Master AP Calculus AB & BC


When it comes to taking an AP exam, some test-taking skills will do you more good than others. There are concepts you can learn and techniques you can follow that will help you do your best. Here’s our pick for the top 10 strategies to raise your score:

1. Pace yourself. Using less time on the easier questions will give you more time for the harder ones. Questions usually go from easiest to most difficult. Work as quickly as you can through the beginning of the test. Don’t get lulled into a false sense of security because you appear to be maintaining a good pace in the first part.

2. Educated guessing will boost your score. Although random guessing won’t help you, anything better than random guessing will. On most questions, you should be able to make better-than-random guesses by using common sense and the process of elimination techniques that are developed throughout this book. If you can eliminate one choice out of five, you have a 25 percent chance of guessing correctly. If you can knock out two choices, the odds go up to 33 percent.

3. The easy answer isn’t always the best answer. Make sure you read all of the choices before selecting your choice. Quite frequently, test makers will put an attractive, but incorrect, answer as an (A) or (B) choice. Reading all of the choices decreases your chance of being misled, particularly in questions where no calculations are involved.

4. Use common sense. It is always important to make sure your answers make sense. On multiple-choice questions, it might be readily apparent that you’ve made an error (e.g., none of the choices match your answer). However, on the free response, there is no immediate feedback about the accuracy of your answer. It is important to inspect your work to make sure it makes sense.

5. Put down your calculator. You only get to use your calculator for certain parts of the test. On the portions of the exam where calculators are prohibited, you should expect to deal with numbers that are fairly easy to work with.

6. Become familiar with the topics in this book. You should find that the problems’ difficulties increase as you progress. However, the problems at the end of each section of this book are harder and will help you bind your understanding to previous topics in the book. Finally, the problems at the end of each chapter are the most challenging of all, requiring you to piece together all of the important topics and involve appropriate technology along the way.

7. Make sure you fill in the bubble sheet neatly. Otherwise, the machine that scores your answers won’t give you credit.

8. Show all of your work on the free-response questions. If you only show your answer, and it happens to be incorrect, the grader has no choice but to give you no credit for the entire question. Writing down all of your steps makes sense.

9. Know your stuff. While all of these strategies are helpful, there is no substitute for knowledge. You may not know every bit of information on the exam, but it is important that you remember the information you have learned.

10. Be neat on the free-response questions. Let the grader focus on content, rather than the form. The answers are not lengthy, so do your best to be neat and organized.