Advanced Placement Exam Prep in the Competitive Orange County School System

by Robyn Scott of TutorNerds

Orange County has some of the best public and private schools in the country and the majority of high school students take at least one AP class  per year.  AP exams seem far away but AP test prep usually starts around March 1st. There are a few ways that students can be prepared and successful for their May exams.

1- Take a practice exam

OC students are advised to take at least one full-length practice test (found in any reputable test prep study booklet). Students should complete the entire exam in one sitting in order to get an accurate baseline score and they should be in a quiet environment where they will not be interrupted.

2 – Form a study group

Students will have a better chance of success if they collaborate with other devoted classmates. Remember that the AP exams are graded on a straight scale so sharing knowledge and study skills can potentially result in every member of the group receiving a score of 4 or 5 in May.

3- Plan a schedule for the month of May

Many students in Orange County try to ‘do it all’ in the month of May, meaning that they want to take their AP exams, take the SAT, study for finals, go on college tours etc… all in four short weeks. High school students are advised, especially if they’re taking more than one AP exam, to take the SAT in another month and leave their full academic focus for AP and any required classroom exams. Students who have committed to after school sports are encouraged to speak with their coach to see what their athletic schedule will be like.

4 – Stay focused

By March 1st, the Southern California winter is long gone and the majority of people would rather be outside enjoying the weather than inside studying. It’s hard to blame them with all of the beautiful outdoor activities Orange County has to offer, but students should strive to find a balance between social activities and AP study. The majority of students who receive a 4 or 5 on AP exams commit to the following study hours:

  • March 1st to April 1st: 4 to 8 hours per week.
  • April 1st to May 1st: 8 to 15 hours per week.
  • May 1st to testing day: Review and prep anywhere from 4 to 10 hours per week

In Short

One of the great things about living in Orange County is that there are so many determined students to help keep their classmates on their toes. Our good schools offer multiple AP classes that make college acceptance more attainable. However, AP preparation is a challenging endeavor and requires both a huge commitment to study as well as a work-life balance in order to achieve academic success and maintain harmony between the months of March and May. AP students should not hesitate to ask for help. Private educational consultants and formal AP test prep can both help students acquire the best study habits and make them feel more confident.

Contributed by Robyn Scott, a private English tutor at TutorNerds. She attended the University of California, Irvine as an undergraduate and the University of Southampton in England as a graduate student. She has worked with students from the United States, Japan, South Korea, the European Union, and Africa.