Are you familiar with the Mean Value Theorem? Can you calculate derivatives? The AP^{®}Calculus AB exam tests topics and skills discussed in your AP Calculus AB course. If you score high enough on the exam, your AP Calculus score could earn you college credit!
Check out our AP Calculus AB Guide for the essential information you need for the exam:
- Exam Overview
- AP Calculus AB vs AP Calculus BC
- Sections and Question Types
- Scoring
- How to Prepare
What’s on the AP Calculus AB Exam?
The College Board is very detailed in what they require your AP teacher to cover in his or her AP Calculus AB course. You should be familiar with the following topics:
- Limits and Continuity—Defining limits, estimating limits from graphs and tables, determining limits using algebraic properties and manipulation, applying the Squeeze Theorem, Determining types of discontinuities, understanding asympototes, and the applying IntermediateValue Theorem
- Differentiation: Definition and Basic Rules—Defining average and instantaneous rates of change, defining the derivative of a function, estimating derivatives at a point, connecting differentiability and continuity, applying the Power Rule, the Product Rule, and the Quotient Rule, and determining derivatives of constants, sums, differences, and constant multiples, trigonometric functions, e^{x}, and ln x
- Differentiation: Composite, Implicit, and Inverse Functions—Applying the Chain Rule, using implicit differentiation, differentiating inverse functions, and calculating higher order derivatives
- Contextual Applications of Differentiation—Interpreting derivatives in context, using rates of change in motion and other context, applying related rates, approximating using linearization, and applying L’Hospital’s Rule
- Analytical Applications of Differentiation—Understanding the Mean Value Theorem, using the Extreme Value Theorem, finding global and local extrema, applying the First Derivative Test and Second Derivative Test, finding intervals of increase and decrease, understanding concavity, sketching graphs, solving optimization problems, and using implicit relations
- Integration and Accumulation of Change—Finding accumulations of change, Reimann sums, and definite integrals, understanding the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus, interpreting accumulation functions, finding anti-derivatives and indefinite integrals, and integrating using substitutions, long division, and completing the square
- Differential Equations—Modeling situations with differential equations, verifying solutions for differential equations, sketching slope fields, and using separation of variables
- Applications of Integration—Finding the average value of a function, connecting position, velocity, and acceleration using integrals, applying accumulation functions, finding area between curves of functions, and finding volumes from cross-sections and revolutions
Read More: Review for the exam with our AP Calculus AB Cram Course
AP Calculus AB vs. BC
AP Calculus is divided into two classes: AB and BC. The College Board says Calculus AB is the equivalent of a semester of college calculus and BC is the equivalent of a year of college calculus. In truth, AB calculus covers closer to three quarters of a year of college calculus. The main difference between the two is that BC Calculus tests some more theoretical aspects of calculus, and it covers a few additional topics.Check out ourline of AP guidesfor a comprehensive content review.
AP Calculus AB Sections and Question Types
The AP Calculus AB exam is three hours long and has two sections: a multiple-choice section and and free-response section. Each exam section has a Part A and a Part B.
Section | Timing | Number of Questions | % of Exam Score |
Section 1 | Part A: 60 minutes
Part B: 45 minutes | Part A:
- 30 multiple choice questions
- Calculator not permitted
Part B:
- 15 multiple choice questions
- Calculator permitted
| 50% |
Section 2 | Part A: 30 minutes
Part B: 60 minutes | Part A:
- 2 free response questions
- Calculator permitted
Part B:
- 4 free response questions
- Calculator not permitted
| 50% |
Multiple-Choice
The multiple-choice questions on the AP Calculus AB exam cover a variety of calculus topic and are discrete, as opposed to appearing in question sets, and will have a similar format that is followed by five answer choices. At times, it may seem that there could be more than one possible correct answer. Answers resulting from common mistakes are often included in the five answer choices to trap you.
Free Response Questions
The FRQ section of the AP Calculus AB exam consists of six questions that require you to write out the solutions and steps by which you solved it. Partial credit is given for various steps in the solution of each problem. You’ll usually be required to sketch a graph in one of the questions.
AP Calculus AB Scores
AP scores are reported from 1 to 5. Colleges are generally looking for a 4 or 5 on the AP Calculus AB exam, but some may grant credit for a 3. Learn more about college AP credit policies. Each test is curved so scores vary from year to year. Here’s how AP Calculus AB students scored on the May 2022 test:
Score | Meaning | Percentage of Test Takers |
5 | Extremely qualified | 20.4% |
4 | Well qualified | 16.1% |
3 | Qualified | 19.1% |
2 | Possibly qualified | 22.6% |
1 | No recommendation | 21.7% |
Source: College Board
How can I prepare?
AP classes are great, but for many students they’re not enough! For a thorough review of AP Calculus AB content and strategy, pick the AP prep option that works best for your goals and learning style.
FAQs
Like many other students, you might be curious to see how well you scored on the overall spectrum. In the 2023 AP Calculus AB score distributions, you'll find that 22.39% of students scored a 5. Additionally, 16.18% of students scored a 4, and 19.4% of students scored a 3.
How many questions do you need to get right to pass the AP Calc AB exam? ›
Exam Weighting (Multiple-Choice Section)
Albert's AP® Calculus AB score calculator shows that you would need to answer at least 23 of the multiple-choice questions correctly and receive at least 27 points in the free-response portion of the exam in order to achieve a score of 3 or better.
How easy is it to get a 5 on AP Calc AB? ›
This common question has no easy answer. To achieve a 5 on the AP® Calculus AB exam, you will need a combination of tenacity, commitment to learning the material, and a dedicated study plan.
Do you have to simplify answers on the AP Calc exam? ›
Unless otherwise specified, answers (numeric or algebraic) need not be simplified. If you use decimal approximations in calculations, your work will be scored on accuracy. Unless otherwise specified, your final answers should be accurate to 3 places after the decimal point.
Is a 70% a 5 on the AP exam? ›
Usually, a 70 to 75 percent out of 100 translates to a 5. However, there are some exams that are exceptions to this rule of thumb. The AP Grades that are reported to students, high schools, colleges, and universities in July are on AP's five-point scale: 5: Extremely well qualified.
Is a 5 a 100 on an AP exam? ›
For example, a 5 could be any composite score between 110 and 150 on one exam. Since scaling varies year to year, there are no exact cutoff numbers for scores for AP tests, and the College Board does not release detailed scoring data.
Is AP Calc AB or BC harder? ›
AP Calculus BC is more difficult than AP Calculus AB. Not only does it include additional topics, which requires an accelerated pace, but the additional units, especially Unit 10, tend to be more difficult than the Calc AB units.
What is the hardest AP Calc AB unit? ›
According to the College Board's data, the Composite, Implicit, and Inverse Functions unit is considered the most challenging for students in the multiple-choice section of the AP Calculus AB exam. Approximately 11% of students received a score of zero on questions related to this unit in the AP Calculus AB exam 2022.
How hard is it to get a 4 on AP Calc AB? ›
AP Calculus AB Score Distributions
AP Score | % of Students 2023 | % of Students 2021 |
---|
5 | 22.4% | 17.6% |
4 | 16.2% | 14.1% |
3 | 19.4% | 19.3% |
2 | 21.7% | 25.3% |
2 more rows
Is AP Calc AB harder than AP Stats? ›
AP Calculus is generally considered more rigorous than AP Statistics. It's typically taken by students pursuing STEM fields or those looking to challenge themselves mathematically. There are two levels - AP Calculus AB and AP Calculus BC, with BC being more advanced.
Here are the top five easiest AP exams along with a few pointers for each:
- AP Psychology. This exam covers basic psychological concepts and theories, focusing on human behavior and mental processes. ...
- AP Environmental Science. ...
- AP Human Geography. ...
- AP Comparative Government & Politics. ...
- AP United States Government & Politics.
What is the hardest AP exam to get a 5? ›
TOP 10 Toughest AP Subject to Score a 5
AP 3-D Art and Design tops this list with the 5-score rate of 6.4% but has a passing rate of 73.5%. So while it is the hardest AP subject to achieve a perfect 5, the second on this list, AP Physics 1, is actually the hardest.
Which AP Calc is easiest? ›
Calculus BC
AP Calculus BC has earned a reputation as an easy AP course because many of its students master the material. Most AP Calculus BC students perform at an advanced level — at least one year ahead of their high school class in math — helping them achieve a high pass rate.
Can you skip AP Calc AB? ›
For AP Calculus classes, you have three options— taking AB and BC Calculus as a sequence, taking only AB Calculus, or skipping AB Calculus altogether and directly taking BC Calculus. You can take either of these classes because they aren't entirely different.
Is AP Calc harder than regular Calc? ›
No, AP Calc BC is not typically considered an easy class. It's designed for students who have a strong foundation in mathematics and are ready to tackle more advanced concepts. The course moves at a fast pace and covers topics in greater depth than many other high school math classes.
How much is a 5 on AP Calculus AB? ›
AP Calculus AB Scoring Table
AP Exam Score | College Grade Equivalent | Qualification |
---|
5 | A+ or A | Extremely Well-Qualified |
4 | A-, B+, or B | Very Well-Qualified |
3 | B-, C+, or C | Qualified |
2 | — | Possibly Qualified |
1 more row
What is a 50 percent on AP test? ›
As a general guide, though, you can consider roughly more than 70% correct as being in the 5 range, 50-69% for a score of 4, 40-49% for a score of 3, 30-39% for a 2, and below 30% would likely be a 1. Again, these ranges are approximations and can vary by subject and by year.
What percent correct is a 5 on AP stats? ›
For students aiming to secure a 5 on the AP Statistics exam, an estimated objective is to obtain between 75% and 80% of the maximum possible points on the test.
What percentage is a 3 on AP Calculus AB? ›
Generally speaking a score of 3 on the AP Calculus AB exam is somewhere between (around) 41 to 53 out of the possible 108 points…so roughly 38% to 49% correct. There are 45 multiple choice problems worth 54 points and 6 free response questions worth 54 points…