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Here’s a Quick Way to Ace your first AP® Calculus test

Updated: Feb 15

Heard horror stories of Calculus? Ace your first AP® Calculus test with a little summer review and help from an online Calculus tutor.

Look into your future for a second. I know, I’m not psychic either but I am certain an event will happen.

It’s the second week of school and your Calculus teacher is handing back the first test. It was over math skills from previous years. You’ll need these pre-requisite skills to excel in Calculus.

Your heart races with each step the teacher takes toward you. You hold your breath as your teacher’s arm extends your test to you. Will your test have red X’s smeared across the page or a “100” written enthusiastically at the top?

First AP Calculus Test
This doesn't have to be your first Calculus grade.

The Secret to Excelling in Calculus

“It’s not the Calculus that will get you; it’s the Algebra.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said this while teaching AP® Calculus. More importantly, it became such a theme that my students said it more than I did! Even now that I’m tutoring and only seeing students once a week, they’ve still caught on to this phrase, saying that same mantra year after year.

One of the things I love most about Calculus is the challenge (as I’m sure you’ve heard). It brings together numerous concepts learned in previous years of Algebra, Geometry, and Pre-Calculus.

Students learn derivative rules in Calculus, apply them correctly, but then incorrectly simplify their answer based on poor Algebra skills.

Math builds on itself and isn’t a subject you can learn for a test and then forget the next week.

How can we combat the issue?

Review previous math topics, especially Algebra, over the summer.

I’m not suggesting students dedicate their entire summer break to relearning high school math, but one hour a week will make a difference going into Calculus.

A lot of AP® Calculus teachers assess pre-requisite skills as the first test. Imagine how prepared you’ll be walking into a test that you’ve studied for months instead of days.

What are some topics to review for AP® Calculus?

· Functions

· Graphs and their transformations

· Factoring and other methods for solving quadratic equations

· Linear equations

· Asymptotes

· Negative and fractional exponents

· Exponential and logarithmic functions

· Trigonometry

· Students enrolled in AP® Calculus BC should further review solving rational equations, and parametric and polar curves.

Above are what I found to be the most important topics to review, although the list is not exhaustive. You may have notes from Algebra, Geometry, and Pre-Calculus that you can review. Or Khan Academy highlights key topics for Calculus review. Go through one topic a week and you’ll be much more prepared for AP® Calculus in the fall.

Once you've reviewed prerequisite skills, take the quiz below.

Maybe you didn’t keep your notes and don’t like watching video after video to review. Or perhaps you’re going through the topics above and you find you could use an extra explanation. Maybe you need an extra push to stay accountable with one topic a week. An AP® Calculus tutor may be the best option for you. Follow the guidelines I've listed to hire the most effective AP Calculus tutor for you.

Benefits of Starting AP® Calculus Tutoring over the Summer

1. Get an introduction to Calculus topics early. Since you’re enrolled in AP® Calculus, you’ve likely excelled in math in the past. You could probably go through the above-mentioned topics in a week if you wanted to. Once you review pre-requisite skills, the AP® Calculus tutor could introduce you to limits and maybe even derivatives so you’ll be ahead going into class.

2. Be proactive. Start the school year with a math grade you can be proud of! Get extra help before you’re struggling. Many Calculus students come to me after they’ve failed several tests and it’s difficult to bring grades up and fill in gaps in understanding with limited time left in the grading period.

3. Tutor availability. You want the best AP® Calculus tutor, right? Do you think the best tutor will have availability for new students late in the school year? Probably not!

Who Else Wants to Ace their First Calculus Test?

Review the above-mentioned topics before Calculus starts in the fall, whether on your own or with a tutor. Also, try this method to study for math tests.

Ace your first test to start the success in Calculus early on!

And if you find your tests are more challenging than your homework questions, check out the 7 best resources to study for AP Calculus tests.

Share this post with your friends. You’ll all feel empowered to stop the broken record: “It’s not the Calculus that will get you; it’s the Algebra.”

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