Updated: Oct 20
It’s almost finals season, and that means it’s time to study intensively for AP Bio! And while some people carry their test anxiety through their preparation time and into test day, you don’t have to. Just prepare as well as you can and trust yourself to let your hard work show through on the exam. Consider this your ultimate guide to preparing for your AP Biology finals and you will crush your exam, no sweat. Here are the most important tips and study hacks, specifically focused on how to absorb and review the massive amount of information you’ve accumulated throughout the semester.
Make and Stick To Study Plans
There is a saying by Dwight D. Eisenhower that goes, “Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” Many students overlook the study planning itself, which is invaluable for a reason. When you find yourself short on time with just weeks left till the exam, the simple act of planning can save you by offering you the flexibility, already established structure, and tactics with which you can maneuver through the failed plan. You may need to tweak a few things, maybe move back a schedule, or move it forward. Make a plan that includes both reviewing notes/textbook diagrams and intensively doing practice problems. Then stick to this plan. I can’t stress how important doing practice problems is -- and remember to check and review your answers afterward!
One of the errors you would commit as a student is to leave reading your books, especially in preparation for exams, early. It gives you enough time to cover your scope of study. Rush-reading only leaves you with much pressure, and even if you are the kind of student who performs under pressure, you will find it exceedingly helpful to start studying earlier. Remember, it’s studying for your final AP biology exams, and you may need to cover more than usual, ranging from topics you have learned from your first class in school to your very last; there are practical aspects to your study that would require quite some time. So, start studying early. Ideally, right after you finish reading this article!
Get A Study Partner (Preferably A Smart One!)
If you ever paid attention to your classmates or during group projects in school, then you already know that there are those who seem to have a grasp of certain subjects more than others. Find one, and get them to be your study buddy, that way, they can help you explain difficult areas in your study. That means you have to be ready to ask questions, do practical tests together, ask to read from their study notes, and be available to discuss what you have been studying. Talking about something, anything at all makes it easier to understand and remember. And it is especially helpful to quiz each other and explain complex concepts to each other, because teaching is really one of the most effective ways of learning.
AP biology covers a lot of scientific concepts and practical tests, so it is important for you to outline these areas of your study and study them carefully. With an outline, you know your scope and how much you have covered, which will help you plan better. Making diagrams such as concept maps will also allow you to make connections between different topics and often completely different chapters. The final exam is different from a normal unit or chapter test because it synthesizes all of the semester’s chapters together. This means that teachers often give problems that combine topics from multiple different chapters, requiring you to make those connections. If you go into the test already knowing those connections, though, you’re at an advantage.
Evaluate Places Of difficulty
In your previous tests from the semester, there may be areas where you didn’t do well; the smart thing to do is to always go back through your exams, labs, and assignments and look at those areas. While studying for your final exam, you should give more time to these areas, analyze them, and make sure you get fully understand (a) why you missed that problem and (b) why the correct answer is correct. It will also give you more time to study what you need to study the most. There are areas in your study where you need not study so much; that’s okay; knowing which areas need your attention the most would make it easier for you to achieve your study target.
When you take notes while reading or studying, you are writing down your understanding of the subject in a way that you will easily remember and understand what you have read when you go through the notes. When you see terms you do not know or find hard to remember, you can write those down and memorize them while going through them. Note-taking is also an avenue for you to note interesting points and carve out possible questions you would encounter during the examinations.
Lastly, Get a Prep Book
To be on a safe side, prep books usually have all the possible questions you can be asked, maybe in different forms, but they prepare you for the nature of your exams. It would almost feel as though you’d taken the exam before. Review books equip you with that familiarity and skill you would need when you get into the examination room and are faced with those questions. So, you would do yourself a lot of good by getting and finishing a couple of up-to-date AP Biology exam prep books, and then you are good to go.