Tips and Tricks for AP Calculus AB Exam

The AP Calculus AB Exam measures student's understanding of the concepts of calculus, their ability to apply these concepts, and their ability to make connections among graphical, numerical, analytical, and verbal representations of mathematics. Students need strong foundations in algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and elementary functions to be prepared for the exam, though the course focuses on differential and integral calculus.

This exam format is based on two section. The overview of this exam format is given below:

Section I

Multiple Choice - 45 Questions | 1 hour, 45 Minutes | 50% of Exam Score

  • Part A: 30 questions; 60 minutes (calculator not permitted)
  • Part B: 15 questions; 45 minutes (graphing calculator required)


Section II

Free Response - 6 Questions | 1 hour, 30 minutes | 50% of Exam Score

  • Part A: 2 questions; 30 minutes (graphing calculator required)
  • Part B: 4 questions; 60 minutes (calculator not permitted)


To take part in this exam you need to have clear idea about the whole syllabus and study what's necessary for you to get the best result. Below is the brief overview of the syllabus of AP exam.

What's on the AP Calculus AB Exam?

To participate in the AP Calculus AB exam you should be familiar with the following topics:

  • Functions, Graphs, and Limits: Analysis of Graphs, Limits, Asymptotes, Continuity
  • Differential Calculus: The definition of the Derivative, Derivative at a Point, Derivative of a Function, Second Derivative, Applications of Derivatives, Computation of Derivatives
  • Integral Calculus: Riemann Sums, Applications of Integrals, Fundamental Theorem of Calculus, Techniques of Anti-differentiation, Applications of Anti-differentiation

In order to get more marks in this exam there are some tips and tricks you can follow. These tips will help you build a proper mindset for taking part in the exam and will also help you explaining the ideas about how you can get better results.

AP Calculus AB Exam Study Tips

1. Know the exam's content: It's essential to know what topics will be covered on the AP Calculus AB exam if you expect to do well. The AP Calculus exam will cover a number of specific concepts besides just differentiation (Derivatives) and integration (Integrals). As Calculus is a systematic assembly of concepts, take the time to familiarize yourself with the terminology, and, more importantly, understand the actual concepts. We have discussed what's in this exam above.

2. Know the format of the exam: The AP Calculus exam is a standardized test that takes 3 hours and 15 minutes total. The test is divided into two sections, multiple choice and free response. In turn, each section is divided into two parts, calculator and no-calculator.

3. Find a good review book: Make sure you're using an up-to-date review book that is filled with practice questions (and make sure to do all of the practice questions). It's also a good idea to time yourself as you go. These are some of the Best AP Calculus AB Books for Ensuring Your Success

4. Know How to Use Your Calculator: You're allowed to use your calculator for two of the four exam parts, and most of the questions in these two sections will be difficult. While it might seem obvious that you should know how to work your calculator, knowing exactly how and when to use its different functions can save you a lot of time on the exam and increase your chances of getting the correct answer.

5. Show all the steps even if you use a calculator: Show all the steps you took to reach your solution on questions involving calculations. The exam reader wants to see if you know how to solve the problem. If you use your calculator to solve an equation, compute a numerical derivative, or find a definite integral, then be sure to write the equation, derivative, or integral first. An answer without this information might not get full credit, even if the answer is correct.

6. Memorize Important Formulas: There are certain formulas for AP Calculus AB that you should have down pat. There's no formula sheet given on the AP exam, so you'll have to memorize the formulas you'll need. Many teachers give out formula sheets for students to memorize. There are also various formula cheat sheets you can use to review before the exam. To find these, simply go to Google AP Calculus AB formula and look at your options.

7. Try to solve each part of the question: Many free-response questions are divided into parts such as (a), (b), (c), and (d), with each part calling for a different response. Credit for each part is awarded independently, so you should attempt to solve each part. For example, you may receive no credit for your answer to part (a), but still receive full credit for part (b), (c), or (d). If the answer to a later part of a question depends on the answer to an earlier part, you may still be able to receive full credit for the later part, even if that earlier answer is wrong.

8. Be sure to fully answer the question being asked: For example, if a question asks for the maximum value of a function, do not stop after finding the x-value at which the maximum value occurs. Be sure to express your answer in correct units if units are given and always provide a justification when it is asked for.

9. Assess the exam and gauge your time appropriately: You must asses the exam and divide your time accordingly for the multiple choice part and the free response part or else you will face lack of time for either of them both.

10. Review and double-check your final answers: If you are so totally confident of a particular answer then don't waste the time on re-checking its correctness. Move onto the next question and so on. For problems that you are not able to answer during your first skim, place a check mark or circle them so that it will be easy for you to find them later on during the exam.

11. Practice makes perfect: In order to score a 4 or 5 on your AP Calculus exam you will need to practice lots of problems. The more problems you do, the more adept you will be at deciphering the way in which each type of problem is presented.


These are some of the tips and tricks which will help you the most for taking preparation for the AP Calculus AB exam. Good luck for the exam.

If you want to get prepared for the AP Calculus AB exam then these are the Best AP Calculus AB Books for Ensuring Your Success

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