similar to the workload and lessons of a college student. The academic rigor can cause many students to collapse under the stress, and that’s without factoring in the over-abundance of testing. Despite this, AP classes aren’t impossible, and with the right preparation and materials, AP classes can vastly improve your high school experience overall. 

Do You Need AP Classes? 
The first question that people ask when they consider AP classes, is whether or not they should do one. Students have different priorities and ambitions and AP classes should reflect that. For example, it’s probably better for an art student to take only art-based AP classes and learn about a field they enjoy rather than force themselves to do well in several classes they don’t care as much about.  Furthermore, they’re not always ideal. Although many students are under the misconception that universities won’t accept them unless they have AP classes, this simply isn’t true. It is true that many Ivy League prefer their students to have taken AP class, other prospects such as dual enrollment are also considered. However, if one is shooting for a private university, then the process becomes more selective.  
With that established, here are some tips to help pass an AP class. 

Tip #1: Organization is Key 
Due to the nature of AP classes, they tend to move at a rapid-fire pace. However, the student is still expected to know just about everything the teacher could throw at a person. Compounding to this problem, teachers will almost never hand out traditional study guides when AP tests come around at the end of the year. This is not only because the AP exams vary wildly from course to course, but also because there’s so much material. If you are the type of student that stuffs their backpack randomly, then AP classes become like a minefield. In this instance, organization can be a life-saver. Organizing your binders by unit, type of notes, or homework can be the greatest thing you can do. Furthermore, organization can also serve as a great help during the process of studying for tests because it makes information easier to find. 

Tip #2: Tests are NOT Easy 
Many students will say that standardized testing is relatively easy. Yes, testing can be difficult in a class you are weaker in, but overall standardized testing is a review of the past lessons learned. AP tests and exams are nothing like this - AP Exams will vary greatly based on what the subject is. Suffice to say, it can be exhausting, and even when a test is short, that won’t make it easy. Furthermore, the tests you take throughout the year leading to the AP exam won’t be much easier. This can be a massive punch to the gut for many, only exacerbated by bad study habits. So, prepare for long tests, and you’ll become used to them and adjust quicker. If you’re studying for an AP exam, take as many practice tests as you can. If it’s a test that takes place during the year, then go through notes, artifacts, textbooks and make a list of the most important material. Then, quiz yourself constantly. However, too much studying can lead to a very harmful habit: overworking. 

Tip #3: Sleep for 5 Minutes 
One of the biggest stereotype of AP students I’ve heard is that they’re workaholics who never sleep. However, the biggest factor contributing to this problem is people refusing to take care of themselves. With the sheer amount of material that AP classes throw at a student, it can be tempting to procrastinate and then cram when test-time comes. This leads to over-night study sessions, and a potential lack of self-care, which is unhealthy. Even though it may seem like cramming and over-night study can be helpful, the tendency to not care of themselves can cause students to start failing their class. Essentially, one has to be careful and pace themselves. For example, if you have 55-60 questions on a test, then do about 5-10 practice questions a night and check them. It’s a good balance that decreases stress. If you have a project, plan it in one night and then chip away at it until it’s due. Another tip is to do everything early, if you can. That way, you’ll not only have more free-time in your schedule and you’ll also not have to stress. However, this doesn’t always work if your schedule is packed, so use this option sparingly. 

Tip #4: Don’t Forget to Enjoy Yourself: 
Despite their reputation, the biggest thing that can make AP classes bearable for anyone undertaking them is if you care about them. Whether you’re looking for a challenge in a subject you like, or simply trying to advance through the grades, caring about an AP class can be the biggest key to passing or failing. If you don’t care about a class you’re fighting tooth and nail to do well in, it will only drain you. 

AP classes are a challenge. Sugar-coating that fact is silly, but they aren’t the antithesis of fun either. If you’re invested in learning the subject that’s being taught, AP classes are a legitimately great opportunity to learn more than what is usually taught in regular classes. However, it is totally possible that AP classes simply aren’t for you, and that’s okay too. Whatever the case, just know that pacing and work ethic combined with passion can lead to an experience like none before.  

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