Tips for preparing students of color for AP exams

If you’re like most teachers, identifying what your Advanced Placement students of color may need to help prepare for AP exams might be challenging as these students have been historically underrepresented in AP classes. Here are some tips for helping students of color feel more at home and comfortable with the AP exams.

Tips for teachers:

  • Give lots of practice tests and then have students share at least one response that they did really well; that way they are owning their answer and can feel proud of it.
  • Give shoutouts to students who did really well on a practice test. This will boost confidence.
  • Have students practice using positive self-talk before and during practice tests.
  • Go over mnemonics and templates you give to them to help them learn how to score full points on open responses.
  • Have students be ready to explain why they completed a task/question/prompt the way they did on practice tests.
  • Have students provide classmates with feedback on what they’re doing well and ways you think they can improve and have students be ready to receive the same feedback.
  • Try to build strong relationships with parents and explain how AP exams can be stressful to students.
  • Try to reword colloquialisms and give multicultural examples.

Tips for your students:

  • Have students research study habits that they feel they may be able to incorporate in their lives. When studying becomes a habit and you get good at it, learning is easier.
  • Tell students to create study habits and establish patterns that they might not already have (ambient sounds, special drink or food only for study time, lighting and location, etc.).
  • Have students schedule study time and keep track of time spent studying.
  • Have students set aside time to study each night as homework.
  • Create virtual study groups.
  • Remind students that they should not feel bad about ditching their friends to study.

Perspective for Teachers and Students

While students hope to score a 5 on the exam, remember that taking AP classes are preparation for college and beyond.  Regardless of the score, research shows that students who take AP classes tend to be well prepared to take on the demands of college courses.  Students not achieving a qualifying score still feel more confident in the subject matter the second time around when taking the class in college.  AP teachers and students should be proud that students have taken rigorous classes with high standards, especially during this year away from the traditional classroom setting.

Ursula Hunt and Kimberly Frazier-Booth, both AP teachers, are founding members of Mass Insight’s Advanced Placement Teachers of Color Advisory Council. Click here to learn about the APTOC Advisory Council.

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