Aug 02

Maximizing AP Scores: Tips for International School Students

by Trent Baumbach

Maximizing AP Scores: Tips for International School Students

Introduction

Scoring high on Advanced Placement (AP) exams can be key when demonstrating your academic prowess to top universities. Since most American high schools offer AP classes, achieving top scores on AP exams can be particularly meaningful for international students studying in Tokyo who hope to attend college in the US, as it proves your ability to succeed in college-level American curriculum. 

However, the consistent, strategic effort needed to get a high score can seem overwhelming. To make things easier, below we’ve compiled 6 specific, data-backed techniques for improving performance on AP exams.

Do you want to improve your chances of getting into a top-tier university? Schedule your consultation with Tokyo Academics today!

Top 6 ways to maximize your AP score

 

  1. Understand the Exam Format

Familiarizing yourself with test formats can lead to better performance. According to a study published in the Journal of Applied School Psychology, students who knew the exam structure performed significantly better (up to 23%) than those who didn’t. By grounding themselves in the knowledge of the exam structure itself, such as what types of questions are asked, students will know what type of material to focus on when studying and manage their time better during the exam.

  1. Regularly Review Course Material

The publication Psychological Science in the Public Interest found that long-term retention rates can increase by up to 35% when studying over a long period of time, instead of cramming. Whether more structured in the form of a study schedule or more sporadically when time allows, students should regularly review course material to keep it fresh in their mind. Working with a private tutor weekly can be a big help, as they will keep you up to speed on new material and ensure old topics are periodically reviewed.

  1. Use AP Study Guides and Practice Tests

Each AP exam has ample free, online materials for exam preparation. The College Board itself, which administers AP exams, has free resources for all AP courses. Familiar academic sites such as Khan Academy and The Princeton Review also offer treasure troves of information designed to aid in your exam preparation. AP practice tests may be the best form of exam preparation though, with Psychological Science finding that students who took practice tests had an average performance increase of 20% over those who didn’t. AP mock exams have the added benefit of helping students familiarize themselves with the questions and pace of each test. 

 

  1. Review Your Mistakes

Oftentimes, students focus on the score instead of the material itself. The Journal of Experimental Psychology highlighted the importance of reviewing missed questions, finding that students who reviewed and understood their mistakes had an improvement rate of 25% in subsequent performances. Any time a student misses a question, it’s key to make note of the question type and content. This will help with making a study plan to cover any gaps.

  1. Join Study Groups or Classes

Research from the American Psychological Association indicated that studying in groups can increase academic achievement by approximately 30%, clearly showing how collaborative learning can be a game-changer. Whether in the form of meeting with classmates or signing up for a structured group class, working in groups will ensure students have meaningful conversations about the course material and get more questions answered. 

  1. Build Writing Skills

Regular practice in timed writing can improve test writing scores by up to 24%, according to a study in Assessing Writing. For exams with free-response sections, students must learn to clearly and concisely articulate their thoughts. Since the written section material on AP exams can often come from any part of the curriculum, students should practice timed writing for several different topics, on a regular basis.

What Japanese international schools offer AP Classes? Are they even worth taking?

As mentioned in our blog How AP Self-Study Boosts Your College Application, taking AP exams (whether through your school or by self-studying) offers college credit and advanced standing, supplements IB studies, demonstrates academic excellence, shows initiative and independence, highlights your strengths, and can even provide evidence of your English proficiency.

This means YES, AP exams are absolutely worth taking, even if you have to self-study!

Please see this link for College Board information on all Japanese international schools offering AP courses. The table below summarizes availability for several schools in the Tokyo area.

School Offers AP Classes?
Aoba Japan International School
No
American School in Japan (ASIJ)
Yes
Canadian International School Tokyo
Yes
Global Indian International School
No
Horizon Japan International School
No
International School of the Sacred Heart
Yes
Seisen International School
No
St. Mary’s International School
No
Tamagawa Academy
No
Tokyo International School
No
Yokohama International School
No
School Offers AP Classes?
Aoba Japan International School
No
American School in Japan (ASIJ)
Yes
Canadian International School Tokyo
Yes
Global Indian International School
No
Horizon Japan International School
No
International School of the Sacred Heart
Yes
Seisen International School
No
St. Mary’s International School
No
Tamagawa Academy
No
Tokyo International School
No
Yokohama International School
No

For non-AP school students (from our blog, How AP Self-Study Boosts Your College Application)

For international school students whose schools do not offer AP classes, certain schools (such as Canadian International School in Tokyo) will allow a student to take AP exams even if they are not enrolled at that specific school. Additionally, for families who are able to travel, there are several international test centers in places like Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, and India.

Since non-AP school students will be unable to join a daily class, working with a tutor can be particularly helpful in creating a thoughtful self-study plan and ensuring clarity of all concepts on the AP exams.

While signing up for self-study AP exams can be a bit complicated, Tokyo Academics is glad to assist in registering for tests, preparing for the exam, and securing an examination center. 

What should students do next to score high on AP exams?

AP exams are hard. But by understanding the exam format, regularly reviewing course material, using AP study guides and practice tests, focusing on reviewing mistakes, joining group classes, and building writing skills, students of all academic backgrounds can achieve a coveted “5” on these tests.

According to the National Tutoring Association, tutoring can boost a student’s academic performance by 14% on average. With personalized tutoring services and group classes that cater to the specific needs of international school students, Tokyo Academics is best equipped to help your child score high on AP exams. Our tutors are skilled in AP subject areas and can provide guidance tailored to your learning style. Please click the link below to connect with a tutor!