AP Biology Test Strategies

AP Biology Test Strategies

Even nonbiologists know that the world constantly changes. Fifteen years ago there weren’t many cell phones. There weren’t many standardized tests, either. Nowadays, you can’t go a semester of school without taking some letter-jumble exam like the PSAT, SAT, ACT, BLAM, ZORK, or FWOOSH (some of those tests are fake, some aren’t). And right after leaving school, many students call their friends on their cell phones to talk about the test they all just took.

Rampant cell phone usage is a problem for another book; this one will concentrate on standardized testing. Because everyone reading this has taken a standardized test of one kind or another, you are all probably familiar with some of the general strategies that help students increase their scores on a standardized exam. Let’s review some of these.

 

  • Pacing

    Because many tests are timed, proper pacing allows someone to attempt every question in the time allotted. Poor pacing causes students to spend too much time on some questions to the point where they run out of time before completing all the questions.

  • Process of Elimination

    On every multiple-choice test you ever take, the answer is given to you. If you can eliminate answer choices you know are incorrect and only one choice remains, then that must be the correct answer.

  • Knowing When to Guess

    The AP Biology exam does not deduct points for wrong answers, while questions left unanswered receive zero points. That means you should always guess on a question you can’t answer any other way.

  • Recognizing Patterns and Trends

    The AP Biology exam doesn’t change greatly from year to year. Sure, each question won’t be the same, and different topics will be covered from one administration to the next, but there will also be a lot of overlap from one year to the next. Because of this, certain patterns can be uncovered regarding any standardized test. Learning about these trends and patterns can help students taking the test for the first time.

  • Taking the Right Approach

    Having the right mindset plays a large part in how well people do on a test. Those students who are nervous about the exam and hesitant to make guesses often fare much worse than students with an aggressive, confident attitude.

Learning these strategies can help you succeed on the AP Biology test and other standardized tests. But if you are not prepared or become stressed out, your score can suffer. Here are five major takeaways to rock the AP Biology test:

  • Strategies

    Remember the keys to Kaplan’s general test-taking strategies:

    • Pacing 
    • Process of Elimination 
    • Knowing When to Guess 
    • Recognizing Patterns and Trends 
    • Taking the Right Approach 
  • Stress Management

    Know how to manage your stress. You can beat anxiety the same way you can beat the AP Biology exam—by knowing what to expect beforehand and developing strategies to deal with it.

  • Take Practice Tests

    Take Kaplan’s diagnostic test to learn your test-taking strengths and weaknesses. Knowing these will allow you to focus on your problem areas as you prepare for Test Day.

  • Get Organized

    Make a study schedule between now and Test Day, and give yourself plenty of time to prepare. Waiting until the last minute to cram an entire semester’s worth of information is not only unwise but also exhausting.

  • Make a Game Plan.

    Have a Test Day game plan ready to go. Have everything you need to bring to the exam ready the night before. On the morning of the test, make it a priority to eat a good breakfast. Avoid an overindulgence of caffeine. Read something to warm up your brain. And finally, get to the test site early.

These points are all valid for every standardized test, but they are quite broad in scope. If you want to get more practice applying concepts, check out the multiple choice, data, grid-in, reading, and free response questions. To get a comprehensive review of AP Biology, check out the Kaplan AP Biology book.