Integrate these tips into your studying. Image credit of Pixabay.
To get a 5 in AP Calculus, you need to know how the College Board asks questions. The test is difficult, but if you know the content and do enough practice, you'll set yourself up for a 5. Here are some tips and tricks to make sure you do your best on test day 🎉
1. Know the test 📚
Knowing how you'll be tested and what you'll be tested over is key to getting a 5. First, let's look at the format of the exam, which is the same for both AP Calculus AB and BC.
The multiple-choice section makes up 50% of your score, and you have an hour and 45 minutes to answer 45 questions. This section has 2 parts:
The free-response section makes up the other 50% of your score, and you have an hour and 30 minutes to answer 6 questions. This section has 2 parts:
Now, let's look at the content of the tests:
|Unit||Exam Weighing (AB)||Exam Weighing (BC)|
|Unit 1: Limits and Continuity||10-12%||4-7%|
|Unit 2: Differentiation: Definition and Fundamental Properties||10-12%||4-7%|
|Unit 3: Differentiation: Composite, Implicit, and Inverse Functions||9-13%||4-7%|
|Unit 4: Contextual Applications of Differentiation||10-15%||6-9%|
|Unit 5: Analytical Applications of Differentiation||15-18%||8-11%|
|Unit 6: Integration and Accumulation of Change||17-20%||17-20%|
|Unit 7: Differential Equations||6-12%||6-9%|
|Unit 8: Applications of Integration||10-15%||6-9%|
|Unit 9: Parametric Equations, Polar Coordinates, and Vector-Valued Functions (BC only) ||11-12%|
|Unit 10: Infinite Sequences and Series (BC only)||17-18%|
You can use this information to guide your studying. For example, since unit 6 makes up a large portion of the test, you might want to focus on integration over a smaller unit like differential equations 🤔.
2. Memorize derivative and integral rules ✅
You won’t get an equation sheet on the test, so you need to know your rules to get a 5. Keep practicing the product, quotient, and chain rules. Also remember to go over those trickier derivatives and integrals for trig functions, logarithms, a^x, and inverse functions 📈
3. Understand application problems 🚗
You must know how to solve derivatives and integrals, but the College Board also wants to know if you can apply that knowledge to real-world problems. At least 2 questions on the free-response section use a real-world scenario 🌏
Take some time to review units 4, 5, and 8 to make sure you understand related rates, motion, and optimization problems. Use these Fiveable resources to help you study:
🔥 All Fiveable resources from unit 4
, unit 5
, and unit 8
4. Practice, practice, practice! 📝
Last but not least, the best way to set yourself up for a 5 is to take practice tests! This will help you understand exactly how the College Board asks problems. As you practice, take note of what you get wrong and review the concepts you struggled with.
For FRQs, use this list of past prompts
to find questions by unit, topic, and type (calculator or non-calculator). You can also check out some of these FRQ review streams to see walkthroughs of recent prompts:
For the multiple-choice section, use these free, full-length AP Calculus AB
and AP Calculus BC
exams. You can also go through these sample questions
from the College Board. If you're willing to spend some money, prep books will often have AP-style practice tests. Check out this list of the best prep books [TK] if you're considering buying one!
To sum it up: practice. If you're struggling to understand concepts on your own, don't be afraid to ask questions! AP Calculus can be difficult, but as long as you keep working at it, you'll be on your way to a 5.