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!



Biology Study with Me + Tips

My Biology Tips and tricks blog post pic 4-15-20

Hi y’all!

Today, I will be sharing a time-lapse of me answering some questions to study for my upcoming biology quiz and some of my favorite tips for studying biology. Link to my study with me. 

Right now, I’m taking Honors biology as a junior. Honors Junior biology at my school goes into the same depth as AP Biology, but covers fewer topics and doesn’t really have the label emphasis that AP Bio has.

Bio has been my hardest class this year, so I’ve really had to sharpen my study skills. Here are my tips!

Read the textbook before class.

This is huge. I cannot emphasize this enough. Biology isn’t really that hard conceptually, but there are so. many. freaking. details. To keep ahead of the curve, preview the material (if you can, take notes) the night before, so you’re not totally blindsided in class the next day.

Study early and often

Units such as biochemistry, cellular respiration, and digestion have a lot of moving parts. As soon as you complete learning a concept, begin to study it even if the unit (or the test) isn’t near. This is when you should start making your flashcards. I didn’t listen to my biology teacher when she told me to study the Lewis diagrams of the functional groups every day, I got a D+ on that test. Don’t make the same mistake I did. If your teacher gives you a practice test, do it! Make sure you study before taking the review test though, so it will be a truer description of what you actually know. Do it a day or two before the test, and review your mistakes and correct them.

Go to office hours

This goes without saying, but don’t wait to the last minute to clarify a concept you don’t understand. If your teacher says something you don’t understand in class, jot it down, and go to office hours at the earliest possible time and ask about it. Teachers often explain concepts so that the largest portion of the class can understand, but they know some students won’t get it and will likely be able to explain it another way. But you’ll never know unless you try.

Online resources

I don’t think I can say enough good things about Bozeman Science! Honestly, some of the best content for AP Science classes. 10/10 would recommend. I have a system when it comes to watching online videos in biology. I watch the Amoeba Sisters first because their videos provide easy-to-follow but basic explanations of concepts. Then I watch the Khan Academy videos to get a bit more detail. Lastly, once I kind of understand what’s happening, then I watch the Bozeman Science videos to cement the knowledge in finer details.

Make comprehensive study guides

Biology is a memorization intensive class. You can’t get around studying, so you might as well get good at it. I recommend using the provided study materials such as a list of topics that will be on the test and working from there. Make study guides by using your lecture and textbook notes together to explain the topics and concepts on the test.

Good luck with biology. It’s my least favorite science, but I hope with these tips it won’t be as miserable for you as it is for me. Haha.

Buena suerte,