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  • Shimon Rokhkind

Looking Back on the AP's

Phew! With APs behind us, everyone who had to take a few has breathed a sigh of relief. Recently, our many months of learning in each AP class culminated in a cumulative exam. Certainly, neither the test itself, nor the subject studied throughout the year is easy, but AP classes are definitely worth it. Colleges want to see that students are choosing to take more rigorous classes, and having some AP classes on your transcript when you apply to university is one great way to show that. Most colleges also accept an AP exam score of 4 or 5 (some even accept a 3), to be used as credit, allowing students to graduate faster and save potentially thousands of dollars.

Students shouldn't shy away from taking an AP class just because they heard that the AP exam is hard; showing your AP score to colleges isn't a requirement, and having a good average in the class is still valued more highly than one for a regular non-AP class. And honestly, many AP versions of regular classes aren't that much harder, and depending on the teacher, may even have less work throughout the year. For example, AP European History covers the same material as regular European history, but according to many students at North Shore who have compared the workload, the AP class has less homework!

The most important thing to do throughout the year is to take notes. Detailed notes. Many studies have shown that taking notes on paper is by far the best memory retention method when learning new material. Not only does taking notes on paper improve students' memory of the material before each test in class, but before the AP exam, having good notes really smoothes the way to effective studying and review of the entire year’s material. As many Juniors learned this year in the memory unit of AP Psychology, the best way to study for a test, especially one as large as an AP, is to start studying weeks beforehand. Don’t push off studying until a few days before the AP exam, start doing a little bit each day. For example, there are hundreds of terms that could appear on the AP Psychology exam, but breaking up the studying into a unit a day allowed me to remember all the words by the actual test.

APs are a stressful time. It's important to remember that while the score one will get is directly related to their effort throughout the year and in preparation for the test, no one can know everything. There will always be some terms that you forget, or some problems on the exam that you don't know the answer to, but that's okay. You don't need to get everything right. One very helpful website for managing expectations and understanding where one's level of knowledge is at is the APScoreCalculator. Students can take a practice test, and then calculate the score they would have gotten. For many it is helpful to study with a study partner, which can help keep one motivated and on track.

So in conclusion, AP classes aren't as scary as they sound, come with a host of college-related benefits, and taking them is probably the most worthwhile investment students can make in high school.

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