Shaun Ault

How to Score a 5 on the AP Calculus Exam

Wondering how to score high on the AP Calculus exam? As you might guess, there’s no quick and easy path to success. But whether you plan to take the AB or the BC version of the test, I hope that this article can get you started down the right path.

Sign pointing toward success score 5 AP Calculus Exam
Success right this way!

What is the AP Calculus Exam?

Presumably, if you’re reading this article, then you already know a few things about the exam.

Briefly, the AP Calculus Exam is a standardized test that comes in two versions, AB and BC.

  • A score of 4-5 on that AB test may translate directly into college credits for a single-semester calculus course in college.
  • On the other hand, scoring 4-5 on the BC test usually grants you two semesters of credit (Calculus I and II).

You can find much more information about scores here: What is a Good AP Calculus Exam Score?

Scoring the Exam

Both the AP Calculus AB and BC exams include 45 multiple choice (MC) and 6 free response (FR) questions.

Every correct MC question earns you a single point, and there is no penalty for guessing. Your point total on the MC section then gets scaled up by a factor of 1.2. So a perfect MC score would be 54.

Each FR question typically consists of three or four parts and counts for 9 points. That means that there are 54 points possible in the FR section.

Your final point total, called the raw score, is equal to the sum of your MC and FR scores.

Yeah, but How Many Points Do I Need for a 5?

Now this is where it gets tricky. There is no definitive scale from the raw score to scaled scores 1-5. Instead, the College Board decides the conversion chart based on many different factors from year to year.

As a good rule of thumb though, aim for at least 70 points to get in range of the 5. And about 60-69 points should be good enough to a score of 4.

AP Calculus exam? Challenge accepted!

How to Achieve a Top Score

In order to earn a 4 or 5 on the AP Calculus exam, you have to put in a lot of hard work.

Start Prepping Early

First of all, plan ahead. You will need many weeks to properly prepare for the exam.

Typically, the AP exams occur in early May, so I’d recommend getting a test-prep book as early as January. Make sure to get a book with plenty of practice exams!

You may find it helpful to follow this 3-Month AP Calculus Exam Study Guide.

Meme - One does not simply walk into the AP Calculus exam unprepared and score a 5

Good luck on the exam!!!


  • 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!

More from Magoosh