Getting Ready for the Exam

I think the idea of writing this blog came to me about this time last year when folks were looking for last-minute advice to give their students before the AP calculus exams. I had some ideas of my own and collected some from others. Here is a list in no particular order.

The review time

  • Concentrate your reviewing on the things you don’t know (yet). Try to pick up those details you are not too sure of.
  • Work as many actual AP problems as you can, but concentrate on the form and ideas. None of these questions will be on the test, but many very much like these will be.
  • With, or without your class, find one (or more) of the released exams and take it in one sitting with the time allowed for each section.  This is to get you used to the real timing and the fact that you may not finish one or more sections.

The day before the test

  • Take a good look at the various formulas you will need; be sure you have them memorized correctly.
  • Put fresh batteries in you calculator and be sure it is in radian mode.
  • Take the afternoon and evening off. Relax. Do something fun.
  • Get to bed early and get a good night’s sleep.
  • Have a good breakfast.
  • Bring a snack for the short break between the two sections of the test.
  • Get Psyched!

During the test

  • Don’t panic! There is no extra credit for 100%. You may miss quite a few points and still get a 5; and quite a few more and get a 3.
  • Concentrate on the things you know. If you don’t know a how to do a problem, go onto the next one.
  • Keep your eye on the clock. Just before the multiple-choice sections are over, bubble in anything you left blank – there is no penalty for guessing.
  • On the free-response section, do not do arithmetic or algebraic simplification – it is not required and simplifying a correct answer incorrectly will lose a point. And it wastes time.
  • Don’t get bogged down in a problem – if you are not getting anywhere, stop and go to the next part or next question.

Good Luck!


9 thoughts on “Getting Ready for the Exam

  1. Thank you so much for all the informative articles! I’m just looking for extra material to practice with before the exam and your blog is really helping me out. 🙂


  2. Thank you so much for continuing this blog. It helped me during the year, and during the review. Although I am an experienced teacher, I am new to teaching calculus and it has been an adventure. I love the intellectual challenge, and I hope I convey that to my students.

    i especially liked the problems you would pose, the research you did into where to find the types of problems on the AP, and the activities and analysis of the motion problems, the integral, and Riemann sums.

    I always look forward to your new blogs and insights. I have great respect for your work and humbleness.


  3. Thanks so much for being there as a guide on the side during my first year teaching AP Calculus AB. This blog was a tremendous help. It’s people like you who truly make a global difference in this world. My students and I will be eternally grateful.


    • On the AP Calculus free-response questions No. No arithmetic or algebraic simplification is required. If your answer is 1 + 1 or sin(pi/6) leave it. If you incorrectly simplify a correct answer, then you lose the point.

      On the multiple-choice sections you may have to evaluate something like sin(pi/6) to get one of the choices.


  4. Lin, I want to thank you for all of the time and effort you have put into this blog. I am a new AP Calculus teacher this year and I have found your notes to be timely and beneficial to my students. I’ve been using your review topics and example problems with my class as we prepare for the exam and your commentary has been extremely helpful.

    I’ve never taken time to comment before, but I want you to know that I appreciate all of your work. My students are benefiting from your experience and generosity. THANK YOU!


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