Tips to Perform Well and Destress Before AP Exams


Media by Lajja Patel

Work space while studying for AP tests may look messy with a papers everywhere. Use the tips below to find out ways to study more efficiently and let out tension built from cramming to review content.

The time has come to test your knowledge over the content you have learned this year in your Advanced Placement (AP) classes and stress levels are rising among students.

However, there are various ways to cope with this tension from these critical exams that can help you perform well and feel less overwhelmed. If AP exams create strain to your mental health, use these five tips to help you successfully overcome this difficult time:


1. Sleep at least seven hours or more starting from two nights before the exam.

The American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education claims that the number of hours of average sleep nights prior to an exam tend to be only five hours which is detrimental to not only health but also performance. The most important night for optimal sleep is not the night prior to exam but rather two nights prior. 

Good sleep improves cognitive thinking, allowing you to remember more details of the content studied. This is especially useful for free response questions that ask for specific examples. Seven hours or more of sleep is necessary to come refreshed into the AP exam and have higher chances of achieving a higher score. 


2. Eat brain foods in your meal before the AP exam to keep you sharp while testing.

Harvard Medical School’s research shows that fatty fish are a great source of unsaturated fats which reduce diseases related to forgetfulness in the brain. Also, berries help enhance memory due to the flavonoids, or the plant pigments they contain. Lastly, walnuts are shaped as a brain for a reason. They improve cognitive skills and are also linked to better memory. 

Consumption of foods like these that are scientifically proven to help the brain perform better which is helpful for the AP exam.


3. Cram smartly and efficiently for the exam.

Reviewing content learned from the entirety of the school year can be a challenge to complete just within a few weeks or days. The American Psychological Association found research that interleaving, studying for a variety of courses in one sitting, is very beneficial. 

Instead of focusing a single period of time to study for just one course, break up that time and incorporate all courses. This helps students grasp information over time rather than in one singular block time. There is more time to digest information using this technique while cramming. 


4. Activate your senses to alleviate stress.

Feeling as if everything is too much when AP exams come around is normal; therefore, relaxation is necessary to keep the mind and body healthy before the exam. 

The American Institute of Stress found that doing tactile activities can relieve stress. These activities include those that get you to stop thinking about what instigates stress and focus on your senses in a therapeutic manner. For example, popping bubble wrap appeals to the sense of touch and sound. This activity may seem odd but helps to release emotions of being overwhelmed before the exam.


5. Try to stay active in days preceding the exam.

The Journal of Instructional Pedagogies found that exercise has a longer lasting effect on health and education than any other activity such as meditation. Doing activities that increase heart rate can improve cognitive performance and improve critical thinking of the brain while testing. 

AP exams are heavily conceptual questions rather than questions with straightforward answers. Improving the ability to think and choose the best answer is a skill that can be enhanced by keeping your body moving and active.