Study tips for a successful testing season

MAY: THE FINAL MONTH of school, filled with numerous final exams and AP/IB tests. (Carly Altman)

Carly Altman | Writer

April 28, 2024

As the end of April rapidly approaches, finals and AP test season is in full swing. As it gets closer and closer to the start of May, it is crucial to turn away from daydreams of summer and focus on the plethora of upcoming exams. Between in-class finals, AP tests, and IB tests, May is often a month correlated with high levels of stress and anxiety. In order to ease these emotions and go into May feeling prepared, it is necessary to develop positive study habits. Therefore, here are five of the best tips for a successful testing season.  

1. Be prepared

In order to enter May feeling confident and ready for your exams, it is crucial to be prepared. Make sure you know the dates of both your finals and AP/IB tests, and create study schedules accordingly. Specifically with regard to AP and IB tests, ensure that you are familiar with the format and material being tested. The College Board and International Baccalaureate websites both provide great resources to enhance your understanding. Being prepared will not only ease stress but will also help you succeed and perform better on your tests.  

2. Online resources

There are hundreds of great online resources that can aid in preparation for your exams. Khan Academy provides videos and practice problems that are extremely useful for studying. The College Board allows for access to AP tests from previous years, providing a great tool for AP exam preparation. There are also several YouTube creators who make educational videos focused on various topics and concepts from different classes. 

FREE ONLINE RESOURCES provide countless opportunities for practice and aid outside the classroom. (College Board, Khan Academy, Heimler’s History)

“My personal favorite study tool is Heimler’s History videos,” explained junior Isabella Noble. “He creates videos for AP history students that review important concepts for every unit.”

Online tools are not only beneficial but also easily accessible and free. Take advantage of these resources; they are a great service to you. 

3. Avoid cramming

Cramming for exams is not only unhealthy for students but is also often ineffective. Cramming creates a high-stress environment, severely heightening anxiety and nerves. This results in an inability for the brain to retain the information being learned, potentially causing mental blocks and negatively impacting performance on tests. Cramming will only enhance the stress that exam season brings and is harmful in the long run. 

4. Don’t procrastinate

Procrastination is the number one enemy of effective studying. Similarly to the consequences of cramming, procrastination drastically increases stress and anxiety prior to exams. If you have yet to study for your exams, now is the time to start. 

“I began studying in early April for my AP tests, and now feel so much more confident on the material,” exclaimed junior Madelyn Mitchell. 

By creating realistic weekly study schedules, you can break up large amounts of information into manageable chunks, making studying a less stressful and more compelling experience. Studying over a more extended period of time improves retention of concepts and aids memorization. Rather than waiting until the night before, take the initiative and begin studying in advance. 

5. Stay healthy

Most importantly, taking care of yourself and looking after your health is crucial. While preparing and studying for your exams is important, it is vital to prioritize your health and avoid becoming overwhelmed. Make sure you are getting sleep, eating well, and taking time for yourself each day. 

It is completely natural to feel nervous or stressed during this period of the school year. However, following these tips will help you alleviate nervousness, create an effective study schedule, and set yourself up for a successful month.

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