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The Ultimate Guide to Conquering AP/IB Exams

Why Your AP & IB Exams Are Important 

AP and IB exams can have a significant impact on college admissions and beyond. Performing well can enhance your college application and showcase your academic abilities. High AP scores can help contextualize the difficulty of your courses and reflect positively on your overall academic performance, increasing the competitiveness of your profile. Achieving high scores can also translate into college credit in certain cases (i.e. if you receive a 3+ in AP Physics, that translates to PHY 302K, 105M at UT Austin), allowing you to bypass prerequisite courses and delve into more advanced studies. Students can utilize the AP Credit Policy Search to review requirement scores for each of their participating schools. 

Similarly, IB exam scores are crucial in the admissions process for colleges and universities worldwide. Admissions officers review IB scores to assess a student's academic preparation, intellectual curiosity, and potential to succeed in higher education. High IB scores can set applicants apart and demonstrate their commitment to an academically rigorous curriculum.

Even if you aren’t enrolled in AP/IB courses at your school, you can still register to take an AP/IB exam for subjects you are interested in. This is a great option, especially when courses aren’t offered at a student’s school or they have a scheduling conflict. You can find instructions on manually registering for an exam on the College Board website.

Although these exams won't solely define your college applications, they serve as valuable tools to demonstrate your capabilities and give you an advantage. College Board reports on the Benefits of AP by stating that students who take AP courses signal to colleges that they’re serious about their education and willing to challenge themselves with rigorous coursework. 85% of selective colleges and universities report that a student’s AP experience favorably impacts admission decisions. A survey of more than 4,000 students conducted by the International Insight Research Group in partnership with the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO) showed that the acceptance rate of IB students into Ivy League universities is up to 18% higher than the total population acceptance rate. The gap is even more significant for top-ranked universities outside of the Ivy League, where it is 22% higher, on average. Therefore, it's worth putting in the effort and striving for success in your AP and IB exams.

Set Goal Scores

In order to set feasible goal scores for yourself, the first step is to realistically evaluate your knowledge and confidence in the different exams that you plan to take. You can do this by evaluating your current grades in each unit, your familiarity with course content, and by taking practice diagnostic tests to see how you fare before you start studying. 

AP/IB exam scores are self-reported by students. Students should aim to only submit AP scores of 4+ and/or IB scores of 5+ to demonstrate mastery of the content/subject. 

How to Study

With your goals in mind, it’s time to start studying! AP and IB exams require you to review content from that class in its entirety. Researching the breakdown of the exams can help you determine what areas to focus on. You can find breakdowns on College Board for AP exams and on the International Baccalaureate website for IB exams. Reviewing all notes and class material can also help you prepare for the final test. Your teachers may even give you study guides. Other resources for studying include study prep books, YouTube channels, tutoring, and cram classes.

* Here is a link to B2A’s Spring Schedule, which includes AP Exam Intensive Classes and 1:1 tutoring to support students during their AP/IB study journey.

Once you know what you need to study, it's time to create a schedule! It’s important to develop a schedule for studying so that you can spend the appropriate time preparing for each exam outside of homework assignments and class. Take note of your exam date(s) as knowing how much time you have will help you break up your study plan accordingly. You should aim to spend 2-5 hours/week per exam preparing and studying. The amount of time spent studying will vary as the exam dates get closer. Your study schedule and amount of time should also take into account your personal schedule and availability and your level of confidence with the content. May test dates will be here sooner than you know, so start studying now!

Next, it’s time to figure out how you study best. Determine if you are an auditory, global, tactile/kinesthetic, analytical, or visual learner by taking this test. Below is a breakdown of study techniques specific to your learning style. 

B2A is here to help! 

Need help creating a test prep schedule tailored to your goals? Want to discuss what AP/IB scores you need for your favorite colleges or which preparation style fits your learning best? Set up a 1:1 consultation with our front desk  to receive professional guidance and/or feedback on their application materials.

Looking for extra support in your studying? Reach out to our front desk to discuss AP Exam Intensive Classes and tutoring available! Click here for more information and to set-up an appointment with a B2A counselor today!


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