What You Need to Know About the AP Calculus AB/BC Exams

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By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Oct 24, 2011

What Is Covered on the AP Calculus Exams?

The AP Calculus exams cover the following topics:

• Functions, Limits and Graphs of Functions, Continuity

• Definition and Computation of Derivatives, Second Derivatives, Relationship between the Graphs of Functions and their Derivatives, Applications of Derivatives

• Finding Antiderivatives, Definite Integrals, Applications of Integrals, Fundamental Theorem of Calculus, Numerical Approximations of Definite Integrals, and Separable Differential Equations.

The BC exam covers all of the topics on the AB exam as well as parametric, polar and vector functions, Euler’s method, L’Hˆopital’s Rule, antiderivatives by parts and by partial fractions, improper integrals, logistic differential equations, and series.

Students are expected to be able to solve problems that are expressed graphically, numerically, analytically, and verbally. For a more detailed description of the topics covered in the AP Calculus exam, visit the College Board website at:

What Is the Format of the AP Calculus AP/BC Exams?

The AP Calculus exam has 2 sections: Section I contains 45 multiple-choice questions for which you are given 105 minutes to complete. Section II contains 6 free-response questions for which you are given 90 minutes to complete. The time allotted for both sections is 3 hours and 15 minutes. Below is a summary of the different parts of each section.

Section I Multiple-Choice

Part A 28 Questions No Calculator 55 Minutes
Part B 17 Questions Calculator 50 Minutes

Section II: Free-Response

Part A 3 Questions Calculator 45 Minutes
Part B 3 Questions No Calculator 45 Minutes

During the time allotted for Part B of Section II, students may continue to work on questions from Part A of Section II. However, they may not use a calculator at that time. Please note that you are not expected to be able to answer all the questions in order to receive a grade of 5. If you wish to see the specific instructions for each part of the test, visit the College Board website at: calculus.

What Are the Advanced Placement Exam Grades?

Advanced Placement Exam grades are given on a 5-point scale with 5 being the highest grade. The grades are described below:

5 Extremely Well Qualified

4 Well Qualified

3 Qualified

2 Possibly Qualified

1 No Recommendation

How Is the AP Calculus Exam Grade Calculated?

• The exam has a total raw score of 108 points: 54 points for the multiple-choice questions in Section I and 54 points for the free-response questions for Section II.

• Each correct answer in Section I is worth 1.2 points, an incorrect answer is worth (1/4)(−1.2) points, and no points are given for unanswered questions. For example, suppose your result in Section I is as follows:

Correct     Incorrect    Unanswered

   36                  4                  5

Your score for Section I would be: 36 × 1.2 − 4 × (1/4)(1.2)=43.2 − 1.2=42. Not a bad score!

• Each complete and correct solution for Section II is worth 9 points.

• The total raw score for both Section I and II is converted to a 5-point scale. The cutoff points for each grade (1−5) vary from year to year. Visit the College Board website at: for more information. Below is a rough estimate of the conversion scale:

Total Raw Score     Approximate AP Grade

75–108                                       5

60–74                                         4

45–59                                        3

31–44                                        2

0–30                                          1

Remember, these are approximate cut-off points.

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