APUSH: The Week Before the Exam

The Week Before the AP US History Exam

The week leading up to the AP US History exam can be a stressful one. Many students try to cram as much studying as they can into these last few days, losing sleep and stressing themselves out, which can make them burn out and decrease their effectiveness on test day. Read on for a strategic alternative schedule that will keep you alert, capitalize on what you’ve already studied, and let you take on AP US History test day with confidence.

Get Registered

This isn’t technically part of the week before the APUSH exam, since you will have done this months before the exam, but it’s a very important step– without registering, you can’t take the exam. You can register for the AP US History exam by contacting your guidance counselor or AP coordinator. If your school doesn’t administer the exam, contact the Advanced Placement Program for a list of schools in your area that do. Keep in mind that College Board’s deadlines for registration are often at least two months before the actual exam.

There is a fee for taking AP exams, and the current cost can be found at the official exam website listed below. For students with acute financial need, the College Board offers a fee reduction that is usually equal to about one-third of the cost of the exam. In addition, most states offer exam subsidies to cover all or part of the remaining cost for eligible students.

For more information on all things AP, contact the Advanced Placement Program:
Phone: (888) 225-5427 or (212) 632-1780
Email: apstudents@info.collegeboard.org
Website: https://apstudent.collegeboard.org/home

Three Days Before the AP US History Exam

Take a full-length practice exam under timed conditions. Use the techniques and strategies you’ve learned in this book. Approach the exam strategically, actively, and confidently.

Two Days Before the AP US History Exam

Review the results of your practice exam, including all of the answers and explanations, which can also serve as a quick review of important history material. Don’t worry too much about your score or agonize over whether you got a particular question right or wrong. The practice exam itself doesn’t count; what’s important is reviewing your performance with an eye for how you might get through each section faster and better on the official exam to come.

The Night Before the AP US History Exam

DO NOT STUDY. Gather together an “AP U.S. History 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.)
  • Erasers
  • A pen with black or dark blue ink (for the free-response questions)
  • 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.)
  • A watch (as long as it does not have internet access, have an alarm, or make noise)
  • 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)

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 test center sometime before the day of the exam so that you know what the rooms are like, how the desks are set up, and so on.
Relax the night before the AP US History exam: read a book, take a hot shower, or watch something you enjoy. Go to bed early to get a good night’s sleep, and leave yourself extra time in the morning.

The Morning of the AP US History Exam

First, wake up on time. After that:

  • Eat breakfast. Make it something substantial, but not anything too heavy or greasy.
  • Don’t drink a lot of caffeinated beverages, especially if you’re not used to them. Bathroom breaks cut into your time, and too much caffeine is a bad idea in general.
  • Dress in layers so that you can adjust to the temperature of the testing room.
  • Read something. Warm up your brain with a newspaper, a magazine, or an online article. 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 AP US History 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, and you’ve had practice with—and have learned strategies for—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 US History 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. Be confident in your preparation, and celebrate the fact that the AP US History exam is soon to be a distant memory.