Shaun Ault

Should I take the AP Calculus Test?

Are you wondering whether the AP Calculus test is right for you? Well if you’re reading this, then you’re in luck!

We have all the answers to Life, the Universe, and Everything!

…ok, maybe not.

But hopefully after reading this you can at least decide whether to take the AP Calculus test!

What is AP?

AP stands for advanced placement. The AP exams are each tied to AP courses that you would take in high school if you know you are heading to college after you graduate.

After the AP course wraps up, you would typically take the AP exam for that course instead of a final exam. The AP exam itself is a standardized test, usually lasting over 3 hours (much like an SAT or ACT). This means that you must schedule to take the test at approved test center well before the test date.

AP Calculus

Calculus is just one of the many subjects that have an AP exam. In fact, there are two exams for calculus: the Calculus AB and Calculus BC exams.

Should I Take the AB or BC Exam?

Basically, the AP Calculus BC exam tests more material than the AP Calculus AB does.

A high enough score on the AB test may qualify you to receive college credits for a single semester of calculus at the college level. Doing well on the BC test may give you two semester’s worth of credit!

So if you are intending to pursue a major in a STEM field (that is, science, technology, engineering or math), then I highly recommend taking at least the Calculus AB test.

The AP Calculus test may be your first step on your STEM-related career path.

The AP Calculus Test may help you to get a jump start on your STEM-related career. Image by Caroline Davis.

Even if you don’t intend to go into a STEM major, it would be helpful to do well on the AP Calculus exam. Some schools count your AP credit as course equivalency, meaning that you may walk into college with some core requirements already in your pocket!

More Info about the Tests

Check out the following links for more details about what to expect on the AP Calculus tests:

What to Expect on the AP Calculus AB Test

What to Expect on the AP Calculus BC Test

AP Calculus Test Scores

Ok, so you’re thinking of taking an AP Calculus test. What score should you aim for?

Each AP exam is scored in the range 1-5, with 5 being equivalent to an A in the corresponding college course(s). Typically a score of 4-5 would earn you college credit or course equivalency.

However, each school’s policy is different when it comes to AP, so make sure you check with your intended schools beforehand.

More details about AP scores can be found here: What is a Good AP Calculus Exam Score?


Taking an AP course is a huge undertaking. The work involved in study and prepping for the exam is incredible.

If you choose to take an AP course, then the understanding is that you will probably take the AP exam at the end of the term. And if that’s the case, then you should prepare early!

Get a good AP Calculus test prep book with plenty of practice exams, and set up a study schedule.

I recommend a 3-Month AP Calculus Exam Study Guide.

Good luck on the exam!!!

About Shaun Ault

Shaun earned his Ph. D. in mathematics from The Ohio State University in 2008 (Go Bucks!!). He received his BA in Mathematics with a minor in computer science from Oberlin College in 2002. In addition, Shaun earned a B. Mus. from the Oberlin Conservatory in the same year, with a major in music composition. Shaun still loves music -- almost as much as math! -- and he (thinks he) can play piano, guitar, and bass. Shaun has taught and tutored students in mathematics for about a decade, and hopes his experience can help you to succeed!

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