Spring into Studying

March is here and spring has sprung! If you live in one of the many parts of the country still trudging through a Polar Vortex (or, as I wish it were, an Amy-Poehler-Vortex), warm weather may seem decades away. Before you know it, though, Grandma will no longer need to be shoveled out and it will be time to pull out bathing suits and tanning oil. While March and April may creep by waiting for that first taste of deliciously warm sunshine, they fly by preparing for big end-of-year exams.

If your student has taken the initiative to challenge himself with Honors or AP courses, he has already set himself on the path to college success. For those students looking ahead to next year, they should be sure to push themselves to take on advanced curriculum (within reason!) so that colleges can see that they are investing extra effort in their own education. College admissions officers do not just look for students with challenging course loads, though; they look for students who set a high bar for themselves and then rise to that challenge. The best way to make sure that your student excels in an Honors or AP environment is to encourage them to prepare early and prepare often. These tests may seem like they are far off – why start studying now? Why not just study when the actual tests come along?

First of all, May and June are extremely busy testing months. Have you ever dragged your kid along to the celebration of a family friend’s high school graduation? Scheduling infinite friends’ and relatives’ graduation parties can feel like a month-long full-time job, and by the end of a few weeks it can be nauseating to even think about one more potluck barbeque crammed full of bean salad and burnt hot dogs. Vitamin C’s “Graduation” seems as if it has been playing on repeat for an eternity. Much like the social schedule of graduation season, May and June are crammed full of important exams. The SAT, ACT, SAT Subject Tests, and AP exams all fall within this two-month stretch (not to mention the final exams your student has for their normal classes). This is simply an unrealistic amount of studying to do all at once, and starting now will relieve much of the stress.

AP Exams cover LOTS of material.

AP exams are the extended family reunions of content-based tests; everyone (every concept) shows up and everyone (every concept) is loud. Each AP exam is meant to test whether a high school student has learned the equivalent of one college course in a subject. If your student has been working hard all year to learn college-level biology or college-level French, it will take more than just one week to compile all of that information so that they have it at the ready on test day. They should start organizing what they need to know now into bite-sized chunks, and the Herculean task of learning all that information will become much more manageable.

Success on AP exams can have a big payoff.

Most tests, be they standardized (SAT/ACT) or otherwise (Mme Becker’s French test last week), serve to gauge a student’s progress and to make their college application stronger. While this is certainly important, AP exams go beyond just strengthening an application. High scores on AP exams can help students even after they get into college, because many colleges accept AP scores of 4 or 5 as college credit. [instructor_avatar id=”6335″ classes=”pull-right”] Success on these exams may serve to pass them out of that boring freshman intro course, allowing them to jump right into more interesting, advanced coursework. In some cases, AP success can even allow your student more flexibility to study abroad, double major, or graduate a semester early. Because strong AP scores can be doubly useful, early preparation is doubly worthwhile.

The first taste of spring hints at many exciting things on the horizon. Make sure to minimize the pain of AP exams by letting spring usher in AP exam organization and studying as well. If your student is already scouring this summer’s fashions for the perfect bathing suit or best sunglasses, help redirect some of that energy to planning ahead for AP exams. When college comes along, they will be glad that they did. When the tuition bill comes, so will you!

Want a deeper look at how AP exams are structured and tips on how to prepare? Click to register for our free parent webinar, Demystifying the APs and SAT Subject Tests.

Good luck to your student in preparing, and happy spring!

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