Top 10 AP Exam Tips

The AP Calculus Exam is coming up in less than a month! While the best preparation has already happened in the daily adventure of your 3rd hour Calculus class, the last few weeks of review are always a game-changer. That’s why we’ve created a list of our top 10 favorite AP Exam tips with absolute must-knows, helpful reminders, and winning test-taking strategies that will help you maximize your score.

Tips for Crushing the AP Calculus Exam

  1. Know what counts as proper justification. Short, succinct statements go a long way in justifying the location of a relative extremum or proving why a certain value exists.

  2. Understand the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus to its depths. Both parts!

  3. Be flexible with your calculator. Know how to quickly find numerical derivatives, evaluate definite integrals, and find intersections and intercepts of curves.

  4. Avoid vague phrases like “it”, “the graph”, or “the function”. Reference functions and graphs by name.

  5. Pay attention to units. This helps you determine when to use a given function, its derivative, or its antiderivative and how to interpret a statement in context (the difference between pizzas per hour and pizzas per hour per hour may seem trivial, but in Calculus they’re derivatives apart!)

  6. Be able to recognize composite functions in their various forms. The chain rule shows up A LOT on the AP Exam! (Remember that implicit differentiation and related rates are really just fancy versions of the chain rule!)

  7. Don’t simplify an answer unless necessary. All equivalent answers are accepted!

  8. Always show your set-up even when using your calculator to evaluate.

  9. Store functions and important values (like intersections) in your calculator so you don’t have to keep retyping them.

  10. Bring your best test-taking game. Keep an eye on the clock, eliminate distractor answers, and don’t leave anything blank!

With these 10 Exam Tips in your back pocket, you can walk into the AP test with confidence, knowing you’re ready for whatever might be coming your way. You’ve got this!

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