Conquering the Advanced Placement and Final Exams

By Kylee McDonald and Sophia Lopez
MAY 17, 2016

As the end of the school year approaches, so do the inevitable Advanced Placement (AP) and final exams. At Saint Thomas Aquinas High School (STA), students excelling in academics often take AP classes, and the exams, in order to accumulate potential college credits. STA offers 28 AP courses, some of which are World History, United States History, Psychology, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Calculus and Latin.

Worrying about passing these exams can be very stressful. To avoid making this a grueling experience, Raider Review polled students to gather some helpful tips that might ensure low stress and high grades.

  1. Practice as much as possible.
    Use videos and practice books for extra study!

    Use videos and practice books for extra study!


    To achieve the best possible scores on your exams, practice as much as possible. Whether preparing for an AP, or any final exam, there is no such thing as too much practice. About 70% of STA students surveyed responded that one of the best ways to prepare for an AP test is to take as many practice tests as you can. Find review books, review videos, and even review websites to gain as much practice as possible. The survey revealed that Kaplan, Crash Course, Barron’s, and the Princeton Review are among some of the more popular books used by STA students. It is best to use the test-taking tips, content review, and practice tests provided with these books! There is no such thing as being too prepared for an exam.

  1. Never hesitate to ask for help.
    Sometimes studying with a friend is very helpful!

    Sometimes studying with a friend is very helpful!


    STA is a school filled with outstanding teachers. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions. They will always help. Baffled by a math problem? Wondering how to study for a Biology final? Stressed out about rapidly approaching AP exams? Head to the National Honor Society’s (NHS) tutoring sessions. Every Tuesday and Thursday, there are peers willing to explain how to solve those math problems, get fellow Raiders closer to an A, and help them de-stress in the face of challenging exams. For those who need additional help after having asked teachers and attending the NHS tutoring, another option is to turn to classmates. Form study groups to prepare for AP and final exams. If two heads are better than one, a study group should be a very effective learning tool. As a well-known proverb says, “If you want to go far, go together.”

  1. Rest-up the Night Before
    Don’t forget to pack a bag with everything needed for the exam. Students surveyed said that some of the most important things to bring are pencils and an eraser, pens, water, and a healthy snack. The night before the exams shouldn’t be an all-nighter, cramming and crying and watching crash course videos. The best advice is to take it easy and remain calm. Throughout the year, teachers help their students to prepare  for these exams. Students need to get to bed early and rest up for the upcoming hours of testing.
  1. Eat a healthy breakfast.
    The mornings of exams are going to be crazy. Students often rush to arrive on time for the AP test, or to ask teachers some last minute questions about the finals. Examinees sometimes experience butterflies in the stomach, which tend to mask hunger. Forget the butterflies; food is essential. Choose something filling and healthy for breakfast. Don’t just rely on snack food, make sure to eat a filling breakfast.
  1. Breathe
    On the way to success!

    On the way to success!

    Don’t fear. Well-prepared students will succeed on the exams. Once exams are over, students will be closer to summer and more opportunities to learn new things. When the report card arrives in June or the AP exam results arrive in July, it is important to remember that even if the grades are not an A or a 5, the time was not wasted.

Investing the time and effort, throughout the school year, will make the whole year-end exam schedule a lot more bearable and increase the possibilities for success.

Photos courtesy of Annie Schloss, Camila Rodriguez, and Kylee McDonald.