Whether you’re a seasoned AP student or taking your first AP class this year, the best way to stay on top of an AP class from the beginning is to get started with it over the summer. Here are four reasons you shouldn’t wait for the first day of school to think about APs, and how we can help you get off to a strong start!
AP courses are no joke.
Although APs provide students an excellent opportunity to start exploring their interest in subjects not typically offered by regular college prep curricula (and even possibly earn college credit in the process!), they are also usually a student’s first experience with college-level material and work.
Whether you’re a seasoned AP student or taking your first AP class this year, the best way to stay on top of an AP class from the beginning is to get started with it over the summer.
Particularly for students and families who have never experienced APs, some elements of the curriculum can be surprising and require an open-minded outlook on what you think you know about “acing a class” in order to succeed.
And if you have been through AP classes and exams before, then you probably know just how intense the first few weeks of class will be.
Here are four reasons you shouldn’t wait for the first day of school to think about APs, and how we can help you get off to a strong start!
AP teachers have no choice but to get through all the material that will be tested, and they need you to be able to produce excellent AP-style answers when test day arrives in May.
This means they will jump right into material on the first day of class. Plus, they may not be able to spend a whole lot of in-class time going over topics you haven’t mastered yet, as they attempt to stay at the right pace that will allow the whole class to cover as much ground as possible.
What does this mean for you now?
Work with a mentor starting over the summer. If you can spend the first few weeks of class reviewing Unit 1 material rather than needing to take fresh notes and ask tons of questions, you’ll be able to acclimate to your teacher’s style, requirements and the school year in general with much less stress.
In addition to the fast pace of class material, your teacher will also likely begin giving AP exam-style quizzes from the very beginning.
If you’re unfamiliar, AP questions are typically formulaic and require you to answer them in a correspondingly formulaic structure to maximize your points.
Every year, many students struggle on the first few of these assessments because they simply haven’t learned the expectations yet! While that’s understandable and nothing to be ashamed of, it also puts students at a disadvantage as the stress heats up earlier than necessary. No one wants to have to win back a strong grade after an early low score during the first few weeks of school!
You can avoid this added challenge by having an expert mentor teach you the exam format before school even starts.
So much of your success in whatever AP class(es) you take revolves around asking questions and sharing ideas. Critical thinkers look for the reasons behind their answers, rather than just for the answers themselves.
This is especially important because AP content builds throughout the year, so you need to be able to connect information from Unit 1 to information from Unit 6.
Getting a headstart on your AP classes over the summer can help introduce you to some of the bigger picture themes you’ll need to be familiar with so you start to recognize those connections as soon as they emerge.
Practice is key. You can know exactly what the test expects of you, but you also need to be able to replicate success in order to go into your exam confidently come May. Often, it takes our students roughly 10-12 practice free response sections to begin producing 5-worthy answers consistently. On some exams, there are up to 5 or 6 free response questions. This means you may need to write upwards of 50 essays or other free response answers in order to go into the test at peak confidence.
Imagine starting that process in March or April; if you did, you might need to answer one free response question per day, every day until the exam. Adding that stress on top of your other homework, and potentially on top of other AP courses, is not a recipe for success.
Instead, starting your AP test prep outside of class as early as possible guarantees the most stress-free experience possible. It also guarantees the highest likelihood of success, because you’ll likely be able to actually master the exam.
Hopefully these tips and insights have given you the tools for AP success this year. Our best advice is to at least start the conversation with an expert mentor before school starts, and ideally to have a few sessions with them through August. As always, email@example.com is your first port of call to find your perfect match. Good luck with your AP classes this year!
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