How to Survive AP Calculus


If you are taking or are going to be taking an AP (advanced placement) calculus course in high school, you have probably heard the horror stories. However, you can master your AP calculus course and ace the AP exam.

  • Go to class. You want to be in class every single day because being in class is one of the best things you can do help you learn calculus. Likely, the more you are in class, the more you will learn. Missing class will just make you further and further behind in your comprehension of calculus. When you come to class, bring all the materials that you will need as well. These may include your calculus notebook, your calculus textbook, a pencil and eraser and a scientific calculator.

  • Take great notes in class. You will want to make notes on tips that your teacher gives, ways to work problems and definitions and equations that your teacher gives you in class. Pay attention as well and don't let your mind wander. It may be easy to sit in a calculus class and just daydream the hour away. But, if you want to survive calculus, taking good notes and staying focused are essential.

  • Keep up with all of your assigned reading and homework assignments. Homework assignments will be a part of your overall grade for your AP calculus course and they will help prepare you for the AP exam. Reading the assigned sections of your textbook is also important for exam preparation. If you fall behind, it may be hard to catch up, and your grade may suffer. Stay on top of things as much as possible.

  • Study hard. Surviving AP calculus is almost impossible if you don't study. You will need to study for upcoming class exams as well as the AP exam at the end of the semester. Making a study schedule and staying on track is crucial. When you study, you will want to review your class notes and important points from your calculus textbook. Doing lots of calculus problems is also a very important part of studying.

  • Familiarize yourself with and prepare for the AP calculus exam. If you do plan to take the AP calculus exam at the end of the semester, don't expect that you can just go in there with no preparation and get a high score. You will need to familiarize yourself with the format of the exam and with the types of questions that will be asked. There are many study guides for AP calculus exams that go over this information. These guides can be purchased online or from local bookstores. Your teacher will also go over information about the AP calculus exam with you.

  • Ask questions and ask for help. In AP calculus, concepts build upon each other. If something is confusing to you today, it is likely that the next concept will be just as confusing to you. So, at the first sign of difficulty or if there is just something you don't understand, speak up. Ask your teacher questions in class or meet with your teacher outside of class. Don't let small problems build into large ones.

Tips & Warnings

  • The abbreviation AP stands for Advanced Placement.
  • It may be advisable to form a study group with other students in your AP calculus class. You can help each other out if you have questions or difficulties, and you can keep each other on track with studying for the AP exam and for class examinations.
  • Work lots and lots of calculus problems over and over again. One of the best ways to succeed in AP calculus is to do as many calculus problems as possible. The more problems you do, the more familiar with the material you will become.
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