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AP Exam Review

Week 4 - Thursday (Day 19)

Focus Area(s)
  • Organizing course content by skill

  • Establishing entry points into a variety of questions

Review Activity: AP Calculus Skills Overview




Teaching Tips

This activity has students categorizing and organizing a year’s worth of AP Calculus content by skill. Instead of focusing just on what topics will appear on the exam, this activity has students thinking about how they will need to know those topics, and what they might be asked to do around those topics. The core document offers seven verbs (Approximate, Interpret, Know/Memorize, Justify, Apply, Understand, and Determine) and lists the associated skills. The goal is for students to identify both the 'what' (ex: justify a relative extrema) and the 'how' (ex: with the First or Second Derivative Test). By giving students a quick reminder of the method that is needed to perform a certain task on the AP Exam, students gain an entry point into a wide variety of questions.


The “Understand” category represents the conceptual underpinnings of the course. We can’t really predict all the creative ways the College Board will assess this information, but having a deep understanding of these concepts will enable students to tackle any problem. 


There are many ways you may wish to use this core document. In our classes, we had each of the seven words written on a piece of poster-paper and hung up around the room. We then divided students into seven groups and had each group start at a certain station. Groups got two colors, one to record the “what” and the other to record the “how”. (The Know/Memorize station only needs one color!) They brainstormed items that would fall under the category and were told it was okay to leave some things blank because other groups would add to their work. After 4-5 minutes, have groups switch stations, read and make any edits to the previous group’s work and then extend the list as needed. Continue this for as many rounds as you wish, ideally until every group has gotten to every station.


To debrief the activity you may choose to have students present the posters or simply allow for a short gallery walk where students can take pictures of each poster. At the end you can pass out the core document and have students reflect on additional things they may have missed or ideas they had that are not on the document. Feel free to type students’ new ideas into the document and keep it as a class artifact. 

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