Top Free Resources for AP Exam Preparation


Who should take the AP exams?

Advanced Placement or AP exams have been very popular among international students for many years now. These exams, although not mandatory, go a long way in boosting the admission chances of students into Ivy League universities or the top universities in the USA and in some other countries such as Germany and Singapore. 

As the name suggests, AP exams have advanced-level curricula that students usually encounter in college. When international students apply for college admission to the US, they usually compete in their own country pool. In this pool, there would be thousands of students with good school academics, strong extracurricular profiles, and good SAT scores. What then would be a differentiating factor for universities looking to pick up the cream? AP exams play a significant role here – elevating the profile of a student and making them stand out to university admission committees.

Why should the students take AP exams?

There are many advantages of taking the AP exams:

  1. Earn credits so that you can free up your time for more courses or even plan for a second major.
  2. Even if you have scored low marks in the AP exams, the preparation still helps you to transition from high school to college. 
  3. Preparing for AP exams tells the admissions officer how committed you are for the college-level work. 

What AP subjects should I choose?

The question is: what AP exams should a student take? The answer is simple: the subjects that a student chooses have to be domain-specific. The whole purpose of taking the AP exams is to showcase to the admissions committee a student’s expertise and interest level in that particular domain. It’s not surprising that Ivy League universities subtly mention on their website how AP exams can significantly boost the chances of college admissions. AP exams have a double-pronged advantage: they may help you gain scholarships through your academic prowess and they may help you gain early credits so that you can skip some introductory college courses and thereby save on your overall time and cost of living.

How to prepare for the AP exams?

AP exams

Once the decision has been made regarding the AP subjects, the plan for preparation has to be laid out. AP aspirants need to bear in mind that in India, these exams are held only once a year – in the May-June window every year. Hence the planning for the entire prep journey needs to be done meticulously. Students need to get accustomed to the higher-level content and question types. They need to get enough practice to get acquainted with free-response questions. Hence, they need to make the correct study plan as well as choose the correct study resources.

Free Resources for AP prep

There are numerous free AP courses and resources available online, but not all of them are up to the mark. Of course, students can get an idea by looking at the free content available on the College Board, but that is inadequate for prolonged preparation. It can just start you off on your journey but it’s not sustainable. AP Central is the College Board’s official center for AP teachers and students. It provides a wealth of resources, including exam tips, sample questions, exam scoring guidelines, and course-specific content. Khan Academy is another popular choice among students looking for free resources on SAT and AP exams. However, it does not have full-length practice tests without which your preparation will be deemed incomplete. Additionally, their resources have often proved not at par with the complexity of questions seen on the actual exam.

There are various free videos and AP crash courses available on YouTube but these once again cannot serve as primary preparation materials and can be used as supplementary content. One of the most important ones is the Advanced Placement YouTube channel. It has more than 250,000 subscribers and covers most subjects. The content is AP  exams aligned and the videos are paced well with good teaching style. Some websites give students a platform with full-length practice exams and free response questions and answers on various AP subjects. However, most of the resources carry a nominal charge, ranging from $19 to $79. Another similar one is the AP Practice Exams website which offers study materials, full-length tests, and practice questions. The content is well aligned to the actual AP exams but the website is linked to various tutoring services which may not always be of the best quality.

Additionally, some universities abroad and some retired foreign professors have their own websites and YouTube channels where you can access some free AP courses up to a certain level beyond which most of the levels need to be paid for or subscriptions need to be purchased. Moreover, there aren’t enough tests available for practice and for most of these cases, the content is not AP aligned.

Some websites have free e-books that can be accessed but the content may be out of date. In general, you do need to buy good study materials for AP like the the Princeton Review Series. You may also need guided practice to understand the nuances of how to get a perfect AP score.

How to prepare for the AP exams?

  1. Find out what areas should you be reviewing. Concepts that were rarely covered in school should get more importance. Prepare yourself to work on all the question types.
  2. Make a study plan and follow it. The study plan should be detailed and tell you what needs to be studied every week till the exam is over.
  3. The study material that you choose should contain detailed explanations for key concepts, and quality practice tests and questions. 
  4. Use practice questions and tests to improve your AP skills.
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Are the free resources and content available all over the Internet enough to prepare for AP exams?

While the free resources and free content available on various platforms would be a good starting point for your AP course prep, it is not comprehensive enough to equip you with all kinds of question types and strategies required to tackle the complexities of the exam. Additionally, most of the free content available is foundation or introductory level material which may not be at par with the level of the actual questions asked on the AP exams.

Which books should I buy for AP prep?

Both the Princeton Review series books are comprehensive sources for preparing for the AP exam. These are available in both paperback and Kindle versions on Amazon and Flipkart.

Do AP exams have an eligibility criterion?

AP exams can be taken by any student under the age of 21 years and not yet started college.

Are AP exams mandatory for university applications?

AP exams are optional. It is not a mandatory requirement for university admissions. However, taking AP exams may significantly boost the chances of admission and scholarships for international students.

How do I submit my AP scores to the schools I am applying for? Is there a fee?

Students have the option of sending their AP scores for free to one college as part of the registration fee. Beyond the one college, additional AP scores can be sent by paying a fee of $15 per report.

My school does not offer AP. How should I prepare for the exams?

You may wish to explore various top AP course providers who have specialized AP subject tutors who can guide you through the entire prep journey. Besides online free resources available, guided practice will be essential for understanding the nuances of each subject.

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