3 Ways to Start Preparing for AP Exams


Although it may seem early to start preparing for AP Exams, May will be here before you know it. The earlier you can start preparing, the better off you will be when it comes to actually taking the test in a few months. With that being said, many of us don’t even know where to start when it comes to preparing for exams. In hopes of helping everyone out, I have a few tips on how to start preparing for AP Exams.

Preparation Tip #1: Utilize Prep Books

If you don’t know where to start when it comes to preparing, a prep book is probably the best option. Prep books, or review books, are basically books with a shortened and simplified explanation of everything that will be covered on whichever AP Exam you are taking, as well as some practice exams or materials.

The book search

Before using the prep book, you need to find the right one for you. Barron’s and Princeton Review’s review books are arguably the most popular; however, there are many others published by different companies. To choose a prep book, I would ask people who have previously taken the course which one they found most helpful if they used any. If no one you know has taken the AP Exam you are planning on taking, read reviews of the books online. However, when you are taking advice from others remember to take it with a grain of salt and gather your own opinion based on many sources. Ultimately, you probably won’t know your preference until you have the book in your hands.

Buying your book

Once you have chosen the book that you want to use to start preparing, you need to actually obtain the book. If money is an issue, many libraries do have prep books that you can borrow. If they don’t have the specific book that you need, many libraries will order one for you if you request it. The downside to borrowing a book is that you cannot write on the practice exams or highlight and annotate the actual book. If this is not a problem, then borrowing is a free option! If you are willing to shell out some money to purchase your own prep book, then that is a great option as well. Having your own prep book means that you can write and highlight in the book. This can be especially helpful if you like highlighting essential information to refer to later. Often, amazon.com has the best deals on prep books, as well as fast shipping. However, if you want to make sure you are getting the best deal, you can utilize the website slugbooks.com. Just type in whatever prep book you are looking for (ex. Princeton Review AP European History) and it will pull up price comparisons from across many different websites so that you can purchase your study materials at the best price!

Strategizing your studying

Now that you have your prep book, using it should be pretty straightforward. Many books provide test-taking strategies, which would be great to read at this point, as AP Exams and tests that you take in class are often two very different things. Read the material that you have covered in class up to this point. Most likely, your textbook does not cover everything on the AP Exam, so doing this will ensure that you have a more complete perspective of the information. It also doesn’t hurt to take one or two of the practice exams, if your book has one. This could give you an early evaluation of where you are so that moving forward, your studying can be more focused and relevant to your struggles. Keep coming back to your prep book as the AP Exam approaches, it will be a useful tool in preparing you utilize it in its entirety!

Preparation Tip #2: Utilize College Board

Another great resource for preparing for AP Exams is the College Board website. The College Board is the organization that creates and administers AP Exams, meaning that they have a wealth of inside information on their website.

To utilize the website’s tools, go to “AP Courses” (https://apstudent.collegeboard.org/apcourse). Under this link, there are all of the AP courses that are offered. You can select whatever AP course you are taking and utilize several resources there. For example, under every AP courses link, there are four tabs that are very useful. The tabs at the top are “Course Overview”, “Course Details”, “About the Exam”, and “Exam Practice”. All of these have extremely valuable information. Read all of these tabs to familiarize you with the exam, as well as providing a focused overview of the course. This is important to look at when you start reviewing, as you will get a sense of the general topics that are most important in the eyes of the College Board. As I said, they are the ones who create the test; so knowing the overview and the topics that they find valuable can be a great tool.

Preparation Tip #3: Make Graphic Organizers

Finally, something that you can do to prepare is making graphic organizers! Graphic organizers can be a way of organizing information visually in a way that makes sense to you. I recommend making these when you begin to review, as it is a great way to force yourself to look at all of the information that you have and to organize it comprehensively. For example, if you are taking a history exam, try putting all of the relevant historical events into a master timeline. Or if you are taking a science exam, you can organize notes by-laws, theories, etc. This is a great option for last minute studying, as it allows you to have an overview of what you are learning, as well as review all of your materials.


I wish everyone the best of luck on your AP Exams! Happy studying!

For more advice on AP Exams, check out these articles as well:

AP Human Geography: A Guide to Success in the Course and Exam

AP Overload: 5 Tips On How To Push Through a Rigourous Courseload


AP Psychology Exam Study Guide: 14 Key Topics to Study


AP Psychology is said to be one of the easiest exam there is, as far as AP Exams go. The AP Psychology exam is all about testing students' knowledge of the 14 key topics outlined on the College Board description of the course. AP Psychology is meant to be give the students willing to take up the challenge of a college-level class. In this article, I will talk about the 14 topics as well as the percentages of the test devoted to each topic. This article will be followed with more articles about my experience and the exam.


1.History and Approaches

This topic takes up 2-4 percent of the test and talks about the different theories that psychologists used to explain the mental processes. They also talk about the different approaches used to collect data along with the important figures of psychology.

2.Research Methods

This topic takes up 8-10 percent of the test and talks about the different types of research and their importance to gather data and how to apply the research develop theories to explain behavior.

3.Biological Bases

 This topic takes up 8-10 percent of the test introduces the different physiological processes and their relationship to behavior. The different physiological processes include the brain, nervous system, and genes and how they contribute to behavior. This is one of them most parts the curriculum. This chapter also includes important figures.

4.Sensation and Perception

This topic takes up 6-8 percent of the test and talks about the different sensory processes as well sensory disorders. They also talk about how experience and culture can influence perception. This chapter also includes important figures in sensation and perception.

5.States of Consciousness

This topic takes 2-4 percent of the test and talks about the variations in conscious including the sleep cycle, dreams, hypnosis, circadian rhythms, and the effect of psychoactive drugs. This chapter also includes important figures in consciousness research.


This topic takes up 7-9 percent of the test and is also one of the most important topics. This topic introduces the difference of learned and unlearned behavior. It focuses on the different kinds of learning. This chapter also includes the important figures in the psychology of learning.



This topic takes up 8-10 percent of the test and teaches the student how humans convert sensory inputs into information. It talks about how humans learn, remember, and retrieve information. This chapter also includes the important figures in cognitive psychology.

8.Motivation and Emotion

This topic takes up 6-8 percent of the test and allows student to learn about the biological and social factors that motivate behavior. It also talks about the biological and cultural factors that influence emotion. This chapter also includes important figures the psychology of motivation and emotion.

9.Development Psychology

This topic takes up 7-9 percent of the test and talks about the behavior from conception to death and how different processes that contribute to behavior changes. This chapter has a heavy emphasis on prenatal development to adulthood. This chapter includes important figures in development psychology.

10. Personality

This topic take up 5-7 percent of the test and explores the theories of how humans develop patterns of behavior and personal characteristics that influence how other relate them. This also discusses the research methods used to asses personality.  This chapter includes important figures is personality figures.

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11.Testing and Individual Differences

This topic takes up 5-7 percent of the test and talks about the theories of intelligence and the different type of intelligence tests. This chapter includes the important figures in intelligence research and testing.

12.Abnormal Behavior

The topic takes up 7-9 percent of the test and talks the different disorders ranging from mood disorders to personality disorders. It also talks about the approaches to explaining psychological disorders. It also discusses the consequences of label and how the legal system views mental disorders.

13. Treatment of Abnormal Behavior

This topic takes up 5-7 percent of the test and talks about the treatments of psychological disorders. It talks about the different types of therapy and the effectiveness of the specific treatments. This chapter includes important figures in psychological figures.

14.Social Psychology

This topic takes up 8-10 percent of the test and discusses how people relate one another in social situations. It talks about the social psychologists and what they study such as social attitudes, social influence, etc. This chapter includes the important figures in social psychology.

I hope these tips will help you and I hope you come back for the other article. This information comes from the College Board description of the course. Leave a comment down below if you have any questions. And as always make sure you follow us on Instagram and Facebook.



Five Steps to Studying More Effectively


When the teacher announces that there is going to be a test on said day, your first reaction may be to freak out, then the girl next to you leans over and says “we need to form a study group” you agree and next thing you know, you are now in a study group. Congratulations.

Step 1: Who?

Now that you guys have decided that you want to have a study group, the next thing you want to think about is inviting classmates to come study with you guys. Now, instinctively, your first reaction may be to invite all your best friends in class, this may be your first mistake. When you’re around your friends, you may take longer to actually study and may get off track often. This doesn’t mean take your worst enemy to go study with, all I am saying is to pick the people that are going to provide the best contributions and the people that you are least likely to completely steer from the task at hand, studying.


Step 2: When and Where?

Now that you guys have decided who is going to be in your study group, the next step is to pick a time and a location. Take a quick second to look at everyone’s schedule and choose the time where everyone can meet up, if someone is still unable to come, suggest they use FaceTime to be there, or call during the studying session to be there through phone. Now that you have a time, the next step is to choose a location. When considering a location, you want to pick somewhere where there is minimal noise, so rule out the arcade or the concert as a studying location. Some common places to study are the coffee shop (for instance Starbucks) or your local library. Make sure the location is easy for everyone in the group to meet up to, we don’t want Sally showing up late because there was traffic on the I-95! If finding a location for everyone to meet up to is getting quite hard, considering moving it to a group chat such as Kik or maybe take it old school and do three-way calling session or a Skype.

Step 3: Show up

Now this step is the most difficult, this is when you actually carryout the plans. There is probably a huge wasteland somewhere out there full of plans never actually seen through. Make sure everyone knows the plans and that everyone who is supposed to be attending, attends.


Step 4: Roles

To make sure this studying session is carried out well, make sure to establish roles. The most important roles to give are the leader, who will steer the conversation and make sure every topic is addressed, the time keeper, who will track how long you stay on a topic and when to move on, and the peace keeper (fact checker), who will settle disputes by looking things up on the web or in the book. These roles ensure that everyone is on task and the meet up is going smoothly.

Step 5: Study

Don’t forget that the main purpose for the gathering is to study, to get rid of distractions, make sure all phones are put away and make sure everyone is listening and not off on their own conversation, as you want to make sure everyone knows the material, including the girl/guy who always seems lost (you know who I’m talking about). Try using apps such as Quizlet or Khan Academy to help study, take advantage to materials like the internet to expand your knowledge, just beware of getting off topic and losing focus on the real goal, which is to pass that test!

If you follow these easy 5 steps, I ensure you that you will be able to form a study group and study effectively. Next time, when your professor announces that test, be the person who announces that there will be a studying session on said day and said time. Be the leader and take charge.



Seven Ways to Improve Your ACT Writing Score


During my junior year of high school, I decided to dedicate my time to being a peer editor. My free periods consisted of revising papers, from youthful, optimistic 6th graders to second-semester seniors that were definitely sliding. One question that I was constantly asked across the board was: “How do I become a better writer?” The number of times this question was asked multiplied when the ACT scores came back and I did well on it. My usual response, even after the ACT,  was some sort of “I’m not sure it just comes naturally to me” or “Just a lot of hard work.” Those answers are slightly true, but not the whole truth. Becoming a better writer, in general, does take time and effort, but these tips below will help your writing process, and definitely your ACT writing score.

  • Read Your Own Work

This may seem like an obvious thing to do, but this is one of the most common mistakes I see in writing. I guarantee that there will be many mistakes: whether it will be spelling errors, punctuation oversight; or even just a sentence that made perfect sense in your head, but is confusing on paper. I understand that it can be very cringe-worthy to read through your work, but I promise it will improve your paper significantly.

  • Practice! Practice! Practice!

This is probably one of the easiest steps for the ACT audience, a.k.a. high schoolers. We are constantly writing for our English courses, and it is very clear that we improve over the years. If you cannot see a change in your writing from assigned papers, search for more prompts and write sample essays. Take about an hour each week, and write a paper with different types of prompts. Not only will this help your writing, but this will help your pacing skills, making you even more prepared for your test.

  • Don’t Make The Same Mistakes

   Not only is this a great life lesson, it is a fantastic writing skill. Think of all of the essays you have gotten back from teachers, what are your most common mistakes? For some people, it may be run-on sentences, comma splices, or general flow of words. Whatever you do, make an effort to change your habits, and don’t hold yourself back by not changing.


  • Dilate Your Vocabulary

It is so important to stand out and use more than average words. Try taking everyday words like ‘good’ and replace it with ‘reputable.’ Try to eliminate casual words like ‘cool’ and the repetition of ‘like.’ I would suggest trying to incorporate a SAT/ACT word into your day (like Cher did in Clueless with ‘sporadically’) This will enhance your vocabulary and make all English assignments easier.

  • Go In With A Plan

Remember those brainstorming tools teachers would give you in elementary school to help organize your ideas when writing an essay? If not, here’s a nostalgic reminder:

This may seem like a childish idea, but it really does help with making sure you have a properly formatted essay with strong points. The ACT gives one prompt with 3 opinions and asks which one you side with. When I took the ACT, I was conflicted in choosing which opinion I delineated with the most; however it was clear when I was able to produce 3 strong points about one and became stumped with the other. If you do this step, I promise that your essay will be 10x easier to write, because it will basically be plugging in ideas and elaborating.  


  • Use All of Your Allotted Time!!!

I cannot express how anxious I feel when I see fellow test takers finish essays in 20 minutes. There is no way to do all of the steps above in that short amount of time!! Even if you are not doing anything to your essay, you might think of a new idea, or correct an old idea written down. This will also help pacing issues if you have them. This was all of your ideas will have the time to develop and come out during the test, instead of later.

  • Have Fun!

Lastly, be creative! Writing is a beautiful way to express yourself and your opinions. This is the only creative outlet on standardized tests, and it should be utilized. Try not to stress too much about writing an essay, but still take it seriously. If you follow these steps and have some confidence, writing an ACT essay should be a breeze. 






Guide to Acing the ACT English Section


{How I got a 35 on the English ACT}

“I admire people who dare to take the language English, and understand it and understand it’s melody.” –Maya Angelou

Let me clue you in on a little secret: I hate studying. Especially mechanical things like historical dates, math equations, or grammar rules. With that being said, around 60% of the English section of the ACT is exactly what I just described: mechanical things like grammar rules.

I definitely have to work on staying focused and paying attention during that 60% of questions, and the other 40% too. Below are some tips and tricks to aid you while taking the English section of the ACT, but first, let’s break the test down.


The English test consists of 75 questions to be answered in a 45-minute time span. The questions are:

Usage and Mechanics

Punctuation: 7-11 q’s

Grammar and usage: 11-15 q’s

Sentence structure: 15-19 q’s

Rhetorical Skills

Strategy: 11-15 q’s

Organization: 7-11 q’s

Style: 11-15 q’s

Tips for Usage and Mechanics:

  • Use Practice Questions to Your Advantage. There are so many practice tests and worksheets out there. Try to do a couple each day, and at the end of the week grade them. The ones you had trouble on the most, practice the next week.
  • The 4 C’s. Make your sentences Complete, Clear, Concise and Competent. Read sentences out loud to yourself and make sure they sound accurate.
  • Cross out answers that are obviously wrong immediately. Instead of trying to choose between four answers, choosing between two or three is a lot easier.
  • Know the W’s. Who and Whom. Who goes with he, she and it. Whom goes with Them.
  • Commas go in pairs. (Unless separating two independent clauses)


Tips for Rhetoric Questions:

  • I cannot stress it enough how much reading helps. When reading, you are constantly being exposed to new vocabulary and correct sentence structure and grammar. Make sure what you are reading is officially published, so it is edited correctly.
  • Read above and below the sentence the question is on. Know the style and tone of the paragraph you are answering the question in.
  • Focus on the NOT. A lot of people miss simple questions because they do not notice a question that say which is NOT right, compared to the contrary.

Know the basics of English. If you have been taking Literature or British Storytelling for two years, you might need to review the basics!




SAT Prep Courses: What I Learned and My Experience


Four days a week, four hours a day, I sat in a freezing, green classroom. I was at Elite Educational Institute taking SAT Prep classes. After completing their eight week summer program, I have learned and experienced a lot. Here’s what you need to know about SAT Prep courses.

You must be self-motivated.

The main reason why I decided to take an SAT Prep course is because I didn’t believe I would be disciplined enough to study by myself. Yet, I found that with a SAT Prep course, I was unsatisfied with the instruction I was receiving. If I really wanted to learn the material, I had to read and complete the workbooks and practice problems I was provided on my own. You have to be willing to learn in order to improve.

Measure your success based on yourself.

Unless you’re the smartest in your class, you will hear people complaining about their “low scores”. Their lowest score might be just above your highest. It honestly feels like a kick in the stomach, but you have to relax and focus on your progress. This is about YOU getting better and feeling bad about yourself isn’t going to get you anywhere.

Pay attention to test taking strategies.

I always struggled with section three of the SAT: the no calculator math section. I would leave at least five of the free response questions blank because I simply ran out of time. The worst part was when reviewing my test, the free response always seemed to be problems I knew I could get right. The other problems that held me back in the multiple choice section kept me from a higher score. In my prep classes, I learned to do the free response portion first and do the multiple choice portion after. That way, if I’m running out of time, I can at least make a guess. Another strategy I learned was in the reading section. The two-part questions involving textual evidence are so much easier when you find the textual evidence first and then compare it to the previous question. All these little techniques are probably what have raised my score the most.

Your score will fluctuate.

When I first registered for classes, I had to take a placement test. On that placement test, I scored the same score that I had in the seventh week of classes. What happened was that I was given an easier PSAT test as a placement test. When I took my first real test on the first day of class, my score was about one hundred points lower than the previous test. Even as I made the climb up one hundred points, my score would decrease a little every few weeks. This happened to everybody in my class as well because the tests were sometimes a little harder and sometimes a little easier. Unlike the real SAT where the score is curved, my academy had a fixed grading scale with no curve. Be wary of this and don’t be disappointed in yourself if your score goes down!

SAT-LogoAll in all, I don’t regret taking the SAT course over the summer, and will be continuing in the school year for another five weeks. I feel a lot more confident taking tests, and it gets easier to sit down and focus for such a long period of time. I’ve also met a group of great people who I can compete with in a friendly way to help myself improve. SAT courses aren’t for everybody, but I recommend it for people who need something to help them along the path to a higher score.