Assembling a Confidence Toolkit for the AP Exam

In my last post, I described how I had my students write a motivational phrase on a post-it note to put on their desk during their AP practice exam.  One student wrote, “What would Oprah do?”  Oprah is one of the hardest working people I can think of and constantly implores people to be their very best selves.  I love her magazine and the most recent issue was devoted to the topic of CONFIDENCE.  As I read the articles, I thought about how many of my students are not aggressive and confident enough in their own abilities to earn their best possible score on the AP exam.  They have the knowledge, but will they be willing to put it on display in a timed and high pressure situation?

One article in particular interested me and it had to do with assembling a confidence toolkit, something I will ask my students to do during the next week or so.  This toolkit might be a collection of actual objects or simply some things to think about as they endeavor to take on one of the most challenging tasks many of them have ever attempted.  Into this toolkit, I will encourage them to add the following items.

Proof that you can be bold.  Find a token of a time when you did something that was really hard for you.  It might be a finishers’ ribbon for your first 5k run or a ticket stub from the first time you flew on an airplane.

A photo of someone who wants you to do well.  It might be a parent or other relative who wants the best for you or your best friend who always has your back.  If no one else comes to mind, a picture of your AP teacher who has worked with you all year to make sure you are prepared for this exam.

A symbol of a new endeavor.  I am thinking here of a bumper sticker or t-shirt for the college you plan to attend next year.  Having these AP credits will definitely get you off to a good start.

A token of improvement.  Did you increase your score on the AP practice tests we took in class or ace one of the recent free response questions that we tried?  Find something to remind yourself of how far you have come this year.

A biography, profile or photo of your idol.  Maybe it’s Jackie Robinson or General Douglas MacArthur.  Think of a person who is your personal hero and the qualities the person has that you admire.  If they did great and difficult things, then you can too!

An invitation to an upcoming social event.  What fun event awaits you on the other side of this AP exam?  Maybe it’s prom or a graduation party or a trip you will be taking this summer.

Something to remind you of a time when you were there for someone.  Who have you helped this year in your AP class?  Maybe you studied with them or loaned them your notes when they had been absent.  That person is wanting you to do well.

It’s important to fill the AP students’ brains with the knowledge they need to be successful, but it’s also important to fill their heart and their spirit with the confidence to put that knowledge to use.  As the AP exams get closer, please share other ideas that you use to increase students’ motivation and confidence.  After my last post, a reader sent a really interesting idea so look for their comment and then add some of your own.


One Response to “Assembling a Confidence Toolkit for the AP Exam”

  1. Jennifer Kelly Says:

    I owe you an enormous thank you! I used your “Confidence Kit” idea, tweaked it a little bit, and gave it to my students the weekend before the AP exam. They loved it! And I LOVED looking at their pictures and reading what they wrote. So many students thanked me for giving them the project– for helping them take time to focus on themselves, stop stressing long enough to realize all they are capable of, and to acknowledge all the good in their lives. They said it really made them feel cared about and more confident going into the test. I never would have thought about doing something like this if it wasn’t for your post. It made a difference in the lives of 100+ kids. Thank you again for the inspiration.

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