The Week Before the AP Exam


Three Days Before the Exam

Take a full-length practice exam under timed conditions. Approach the exam strategically, actively, and confidently. Note that you should not take a full-length practice exam with fewer than 48 hours left before your real exam. Doing so will probably exhaust you and hurt your score.

Two Days Before the Exam

Go over the results of your latest practice exam. Don’t worry too much about your score or whether you got a specific question right or wrong. Instead, examine your overall performance on the different topics, choose a few of the topics where you struggled the most, and brush up on them one final time.

The Night Before the Exam

DO NOT STUDY. Get together an “AP Exam Kit” containing the following items:

  • A few No. 2 pencils (Pencils with slightly dull points fill the ovals better; mechanical pencils are NOT permitted.)
  • A few pens with black or dark blue ink (for the free-response questions)
  • Erasers
  • A watch (as long as it doesn’t have Internet access, have an alarm, or make noise)
  • Your 6-digit school code (Home-schooled students will be provided with their state’s or country’s home-school code at the time of the exam.)
  • Photo ID card
  • Your AP Student Pack
  • If applicable, your Student Accommodation Letter, which verifies that you have been approved for a testing accommodation such as braille or large-type exams

Make sure that you don’t bring anything that is not allowed in the exam room. You can find a complete list on the College Board’s website. Your school may have additional restrictions, so make sure you get this information from your school’s AP coordinator prior to the exam.
Know exactly where you’re going, how you’re getting there, and how long it takes to get there. It’s probably a good idea to visit your testing center sometime before the day of your exam so that you know what to expect: what the rooms are like, how the desks are set up, and so on.
Relax the night before the exam. Read a good book, take a hot shower, watch something you’ll enjoy. Get a good night’s sleep. Go to bed early and leave yourself extra time in the morning.

The Morning of the Exam

First, wake up on time. Then:

  • Eat breakfast. Make it something substantial, but nothing too heavy or greasy.
  • Don’t drink a lot of caffeine, especially if you’re not used to it. Bathroom breaks cut into your time, and too much caffeine is a bad idea.
  • Dress in layers so that you can adjust to the temperature of the testing room.
  • Read something. Warm up your brain with a newspaper or a magazine. You shouldn’t let the exam be the first thing you read that day.
  • Be sure to get there early. Allow yourself extra time for traffic, mass transit delays, and/or detours.

During the Exam

Don’t be shaken. If you find your confidence slipping, remind yourself how well you’ve prepared. You know the structure of the exam; you know the instructions; you’ve had practice with every question type.
If something goes really wrong, don’t panic. If you accidentally misgrid your answer page or put the answers in the wrong section, raise your hand and tell the proctor. He or she may be able to arrange for you to regrid your exam after it’s over, when it won’t cost you any time.

After the Exam

You might walk out of the AP exam thinking that you blew it. This is a normal reaction. Lots of people—even the highest scorers—feel that way. You tend to remember the questions that stumped you, not the ones that you knew. Keep in mind that almost nobody gets everything correct. You can still score a 4 or 5 even if you get some multiple-choice questions incorrect or miss several points on a free-response question.
Be confident in your preparation, and celebrate the fact that the AP exam is soon to be a distant memory!