The Week Before the AP Calculus AB Exam


Three Days Before the Test

Take a full-length practice test under timed conditions. Use the techniques and strategies you’ve learned in your preparation. Approach the test strategically, actively, and confidently.

Two Days Before the Test

 Go over the results of your practice AP Calculus AB test. Don’t worry too much about your score, or about whether you got a specific question right or wrong. The practice test doesn’t count. But do examine your performance on specific questions with an eye to how you might get through each one faster and better on the test to come.

WARNING: DO NOT take a full practice exam if you have fewer than 48 hours left before the test. Doing so will probably exhaust you and hurt your score on the actual test. Maybe it will help to think of the AP Calculus exam as a marathon. Racers don’t run a marathon the day before the real thing—they rest and conserve their energy!

The Day Before the Test

DO NOT STUDY. Get together an “AP Calculus exam kit” containing the following items:

  • A graphing calculator with fresh batteries
  • A watch (as long as it doesn’t have internet access, have an alarm, or make noise)
  • A few pens and No. 2 pencils (pencils with slightly dull points fill the ovals better; mechanical pencils are NOT permitted)
  • Erasers
  • Your 6-digit school code (home-schooled students will be provided with their state’s or country’s home-school code at the time of the exam)
  • Photo ID card

Know exactly where you’re going, exactly how you’re getting there, and exactly how long it takes to get there. It’s probably a good idea to visit your test center sometime before the day of the test, so that you know what to expect—what the rooms are like, how the desks are set up, and so on.
Relax the night before the AP Calculus exam. Read a good book, take a long hot shower, watch a movie or something on TV. Get a good night’s sleep. Go to bed early and leave yourself extra time in the morning.

The Morning of the Test

  • Eat breakfast. Make it something substantial, but not anything too heavy or greasy.
  • Don’t drink a lot of coffee if you’re not used to it. Bathroom breaks cut into your time, and too much caffeine is a bad idea.
  • Dress in layers so that you can adjust to the temperature of the test room.
  • Read something non-test related. Warm up your brain with a newspaper or a magazine.
  • Be sure to get there early. Allow yourself extra time for traffic, mass-transit delays, and/or detours.

During the Test

Stay confident. If you find your confidence slipping, remind yourself how well you’ve prepared. You know the structure of the test; you know the instructions; you’ve had practice with—and have learned strategies for—every question type.
If something goes really wrong, don’t panic. If the test booklet is defective—two pages are stuck together or the ink has run—raise your hand and tell the proctor you need a new book. If you accidentally mis-grid your answer page or put the answers in the wrong section, raise your hand and tell the proctor. He or she might be able to arrange for you to re-grid your test after it’s over, when it won’t cost you any time.

After the Test

You might walk out of the AP Calculus AB exam thinking that you blew it. This is a normal reaction. Lots of people—even the highest scorers—feel that way. You tend to remember the questions that stumped you, not the ones that you knew. Be confident in your preparation and celebrate the fact that the AP Calculus AB exam is soon to be a distant memory.

For more AP Calculus exam prep, check out our AP Calculus Prep Plus!

The Week Before the AP Calculus AB Exam