How to Answer AP® Calculus AB Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) (2024)

The AP® Calculus AB exam consists of two major sections: multiple choice questions (MCQs) and free response questions (FRQs). In this guide, we’ll focus on the first section - MCQs. First, we’ll break down the format of the AP Calculus AB multiple choice questions, then give you tips to maximize your points on the MCQs, and finally provide a few practice questions that you might see on the exam. We will also teach you how to practice the MCQs as you prepare for your AP Calculus AB exam.

Format of AP Calculus AB Multiple-Choice Section

The MCQs on the AP Calculus AB exam, collectively called Section I, are split into two parts, A and B. Part A consists of 30 questions on which you are not allowed to use a calculator, and you are given an hour to complete it. Part B consists of 15 questions for which a calculator is allowed, and 45 minutes is allotted for this section.

The entire Section I accounts for 50% of the total points on the exam. Each question is weighted the same regardless of whether it is in Part A or B. The questions cover all eight units of the AP Calculus AB course. The table below is a summary of the MCQ section of the AP Calculus AB exam.

Section IPart APart B
No. of Questions30 MCQs15 MCQs
Exam Weight33.3%16.7%
Time Allotted1 hour45 minutes
Calculator UsageNot PermittedPermitted

How to Approach AP Calculus AB Multiple-Choice Questions?

Here are some tips for approaching the MCQ section of the AP Calculus AB exam:

  1. Read the question and answer choices thoroughly

    The first thing you should do on any MCQ is carefully read the question. Then scan through the answer choices to see what form the answer will be in. For example, sometimes the question will include an integral and the answers will be numbers, requiring you to calculate the result of the integral. Other times, the answers will be in integral notation, so computing the integral will waste time.

  2. Underline important information

    When reading through the question stem, underline (or highlight when using UWorld AP Calc AB QBank Practice Tests) things like vocabulary, given values, function definitions, and the actual quantity the question is asking for. This will help you key in on the important aspects of the question. When you hit a vocabulary word, stop and analyze what that means. For example, if the question says “relative maximum,” take a moment to think about what that means in calculus, like “derivative equals 0 and changes sign from positive to negative,” “second derivative is negative,” and so on.

  3. Eliminate answer choices

    Sometimes you can immediately eliminate a choice because it does not fit in with what the question is asking. Cross out any such choices in your test booklet. For example, if the question specifies that you’re looking for an x-value within a certain interval, you can eliminate choices that are outside that interval.

  4. Keep moving

    If you do not immediately know how to solve a problem, it’s OK to skip it and come back later. The AP Calculus AB exam is a timed test. Therefore, it is crucial to not waste time on questions you do not know until you’ve made sure to answer the ones you do know. Fold the corner of the page in your question booklet to mark the pages you need to come back to. You can even mark the ones you answered but aren’t sure of by folding the corner of the page in your question booklet. Then, if there is time, at the end of the exam, revisit all of the pages you marked to either try to answer the question or double-check your answer, unfolding the page corners as you revisit them.

  5. Read the question again

    Sometimes, when you get into the thick of computing things, you tend to forget the gist of the question. Before answering, reread the question to find what you are supposed to calculate (if you underlined, it should be easy to find). Then compare it to help you ensure that you haven’t forgotten the final steps. One common example is the fundamental theorem of calculus. If you’re looking for the final value of a quantity f over an interval given an initial value of f and the derivative f ′, you’ll need to compute the definite integral of f ′. But don’t forget to add the initial value at the end. The results of intermediary steps are often answer choices, so just because you arrive at an answer choice doesn’t mean it’s the right one.

  6. Check before you bubble

    Every time you answer a question, compare your answer sheet to the test booklet to make sure you’re answering the right question. This is especially important if you skip a question that you don’t know how to answer, but it is good practice regardless. If your answer sheet gets misaligned with the test booklet, you may end up missing points that you otherwise would have gotten.

If you take a full-length AP Calculus AB practice exam before the actual exam but don’t have answer sheets to use, make your own by listing out the numbers 1-30 and 76-90 on a piece of paper before starting the test. This will allow you to practice skipping over questions and comparing them to the booklet before answering.

  1. Answer every question

    Last but not least, remember that, on the AP Calculus AB exam, there is no difference between leaving a question blank and answering it incorrectly. So if you don’t know how to solve a problem, take a guess and you’ll have a 25% chance of getting it right. You can also try to eliminate a few answer choices to increase your odds of guessing correctly.

    If you are running out of time, spend the last couple of minutes making sure you’ve filled in an answer for every question that you couldn’t get to.

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How to Answer AP® Calculus AB Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) (1)

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AP Calculus AB Multiple-Choice examples

Here are some examples of AP Calculus AB multiple-choice practice questions from the UWorld QBank to illustrate different kinds of questions you may experience on the exam.

Example 1

Example 2

Example 3

Example 1

Example 2

Example 3

How can I practice AP Calculus AB Multiple-Choice questions?

A good MCQ practice for the AP Calculus AB exam won’t cost you much. Direct College Board® resources like AP Classroom require teacher involvement, and other free options do not do a good job of emulating test questions.

Fortunately, UWorld is a low-cost QBank that perfectly mimics the questions on the AP Calculus AB exam. We provide a wealth of questions across various topics in the course to prepare you well for the test. Our questions span all of the different ways that the College Board presents information, and our in-depth explanations show you step-by-step how to solve the problems, so you won’t see any curveballs on test day.

If you are subscribing to UWorld AP Calc AB QBank, here are a few recommendations to get you started :

Learning the course material

If you are still learning the AP Calculus AB course material, create small UWorld tests covering the topic(s) that you learned in your last class. It may be a good idea to also include topics you learned in the previous one or two classes to cement those ideas as well. Small tests of 5-10 questions targeting recently learned concepts is a good idea to start with. Read through our explanations for any questions you answer incorrectly. This will help you learn from your mistakes. It may also be helpful to read the explanations for other questions that you may not fully understand, even if you were able to get the question right.

Students tend to repeat the same mistakes if they aren’t aware of where they went wrong. Having a log of all the mistakes can help you review them later and identify if there are any patterns you tend to fall into. Do you frequently forget small details like the constant of integration C for indefinite integrals? Do you tend to make sign errors like dropping a negative or not distributing correctly? Do you often forget what the question is asking and stop a step or two early? Take advantage of UWorld’s notebook feature to take notes of your mistakes as you work through our QBank. Not only that, if you’re struggling to remember a formula, you can add it to a flashcard as well.

Preparing for the exam

After you have covered all of the topics in the AP Calculus AB class, it’s time to prepare for the exam. Start generating UWorld tests covering all of the topics. Larger tests of 10-30 questions spanning the entirety of the course will simulate the length and variety of the AP Calculus exam. When you have finished the test, identify the questions you answered incorrectly and read through the explanations. Then create shorter tests over those topics specifically to help you practice and learn from your mistakes.

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How to Answer AP® Calculus AB Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) (4)

Frequently Asked Questions

On the AP Calculus AB exam, a machine grades the multiple-choice questions. To make sure you get credit for all your answers, fill in the bubbles in the answer sheet completely but try not to mark outside the lines. If you have to change an answer, make sure to erase your original answer as completely as possible.

Many MCQs from past exams are released in AP Classroom, which will require a teacher to assign them to you if you want to practice with them. Some tests are closely guarded and released only to teachers for use in the classroom. At UWorld we provide you the best way to access enough AP Calculus AB practice multiple-choice questions that match the style and difficulty of an actual AP Calc BC exam.

Related Topics

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Learn how to deal with the FRQ section of AP® Calculus AB—see our step-by-step instructions and a sample question to help you answer free-response questions quickly.

Whether you want to get a head start in the summer or want to wait until 2 weeks before the exam to prepare, we break down the essential tips and tricks no matter your timeframe.

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How to Answer AP® Calculus AB Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) (2024)


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