Time management is a key to winning on the multiple-choice section of the test. Even though you have only 55 minutes, you have all the time you need to pull out the easy questions and have a good shot at the harder ones. The key is to get through the multiple-choice section quickly and accurately.


Because the minutes make a difference, bring your own watch to the exam. You won't be allowed to check your cell phone, and the clock in the exam room just may be wrong. Having a watch lets you be your own time manager.

Target easy questions first

The multiple-choice section is like a free shopping trip in which you get to keep everything you can find in 55 minutes. Trouble is, if you take too much time trying to reach things on the top shelf, you may not have time to load up on items that are easily within your grasp. In general, the multiple-choice section of the AP exam moves from easier to harder questions, but toward the difficult end, you may find questions that you know by heart. That's why you need to swing past all the questions quickly.

You have, on average, 40 seconds for each question. But relax. Forty seconds is longer than you think. To prove it, try looking at a clock with a second hand. Watch that second hand slowly glide around the dial for 40 seconds. That's the seemingly interminable time you'll have for each question.

Don't get hung up agonizing over an answer. Try to scan and answer all the easy questions, and then go back and work on the questions that need a little more thinking. If 10 more seconds of thinking doesn't solve the problem, move on. Hitting the side of your head with your palm won't loosen up any secret knowledge. Give quick insights a chance to arrive, but spread your attention over as many questions as possible.

Pace yourself

As you know, the AP exam has 80 multiple-choice questions and gives you 55 minutes to complete them. To gauge whether you're on track to finish the multiple-choice portion of the test within the allotted time, pace yourself.

When you get your question book, make a mark right after question 20 and another mark next to question 40. The first mark puts you one quarter of the way through the multiple-choice section. If you're running on time, you should be at question 20 about 14 minutes after you begin. When the testing starts, add 14 minutes to the time on your watch. When you get to question 20, check to see whether you're on pace. Check once more when you get to question 40. If you've used more than half an hour of your 55 precious minutes, you need to pick up the pace. If you've used only about 20 minutes when you hit question 40, you can afford to take a little more time.

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