Using YouTube as a study tool for AP exams


YouTube and the Advanced Placement program have collided with a variety of YouTube channels dedicated to helping students master the content for exams in May.

Will Logsdon , Senior Editor

As testing season approaches, it is imperative that Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate students begin their testing preparation in early April. Although the overwhelming majority of students would prefer to spend spring break mindlessly binge watching Netflix and scrolling through Instagram, those who take the initiative to self study over the break will thank themselves, especially if they investigate a new study tool: YouTube. There are thousands of review videos on YouTube for every AP subject under the sun. Are you taking AP Macro and Microeconomics? Visit Jacob Clifford’s channel which expertly reviews the material that these AP Exams cover. Do you need to brush up on your AP World History? Try Crash Course World History. Not only are the videos entertaining, but they also investigate key concepts which the exam is bound to ask about. Crash Course also makes videos for the AP Government course and a variety of AP science classes.

Do you remember watching Brain Pop as a kid? The purpose of that common elementary school activity was to explain different ideas, people, and events using an engaging digital platform. Since an AP or IB student’s understanding will have greatly exceeded the simplicity of Brain Pop, it is absolutely necessary that students graduate to a more age appropriate study tool. YouTube hosts a variety of educational channels which teachers and students alike publish to assist other students reviewing for exams.

Jacob Clifford, the creator of ACDC Learning and a co-host of Crash Course AP Economics, has invested hundreds of hours to create videos that teach students about the various topics which the College Board requires students to learn prior to the May exam. Not only do students at South use Mr. Clifford’s videos to prepare for the AP exam in May, they also watch his videos year long as a study tool for unit exams.

Clifford’s videos adhere to five different units for AP Macroeconomics, which are themselves subdivided by various staples of that unit, such as the Short Run Phillips Curve in Unit Three, or the Aggregate Demand and Aggregate Supply model from Unit Two.

“I think that if sometimes I do not understand concepts fully or if I just need more practice, or if I just need to hear information in a different way or medium of teaching, I go to Mr. Clifford on YouTube,” senior Hailey Park said. “He teaches everything in a very concise way, but it is also very good practice for the exam because many of his questions have been actually asked on the exams.”

Not taking AP Economics? No problem. How about AP Biology? If so, subscribe to Crash Course Biology.

There are also numerous videos posted on YouTube by former AP students who explain how they scored fives on the College Board’s most difficult exams. These videos include helpful tips which students can implement in their study regimen to ensure that their score can secure them college credit. Most schools will offer college credit to students who score a three or higher on AP exams.

Since the creators of these videos often find creative ways to teach the content, these study aids can be entertaining. Many will host giveaways during which they offer various study materials, such as free Barron’s or Princeton Review books. These books coordinate well with the AP Program’s curriculum and oftentimes include several practice tests and corresponding online lessons.

Not all AP Subjects are equally represented on YouTube. Typically, Social Studies and Science courses have the most up to date content while AP Math courses have fewer available channels. Students in IB classes are unfortunately in less luck. Because the IB Program is internationally headquartered and available to students in countries around the world, many students seeking a study aid on YouTube will find that the instructor is speaking another language. The IB curriculum is also prone to frequent alteration while Advanced Placement content is less frequently amended. Students in IB may find, however, an AP channel where the content reviewed overlaps with the standards outlined by IBO (International Baccalaureate Organization).

Crash Course offers a variety of review videos on different subjects including: Ecology, Literature, US History, Chemistry, Psychology, Physics, and Computer Science. Although some of these study videos  lack the depth expected by AP, many video commentators post links to other helpful channels which may cover more challenging content.

One of the most significant draws for students who use YouTube as a study resource is the fact that it is free and available to everyone. Although some of Mr. Clifford’s videos are locked for students who have not yet purchased his “Practice Packet”, most YouTube channel owners do not restrict video availability solely to those who purchase their products.

All students should begin their preparations for AP and IB exams prior to the end of April at the latest. This coming month will be a formative period for many students preparing for one of the national exams. Once AP and IB Exams end, many rising seniors and juniors will begin preparing for the ACT and SAT. There are numerous “prep” videos uploaded to YouTube which specialize in ACT and SAT study review material.