I know the kids are struggling a bit, and the new work load has been a shock. Even when you know it's coming, it can be daunting. This dip in grades and a feeling of being overwhelmed is common in a first AP class; but it gets better, and the harder students work, the sooner it gets better.
Adjusting to the test format has been tough, and I've spent some time in class letting them see questions along with sample answers. They are really having to stretch to a conceptual thinking style that is a foundation of the way College Board designed this course.
I'm asking both you and your student to trust me. Things get better, study time shortens, grades go up. And the hard work pays off not just in great results on the AP Exam, but more importantly in opening up a new way of seeing the world, managing complex ideas, and communicating effectively in writing.
Here are the techniques that I know work.
1. Scan the chapter first and determine how Strayer has organized the content.
2. Go through next and answer the margin questions in writing, by hand.
3. Read through section by section and stop after each one and write a summary and a "so what?" paragraph, by hand.
4. Interact with other students, and anyone who will hold still, about this weeks content, ideas, significance, etc.
5. Share the work and reinforce your understanding on the class forum.