AP Calculus AB Exam Strategies



Because the AP Calculus exam is timed, proper pacing allows someone to attempt as many questions as possible in the time allotted. Poor pacing causes students to spend too much time on some questions while leaving others untouched because they run out of time before getting a chance to attempt every problem.

Two-Pass System

Using the two-pass system is one way to help pace yourself better on the AP Calculus exam. The key idea is that you don’t simply start with the first question and trudge onward from there. Instead, you start at the beginning, but take a first pass through the test answering all the questions that are easy for you. If you encounter a tough problem, you spend only a small amount of time on it and then move on in search of easier questions that might come after that problem. This way, you don’t get bogged down on a tough problem when you could be earning points answering later problems that you do know. On your second pass, go back through the section and attempt all the tougher problems that you passed over the first time. You should be able to spend a little more time on them, and this extra time might help you answer the problem. Even if you don’t reach an answer, you might be able to employ techniques, such as the process of elimination, to cross out some answer choices and then take a guess.

To make this strategy work for you, you must be organized and careful. You cannot just flip haphazardly through the test, hoping to find problems you can solve. You must go through the test in an orderly way, analyzing problems quickly and deciding how you will handle them. You will also need to mark the questions that you choose to save for later and make sure that you really do come back and answer them. For each question you skip, be careful to skip that number on the answer grid as well until you go back and answer it.

Process of Elimination

On every multiple-choice test, the correct answer is given to you. The only difficulty lies in spotting the correct answer hidden among incorrect choices. Even so, the multiple-choice format means you don’t have to pluck the answer out of the air. Instead, if you can eliminate the answer choices you know are incorrect and only one choice remains, that must be the correct answer.

Patterns and Trends

The key word here is the “standardized” in “standardized testing.” Standardized tests don’t change greatly from year to year. Sure, the particular questions won’t be the same and different topics will be covered from one administration to the next, but there will also be a lot of overlap from year to year. That’s the nature of standardized testing: If the test changed dramatically each time it came out, it would be useless as a tool for comparison. Because of this, certain patterns can be uncovered about any standardized testincluding the AP Calculus exam. Learning about these trends and patterns can help students do better on the AP Calculus exam.

The Right Approach

Having the right mindset plays a large part in how well people do on a test. Those who are nervous about the exam and hesitant to make guesses often fare much worse than students with an aggressive, confident attitude. Students who start with the first question and struggle methodically forward through each problem don’t score as well as students who deal with the easy questions before tackling the harder ones. People who take a test cold have more problems than those who take the time to learn about the test beforehand. In the end, factors like these are what separate people who are good test takers from those who struggle even when they know the material.

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