So you’ve decided to take a shot at the AP Calculus Exam. Whether it’s the AB or the BC, I have some tips for you to both maximize your score and study in an efficient manner. The AP Calc test is difficult, but if you know what to worry about and how to approach prep for it, you can maximize your chances of success.

One of the first things I like to point out is that the AP test is ** harder** than a normal test. Your response is likely: “No kidding.” But seriously, this is a harder than normal test. I say this not to discourage you, but to let you know that if you can just master portions of the test you don’t have to be Sir Isaac Newton to earn a 5.

Did you know that to receive a 5 on either the AP Calculus AB and BC test, you only need about 65% of the available points? You read that correctly, 65%. You can get an A+ and free college Calculus credit at even the most competitive colleges, all for the price of a D.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that it’s easy. It does, however, mean that you don’t have to be an expert on every single topic to do well on this exam. You need to be able to master the fundamentals. You also need to be able to recognize specific problem types—especially on the free response section—so you can get all of the low hanging fruit. You don’t have to be the master of related rates and rotating areas around y=3, but you do have to know basics like the power rule, trig derivatives, and limits.

Over the next three blog posts, I’m going to lay out how to efficiently study for each part of the AP Calculus tests. The next post will outline the basics of the tests’ structure and highlight the materials you need to begin studying. The following two posts will address how to attack the multiple choice and the free response sections. Stay tuned for Part 2 on Thursday.