How many practice problems are enough? That’s a good question! There’s no magic number of practice problems that will guarantee a high score. Instead, try to do as many practice tests as possible (I recommend at least 4). In this article, I’ll lay out a few things to keep in mind as you study for the AP Calculus exam.
Practice Makes Perfect
If you play sports, then you know that you end up spending far more time training, running drills, and practicing than actually playing against rival teams. You might even spend time at special training camps, where you work on your skills all day every day.
The more you train, the better your performance will be on game day!
Study Hard in AP Calculus Class
The first (and most obvious) piece of advice is to pay attention in class.
Typically you would only consider taking an AP Calculus exam after having taken AP Calculus in high school. As long as you keep up with the material and do all the homework, then you should have the fundamentals down.
The Importance of Homework
Think of your daily coursework and homework as conditioning drills.
For example, when you first learned the Product Rule, you had to practice that skill on dozens of homework problems before truly internalizing it.
It’s kind of like running the same football play over and over again until it becomes natural and automatic. The more you do calculus, the easier and more natural the calculus concepts will become.
After learning all the material, the next step is to take as many practice tests as your schedule will allow. Most AP Calculus exam prep books have at least 3 practice tests. Some have 4 or more. If you finish all of the tests in one book, buy another from a different publisher.
Each AP Calculus test consists of 45 multiple choice problems and 6 free response questions. So plan on doing about 200 problems total.
That may seem like a lot of problems, but the trick is to spread the work out. Try to do one practice exam each week for about a month leading up to your AP exam.
Or, if you are busy with tons of other things, maybe a 2-month study schedule works better for you. Then you would plan to do a practice exam every other week, and perhaps work on your weak topics on the off-week.
Keep track of your scores so that you can see your progress. Before you know it, you’ll be playing at peak skill!
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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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