Are you looking for a detailed guide to the most commonly-asked questions about the 2024 AP® Calculus AB exam? You’ve come to the right place!

Read the article below to learn everything you need to feel confident going into test day.

What We Review

**Is AP® Calculus AB easy? What can make it hard?**

AP® Calculus AB is considered to be more difficult than non-AP® Calculus. This higher level of difficulty is because AP® courses are meant to teach at an introductory college level while high school courses teach at the high school level.

Regarding other AP® courses, the passing rate for AP® Calculus AB is considered relatively average compared to the entire AP® course catalog.

For the 2023 testing year, 58% of the students who took the AP® Calculus AB exam passed it with a score of 3 or higher. The mean score was 2.99.

For the 2022 testing year, 55.7% of the students who took the AP® Calculus AB exam passed it with a score of 3 or higher. The mean score was 2.91.

We can use another AP® Calculus exam, AP® Calculus BC, for comparison.

The 2023 AP® Calculus BC exam has a passing rate of 78.5% and a mean score of 3.75, both of which are significantly higher than the passing rate and average score of AP® Calculus AB.However, typically about **twice as many students** take the AP® Calculus AB exam each year than take the AP® Calculus BC exam. This smaller testing pool for the BC exam indicates that only students who showed an aptitude for and interest in Calculus went on to take the AP® Calculus BC exam. Thus, the lower passing rate for AP® Calculus AB can mostly be attributed to a larger and more varied group of students taking the exam who may not have as much strength or interest in advanced math.

The AP® Calculus AB exam covers eight different units, some of which carry more weight on the exam than others. In order to maximize your study time, you should understand which units carry more weight so you can focus your time on those areas.

The chart below outlines how the units are weighed on the multiple-choice portion.

Unit | Exam Weighting (Multiple-Choice Section) |

Unit 1: Limits and Continuity | 10%-12% |

Unit 2: Differentiation: Definition and Fundamental Properties | 10%-12% |

Unit 3: Differentiation: Composite, Implicit, and Inverse Functions | 9%-13% |

Unit 4: Contextual Applications of Differentiation | 10%-15% |

Unit 5: Analytical Applications of Differentiation | 15%-18% |

Unit 6: Integration and Accumulation of Change | 17%-20% |

Unit 7: Differential Equations | 6%-12% |

Unit 8: Applications of Integration | 10%-15% |

You can see Unit 5 and Unit 6 are the highest weighted on the exam.

Passing the AP® Calculus AB exam can be challenging for those who do not intend to major in math in college. Knowing how many questions you need to answer correctly to pass can help ease your anxiety as you sit for the exam. Albert’s AP® Calculus AB score calculator shows that you would need to answer at least 23 of the multiple-choice questions correctly and receive at least 27 points in the free-response portion of the exam in order to achieve a score of 3 or better.

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**Is AP® Calculus AB worth it?**

The AP® Calculus AB exam is worth your time and effort for both academic and financial reasons. AP® courses allow you to leave high school with college credits. They also provide you with the confidence and skills needed to succeed in college.

AP® courses also look good in your college admissions packet. They signal to admissions counselors that you are both serious about your academics and that you are prepared for the rigors of college-level classes. According to a New York Times magazine story, “Existing research offers strong evidence that scoring a 3 or more on the AP® exam predicts greater academic success in college.”

Financially, AP® courses can have a real impact on your college tuition costs. Each AP® course that you substitute for credit translates into fewer credit hours of fees. Coming into college with credits allows some students to graduate early, while others choose to explore classes outside their major that might not have been possible without AP® courses.

This chart shows just a few of the hundreds of colleges that typically accept the AP® Calculus AB exam for college credit, along with the number of credit hours they award for a passing grade and the potential tuition savings from using the AP® course for credit.

School | Minimum Score Required | Number of Credits | Estimated Tuition Savings |

Baylor University | 4 | 3 | $5,148 |

UNC-Chapel Hill | 3 | 4 | $5,080 |

Arizona State University | 3 | 4 | $4,604 |

Syracuse University | 3-4 | 3-6 | $6,561 – $13,122 |

MIT | 5 | 9 | $7,470 |

University of Southern California | 4 | 4 | $7,452 |

Penn State University | 4 | 4 | $4,012-$7,512 |

University of Wisconsin – Madison | 3 | 3 | $4,440 |

As you can see, the academic benefits combined with the financial benefits make taking the AP® Calculus AB exam worth your time and effort.

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**When is the 2024 AP® Calculus AB exam?**

The 2024 AP® Calculus AB (and BC) exams will be given using paper-and-pencil tests. The AP® Calculus AB and BC exams will take place on:

**Monday, May 13, 2024, at 8am local time**

*Curious about when other AP® exams are happening in 202*4? View the complete AP® exam schedule here.

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**When do AP® Calculus scores typically come out?**

According to the latest update from the College Board exam season timeline, students will receive their AP® scores in July 2024. Historically, the College Board typically releases AP® scores *early* in the month of July.

You’ll be able to access your AP® scores online with your College Board account username and password.

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**How is AP® Calculus AB scored? What’s the weighting of different questions?**

The scores for the AP® Calculus AB exam are calculated based on the breakdown in this chart:

Section | Questions | Time | % of Exam Score |

1: Multiple Choice | 45 questions | 1 hour and 45 minutes | 50% |

2: Free Response | 6 questions | 1 hour and 30 minutes | 50% |

The multiple-choice portion of the AP® Calculus AB exam consists of 45 questions. You will be required to answer them in 1 hour and 45 minutes, which is a rate of fewer than 2 ½ minutes per question.

The first 30 questions do not allow a calculator, while you can use a graphing calculator for the last 15 questions.

The multiple choice questions on the AP® Calculus AB exam will cover a variety of functions, including algebraic, exponential, logarithmic, trigonometric, and general functions. As far as representations, the answers will require analytical, graphical, tabular and verbal.

The free-response portion of the exam consists of six questions. This section is divided into two parts. The first part has 2 questions that require the use of a graphing calculator. The second part consists of 4 questions in which a calculator is not permitted.

The free-response section will require a variety of functions and concepts. The unit weighting below will provide more information on what topics are covered. The free-response questions will include at least 2 questions requiring real-world scenario analysis.

**Pro tip: **Be sure to review proper notation techniques prior to the exam. Many students on past exams lost points due to sloppy notations

The weighting of the individual mathematical practices covered in the AP® Calculus AB course are outlined below. If you would like to know how these weights translate to an exam score, you can see that using our free AP® Calculus AB score calculator. The chart below shows that two of the practices account for well over half of the exam, so it would be wise to focus your study more heavily in those areas.

Mathematical Practice | Exam Weighting |

Practice 1: Implementing Mathematical Processes | 37-55% |

Practice 2: Connecting Representations | 9-16% |

Practice 3: Justification | 37-55% |

Practice 4: Communication and Notation | 9-16% |

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**What happens if you fail AP® Calculus AB?**

If you fail the AP® Calculus AB exam, don’t panic! There are a variety of ways that you can fix a failing score and minimize its impact on your college admissions process.

You can retake the AP® Calculus AB exam as often as you like in an attempt to get a better score. You will need to pay the exam fee every time you take the exam. The AP® Calculus AB exam is offered annually in May.

Your GPA should not be impacted by failing the AP® Calculus AB exam. Most teachers base your course grade on the work and exams completed prior to the AP® Calculus AB exam. Your AP® exam scores are rarely factored into the overall course grade.

In the college admissions office, you might see more of an impact from failing the AP® Calculus AB exam, but this, too, can be minimized. If you are looking to use your AP® Calculus AB exam score for college credit, a score lower than 2 will disqualify you from using the exam for credit.

But remember that you are in control of which colleges see your AP® exam scores. If you achieve a low score, you have the option to not send that score to colleges. However, if you do end up sending a low score to colleges, you can cancel that score with them. If you get a higher score on a retake, you can substitute that score for the original low score.

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**When do students typically take AP® Calculus AB? When is best?**

Students who take the AP® Calculus AB exam typically do so in their junior or senior year. AP® Calculus AB is considered an advanced math and requires significant mastery of earlier math concepts in order to do well.

The College Board recommends that students complete courses covering algebra, geometry, trigonometry, analytic geometry, and elementary functions before signing up for the AP® Calculus AB course. In order to master these concepts before AP® Calculus AB, students would need to save the AP® Calculus AB exam for the later part of their high school career.

Unlike other AP® courses that allow for some level of student preference when deciding when to take the course, the recommended prerequisites for AP® Calculus AB preclude that level of flexibility for most students. It would be rare to find a student who had exposure to the recommended mathematical concepts prior to their junior year.

If you are interested in taking AP® Calculus AB, you should work with your students, your guidance counselor, and your parents to ensure that you build the conceptual foundation you need in order to be successful when you take the AP® Calculus AB course.

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**Where can I find past AP® Calculus AB exams?**

The College Board has made past AP® Calculus AB exams available on their AP® Central website to provide students with a way to review and prepare for this year’s exam.

Taking the time to review these past exams can really give you a leg up on this year’s exam. Looking at past exam questions can give you an idea of the academic rigor that these questions will require and allow you a glimpse into what kinds of answers received full marks in the past.

The links below will take you to the AP® Calculus AB free-response questions for recent years:

- 2023 AP® Calculus AB Free-Response Questions
- 2022 AP® Calculus AB Free-Response Questions
- 2021 AP® Calculus AB Free-Response Questions
- 2019 AP® Calculus AB Free-Response Questions
- 2018 AP® Calculus AB Free-Response Questions
- 2017 AP® Calculus AB Free-Response Questions
- 2016 AP® Calculus AB Free-Response Questions
- 2015 AP® Calculus AB Free-Response Questions

You can also find examples of the multiple choice exam questions for the AP® Calculus exam here. There are only a few multiple-choice questions in the guide, so it can’t cover all of the subjects that will be reflected in this year’s exam. But they will give you an idea of the questions you will face on the exam.

Since the multiple-choice questions available from the College Board are limited, you can get additional practice for the multiple-choice portion of the AP® Calculus AB exam on the Albert website. Here you will find hundreds of multiple choice questions that align with the units and learning objectives in the AP® Calculus AB exam.

The College Board has provided a wealth of useful information for students who are looking to maximize their scores on the AP® Calculus AB exam. To make sure you are as prepared as possible, you should take the time to review these resources prior to the exam.The most recent updates:

- AP® Calculus AB Scoring Guidelines: 2023 / 2021 / 2019 / 2018 / 2017
- AP® Calculus AB Chief Reader Reports: 2023 / 2021 / 2019 / 2018 / 2017
- AP® Calculus AB Scoring Reports: 2023 / 2021 / 2019 / 2018 / 2017

Reviewing the scoring guidelines will tell you how the points are awarded for each free response question. Unlike the multiple choice questions with one correct answer, the free response questions can be graded more subjectively. Knowing how the points are awarded can provide useful information on how to ensure you get as many points as possible for your answer.

Each AP® exam has a Chief Reader who compiles a report detailing each free response question on the past year’s exam. The overview explains how students answered it successfully and where many students answered each question incorrectly. This report teaches you a lot about how to answer the free-response questions.

For example, on the 2019 Chief Reader report for AP® Calculus AB, there were several references to the importance of good notational habits. The Chief Reader cautioned against “casual notation” as it can lead to unintended errors. Students who want to maximize their score should brush up on their notation skills prior to taking the exam.

The scoring reports will tell you which questions other students found more difficult, as reflected by the mean scores. For example, on the 2019 AP® Calculus AB exam, students scored a mean of 1.81 out of a possible 9 points on question #4.

In looking at the Chief Reader’s analysis of that question, it appears that many students struggled with radius and time as derivatives. Having this knowledge in hand prior to the exam can ensure that you don’t make the same mistakes as past students.

You should also check out the sample responses for the AP® Calculus AB exam to prepare for this year’s exam. This report shows three examples of responses to each past exam question. The responses are graded, with one receiving full marks, one receiving partial marks, and one receiving low marks. Each response is accompanied by an explanation as to how it was scored. Seeing these past responses can give you a good real world example of what a full points answer might look like as well as what to avoid in your responses.

The essay portion of the AP® Calculus AB exam is important, but remember, it only counts for half of your grade. The other half of your grade will come from the multiple-choice portion, so make sure you don’t skimp on studying those questions. Albert has hundreds of sample AP® Calculus AB multiple-choice questions you can use to practice. These questions have been vetted to align with the learning objectives that are covered on this year’s AP® Calculus AB exam.

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**Who should take AP® Calculus AB? What sort of students may like it more than others?**

The AP® Calculus AB exam is best suited for students who have done well in past secondary math classes such as algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. Without a solid foundation in the principles of those earlier math classes, you will have a difficult time being successful in AP® Calculus AB. You can find more information about what to expect in this course in the AP® Calculus AB course overview.

If advanced math is not a strength for you, don’t worry. There are numerous other AP® courses you can choose from instead. You should pick AP® courses that match your academic strengths and interests well.

The passing rate for AP® Calculus AB is higher than average at around 58.4%. This is helpful to know if you are planning to use your AP® Calculus AB exam score for college credit. Assuming you have an aptitude for math, you would have over a 50% chance of passing with a score of 3 or better.

If your goal is to score a 5 on the AP® Calculus AB exam, you will want to review the statistics on how often test takers receive a 5 on this exam. For 2023, 22.4% of the students who took the AP® Calculus AB exam scored a 5.

You should not, however, take the AP® Calculus AB course simply because it awards a higher average of perfect scores. You should choose AP® courses based on what interests you and what you feel fits your skills well.

The choice of which AP® exams to take is entirely yours. You should seek advice from teachers, your guidance counselor and your parents and choose courses that make sense for your academic future.

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**How do students typically score on AP® Calculus AB? What’s the score distribution?**

The AP® Calculus AB exam can be difficult, but over half of the students who take the exam typically pass it with a score of 3 or better. The scoring breakdown below provides some additional data that can be useful to show how well past participants did as a group. Your score on the AP® Calculus AB exam will depend on your level of preparedness and your aptitude for the content covered in the exam.

The score breakdown for this exam for the past three years is listed below:

Year | % of 5s | % of 4s | % of 3s | % of 2s | % of 1s | Pass Rate % |

2023 | 22.4% | 16.2% | 19.4% | 21.7% | 20.3% | 58% |

2022 | 20.4% | 16.1% | 19.1% | 22.6% | 21.7% | 55.7% |

2021 | 17.7% | 14.1% | 19.3% | 25.3% | 23.7% | 51.0% |

2020 | 19.5% | 20.9% | 21.0% | 24.1% | 14.% | 61.4% |

2019 | 19.1% | 18.7% | 20.6% | 23.3% | 18.3% | 58.4% |

2018 | 19.4% | 17.3% | 21.0% | 22.4% | 20.0% | 57.6% |

2017 | 18.7% | 18.0% | 20.8% | 22.0% | 20.4% | 57.5% |

As you can see from the chart, less than 25% of students have received a score of 5 on the AP® Calculus AB exam since 2017.

The 2021 “pass rate” for AP® Calculus AB was noticeably lower than the pass rate seen in the previous 4 years. This was likely due (at least partly) to the 2021 AP® exam season requiring various changes in how exams were administered due to the COVID pandemic. The 2021 AP® Calculus AB-BC exams were available in digital format, and many schools were struggling with remote learning.

## Need help preparing for your AP® Calculus AB exam?

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