AP Calculus AB Exam

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:

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:

  • Functions, Graphs, and Limits: Analysis of Graphs, Limits, Asymptotes, Continuity
  • Differential Calculus: The definition of the Derivative, Derivative at a Point, Derivative of a Function, Second Derivative, Applications of Derivatives, Computation of Derivatives
  • Integral Calculus: Riemann Sums, Applications of Integrals, Fundamental Theorem of Calculus, Techniques of Antidifferentiation, Applications of Antidifferentiation

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 our line of AP guides for 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  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 2017 test:

Score

Meaning

Percentage of Test Takers

5

Extremely qualified

18.7%

4

Well qualified

18%

3

Qualified

20.8%

2

Possibly qualified

22%

1

No recommendation

20.4%

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.

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