5 Steps to a 5: AP Physics 1: Algebra-Based 2017 (2016)

STEP 1

Get to Know the Exam and Set Up Your Study Program

CHAPTER 3

How to Use Your Time

IN THIS CHAPTER

Summary: You’ll need to set up a study plan that’s personalized to fit your needs and the amount of time you have to prep for the test. This chapter provides information and advice to get you started and outlines what you can do if you have a full year, a semester, or only a few weeks left until test day.

Key Ideas

   It’s not possible to “game” the test—you have to really know your physics. Last-minute cramming won’t work since the exam tests your skills and understandings, not your ability to remember facts and formulas.

   The most important part of your test prep plan is your AP Physics 1, Algebra-Based course.

   Personalize your study plan. Focus your test prep on the topics and types of questions that you find the most troublesome.

   Essential elements of any test prep plan are (1) familiarizing yourself with the test, (2) learning the best strategies to use in approaching each of the question types, and (3) taking practice tests.

Personalizing Your Study Plan

First, it’s important for you to know that the AP Exam is an authentic physics test. What this means is that it’s not possible to “game” this test—in order to do well, you must know your physics . It’s not possible to slack off and then cram for the test and expect to do well.

The most important part of your study plan is your AP Physics 1 class, which is in fact designed to teach the knowledge and skills required on the exam. Diligent attention to all your lectures, demonstrations, and assignments will save you preparation time in the long run. (See Chapter 6 for strategies to get the most out of your class.)

Your study plan should be personalized based on your needs. Use the diagnostic tools in Step 2 to identify your weaknesses and then build a plan that focuses on these. If you’re comfortable with kinematics and projectile problems, why would you spend any time on these? On the other hand, if you’re worried about, say, collisions, then spend a couple of evenings reviewing and practicing how to deal with them. Focusing on weaknesses, rather than starting at the beginning and trying to review everything, will allow you to use the time you have to produce the maximum benefit.

Every reader of this book will have a different study plan. You can’t follow some one-size-fits-all timetable, and you shouldn’t start at the beginning of your course and try to review absolutely everything—you won’t be able to do it. Your study plan depends not only on the topics you most need to review, but also on the types of exam questions you find most difficult, and the amount of time you have to study. Develop a realistic plan, and stick to it.

Regardless of when you start to prepare or how much content you want to review, your study plan should include these essential elements:

  • Familiarize yourself with the test (Chapters 1and 2 )
  • Learn the best strategies to approach each type of test question (Chapters 7through 9 )
  • Take complete practice tests (Step 5).

Plan A: You Have a Full School Year to Prepare

If you’re opening this book at the beginning of the school year, you’re off to a good start. Here’s what you can do:

First Semester

  • Read Chapter 5on how to get the most out of your AP Physics 1 class.
  • Begin to familiarize yourself with the test (Chapters 1and 2 ).
  • Start practicing the strategies to approach the different types of questions found on the test (Chapters 7through 9 ).
  • You can work through the review chapters in this book (Chapters 10to 18 ) as you study the same topics in your AP course. This will help you by providing a different perspective on the key content and ensuring you really understand the physics you need to know. Practice using the strategies presented in Chapters 7 through 9 to approach the test-like, free-response questions at the end of each review chapter.

Second Semester

  • Keep working through the review chapters as you progress through the physics course.
  • About three months before the AP Exam, use the diagnostic tools in Chapters 4and 5 to assess your weaknesses. Try to identify both the content areas and types of questions you have the most difficulty with. Then focus your test prep review on the weaknesses you identify.

Six Weeks Before the Test

  • Continue to focus on the areas of weakness that you identified based on the self-tests in Chapters 4and 5 .
  • Review the strategies in Chapters 7through 9 to make sure you approach the questions in ways that will help you get your best score.
  • Be sure to take the practice tests (Step 5) a couple of weeks before the real test. These tests closely resemble the actual AP Physics 1 Exam. They will help you learn to pace yourself and allow you to experience what the test is really like. Then focus any final content review on the areas that proved troublesome on the practice tests. Also allocate some time to practice answering the question types that gave you the biggest problems.
  • Be confident. You’ve worked all year, and you’re really set to do your best.

Plan B: You Have One Semester to Prepare

Most students begin a test prep plan in the second semester. You should still have time to use this book to familiarize yourself with the test, learn the best strategies to approach each type of question, review the topics you find most troublesome, and take practice tests. Here’s what you can do:

Second Semester

  • Read Chapter 5on how to get the most out of your AP Physics 1 class.
  • Familiarize yourself with the test (Chapters 1and 2 ).
  • Practice the strategies to approach the different types of questions found on the test (Chapters 7to 9 ).
  • Two or three months before the AP Exam, use the diagnostic tools in Chapters 4and 5 to assess your weaknesses. Try to identify both the content areas and types of questions you have the most difficulty with. Then focus your test prep review on the topics you identify.

Six Weeks Before the Test

  • Continue to focus on the areas of weakness that you identified based on the self-tests in Chapters 4and 5 .
  • Review the strategies in Chapters 7through 9 to make sure you approach the questions in ways that will help you get your best score.
  • Be sure to take the practice tests (Step 5) a couple of weeks before the real test. They will help you learn to pace yourself and allow you to experience what the test is really like. Then focus any final content review on the areas in which you didn’t do as well. Also practice the question types that proved problematic.
  • Be confident. You know the test and the best strategies for the different question types. In addition, you’ve reviewed the areas in which you felt weakest, and you’ve taken a practice test. You’re set to get a good score.

Plan C: You Have Six Weeks to Prepare

Six weeks should be plenty of time to prepare for the AP Exam. You’ve been working diligently in your class all year, learning the topics as they’ve been presented. These last weeks should be spent putting it all together. Focus on the topics you feel you most need to review and on problems that cover multiple concepts in one question. Use your test prep time not to try to cram for the test (it won’t work), but to familiarize yourself with the exam and learn the best strategies to use to approach the different question types. Most important, take the practice tests in Step 5 of this book. Here’s what you can do:

Six Weeks Before the Test

  • Familiarize yourself with the test (Chapters 1and 2 ).
  • Practice the strategies to approach the different types of questions found on the test (Chapters 7to 9 ).
  • Use the diagnostic tools in Chapters 4and 5 to assess your weaknesses. Try to identify both the content areas and types of questions you have the most difficulty with. Then pick only a few areas on which to focus your test prep review and learn them well. Don’t try to cover everything.
  • Be sure to take the practice tests (Step 5) at least a week before the real test. They will help you learn to pace yourself and give you a trial run so you can experience what the test is really like. Then focus any final content review on the areas on which you didn’t do as well. Also focus on the question types that gave you the biggest problems.
  • Be confident. You know the test and the best strategies for the different question types. In addition, you’ve reviewed the areas in which you felt weakest and you’ve taken a practice test. If you’ve also used your AP course to really learn physics, you’re set to get a good score.