By Karen Reyes
1. Complain all the time
This is one of the most important things to do in order to pass an AP class. Whether it’s an AP Math, English, Science, or History class, complaining will definitely ensure that you pass with flying colors. When approaching this method, make sure to complain to anyone and everyone who is willing to give you the time of day. Talk to your friends, your family, your dog, your pet chameleon because they all really want to hear about how difficult your AP class is. Better yet, complain about the workload that you knew you were going to have every night. Oh, your friend wants to tell you about their day? Nonsense! Change the subject to the unbelievably interesting topic of your AP class. You will gain tons of sympathy from everyone you tell and you’ll relieve some of the stress that comes with balancing the class and the rest of your life.
2. Buy at least seven notebooks
Now, if you’re reading this you are either currently in, have taken, or know someone who has experience with an AP class. Note-taking tends to be the activity that takes up most of your time in such a class, so this step is almost self-explanatory. However, I will explain for those of you who may not be familiar: the first three notebooks are for the 20 or so pages of textbook notes that you do every night, the next three notebooks are for in-class notes (which really are the exact same notes you took from your textbook the night before, but your teacher insists that “you MUST write this down because it will be on the test.” There’s no use in arguing with a teacher, right?), and the last notebook is simply a backup notebook for when you might need extra paper while responding to an essay question during a test, or if you decide your textbook notes should include extreme detail and need more than three notebooks. If you have never taken an AP class, this probably seems like a gross exaggeration, but it is this serious when it comes to taking notes.
3. Forget everything you thought you knew about taking notes
Remember in middle school when teachers taught us that we should read a paragraph and take the main idea from it in order to avoid writing down irrelevant information? Yeah, well, in AP classes there is no such thing as taking the “main idea” from a paragraph. Why not? Because the test will most likely have a ridiculously specific question about something like the book’s publication date, or the 16th word on page 276. For reasons such as this, you must empty the folder in your brain filled with past note-taking skills and create a new and improved and detailed way of taking notes. Whether you go for writing down the entire textbook (in which case, you should ignore #2 above and go for a full fourteen notebooks), or you come away with beautifully structured notes that other students will talk about for years to come. Never ever “wing it.” Winging it will take you in the opposite direction of passing the class.
4. Start lifting weights
I have included this step for obvious reasons: the 7-14 notebooks, the textbook(s), and other class materials. Carrying all of this on your back to and from school on a daily basis can really mess up your back, so building some muscle will definitely take some of the weight off of your shoulders (see what I did there?). Though, I suppose you could skip lifting weights and just pull a wagon around with all of your things in it, but it probably is more convenient and less of a hallway traffic hazard if you work on your strength. There is also the issue of trying to make your way to the second level of the school; we definitely do not have the elevator space for hundreds of students. If you think about it, lugging a wagon around really is a much worse option, so I recommend that you work out prior to (or during) your AP class.
5. Only leave your house to go to school
This last step is not so much a recommendation as it is an inevitable consequence of signing up for a class or classes of this intensity level. Your social life will die down; I speak from experience. Go ahead and go apple picking with your friends that one afternoon, but don’t forget those 20 pages of reading due the next day. Another consideration to make is the fact that, unless you have an impenetrable attention span, you might need at least three hours every night to do homework. That may not sound too bad until you realize that it’s actually three hours per class, not total. That does not account for any extracurriculars you might be involved in. All of this might sound awful and terrible and everything in between. “How could anyone want to put themselves through that?”, one might ask themselves. Well, I myself am not entirely sure why we do this to ourselves, but follow these steps and you will get a passing grade. Probably.