Tips for studying for AP Spanish

13 Must-Read Tips to Ensure a 5 on the AP Spanish Test

Tips for studying for AP SpanishGearing up for the AP Spanish exam? Check out these 13 helpful tips from tutor Jason N. to increase your confidence…


Spanish continues to prevail as the second language of the United States. It is also the most frequently studied second language in high schools, colleges, and graduate schools. If you are preparing for the AP Spanish Language and Culture Exam, it probably means that your Spanish is already strong, and you are on track to becoming fluent. Congratulations!

This AP Spanish test is designed to measure how well you communicate with others in Spanish, how well you can present, and how well you can interpret (and respond to) what you read and hear. This includes your ability to think critically, your overall fluency, and how accurate your grammar is, especially your ability to form coherent sentences. You should pass if you can comprehend Spanish close to how a native speaker would in many different contexts, most of which come from various Spanish-speaking milieu. The exam also gauges your cultural knowledge of Spanish-speaking countries and peoples.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, bear with me. It may sound daunting, but you can do it! Similar to any standardized or AP test, the key is anxiety management and preparing well in advance. Here are 13 tips that will help you prepare for and defeat the AP Spanish exam:

  1. Get a Spanish tutor! There are tons of study booklets and materials available to help you practice, but a tutor can help you find the best ones, plus provide tips for helping you organize and channel your time. For a limited time, you can also check out one of TakeLessons’ live, online Spanish classes for free.
  2. Practice Spanish on mobile applications. These can help make learning fun and dynamic, where textbooks may fail.
  3. Manage your anxiety! Your fear about bombing the test may become a significant barrier, potentially bigger than the studying and the test’s difficulty itself! Remember, you got this far already. Mindfulness techniques can help — it’s no coincidence that students who believe in their ability to pass usually do.
  4. Begin studying early — preferably four months before. Our brains absorb information the best when it’s presented relatively briefly but consistent over a large time span, such as 30-60 minutes of studying 3-6 times weekly. This is particularly true of language learning — this is why many Spanish classes are scheduled daily for an hour, whereas non-language classes are often scheduled in two-hour blocks once or twice weekly.
  5. Don’t underestimate the importance of practice tests. Kaplan and the Princeton Review both offer practice tests online. There are also many practice tests for the AP Spanish exam available for free online.
  6. Know how to conjugate most verbs, especially the most commonly used ones, like tener, poder, and hablar.
  7. Know the difference between por and para, ser and estar, and conocer and saber. The multiple choice part, which is half the test, tends to focus on this and is formulaic and straightforward to learn and practice.
  8. Know the basic formulas of certain grammatical structures, such as superlatives (Él es el más…).
  9. Know the time tenses, like el imperfecto, perterito, el plusperfecto, condicional, and futuro.
  10. Know plural and singular, and masculine vs. feminine. I cannot tell you how many people have incorrectly answered certain multiple questions, or were dinged in the writing sections due to a silly mistake here. Remember that many nouns don’t follow the basic rule that nouns ending in -a are feminine and nouns that end in -o are masculine. There are many exceptions to this rule, such as el tema and la mano.
  11. Keep your general Spanish skills fresh by practicing regularly! Keep in touch with friends you meet from Spanish-speaking countries and practice with people you know who also speak Spanish.
  12. Watch telenovelas. They can be funny, but corny. If they hook you, they make for great practice!
  13. Download Pandora and listen to Spanish music on your smartphone. Many of them are catchy and learning the lyrics can give your Spanish a great lift!

In conclusion, you can do it! Systematic and early practice is the key. Set up a consistent study schedule, consult your Spanish tutor for additional study tips and conversation practice, and stay positive!

Need help with additional AP tests? Check out our tips for the:

JasonNJason N. tutors English and Spanish in Fairfax, CA. He majored in Spanish at UC Davis, lived in Mexico for 3 years where he completed a Master’s degree in Counseling, and studied Spanish Literature and Psychology at the University of Costa Rica. Learn more about Jason here! 



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How to Prep Smart for the APs 6 Study Tips You Should Know

How to Prep Smart for the APs: 6 Study Tips to Know

How to Prep Smart for the APs 6 Study Tips You Should KnowNeed help prepping for an upcoming AP test? Take a look at this guest post to learn the best tips to ensure your AP exam scores are where you want them to be…


AP exams are some of the toughest courses you can take in high school. Practically every AP exam not only requires you to excel in answering multiple-choice questions, but also in synthesizing your own unique responses to questions posed in the often-dreaded free-response section (FRQ).

To help you prepare for your AP exams, here are six study tips you should know to make sure you excel this year.

1. Follow the Pomodoro method to prep.
It’s hard to stay focused when you’re looking at the same subject for hours on end. Instead, space your practice out! The Pomodoro technique is a popular productivity method. What you want to do is spend 25 minutes intensely studying for your AP test, and then take a five-minute break. When your break is over, repeat the process. Before you know it, you’ll have completed several study sessions in just a few hours.

2. Pace your practice.
This one goes hand in hand with tip #1. It’s incredibly important to make sure you have a good grasp of how long it’s taking you to answer multiple-choice questions. Time your practice sessions. If you’re using a review book, use a timer app or ask someone to time you as you work through a practice test. When you’re practicing, make small checkmarks next to questions you felt you had to spend a lot of time on. Try to identify the similarities in the questions you mark to see if there’s an overall area you need to improve on before the test.

3. Know the rubric like the back of your hand.
A few weeks before the test, make sure you begin reviewing the rubrics for your AP exams. Each AP exam has a rubric on how the graders will assess your ability to craft meaningful responses to the questions asked. A lot of students miss out on easy points by not knowing that they need to do simple things like clearly take a position when stating a thesis. You can find all the rubrics and more at AP Central.

4. Make a + / – list.
One of the fastest ways to improve is by knowing where you need to most help. As you work through different AP practice questions, start a list of areas you’re strong at and areas you need to work at. This is really easy to do. On a single sheet of paper, fold it in half vertically, then put “+” on the left hand side and “-“ on the right hand side. If you’re using a practice site like Learnerator, make note of the tags that you are frequently getting wrong so that you can review them later.

5. Block out certain times throughout the week to practice for your APs.
You may often find yourself being “busy”, but not actually being busy. It’s natural. The best way to fight this is to block off time in your calendar. If you’ve been struggling to get started in practicing for your APs, an effective anti-procrastination technique is to reserve time for AP practice. For example, you could say every Tuesday and Thursday from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM is AP review time. What you’ll find is that if you block out the time, you’ll have fewer excuses to not study since it’s already in your calendar.

6. Prep smart, not hard.
In high school, I really struggled to grasp this concept. I thought that studying meant putting 10 hours toward a test. Something I noticed though was that I would have friends who only studied two or three hours still do better than I did on the test! It wasn’t so much that they were smarter than I was, but rather that they simply prepped smarter than I did. There’s a difference between studying with purpose and studying for the sake of studying. After every study session, take a second to reflect on what you learned. Ask yourself, “What’s the main insight I can draw from this? How does this relate to X theme on this AP test?”

You can answer 100 AP practice questions not knowing where you went wrong or you can answer 50 AP practice questions and truly understand the reason why you got the question right or wrong. Which student do you think would end up doing better on the exam?

There you have it. Six AP study tips to keep in mind for the next time you begin studying. The APs may be a series of challenging tests, but they don’t have to be. If you study smart, you’ll get the AP exam scores you want. Good luck!

Looking for specific AP test guides? Check out our tips for:

You can also find additional AP resources through these links at TwoFace School!

About the Author
Will Yang is a co-founder of Learnerator, an online platform that provides thousands of AP practice questions. In high school, William took six APs as well as a full IB diploma course load.

Don’t forget — working with a test prep tutor will give you the edge you need as you study! Find a tutor near you here.

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Are Advanced Placement (AP) Courses Worth It?


Are AP courses really that important? Find out in this guest post by Grand Rapids, MI tutor Elizabeth S...


One major question that comes into play when choosing classes for the school year is this: are Advanced Placement (AP) courses worth it? 

Of course, there is no easy answer to this question. Many people will answer: “Yes. Advanced Placement classes are definitely worth it! If you get good scores on the tests, you can waive those basic classes in college!” Others will respond: “No way! They are just harder versions of the normal class, and not all colleges and universities offer or recognize the classes that your class would cover. Besides, that test costs extra money!”

After hearing these answers, one might be more conflicted than before. When I was in high school, I signed up for many advanced placement courses, and even in some with no intention of taking the tests. The experience, for me, was worth it for many different reasons.

Challenging Yourself

Number one: AP courses are more challenging and in-depth than regular classes.

I found that in these classes, I was more interested and motivated to participate, because the coursework was more challenging. In the class, we weren’t just glossing over the basics; we learned the basics and then applied those to the subject at hand. The demonstrations used were interesting because the teachers had to make sure we understood what they were teaching us.

Learning to Meet Higher Expectations

Number two: The expectations were much higher than regular classes.

One thing that I have learned throughout my life and teaching career is that if someone has high expectations for a person and/or group, people usually try to reach those expectations. In advanced placement classes, this was proven for me every day. The attitude of, if one is in these classes he or she should be doing well in them, puts a lot of pressure on students to live up to that standard. While it was tough, I came out with more than the knowledge of the subject I was learning, but with knowledge of better time management and study skills.

Connecting With Peers

Number three: A lot of my friends were doing it as well.

Who doesn’t like taking classes with their friends? Not only was the coursework more interesting, I always had people I could talk to about it who weren’t my teacher.

Preparing for College

Number four: I was more prepared for the intensity of college courses because my AP teachers treated the classes in much the same way as my college professors did.

That being said, I will leave you with this advice: if you’re wondering if AP courses are worth it, it really depends on you as a student. If you want to be more challenged in high school, then by all means take the classes. You don’t have to take the tests to still get many benefits of taking an AP class. If, however, you are not prepared or do not feel prepared, then you may want to stay in regular classes.

Advanced Placement classes have the potential to do a lot of good for students who are ready for the extra challenges. These classes will not only give you a deeper understanding of the subjects you are taking, but they will prepare you for the courses you will take in your journey through higher education.

ElizabethElizabeth S. tutors in various subjects in Grand Rapids, MI. She graduated from Grand Valley State University with a two majors in English/Language Arts and Education, plus two minors in French and Elementary Distributed.  Learn more about Elizabeth here! 



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