You collapse into your bed after a long night of reading notes. A groan escapes your mouth as you set your alarm for 6 AM the next morning—you have to be at school bright and early for the exam.
Your brow creases. You hope you studied enough. You hope you won’t get nervous and blank on all of the things you’ve learned. Please help me do good on this test tomorrow, you ask God, and your muscles relax as you drift into sleep.
AP testing starts next week, and it can be pretty stressful. I understand, after having taken an AP test last year and currently studying for two this year.
Though I don’t usually become stressed easily, having to study for big tests is something that gets to me sometimes. However, my faith in God and things I have learned help me to balance studying better.
Here are three pieces of advice for studying for AP tests as a believer.
#1: First Things First
Have you ever heard the song First Things First by Consumed by Fire? It is about putting the most important things, spiritual things, first in life.
First thing’s first / To seek Your will / Not my own, West sings.
While we are studying, it is important not to make studying more important than God. That doesn’t necessarily mean to push off studying so we can spend time with God, but to include God in our studying.
Pray to do well on your tests. Study hard and use time wisely because you recognize the time you have is from God. God should be a huge part of our lives in important times like preparing for end-of-year exams.
Putting the most important things first doesn’t only apply to spiritual things, but to school as well. If you finish the long assignment you’ve been putting off or study that one subject you’ve been avoiding, there’s less of a chance of having to stay up late completing the task. After you finish, you might have time to relax and unwind, too.
The most important things should be done first, not saved until the last minute. I’m guilty of this more than anyone–I’m even posting this article late because I didn’t make as much time for writing as I should have. However, I know from experience that though it may not be easier, it is more productive to get important things done before less important tasks.
#2: Make Studying Enjoyable
When studying becomes boring, you don’t learn things as well. It’s hard to make studying fun, but making it more enjoyable can help keep you focused.
Personally, I can’t study well when I’m tired. Trying to make yourself work when you’re already worn out doesn’t usually turn out well.
Sometimes, studying while you’re tired can’t be helped if the only time you have to study is late at night or early in the morning. However, if you have the time to study for your AP test for even ten minutes during the day, take the chance and see if it improves the quality of your studying. Since you have more energy, the topics you learn will probably stick better.
Another idea to make studying more enjoyable is to give yourself rewards while you’re studying. When I was younger, I used to read a chapter of Harry Potter after studying for a while to reward myself. Then, I would get back to studying and do it efficiently because I looked forward to my next break.
You could take a ten minute dance break after studying for 30 minutes. You could go to the kitchen for a piece of chocolate after every five pages you read. You could take a few minutes to listen to worship music or read your favorite Bible story to relax your brain.
Then, when you return to studying, your mind will be rejuvenated. You may be able to study better than you were able to before not only because your mind is more rested, but because you look forward to the next time you can take a break and reward yourself.
#3: Study Smarter
When I first started studying for my AP Environmental Science test, I wanted to review everything we had learned and read my entire thick review book. That may have been doable if I had started studying earlier and didn’t have so much on my plate.
But with my current schedule, it didn’t take me long to figure out I wasn’t going to be able to read my whole review book.
Maybe you’ve experienced something similar when you had a plan for the way you were going to study, but the plan didn’t turn out to be as achievable as you thought it would be. If you know it’s going to be hard to review everything you’re supposed to, try to focus on reviewing the topics that will help you the most.
Is there a topic you struggled with during class? Focus your studying on that topic instead of the ones you understood well so that you don’t miss questions from that subject on the exam.
Is there a certain unit that shows up more than other units in AP questions? Hone in on learning that unit since it is more important to you passing the exam overall.
Though you want to understand everything you need for the exam, studying the topics that show up most on the exam or the units you didn’t completely understand is very helpful. Especially if your exam is soon, this can make sure you don’t waste time studying things you already know or topics that the test doesn’t focus on.
Putting the most important things first, making studying enjoyable, and studying the topics that are most important can help you make the most of studying for your AP or end of year exams. If you are taking an AP exam next week or the week after, good luck! (Not that you need it ;)).
I’m praying that you do well and I hope you found these studying tips helpful.
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