AP Tests are nearly here – What can we do to help reduce stress?


This year AP tests will be different for all of us. 

No matter how many hours are spent studying a topic, reading important material or taking practice exams, stress about tests is still very real. 

We are sharing some of our best tips and tricks to help ease your stress and test anxiety, as you get ready to bubble in your answers. 

It’s no secret that the past year has been a rollercoaster, especially for students who have incorporated extracurriculars, after-school jobs and Advanced Placement, or AP, classes into their schedules. While all of these help a student stand out on college applications and help add rigor to their education, it does not come easy. Students everywhere experience stress when it comes to tests. AP tests are typically paid for, and the scores are highly anticipated every summer because high scores often mean they satisfy college credits or allow a student to jump into higher challenge classes. So perhaps especially when it comes to AP exams and the stakes are high, stress around testing is something we can prepare for.

It’s important for students to be able to learn to cope with the stress that comes along with exams, and also realize that they are not alone. 


Testing Tips : 


  1. Be prepared. Being prepared is easier said than done, however, students who have spent a year learning the material are way more prepared than they think. At this point in the year, students can review what they have learned, study with others and take practice exams. If students haven’t made flashcards, it’s not too late to get key vocabulary, concepts and chronologies written out for review. Other tools for review – including videos – can be found online, and students should review the questions they get wrong. 
  2. Have a positive attitude. A student’s mindset is everything when it comes to performance on a test. If they are feeling confident and strong, they are more likely to do better than someone going into an exam prepared for failure. Educators play a large role in students’ attitudes, and this is important to remember while in the classroom. It can be helpful to have students remember how much they have learned, how they have stayed on track, and how much they have prepared. 
  3. Realize that stress can be a good thing. While stress is oftentimes talked about negatively, it is your body’s way of reminding you that what you are doing is important. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, short-term stress can be beneficial. It boosts attention as well as memory performance. If you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed, please know that is a good idea to take a break. (https://www.textbookhub.com/taking-breaks-during-online-learning/)
  4. Take the longer view. AP Exams are important, but it is more important for students to recognize that their score does not define who they are as people. Taking AP classes is a challenge to learn more and with more rigor. That in itself is a great value. Students should aim to do the best they can and know that they have learned a lot along the way. Regardless of the final score, as long as a student is giving something their all, they are on the path to success.


What can help?

While students prepare for the exams, they can also prepare for stress. Educators have the most important role in this. Teachers might remind students to stretch, breathe, get some exercise or fresh air, talk to a trusted adult or friend, maintain healthy sleep patterns and good nutrition, avoiding all-nighters or cramming, and to recognize stress and when to reach out. There are many other great ideas teachers have for increasing communication, support, healthy habits, and taking a break that fits with specific students and classes. 


This year, all end-of-year exams are different. Some students will have learned remotely all year, while others have had some in-person learning. And some exams themselves maybe online. Exams may cause stress or anxiety. Through communicating with our students, giving them the resources that they need, and providing support, we can help students recognize and manage these stresses and have a better experience with exams.

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