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10 Steps to Making a Personalized AP Study Schedule

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Step 1. Buy an Interesting Calendar

Begin by purchasing a calendar and several colored pencils or markers. Making use of a paper calendar will give you the ability to visualize dates and times using various color coding techniques.

image of colored pencils

Step 2. Check Your Existing Schedule

Next, throughly examine your existing school schedule. Make note of existing important dates to avoid scheduling conflicts. My advice to you is to stay organized while planning your study hours to reduce confusion later on.

Step 3. Create a Key

Create a visual key on your calendar to determine which color represents each category for scheduling. I recommend using 5 or more colors of your choosing to express the following core categories. You can add or remove from these categories to fit your personal organization style.

  • Important dates
  • Important times
  • Study Hours
  • Exams
  • Free Time

Step 4. Mark it Up!

Using your individualized color key, begin marking time commitments for AP studying. Avoid marking up study time during hectic dates and existing time commitments.

Try to detail a progressive study program for yourself in this step. Sometimes including specific tasks or pages to complete can help keep you on task. The more specific you make your study program, the more AP studying you will actually achieve.

flower vase on a wooden desk with a personal calendar open

Step 5. Take Note of AP Exams

Mark the dates and times for every AP exam you will be taking this school year. The reason exams don't fall under the important dates category is because they are the symbolic finish line for this study schedule.

It's important to be able to visualize the amount of time you have left before a specific exam. You may even decide to coordinate the color of study times of certain AP classes with their respective exam.

Step 6. Give Yourself Some Free Time

Give yourself free time to absorb the material you have studied. The point of this schedule is to spread the weight of studying for AP exams over the period of your entire school year. This is meant to fully prepare you without overloading your brain with information.

You retain more knowledge by allowing yourself some free time in your schedule to reflect on what you've been studying. Remember that you're in it for the long haul and reflection is important to your overall success on the AP exam.

Step 7. Personalize Your Schedule

Customize your schedule to your own study habits. Clearly, everyone is different and the same organization process that works for me may not be optimal for your study habits. Organize your information into a format that will keep you motivated and committed to following your schedule.

Step 8. Eye Level Placement

Place your completed calendar in an eye-level area that you consider high traffic for yourself. This could mean your desk or a wall, but it needs to be somewhere where you constantly find yourself going on a daily basis.

Step 9. Check The Calendar

Check your calendar every morning to get an idea of your obligations. Make note to check for the entire week or two weeks in advance when examining your schedule to prevent obligations from sneaking up on you. Keep up with the calendar by crossing off past days and even specific tasks throughout the day.

Step 10. Cross Off Completed Days of Studying

Complete your calendar by crossing out every obligation and study time over the course of the school year. This will leave you well prepared for the AP exams. After taking the exams, you can discard the schedule and begin making another one for next year!

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