AP Chemistry: Top 5 General Test Strategies

In education today, standardized tests have become a common occurrence. Following closely on the heels of standardized tests are strategies to help you succeed on standardized tests. You are probably familiar with some of the general strategies that help students increase their scores on a standardized exam. Even so, a quick review will help to jog your memory.

  • Pacing.

    Since many tests are timed, proper pacing allows students to attempt every question in the time allotted. Poor pacing causes students to spend too much time on some questions to the point that they run out of time before getting a chance at every problem.

  • Two-Pass System.

    Using the two-pass system is one way to help your pacing on a test. The key idea is that you don’t simply start with question one and trudge onward from there. Instead, you start at the beginning but take a first pass through the test, answering all the questions that are easy for you. If you encounter a tough problem, you spend only a small amount of time on it and then move on in search of easier questions. This way, you don’t get bogged down on a tough problem when you could be earning points answering later problems that you do know. On your second pass, you go back through the section and attempt all the tougher problems that you passed over the first time. You should be able to spend a little more time on them, and this extra time might help you answer the problem. Even if you don’t reach an answer, you might be able to employ techniques like process of elimination to cross out some answer choices or just take a guess, since wrong answers are no longer penalized.

  • Process of Elimination.

    On every multiple-choice test you ever take, the answer is given to you. The only difficulty resides in the fact that the correct answer is hidden among incorrect choices. Even so, the multiple-choice format means you don’t have to pluck the answer out of the air. Instead, if you can eliminate answer choices you know are incorrect and only one choice remains, then that must be the correct answer.

  • Patterns and Trends.

    The keyword here is the standardized in“standardized testing.”Being standardized means that tests don’t change greatly from year to year. Sure, each question won’t be the same and different topics will be covered from one administration to the next, but there will also be a lot of overlap from one year to the next. That’s the nature of standardized testing: If the test changed wildly each time it came out, it would be useless as a tool for comparison. Because of this, certain patterns can be uncovered about any standardized test. Learning about these trends and patterns can help students taking the test for the first time.

  • The Right Approach.

    Having the right mind-set plays a large part in how well people do on a test. Those who are nervous about the exam and hesitant to make guesses often fare much worse than students with an aggressive, confident attitude. Students who start with question one and plod on from there don’t score as well as students who pick and choose the easy questions first before tackling the harder ones. People who take a test cold have more problems than those who take the time to learn about the test beforehand. In the end, factors like these determine if people are good test takers or if they struggle even when they know the material.

These points are all valid for every standardized test, but they are quite broad in scope. Now lets look at how these general ideas can be modified to apply specifically to the AP Chemistry multiple choice and free response sections