One of the best ways to prepare for the AP Calculus AB exam, as well as stay on top of lessons in class throughout the year, is to take regular practice tests. Taking practice tests lets you estimate how well you’ll do on the AP exam, shows you the areas you need to focus your studies on, and helps you become more comfortable with the format of the AP exam.
There are a ton of AB Calc practice tests available, however; not all of them are created equally. Taking a poorly written practice test can give you a false idea of what the real AP exam will be like and cause you to study the wrong things.
You can avoid those problems by reading this guide to AP Calculus AB practice tests.
I’ll go through every AP Calculus AB practice exam that’s available, tell you which are highest quality, and explain how you should use practice tests when preparing for the AP exam as well as throughout the year.
2021 AP Test Changes Due to COVID19
Due to the ongoing COVID19 coronavirus pandemic, AP tests will now be held over three different sessions between May and June.
Your test dates, and whether or not your tests will be online or on paper, will depend on your school. To learn more about how all of this is going to work and get the latest information on test dates, AP online review, and what these changes means for you, be sure to check out
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Official AP Calculus AB Practice Tests
Official practice exams (those developed by the College Board) are always the best to use
because you can be sure they’ll be an accurate representation of the real AP exam. There are three types of official practice resources, and each is explained below.
Complete Practice Tests
The College Board has released
two complete exams from prior administrations of the AP Calculus AB exam.
The tests are from 1988 and 1998. The 1988 test has an answer key included; however, for some reason, the 1998 exam does not. The College Board provided answers for the freeresponse questions in a separate document, but there is no official answer key available for the 1998 exam’s multiplechoice section. The answer key linked below is unofficial, but no one has publicly disagreed with any of the answers, so it’s highly likely that it’s correct.

1988 AP Calculus AB Released Exam

1998 AP Calculus AB Released Exam

Answer Key
for 1998 MultipleChoice Questions 
Answer Key
for 1998 FreeResponse Questions

Because these exams are from a while back, they both have some format differences compared to the current AP Calculus AB exam.
But looking through these old exams can give you a sense of the test format, and you can work some of the questions as practice, too.
The AP Calculus AB exam is 3 hours and 15 minutes long and has two sections. Both of these sections are divided into two parts. For reference, here’s the current format of the exam:
MultipleChoice Section
 45 questions total
 1 hour 45 minutes total
 Worth 50% of your total exam score

Part A:
 30 questions
 60 minutes long
 No calculator allowed

Part B:
 15 questions
 45 minutes long
 Calculator permitted
FreeResponse Section
 Six questions total
 1 hour 30 minutes total
 Worth 50% of your total exam score

Part A:
 Two questions
 30 minutes long
 Calculator permitted

Part B:
 Four questions
 60 minutes long
 No calculator allowed
You can only use a calculator for certain sections of the AP exam.
Both released exams have the same total number of multiplechoice and freeresponse questions as the current exam. However, the 1998 test does not have separate parts for the freeresponse section, and students were allowed to use a calculator to answer all six questions.
Neither the multiplechoice nor the freeresponse sections of the 1988 exam were separated into different parts, and students were allowed to use their calculator for the entire exam. The multiplechoice section was also only 90 minutes long, instead of 105 minutes.
When you take these exams for practice, it’s not worth the time and effort needed to try and figure out which questions you wouldn’t be allowed to solve with a calculator today.
Instead, take the tests with the calculator and timing rules that were in place when the tests were administered.
These variations between current and past exams do mean that these two complete released exams don’t give quite as accurate a representation of the current AP exam as the complete released exams for other AP subjects do.
However, they are still very useful because
they cover the same content and are worded the same way as the current exam.
Towards the end of this guide I’ll explain exactly how to use these resources and others.
AP Calculus AB MultipleChoice Sample Questions
The College Board often reuses multiplechoice questions for multiple exams, so there are typically few official multiplechoice problems available for any AP exam, AP Calculus AB included.
Besides the complete practice tests discussed above, there are no full official multiplechoice sections available, but you can check out these
official sample questions for Calculus AB
. (The questions start on page 5, and there are Calculus BC questions listed after the AB questions; be sure you’re not accidentally looking at those.)
This document contains 16 multiplechoice problems, along with answers and the major skills each question tests.
There are also two freeresponse questions.
AP Calculus AB FreeResponse Sample Questions
Fortunately, there are more official freeresponse questions available and, since they are recent, they provide you with a very accurate idea of what to expect on the real exam.
The College Board has released
freeresponse questions from 19982018,
as well as
2019
, along with scoring guidelines for each set of questions.
These are a great resource, and you should definitely make use of them during your review.
Khan Academy Resources
Khan Academy has partnered with the College Board
to provide study resources for the PSAT, SAT, and some AP exams. This includes study resources for AB Calc.
On Khan Academy’s website,
there are explanation videos for several dozen previously administered questions, both multiple choice and free response.
These videos can be particularly helpful if you’ve gotten stuck on one of the official practice problems or if you just want to learn stepbystep how to solve a particular problem.
Unofficial AP Calculus AB Practice Tests and Quizzes
While not developed by the College Board, unofficial practice resources can still be very useful for your studying, particularly because there are so many resources available. For each resource listed below, I explain what is offered as well as how you should make use of the resource.
T
hey are roughly listed from highest quality to lowest quality.
Barron’s AP Calculus Premium Study Guide
I
f you’re looking for practice tests, this book has them: twelve of them, in fact!
We love that they’re all in one convenient resource, too. This book also breaks down the test concepts into study units, so you can brush up on your weakest skills before you take the AP exam. The combination of highquality instruction and excellent practice tests are why this book takes the top spot on our unofficial AP Calculus AB practice tests list!
The Princeton Review AP Calculus AB Study Guide 2021
This study book is put out by The Princeton Review, which is a trustworthy test prep company. Even better: this book contains
five practice tests that you can use to assess your current knowledge and gauge how much you’re improving as you study.
The other nice thing about this study guide is that it breaks down the key concepts of the exam as well. So if there are skills or ideas you’ve been struggling with, this book can help you get a better handle on them before test day.
Patrick Cox Test
This exam was created by Patrick Cox, an AP Calculus teacher. The questions a good match for actual AP Calc questions. The answer key is available
here
.
This exam is a good resource for students who already have a good grasp of calculus concepts
and can figure out pretty well on their own where they made mistakes for questions they got wrong.
Shmoop
Shmoop is the only resource listed in this guide that requires a fee to access any of its resources.
Paying a monthly fee gets you access to a diagnostic exam, as well as eight complete practice tests and additional practice questions.
It also gets to access to Shmoop’s study materials for other AP exams, as well as the SAT and ACT.
Varsity Tutors
Varsity Tutors has a collection of three diagnostic tests and over 130 short practice quizzes you can use to study for the AP Calc AB exam. The practice quizzes are organized by topic, such as the chain rule and finding the second derivative of a function. Difficulty levels are also given for each of the quizzes. The diagnostic tests are 4045 questions long (all multiplechoice). They pretty closely represent what questions from the actual AP exam are like, and, as a bonus,
the score results show you how well you did in each topic area so you can focus your future studying on the areas you need the most work in.
Albert
This site organizes quizzes into the three Big Ideas of Calculus AB, as well as more specific tags you can select (you don’t need to worry about the Series quizzes, that’s just for BC Calc). After creating a free account, you can access hundreds of practice questions. Questions are ranked as easy, moderate, or difficult, they are not timed, and you see the correct answer (plus a detailed explanation) after you answer each question. If that’s not enough—or if you want to practice harder skills—there’s a paid account option that gives you access to even
more
AP Calc questions.
4Tests
This site has a 50question multiplechoice test. The questions typically are easier and more basic than those you’d find on the actual AP exam, but if you’re just starting your review or want to brush up on the basics, this can be a good resource to use.
Crack AP
On this site there are 50+ quizzes, all multiple choice. It’s a pretty standard example what most unofficial, free online practice AP resources are like. The questions are decent (though easier and simpler to work through than actual AP Calc questions), and explanations are pretty barebones.
High School Test Prep
The ten quizzes and two fulllength exams on this site are best for someone earlier on in the course/their AP studying. The quizzes are each about 15 questions long, and immediately after each question, you’ll be told if you answered correctly or incorrectly and be given an answer explanation. They’re not the greatest match for actual AP Calculus questions, but because the quizzes are organized by category, they can be helpful if you’re looking to practice a specific topic.
Free Test Online
This site has four short quizzes, each 58 questions long, along with answer explanations. Two quizzes are multiplechoice, and two are freeresponse. The freeresponse questions are much shorter than what you’d encounter on the real AP exam, but you can treat them like slightly more involved multiplechoice questions. The quizzes aren’t long enough for an indepth practice session, but, unlike many of the other practice materials linked here,
they also separate the quizzes on whether or not you’re allowed a calculator.
Analyze Math
This is a 20question multiplechoice quiz. The questions are a bit overly simplistic, and it’s not automatically graded, but if you’re just looking for a quick study session, this fits the bill. This resource also has practice questions or both the Calculus AB and BC exams, so you can get in a little additional practice, too.
SparkNotes
This is a short quiz, and, unfortunately,
it’s not very highquality.
The questions are pretty basic and not nearly as complex or as indepth as the ones you’ll find on the AP exam. Additionally, the format of this quiz is very poor, and it can be difficult to read. I wouldn’t recommend using this quiz unless you’re really desperate for review questions or you need a very basic quiz to get you started with your review.
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How to Use These AP Calculus AB Practice Tests
Knowing how to use each of these practice exams and quizzes will make your studying much more effective, as well as prepare you for what the real AP Calculus AB exam will involve. Below is a guide for when and how to use the resources, organized by semester.
First Semester
During your first semester of Calc AB, you don’t know enough material for it to be useful to take a complete practice exam. Therefore, you should
spend this semester answering quizzes and freeresponse questions on topics you’ve already covered.
You’ll probably want to begin answering practice questions about halfway through the semester.
FreeResponse Practice
For freeresponse questions, use the official released freeresponse questions in the Official Resources section. Look through them to find questions you can answer based on what you’ve already learned.
It’s best if you can take a group of them (up to six) together at a time in order to get the most realistic preparation for the real AP exam.
It also helps to time yourself when answering these questions, particularly as it gets later in the year. On the real AP exam, you’ll have about 15 minutes to answer each freeresponse question, so try to answer practice questions under those same time restrictions.
MultipleChoice Practice
For multiplechoice practice, take unofficial quizzes that let you choose the subject(s) you want to be tested on. This will allow you to review content you’ve already learned and not have to answer questions on material you haven’t covered yet.
The best resources for this are Albert and Varsity Tutors
because their quizzes are clearly broken up by specific subject.
Sometimes the numbers can get overwhelming. Don’t forget to take a break every now and then.
Second Semester
Second semester is when you can begin to take complete practice exams and continuing to review content you’ve learned throughout the year.
Step 1: Take and Score Your First Complete Practice Exam
Early on in this semester, when you have covered a majority of the content you need to know for the AP exam,
take your first complete practice exam.
This test should be taken in one sitting and with official timing rules (see how the AP test is formatted above).
For this first practice test, I recommend using a test out of either the Barron’s or Princeton Review’s study guide and saving the official practice exams for down the line. After you take this practice test, score the exam to see what you earned on the test.
Step 2: Analyze Your Score Results
After you’ve figured out your practice exam score,
look over each problem you answered incorrectly and try to figure out why you got the question wrong.
As you’re doing this, look for patterns in your results. Are you finding that you got a lot of questions on antiderivatives wrong? Did you do well on multiple choice but struggled with free response? Did you get slowed down by questions you couldn’t use a calculator to answer?
Figuring out which problems you got wrong and why is the best way to stop repeating your mistakes and begin to make significant improvements.
Don’t skip this step!
Now is also a good time to set a score goal if you haven’t already.
The minimum score you should be aiming for is a 3, since this is the lowest passing score. However, if you scored a 3 or higher on this first practice exam, it’s a good idea to set your goal score even higher. Getting a 4 or a 5 on the AP Calculus AB exam looks more impressive to colleges, and it can sometimes get you more college credit.
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Step 3: Focus Your Studying on Weak Areas
You should now have a good idea of what subject areas or skills you need to work on in order to raise your score. If there are specific content areas you need to work on, review them by going over your notes, reading a review book, and/or answering multiplechoice and freeresponse questions that focus specifically on those topics.
If you’re struggling with your testtaking techniques—like running out of time on the exam or misreading questions— the best way to combat these issues is to answer a lot of practice questions under realistic testing conditions.
Take timed quizzes or time yourself for quizzes that aren’t automatically timed. (On the real exam, you’ll get about two minutes for multiplechoice questions you can’t use a calculator to solve, a little more than three minutes for multiplechoice questions where you can use a calculator, and 15 minutes per freeresponse question.)
Taking multiple practice quizzes and tests will help you become more familiar with the pacing needed for the AP exam.
Step 4: Take and Score Another Practice Exam
After you’ve identified your weak areas and spent time to improve them, it’s time to see how all your hard work paid off.
Take and score another complete practice exam, timed and taken in one sitting.
I’d recommend using either an official released practice exam or, if you want more recentlycreated questions, creating your own practice test by combining a set of unofficial multiplechoice questions (such as the Varsity Tutors or 4Tests exam) with a set of official freeresponse questions.If you choose the second option, you should have a total of 45 multiplechoice questions for the first part of the exam. As with the first test, this should be taken timed and in one sitting.
When you take this second practice exam, remember that it won’t be formatted exactly the same way as the real AP test, where the multiplechoice and freeresponse sections will both be broken into two parts, only one of which you can use a calculator on.
Step 5: Review Your Results to Determine Your Future Study Plan
Now you’re able to see how much you’ve improved, and in which areas, since you took your first complete practice exam. If you’ve made improvements and have reached or are close to your target score, you may only need to do some light studying from now until the AP exam.
However, if you haven’t made much improvement, or you’re still far from your score goal,
you’ll need to analyze the way you’ve been reviewing and think of ways to improve.
The most common reason for not improving is not actively studying, but only passively leafing through your notes or reviewing missed questions. Even though it may seem to take a while, in the long run, carefully analyzing why you made the mistakes you did and devising ways to improve is really the only significant way to raise your score.
As you’re studying, be sure to really understand your mistakes
. If you don’t understand why you got a question wrong, go back and review that particular skill! Also, when you’re reviewing notes, pause every few minutes and mentally go over what you just learned to make sure you’re retaining the information.
You can repeat these steps as many times as you need to in order to make improvements and reach your target score.
Studying With AP Calculus AB Practice Exams: Key Tips
It would be difficult to score well on the AP Calculus AB exam without completing any practice exams. Official resources are the best to use, but there are plenty of highquality unofficial quizzes and tests out there as well.
During your first semester, you should focus on answering freeresponse and multiplechoice questions on topics you’ve already covered in class.
During your second semester, follow these steps:
 Take and score your first complete practice exam
 Analyze your score results
 Focus your studying on weak areas
 Take and score another complete practice exam
 Review your results to determine your future study plan
What’s Next?
Now that you have your practice tests,
do you want to know more about the AP Calculus AB Exam?
Our guide explains the complete format of the AP Calculus AB test, the question types you’ll see, and how to best prepare for the exam
.
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