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Advanced Placement

The Complete Guide to AP Calculus AB Exam [Updated for 2024]

Written by Apoorvaa Agarwal


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  • The AP Calculus AB course is organized into 4 topics: Limits and Derivatives, Applications of Differentiation, Integration, and Applications of Integration. 
  • The AP Calculus AB exam is divided into two sections: multiple-choice (45 questions, 1 hour 45 minutes) and free-response (6 questions, 90 minutes).
  • The mean score for the AP Calculus AB exam in 2021 was 2.91 out of 5. This is slightly lower than the mean score for AP Calculus BC in 2021, but it is still higher than the mean score for all AP subjects in 2021. 
  • The pass rate of the AP Calculus AB Exam for 2021 was 55.7%. This is slightly lower than the pass rate for AP Calculus BC in 2021, but it is still higher than the pass rate for AP overall. 
  • With AP Calculus AB, some majors that you could choose from include mathematics, engineering, and economics. Some career pathways you could pursue include mathematician, engineer, economist, and data scientist.

Struggling with your AP Calculus AB exam preparation? Finding concepts such as limits, derivatives, and integrals challenging? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. The AP Calculus AB exam is known for its rigorous content.

The pass rate for the AP Calculus AB exam was 55% and the mean score for the same in 2022 was 2.91 out of 5. The subject was given a difficulty rating of 5.5 out of 10 by class alumnae on a reddit survey.

This comprehensive guide is designed to provide you with the tools, strategies, and practice materials necessary to navigate through the exam confidently.

The blog aims to equip learners with the necessary tools and knowledge to succeed in the AP Calculus AB exam.

What is the AP Calculus AB exam?

AP Calculus AB is an introductory-level calculus course that prepares students for further study in mathematics, science, engineering, and other quantitative fields.

The exam is designed to give students a chance to showcase their proficiency in calculus and earn college credit or advanced placement in related courses.

AP Calculus AB exam format

Section ANo. of questionsTypes of questionsTime allocatedCalculator usage policyExam weightage
Multiple-choice questionsPart A: 30
Questions include algebraic, exponential, logarithmic, trigonometric, and general types of functions.60 minsNo calculator permitted33.30%
Multiple-choice questionsPart B: 15 questionsQuestions include analytical, graphical, tabular, and verbal types of representations.45 minsCalculator allowed16.70%
TOTAL45 questions105 mins50%
Section A
Section BNo. of questionsTypes of questionsTime allocatedCalculator usage policyExam weightage
Free response questionsPart A: 2 questionsQuestions include various types of functions and function representations and a roughly equal mix of procedural and conceptual tasks.30 minsCalculator allowed16.70%
Free response questionsPart B: 4 questionsQuestions include at least 2 questions that incorporate a real-world context or scenario into the question.60 minsNo calculator permitted33.30%
TOTAL6 questions90 mins50%
Section B

How long is the AP Calculus AB exam?

The AP Calculus AB Exam lasts for a total of 3 hours and 15 minutes and is split into two sections: multiple-choice and free-response.

The multiple-choice section, which is worth 50% of the total score, lasts for 1 hour and 45 minutes and includes 45 questions.

The free-response section also makes up 50% of the total score and lasts for 1 hour and 30 minutes, consisting of 6 questions.

There is a 10-minute break provided after the multiple-choice section for students to use the restroom, eat a snack, or take a break before starting the free-response section.

Topic for AP Calculus AB exam review

The AP Calculus AB exam consists of several critical units, each with a specific weightage assigned to them.

Units CoveredExam Weightage (MCQ)
Unit 1: Limits and Continuity10-12%
Unit 2: Differentiation: Definition and Fundamental Properties10-12%
Unit 3: Differentiation: Composite, Implicit, and Inverse Functions09-13%
Unit 4: Contextual Application of Differentiation10-15%
Unit 5: Analytical Application of Differentiation15-18%
Unit 6: Integration and Accumulation of change17-20%
Unit 7: Differential Equations06-12%
Unit 8: Application of Integrals10-15%
Topics covered in the AP Calculus AB exam

What’s the 2024 AP Calculus AB exam date and time?

The 2024 AP Calculus AB Exam will take place on May 13th, 2024, which is a Monday, at 8:00 A.M. local time.

When it comes to managing time on the test day, a few pointers should be kept in mind:

  • Familiarize yourself with the exam structure and the time allotted for each section beforehand.
  • Make a plan for how you will use your time during the exam. This could include setting specific time limits for each question or section.
  • Don’t spend too much time on any one question. If you get stuck, move on and come back to it later if you have time.
  • Use your breaks wisely to rest, recharge, and refocus for the next section.
  • Bring a watch or use the clock in the exam room to keep track of time.
  • Stay calm and focused, and trust in your preparation and abilities.

Remember, time management is a crucial part of doing well on the AP Calculus AB Exam. With these tips, you can approach test day feeling confident and prepared.

What is AP Calculus AB equivalent to and who can take it?

AP Calculus AB course is equivalent to a first-semester college calculus course, and students who take the AP Calculus AB exam and score well may receive college credit or advanced placement in calculus courses.

AP Calculus AB is typically taken by high school students who have completed precalculus or an equivalent course and are interested in pursuing a STEM-related major or career.

While there are no specific prerequisites for the course, students should have a solid foundation in algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. 

It’s also important to note that the course requires a significant amount of time and effort, so students should be prepared to dedicate themselves to the material.

Is AP Calculus AB hard?

Is AP Calculus AB hard? According to a survey of former AP Calculus AB students, the course is generally considered to have a moderate level of difficulty, with a rating of 5.5 out of 10.

In 2022, only 55.7% of students who took the AP Calculus AB exam received a score of 3 or higher, which is lower than the pass rates for many other AP exams. 

Despite its level of difficulty, AP Calculus AB remains a popular choice among high school students, with 268,352 students opting to take the course in 2022. This is likely because it is highly regarded by many selective colleges and universities.

This suggests that the course is quite challenging, but with determination and hard work, students can still succeed on the exam.

According to a survey of over 2,900 students who took various AP exams, AP Calculus AB is considered the 12th most challenging AP course, with 11 other courses being deemed more difficult based on student feedback.

AP classes ranked by difficultyCourseDifficulty rate
1AP Physics C – E/M8.1
2AP English Literature7.5
3AP Physics C – Mechanics7.4
4AP Chemistry7.3
5AP Physics 17.2
6AP Physics 26.5
7AP European History6.5
8AP Biology6.4
9AP Music Theory6.2
10AP World History6.1
11AP US History5.9
AP courses ranked by difficulty

*Source: ExamStudyExpert

Even though other AP courses are perceived as more challenging than AP Calculus AB, it’s important to recognize that these courses are not as commonly taken. For instance, in 2022, only 46,301 students took the AP Physics C – Mechanics exam compared to over 260,000 students who took the AP Calculus AB exam.

So, even if AP Calculus AB is considered to be moderately difficult, it remains a highly popular and well-respected AP course.

How to prepare for the AP Calculus AB exam?

  1. Feed your brain, ace the exam: Just like our bodies, our brains need fuel to function at their best. Make sure to eat brain-boosting foods such as nuts, fish, and fruits to optimize your study sessions.
  1. Dress for success: Wearing comfortable clothes can help you feel relaxed and confident during the exam. Avoid tight or uncomfortable clothing that can distract you from your focus.
  1. Study smart, not hard: Don’t just cram information into your brain without understanding it. Use study techniques such as practice problems, flashcards, and quizzes to reinforce your knowledge and make the most of your study time.
  1. Take a break, and clear your mind: Taking regular breaks during study sessions can help improve focus and retention. Take a walk, do some stretching, or meditate to refresh your mind and recharge your energy.
  1. Get a study buddy, conquer the test: Studying with a friend or group can make studying more enjoyable and effective. Quiz each other, work through problems together, and share helpful resources to ace the exam as a team.
  1. Visualize your success, and achieve your goals: Positive visualization can be a powerful tool for achieving success. Take a few moments each day to visualize yourself acing the exam and achieving your goals. This can help boost confidence and motivation, leading to better performance on test day.

Preparing for the AP Calculus AB exam can be a challenging and demanding process, but there are a variety of resources available to help students prepare for the test.

  • Official College Board website with course outlines, practice questions, and past exams
  • Textbooks and study guides like “Calculus: Graphical, Numerical, Algebraic” by Finney, Demana, Waits, and Kennedy
  • Online resources such as Khan Academy, YouTube videos, and online practice tests.
  • Wiingy is a platform that provides personalized one-on-one tutoring with expert tutors who have experience teaching AP Calculus AB and can create a customized study plan for you.
  • Study groups and tutoring sessions with classmates or teachers

Remember that every student is different, so finding the right combination of resources that works for you is crucial for exam success. Make use of these resources and develop a study plan that fits your learning style and pace to prepare effectively for the AP Calculus AB exam.

How can Wiingy help with AP Calculus AB exam prep?

In 2022, only 20.4% of the 268,852 students who took the AP AP Calculus AB  exam scored a 5. While 3 is considered the unofficial passing rate, most elite universities, such as Harvard or Princeton, offer AP credit only if you score 5 or higher. 

Getting a 5 is possible if you have the right support in your high school, but that’s rarely the case.

Here at Wiingy, we work with vetted AP AP Calculus AB  tutors with demonstrated expertise and experience in helping students score a 5 on AP exams

Unlike tutor marketplaces, every Wiingy tutor is screened individually and undergoes a comprehensive assessment.

Less than 3% of applicants are selected to become tutors on Wiingy’s platform, ensuring tutors are highly qualified and experienced in teaching AP courses.

Our tutors will work with you 1-on-1 to master the content and skills you need to succeed.

Experienced tutors can provide you with curriculum-specific guides and practice questions and familiarize you with the exam format to help you ace the test.

We know that sometimes you don’t want to pay for private tutoring because it is too expensive. It’s common to see tutoring costs between $100 to $150 per hour.

Wiingy’s rates are very affordable, starting from just $28 per hour, much lower than the average AP tutoring offered by other platforms.

One more advantage of studying with us is that we don’t require you to sign up for any packages or yearly subscriptions. You can sign up for as little as a single lesson and add more lessons as per your requirements.

While we try to match you with the perfect tutor as per your needs, we know that sometimes even the best tutors might not be the right fit for you. That’s why we offer you the Perfect Match Guarantee, which means that if you are not satisfied with your tutor for any reason, you can request a free replacement at any time. 

Sign up with Wiingy AP AP Calculus AB  Tutoring today and achieve your goal of scoring a 5 on your AP Test


In conclusion, the AP Calculus AB exam, encompassing various units such as limits, derivatives, integrals, and applications of calculus, presents a significant challenge.

While the pass rates and mean scores of the AP Calculus AB exam have shown a slight decline over the years, with the pass rate being 61.4% in 2020 and 55.7% in 2022, and the mean scores being 3.07 and 2.91 respectively, its important to approach the exam with dedication and focused preparation.

With a difficulty rating of 5.5 out of 10, allocating sufficient time to study each unit thoroughly and practicing with a variety of problems is essential.

The 2024 AP Calculus AB Exam will take place on May 13, 2024, which is a Monday, at 8:00 A.M. local time. And will comprise of both multiple choice and free response questions of 1 hour 30 minutes each.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

How many questions are on the AP Calculus AB exam?

The AP Calculus AB exam has 51 questions in total. The exam is divided into two sections: Section I contains 45 multiple-choice questions, and Section II contains 6 free-response questions. The entire exam is 3 hours and 15 minutes long.

Can I self-study AP Calculus AB?

If you are confident about it then yes it is possible to self-study for the AP Calculus AB exam. However, it is important to note that the course covers a lot of material and requires a strong foundation in algebra and precalculus. Therefore, self-studying for the exam may require a significant amount of time and effort.

How long is the AP Calculus AB exam?

The AP Calculus AB exam is approximately 3 hours and 15 minutes long. The exam is divided into two sections: Section I contains 45 multiple-choice questions that must be answered within 1 hour and 45 minutes, while Section II contains 6 free-response questions that must be completed in the remaining 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Should I take AP Calc AB or BC?

The decision to take AP Calculus AB or BC depends on your math background, future academic plans, and personal goals. AP Calculus AB covers the basics of calculus, including limits, derivatives, integrals, and applications of calculus. AP Calculus BC builds on these concepts, adding topics such as sequences and series, parametric equations, and polar coordinates.

Which is more difficult, AP Calculus AB or BC?

AP Calculus BC is generally considered to be more difficult than AP Calculus AB because it covers more advanced topics such as infinite series, parametric equations, and polar functions. AP Calculus AB is a bit more straightforward and focuses on basic concepts such as limits, derivatives, and integrals. However, this does not mean that AP Calculus AB is easy. It is still a challenging course that requires a strong foundation in algebra and trigonometry.


  1. https://apcentral.collegeboard.org/courses/ap-calculus-ab/exam
  2. https://www.princetonreview.com/college-advice/ap-calculus-ab-exam
  3. https://www.bestcolleges.com/resources/ap-calculus-ab/
  4. https://collegeprep.uworld.com/ap-calculus-ab/exam-information/
  5. https://reports.collegeboard.org/media/pdf/2021-ap-student-score-distributions_1.pdf
  6. https://apcentral.collegeboard.org/media/pdf/ap-score-distributions-by-subject-2022.pdf

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Priyanshi Agrawal

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