2 How to Plan Your Time
STEP 1 Set Up Your Study Plan
IN THIS CHAPTER:
Summary: The right preparation plan for you depends on your study habits, your own strengths and weaknesses, and the amount of time you have to prepare for the test. Take the diagnostic test in the next chapter to assess your strengths and weaknesses and get started.
Create a study plan that best suits your needs. It should consider your strengths and weaknesses, your study habits, and the amount of time you have to prepare for the AP Psychology exam.
The first step in creating your study plan is to take the diagnostic test in the next chapter; it will help identify where you need to prioritize your review.
Your study plan will depend on when you start your test preparation. You can choose a full school year, a one-semester, or a six-week timeline for your plan.
Your Personalized Study Plan for the AP Psychology Exam
Your study plan will be unique to your needs—your strengths and weaknesses and the amount of time you have to review. It’s up to you to decide how you want to use this book to study for the AP Psychology exam. This book is designed for flexibility; you can work through it in order or skip around however you want. In fact, no two students who purchase this book will probably use it in exactly the same way.
The first step in developing your plan is to take the diagnostic exam in the next chapter. This is a practice exam that closely mirrors the actual exam. By taking the diagnostic test, you’ll find out exactly what the exam is like, and you can plan realistically to prepare for it. The diagnostic test also tells you what you are reasonably good at and what things you need to practice. Identify your weaknesses and focus on these first.
Also helpful in identifying strengths and weaknesses are the chapter summary and the key ideas that begin each content review chapter. Use these to test yourself to determine if you need to carefully review the chapter or if your knowledge will allow you to skip it and move on to chapters that you need to study more completely.
Three Timelines for Preparing for the AP Psychology Exam
Besides your strengths and weaknesses, another factor to consider is the amount of time you have to prepare for the test. This includes not only how long you have before the exam but also the amount of time you have to devote to the review effort. For example, for students who are taking more than one AP course and have to divide their study time among many demands, it is especially important to prioritize the areas they need to review.
Following are three timelines for study plans based on how long you have before the test. Decide on a timeline for your study plan, and get started.
The School-Year Timeline
Choose this timeline if you like to take your time going through the material. Following this plan will allow you to practice your skills and develop your confidence gradually. You should go through the chapters in the book as you go through the units of your course. Take the diagnostic exam during Christmas break, the first practice exam during spring break, and the final practice exam a week before the actual exam. You will be able to see your progress!
This book is filled with explanatory material and practice exercises. Beginning to work through the chapters at the beginning of the school year will allow you to get to all the material in the book and maximize your preparation for the exam.
The One-Semester Timeline
Starting in the middle of the school year should give you ample time to review and prepare for the exam. Begin by taking the diagnostic exam in the next chapter; this will give you an idea of what the test is like. You’ll get sense of how hard the test will be for you, how much time you need to devote to practice, and which type of questions or tasks you most need to work on. Then skip around in this book, prioritizing the chapters that you most need to review or that you find most difficult. Take the first practice exam during spring break and the final practice exam a week or a few days before you take the actual test.
The Six-Week Timeline
OK, maybe you procrastinated a bit too long. But this might not be a problem if you are doing well in your AP Psychology class. In fact, preparation for the exam is included in most AP classes, so you may be better prepared for the exam than you realize.
Start by taking the diagnostic test in the next chapter to find out what the actual test will be like and to identify the chapters you most need to review. With limited time, it is especially important to prioritize wisely the areas you need to review. If you found the practice test difficult, try to devote as much time as possible to reviewing the chapters you found most difficult, especially to the practice problems in these chapters. Save time to take the practice exams at the back of this book; take the final one a few days before you take the actual test. Even if you did well on the diagnostic test, you should take both practice exams; taking them will give you experience in pacing yourself within the time limits of the exam.
When to Take the Practice Exams
Most students should take the diagnostic test in Chapter 3 when they begin the test preparation. Taking the test will show you what the actual exam will be like, and based on your performance, you can identify your strong points as well as the weaknesses you’ll need to focus on. Take the first practice exam at the end of this book during spring break or midway through your test preparation to measure your progress and see if your priorities should change. Take the final practice exam a week, or perhaps only a few days, before the actual test.
The practice tests are perhaps the most important part of this book. Taking them will accomplish all of the following:
• Give you practice with all the different types of questions you’ll encounter on the AP Psychology exam
• Allow you to measure your progress and identify areas you need to focus on in your test preparation
• Allow you to practice pacing yourself with the time limits imposed on the test
Following are some things to remember as you plan your test preparation effort, regardless of when you start and how long you plan to practice:
• Establish a specific calendar of review so you stay on schedule and check off tasks as you complete them.
• Use your mobile phone to time yourself every time you take a timed test.
• Take advantage of the practice tests in this book. They are your friends.
• Don’t stay up the night before the test trying to do some last-minute cramming; this may be counterproductive.