AP Overload: 5 Tips On How To Push Through A Rigorous Course Load


TIP #1: Learn How to Properly Manage Your Time

Begin to follow a strict study schedule and set a certain time each day for each class and stick to it. If you want to begin seeing a change in your grades, it's vital that you make sure you study each week (no one said making good grades would be easy).

  • Taking on a more rigorous course load does have its major drawbacks. You will have to cut some activities out of your schedule to accommodate study time. You can’t do it all and expect to be on top of your classes unless you want to feel exhausted and drained everyday. There are only have so many hours in a day, be very selective on how you use them.
  • Avoid distractions (TV, phones, friends, parties etc.)
  • Always stay on top of your notes, try to be ahead always so if you miss a day you won't be as far behind.

TIP #2: Know Your GPA… but Don’t Focus On It

First off, no, you didn't read that wrong and second off, I know what you're thinking, “The reason I'm reading this article is to learn how to do well in my AP classes and you're telling me to not focus on my grades?!?!?!” School is more than just numbers. It's about the actual process of learning, to educate yourself and somewhere down the road benefit others.  Don't get caught up in the numbers and forget about the actual process of learning.

  • Don't focus on that one C or D. Think about what you think you could have done better. Maybe put aside more study time or take better notes. There is always something you could have improved on.
  • During the beginning of the year it's ok if your grades are low. It takes some time getting used to AP classes, especially if it's your first time taking one. So don't stress out, nobody learned how to ride a bike on the first try.
  • Don't drop the course, no matter how tired, irritated, annoyed or discouraged you feel. You can't always give up every time you make a bad grade or don't understand something, buckle down and fight through it. You can pass that course if you are willing to work hard and study to improve your grade.


TIP #3: Conquer Together

Who better to help you succeed, than your peers who are taking the same classes as you? Grouping with your peers can be an extra boost in studying. Sometimes two heads or more are better than one. There are plenty of benefits of this. Studying in a group can be more fun than studying alone, but it can be very easy to get distracted and not get any studying done.

  • Remember your study buddies can be your friends, but not all friends make good study buddies.
  • Be strategic in choosing the people you study with.  Find people who are as motivated about school as you and are performing generally well in their classes. You should surround yourself with people who are already succeeding, so you can learn and benefit from them.
    • For example: If you struggle in math, you shouldn’t create an entire study group of people who are also not doing as well as you, include some people who are doing really well in math and can help explain confusing concepts to you and others.

Tip #4: Develop Good Studying and Note Taking Habits

You could be reading your textbook front and back every night and still be making less than ideal grades on quizzes and test. Here’s some advice based on personal experience: You shouldn’t be studying harder, but studying smarter. Now, what that means is you need to learn how to read a text, analyze it, and decide which parts are important and which aren't.

  • Every night you should sit down and review your notes from class, even if there’s no test or quiz. This helps you retain current and new information to build on the previous knowledge you have.

Here’s some advice I’ve received from one of my teachers about how to take notes (he’s a history teacher):

“Form and format are up to you, but they must be useful (search the almighty Google to find several note taking methods and models (outline, Cornell, etc)-- pick whichever works best or experiment with different ones on different chapters to see which one you like). There is no benefit in taking notes if you can't make sense of them, or if you just copy notes from a classmate. The whole point of taking notes is to process what you read, rearrange it in a way that makes sense to you, and then use it as a reference for review and study.”

“When taking notes you should not focus on the trivial, but rather on items of significance and change. Your notes should focus on how things change over time and cause and effect relationships.”


Tip #5: Ask For Help

This is something that is so simple, but lots of students don’t take advantage of resources available to them. If you're struggling in a class, ask your teacher for help. Teachers are there to be a resource to you and many stay extra hours after school everyday.  So why don’t you just stop by and ask about that question you didn’t understand on the homework or ask for more clarification about today’s lesson?

  • Don’t feel ashamed!  Believe it or not your teachers actually care about your success and are willing to go the extra mile for you.
  • If you feel like you're struggling with your course, stop by your teacher’s class and let them know your concerns, you have nothing but good things to gain from it.


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