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Just because a lot of people stay up late cramming the night before the test doesn't mean it works. Because the AP U.S. History test involves heavy writing as well as remembering facts, you're way better off with a rested body and fresh mind the day of the test than you are trying to Tip just one more woozy date into your tired cerebellum the night before.

You'll want to benefit from maximum sleep the two nights before the test. If you usually sleep for seven hours on vacation, give yourself room for eight both nights. You need two nights of good sleep, because sleep deprivation can skip a day. People can have a low-rest night, skate through the next 24 hours on fumes, and run out of gas on the second day. You don't want to get stuck in AP Land.

Triathletes and marathon racers knock off training two days before their event to build up an energy reserve. You can study your regular amount up to the last day, but you should knock off anything that distracts your mind or body two days before the big test. Replace coffee, junk food, and media with exercise and relaxation techniques. Kick up your exercise routine by 50 percent; more exercise keeps you calm and helps you think.


On the day of the test, eat a medium breakfast. You're on your way to a performance, and you don't need heavy food to slow you down. Give yourself more time than you think you need to get to the test site; no last-minute parking problems or traffic tickets should spoil your mood. If you get to the site early, walk around. You'll be sitting for a long time, and you want to get your blood circulating. Don't drink a lot of liquid. You'll get a break in the middle, but you don't want to be going to the bathroom while the test clock is running. If you run into friends, be nice, but don't listen very hard to what they say. Watch the pros before a race. They acknowledge one another with a nod, but they're already in their own space.

Bring three No. 2 pencils and a good separate eraser for the multiple-choice questions. If you change a scan-marked multiple-choice answer, you want to make sure that the mark in the scan oval you rejected is erased completely. Bring a couple of your favorite ink pens for the essay section. Wear a watch. You won't be allowed to look at your cell phone, and time control is important.

Pick a spot in the test room with good light and a minimum of possibly distracting people. You'll get an exam packet with the Section I multiple-choice questions and the Section II essay questions. Section I has a Scantron answer form with more than enough spaces. You mark your answers to the 80 multiple-choice questions by filling in the correct ovals carefully with a pencil. Section II essay prompts are in a question booklet, and you write your compositions in a separate essay book. For both Section I and Section II, you can make notes in the question books but not on the answer pages.

You have 55 minutes to answer as many of the 80 multiple-choice questions as you can. After a 10-minute break, you have 2 hours and 10 minutes to study and write three essays. The Section II essay time begins with a mandatory 15-minute reading period, during which time you should make notes in the question book. During the reading period, you study the questions but are not allowed to begin writing the essays in the answer book.

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