Tips to help you prepare for the 2020 AP exams.
This week, the College Board provided further guidance on this year’s AP tests including dates and question types. As we continue to support our students adjust to the changing testing landscape, Marks Education tutors brainstormed tips for this year’s unusual exams.
1. Get the right date.
That might seem obvious, but the dates of the 2020 APs have changed for many of the subjects, so double check the schedule, and do not assume that your exam date is the same one you were expecting originally. You can find the list of exam dates here.
2. Log on to the testing website 30 minutes early.
It is always important to make sure you have a reliable internet connection before the exam.
3. Know the content that will be covered.
The College Board has identified which units and topics will be tested on the 2020 exams and which will be dropped. You can find the list of topics on our blog here.
4. Be organized.
Remember that this year’s AP exams will be open book/open note. Therefore, it is in your interest to organize your notes so that they are easily accessible. For a history exam, for example, make sure that the notes for the different time periods or units are neatly compiled and laid out, so that you can reach for the relevant time period if you need to look up an outside piece of information for the DBQ. For Calculus, make sure you have a list of regularly tested formulas at hand. For science, make sure you have your notes organized by unit for quick and easy reference during the test.
5. Check out what the Free Response Questions will look like.
The College Board has provided further guidance on what the free response questions will consist of on each exam You can find the information on the same webpage with the dates here.
6. Where possible, practice your free response questions with the new times allocated.
For example, on an AP US, European, or World History exam, the DBQ has been reduced to 45 minutes from the regular 75 minutes, but students will only be given 5 documents to analyze instead of 7. Try practicing a DBQ from a past test using the first 5 documents and limit yourself to 45 minutes. For some exams, the new times will be harder to practice. On Chemistry, for example, students will be given a long FRQ that used to take about 16 min, but they may now use 25 mins. The College Board’s AP exam website contains released Free Response Questions for most subjects from previous years. Go to the course index page and select your course. Then click on the yellow box labeled “Go to course.” Once you are on the course webpage, you will see “About the course” and “About the exam.” Select “About the exam” for access to past FRQs.
7. Check to see if there are any changes in the scoring rubrics.
Many of the humanities exams have adjusted rubrics for 2020. For example, on the AP Comparative Government exam and the AP US Government exam, students no longer need to include a counter argument in their argument essay, but they will gain an additional point for analyzing a second document that supports their thesis. Links to changes to rubrics are included on the College Board’s website under the appropriate subject here.
8. Take the test on the first date possible.
Do not wait until the makeup date. Because so many students will be taking the tests online, you don’t want to wait until the second test date only to find that you’re suddenly having trouble connecting to the internet.