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Advanced Placement

The Complete Guide to AP Precalculus Exam [Updated for AP 2024 Exam]

Written by Apoorvaa Agarwal

Updated on: 03 May 2024

Content

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  • The AP Precalculus course covers the major concepts in precalculus, including functions, trigonometry, exponential and logarithmic functions, matrices, analytic geometry, sequences and series, and limits and continuity.
  • The AP Precalculus exam is divided into two sections: Section I multiple-choice (40 questions, 2 hours) and Section II free-response (4 questions, 1 hour).
  • With AP Precalculus, some majors that you could choose include mathematics, computer science, engineering, physics, and other STEM fields. Some of the career pathways that you could pursue include mathematician, engineer, computer scientist, data scientist, and physicist.

AP Precalculus is a college-level mathematics course that prepares students for calculus and other advanced mathematics courses. It was launched in the fall of 2023 by the College Board.

The course covers a wide range of topics, including functions and their graphs, trigonometry, exponential and logarithmic functions, matrices, analytic geometry, sequences and series, and limits and continuity.

AP Precalculus is a challenging course, but it is also very rewarding. Students who take AP Precalculus develop strong problem-solving and critical thinking skills that are essential for success in STEM fields. They also learn how to apply mathematics to real-world problems.

If you are interested in a career in mathematics, engineering, computer science, or other STEM fields, AP Precalculus is an excellent course to take. It will give you the foundation you need to succeed in these fields.

What is on the AP Precalculus exam?

The exam is divided into two sections: multiple-choice and free-response. The multiple-choice section contains 40 questions and is worth 63% of the total score. The free-response section contains 4 questions and is worth 37% of the total score.

The multiple-choice questions are designed to assess students’ understanding of the basic concepts of precalculus. The free-response questions are more challenging and require students to apply their knowledge to solve problems.

The AP Precalculus Exam format includes two sections as below:

SectionNo. of questionsTime allocated to  each sectionWeightage
Multiple-choice  questionsPart A 28 questions1 hour 20minutes44%
Part B 12 Questions40 minutes19%
Free Response
Part A
2 questions 30 minutes19%
Part B2 questions 30 minutes19%
AP Precalculus exam format

Now let’s understand everything about the AP Precalculus exam like duration, structure, score distribution, etc.

How long is the AP Precalculus exam?

The AP Precalculus exam is 3 hours long and is divided into two sections:

  • Section I: Multiple-choice (40 questions, 2 hours)
  • Section II: Free-response (4 questions, 1 hour)

The AP Precalculus Exam will test your understanding of the precalculus concepts covered in the course units, as well as your ability to solve problems using mathematical modeling, algebra, trigonometry, and analytic geometry.

The multiple-choice section of the exam is worth 63% of your total score, and the free-response section is worth 37% of your total score.

The AP Precalculus Exam is a challenging but rewarding exam that can help you develop a deeper understanding of mathematics. If you are interested in mathematics, engineering, computer science, or other STEM fields, then AP Precalculus is a great course to consider.

How many questions does the AP Precalculus exam have?

The AP Precalculus exam has 44 questions in total divided into two major sections; 40 multiple-choice questions and 4 free-response questions.

Topics for AP Precalculus Reviews

AP Precalculus is a rigorous course that covers the core concepts, theories, and processes that shape the behavior of functions, trigonometric functions, and other mathematical concepts. Students will do hands-on activities and projects to investigate mathematical phenomena.

UnitWhat’s includedWeight in exam
Unit 1: Polynomial and Rational Functions

You’ll expand your understanding of polynomial and rational functions through the lenses of modeling and various rates of change.
-Describing how quantities change with respect to each other
-Describing the end behavior of polynomial and rational functions
-Identifying asymptotes of and holes in the graphs of rational functions
-Modeling aspects of scenarios using polynomial and rational functions
-Identifying assumptions and limitations of function models
30%–40% 
Unit 2: Exponential and Logarithmic Functions

You’ll deepen your understanding of inverses by exploring the relationship between exponential and logarithmic functions.




-Relating geometric sequences and exponential functions
-Modeling data sets with exponential functions
-Composing functions and finding inverses
-Modeling scenarios with logarithmic functions
-Validating a function model using a residual plot
27%–40%
Unit 3: Trigonometric and Polar Functions

You’ll model and explore periodic phenomena using transformations of trigonometric functions.
-Relating right triangle trigonometry to the sine, cosine, and tangent functions
-Modeling data and scenarios with sinusoidal functions
-Using inverse trigonometric functions to solve trigonometric equations
-Graphing functions using polar coordinates
-Describing how angles and radii change with respect to each other in a polar graph
30%–35%
Unit 4: Functions Involving Parameters, Vectors, and Matrices

You’ll expand your understanding of the function concept by exploring a variety of new function types.



-Describing how quantities change with respect to each other in a parametric function
-Graphing conic sections using implicitly defined functions and parametric functions
-Using vectors to describe motion of an object
-Describing the impact of a transformation matrix on a graphical object
-Modeling change in a context using matrices 
Not Assessed on the AP Exam
AP Precalculus Course Content

For additional course resources such as classroom resources, formulae and equation sheet,s and lab manuals, refer to the College Board AP Precalculus course page.

How is the AP Precalculus exam scored?

The AP Precalculus exam is divided into two sections:

  • Section I: Multiple-choice (40 questions, 2 hours)
  • Section II: Free-response (4 questions, 1 hour)

After the exam, the raw scores for each section are converted into scaled scores ranging from 1 to 5, according to a method that considers the exam’s complexity. The final step is to sum the results to determine the student’s final AP Precalculus exam score.

Multiple-choice:

  • You will get 1 point for each multiple-choice question you answer correctly. There are no point deductions for incorrect answers.

Free-response:

  • Points are allotted for clearly and thoroughly answering each part of the question. The four free-response questions are each worth 12.5 points. Each free-response question has an equal bearing on your overall score.
  • The multiple-choice and free-response sections are each worth 50% of your score.
  • Your free-response score is scaled accordingly and added to your multiple-choice score to arrive at a scaled AP score that is then converted to a final score on the 1-5 AP scale.

Here are some additional things to keep in mind about how the AP Precalculus exam is scored:

  • The College Board does not release the exact conversion chart between raw scores and scaled scores. This is done to prevent students from gaming the system.
  • The difficulty of the AP Precalculus exam can vary from year to year. This means that the same raw score may correspond to a different scaled score in different years.

When is the AP Precalculus exam in 2024?

The AP Precalculus exam for 2024 will be held on Monday, May 13, 2024 12:00 pm local time. The 2024 AP Exams will be held over two weeks in May: May 6–10 and May 13–17. 

For the most recent information on exam dates and registration deadlines, students can check with their institution or the College Board website.

How to prepare for the AP Precalculus exam?

  • Pay attention to the graphs and charts in your textbook. These can be a great way to visualize the concepts that you’re learning.
  • Learn the different functions and their graphs. This is an important part of AP Precalculus, and it will come up on the exam.
  • Be familiar with the different trigonometric functions and their graphs. This is another important topic in AP Precalculus, and it will also come up on the exam.
  • Practice answering multiple-choice questions. The AP Precalculus exam includes a multiple-choice section. Practicing answering multiple-choice questions will help you to improve your test-taking skills and prepare for the exam.
  • Practice solving problems using a graphing calculator. The AP Precalculus exam allows you to use a graphing calculator, so it is important to be familiar with how to use it.
  • Take practice exams. There are many practice exams available online and in books. Taking practice exams will help you to get used to the format of the exam and the types of questions that are asked.

How can Wiingy help with AP Precalculus exam prep?

The AP Precalculus exam is a rigorous exam that tests students on their knowledge of functions, trigonometry, analytic geometry, and other topics. It is important to prepare for the exam well if you want to score a high score.

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.

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. 

Why take AP Precalculus?

Here are some reasons why taking the AP Precalculus exam can be beneficial for students:

  • College credit: Depending on your score and the policies of the college you plan to attend, a high score on the AP Precalculus exam can earn you college credit. This can save you time and money on tuition costs, as you may be able to skip introductory precalculus courses in college. You can major in Mathematics, Computer Science, Engineering, Physics, or other STEM fields.
  • Advanced Placement: In addition to college credit, a high score on the AP Precalculus exam can also earn you advanced placement in higher-level precalculus courses in college. This can give you a head start and allow you to take more advanced courses earlier in your college career.
  • Career prospects: Taking the AP Precalculus exam and earning a high score demonstrates to colleges and future employers that you have mastered college-level precalculus concepts and skills. This can be an impressive addition to your college application or resume if you are looking to make your career as a Mathematician, Engineer, Computer Scientist, or Data Scientist.
  • Interest in precalculus: Finally, taking the AP Precalculus exam can be a way to pursue your interest in precalculus and deepen your understanding of mathematics. By exploring advanced precalculus concepts and practicing problem-solving skills, you can gain a greater appreciation for the beauty and power of mathematics.

Conclusion

Students who are interested in majoring in mathematics, computer science, engineering, or other STEM fields will find the skills learned in AP Precalculus to be essential. Additionally, the skills learned in this course can be applied to a wide range of careers, such as data science, finance, and research.

The AP Precalculus exam is divided into two sections: multiple-choice (40 questions, 2 hours) and free-response (4 questions, 1 hour).

The AP Precalculus exam is challenging, but it is also rewarding. By learning about the different functions and their graphs, and by applying your problem-solving skills, you can gain a deeper understanding of mathematics.

What are the prerequisites for AP Precalculus?

The prerequisites for AP Precalculus vary from school to school, but most schools require students to have taken Algebra II and Trigonometry.
Some schools may also require students to have taken Geometry.

How difficult is AP Precalculus?

AP Precalculus is considered to be a challenging course, but it is not impossible to succeed. The course builds on the concepts learned in algebra and trigonometry, so students need to have a strong foundation in those subjects.
The course also covers a lot of material in a short amount of time, so students need to be able to learn quickly and efficiently.

What is the difference between AP Precalculus and Calculus?

AP Precalculus and Calculus are both math courses that are typically taken in high school. However, there are some key differences between the two courses.

AP Precalculus is a prerequisite for Calculus. It covers the essential mathematical concepts that are needed for Calculus, such as functions, trigonometry, and analytic geometry. AP Precalculus also introduces some of the basic concepts of Calculus, such as limits and derivatives.

Calculus is a more advanced course that covers the concepts of differentiation and integration. Differentiation is the process of finding the rate of change of a function. Integration is the process of finding the area under a curve. Calculus is used in many different fields, such as physics, engineering, and economics.

Reviewed by

Priyanshi Agrawal

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