Are you preparing for the AP Calculus BC exam? One of the best ways to study for the exam and figure out how well you're doing is to take practice tests. Practice tests allow you to see what kind of questions you'll be asked on the exam, and they can help you figure out which subjects or types of questions you struggle with and need to review more. Finding practice tests can be time-consuming, and, unfortunately, not all practice tests are created equally.
Luckily, we're here to help. In this guide, we provide links to all the AP Calculus BC practice exams available, point out which ones are the highest quality, and explain how you should be using them.
2021 AP Test Changes Due to COVID-19
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 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 our 2021 AP COVID-19 FAQ article.
Official AP Calculus BC Practice Exams
Official practice exams (those created 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 Calculus BC exam. There are four types of official practice resources, each explained below.
Complete AP Calculus BC Exams
The College Board has officially released one complete AP Calculus BC Exam, from 2012. This isn't a super recent test, and there have been some minor updates in terms of exam format and content, but it'll still match closely with the AP Calc BC exam you take. As this is the only official full-length practice test available, you should be sure to use it as part of your prep (we explain how to do this later on in the guide).
AP Calculus BC Multiple Choice Sample Questions
The College Board often reuses most multiple-choice questions over several years, so there are a limited number of official AP Calc BC multiple-choice questions available to study.
Besides the complete practice test, the only official AP Calculus BC multiple choice practice questions are found in the AP Calculus Course and Exam Description. Beginning on page 228 there are 22 multiple-choice questions you can use to practice. The questions include answers and the major skills each question tests. There are also four free-response questions.
AP Calculus BC Free-Response Sample Questions
Fortunately, there are many more official free-response Calc BC questions available, so you'll have a lot to practice with. The College Board has released free-response questions from 1998 to 2019. That's over twenty years worth of free-response questions! However, focus most on recent questions (within the past three years is best), as these include the newest exam updates and will be closest to what you see on your AP test. All free-response questions include scoring guidelines. These are a great resource, and you should definitely make use of them during your studying.
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 BC Calc. On Khan Academy's website, there are explanation videos for dozens of previously administered questions, both multiple choice and free response. You may have seen many of these questions in the other official resources, but the videos can be especially helpful if you've gotten stuck on one of the official practice problems or just want to learn step-by-step how to solve a certain problem.
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Unofficial AP Calculus BC Practice Exams
Even though unofficial practice tests aren't created by the College Board, they can still be a useful study tool, particularly because there are so many of them easily available. However, their quality can vary widely. For each resource listed below, I explain what is offered as well as the best way to include it in your prep. In general, we recommend using unofficial resources primarily for multiple-choice questions, since there are a lot of official free-response questions already available, and unofficial free-response questions tend to be fairly low-quality.
This site has two diagnostic AP Calculus BC practice tests, along with 86 shorter quizzes. The quality of the shorter quizzes can vary, but because they're organized by topic, they can be a great resource for some quick, targeted study. The diagnostic tests only include multiple-choice questions, but all questions have answer explanations and the option to time yourself.
Crack AP has 45 AP Calculus BC practice exams, each about nine or ten questions long. The questions are somewhat more simplistic than what you'll see on the actual AP exam, and the answer explanations can be too brief to be really useful, but they're an acceptable resource for when you want to do some quick studying.
There are dozens of mostly well-written practice questions on this site. You need to create a free account to access them, and certain problem sets require a paid account to access. One of the most useful features of this site is, like Varsity Tutors, it organizes the practice questions by category so you can focus on skills you need to particularly improve in. However, the questions aren't timed, and you'll see the answer to a question immediately after you answer it (which will slow you down if you're timing yourself), so it isn't a great resource if you're trying to improve your time management on the AP exam.
This site had 15 multiple-choice questions (organized into calculator and non-calculator questions) as well as three free-response questions. The multiple-choice questions are higher-quality than the free response (which are easier than what you'll see on the actual AP test).
Magoosh only has a short set of 15 questions, but they're well-written and have solid answer explanations. They also give you time limits for each of the two problem sets. A good quick practice resource.
This resource has two AP Calculus BC practice exams, one with 20 questions and the other with 9. The questions are decent, but there are no answer explanations, only an answer key, so we recommend not using it until you have a decent grasp on the subject material and can better work out on your own why a particular answer is correct.
How to Use These AP Calculus BC Practice Tests Throughout the Year
When you know how to properly use AP Calculus BC practice tests, your studying will be much more focused and effective. Below is a guide for when and how to use the practice tests throughout the year.
During your first semester of Calculus BC, you don't know enough material for it to be useful to take a complete practice exam. Instead, spend this semester answering quizzes and free-response questions on topics you've already covered. You'll probably want to begin answering practice questions about halfway through the semester.
For free-response questions, use the official released free-response questions in the Official Resources section. Save the 2018/2019 questions for second semester, but work backwards from 2016 to keep your practice questions recent.
Look through the old texts 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 free-response question, so try to answer practice questions under those same time restrictions.
For AP Calculus BC multiple choice 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.
Second semester is when you can begin to take complete AP Calculus BC practice exams and continue 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, we recommend using the Varsity Tutors exam and saving the official practice exam for down the line. After you take this practice test, correct the exam and see what score you earned on the test.
This is 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, to a 4 or 5. Getting a higher score on the AP Calculus BC exam looks more impressive to colleges, and it can sometimes get you more college credit.
Step 2: Analyze Your Score Results
After you've figured out your 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 be tempted to skip this step!
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 answering multiple-choice and free-response questions that focus specifically on those topics.
If you're struggling with your test-taking techniques, for example, 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 multiple-choice questions you can't use a calculator to solve, a little more than three minutes for multiple-choice questions where you can use a calculator, and 15 minutes per free-response 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 worked 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. We recommend using the official released practice exam or, if you want more recently-created questions, creating your own practice test by combining a set of unofficial multiple-choice questions (such as the Varsity Tutors or 4Tests exam) with a set of official free-response questions. If you choose the second option, you should have a total of 45 multiple-choice 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 multiple-choice and free-response 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 exactly where you made a mistake for every practice question you answer incorrectly. Also, when you're reviewing notes, pause every few minutes and mentally go over what you just learned to make sure you're really 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.
Summary: AP Calculus BC Practice Exams
Nearly everyone who does well on the AP Calculus BC exam took at least a few practice exams during the school year. Official resources are the best to use, but there are plenty of high-quality unofficial quizzes and tests out there as well.
During your first semester, you should focus on answering free-response and multiple-choice 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
Want to learn more about the free-response section of the AP Calculus BC exam? We cover everything you need to know about FRQ and work through official sample problems in our guide.
How hard is Calculus BC compared to other AP exams? Read our guide to learn what the hardest AP classes and tests are.
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Christine graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Environmental Biology and Geography and received her Master's from Duke University. In high school she scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and was named a National Merit Finalist. She has taught English and biology in several countries.