The Website EVERY Student Needs to Know About

This is going to change your life.

A couple of days ago, I was just minding my own business, looking for an explanation for a question I had been assigned in my SAT prep class. Then I stumbled upon this website called Soft Schools.

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Initially, I was like “WTF did I just click on?!?”. I lowkey thought it was going to give me a virus. Luckily, it didn’t. But. Y’all. It’s amazing. It has articles explaining pretty much everything you would cover in grades 1-12.

I was really excited by its offerings for AP Chemistry. I just took AP Chem this year and I never had enough resources to practice or apply the new concepts I was learning. For anyone who has taken chem, you know that practice problems are the key to success. Soft Schools has practice questions for AP Chem with answers! on it’s website!

This website is amazing! I’m so in love. I just wish I had know it when I was actually taking AP Chem. I am so excited by this because you can access practice questions which is something even the AP Chemistry course on Khan Academy doesn’t have! I mean, this is pretty huge. Also, you could definitely use a review book like Barron’s to get practice questions, but still – this is free!

They have notes, articles, and quizzes for a bunch APs such as AP Geography, AP US History, AP Environmental Science which I’m planning on looking through to get ahead for school in the fall, and so many others.

Unfortunately, they don’t have all the APs, but something is better than nothing! Here’s a link to all the high school materials on the site.

They say (read: lie) that they have materials for calculus, but it’s basically all pre-calc stuff like logs and trig functions. So if you’re looking for calc help, I wouldn’t use this site. However, my friend who TA’d Calc I and took Calc BC last year said Khan Academy’s Calc curriculum and videos were really good and helpful. I’m planning to use Khan Academy for when I take calc in the fall.

Another really cool feature on their website are the history timelines. I always find timelines to be super helpful to get a broad idea about what was happening in a certain time period. On this website, they have ones pre-made for you. Generally, it’s better to make your own timeline. But if you just need a quick reference guide, this is a really good option. Honestly, the timelines in this website are organized in no particular manner or at least, I can’t tell what manner it’s organized in. For example, after the Rosa Parks timeline is on on the Civil War, so I don’t even know what’s happening there.

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Everyone and their mom needs to know about this website. It’s super helpful (though not super easy to use). Trust me, command+F will be your best friend when navigating this disorganized website. You’ll definitely have to plan around with the site a bit to get where you’re trying to go, but I think you’ll probably find exactly what you’re looking for when you (eventually) get there!

Sincerely,

Marie

How I am Studying for the AP Chemistry Exam

Photo from Unsplash.

This year has been crazy. Amidst all of the craziness that happened this spring, I totally blew off studying for my APs. This year I took two APs: AP United States History (APUSH) and AP Chemistry (AP Chem).

APUSH has been one of my favorite classes this year, so I didn’t really study for the AP as I had done well on all of my assignments (DBQs, SAQ, MC, tests etc.).

Chem on the other hand is a whole other beast. I love chemistry. I really hope. I hope to minor in chemistry in college, but boy has this class kicked my hiney this year. It’s been rough. I love my teacher, but it often feels like I don’t know what I don’t know. This is the scariest position to be in as a student because it’s unclear what you should do when you don’t know where your weaknesses are.

And ladies and gentlemen (+ non binary gentle-folk) , that is why I have put off studying for the Chemistry AP until 6 days before the make up exam. (I decided to take the make up exam because I was seriously unprepared for the May date)

Anyway, now I have no other choice, but to prepare for this exam. Also, studying chemistry is a very convenient excuse to not focus on my very, very sad math predicament right now.

Y’all. I promise I really am a good student, but this quarantine is doing stuff to me.

The Plan, as promised

I made this plan based off of the idea of active recall. I’ve been exposed to this idea from many different youtubers. If you want to learn more, I highly suggest you check out Janice Studies, UnJaded Jade, and Ali Abdaal.

Step 1

Make a plan. I created this google sheet so outline my goals and tasks for the next week until my exam.

My plan made using google sheets. I’m using the “Karla” font – my current fave!

As you can see, I have listed all of the units being covered on the exam this year.

Step 2

On AP Classroom, my teacher has opened all of the FRQ practice problems for us to do, so that’s my first step of studying. By taking the FQRs I can check my knowledge and see where the gaps are. Although I hate being and/or feeling unprepared, the act of grasping for the information, even if you can’t find it or it’s very time consuming/hard is valuable to building up the pathways in your brain to make the retrieval of that information in the future easier. Geez, what a sentence!

Step 3

I check my answers for the FRQs. When I check my answers, I write down the correct answer, the explanation, and where I went wrong/why. This process helps you identify where you went wrong, and helps you to have better reference materials in the future. I’ve actually gone back and looked at old practice problems and seeing where I went wrong helped me avoid that mistake or recognize it when I made the same mistake again.

Step 4

If I am understand the content, I will move on to take the Schoology quiz my teacher posted to make sure my understanding is solid. For those of you who don’t know, Schoology is an online school management system similar to blackboard, delta math, classroom dojo, and google classroom. In Schoology, your teachers post materials such as syllabi, study guides, test scores, quizzes, and homework. Schoology is the backbone of my school.

Step 5

If my understanding is incomplete then I will watch the AP Live Videos on youtube, linked here. These videos are a fantastic resource, and I highly recommend them, but they are super time consuming to watch. However, I have not found another source of such high quality videos that teach to the depth of APs. I also like Bozeman Science videos, but they’re a bit hit-or-miss with AP Chem, linked here.

Step 5

I label my mastery on the google sheet. Green is good, I definitely understand it. Yellow is a bit unsure, but I kinda go it. Red is Oh my Jesus, send help!

Overall, this is my study plan, we’ll see how well it works. I’ll update y’all in an upcoming blog post post June 2!

Having a plan is so important. It just makes everything feel more manageable. It’s like you’re no longer shooting into the dark. With a plan, you can see the target. It may be a tough shot, but you can see the target. That’s all you need.

Wish me luck!

Sincerely,

Marie