AP® Calculus AB Exam Format And Structure
If you plan to take the AP® Calculus AB exam, it is crucial to start your prep by getting acquainted with the exam format. It helps you create a disciplined and thorough study plan and avoid last minute hassle! Are you curious to learn about the Calc AB exam format? Then you’ve come to the right place. This is your complete guide to the AP Calculus AB exam format, structure, and all the nittygritty you need to know so that nothing catches you by surprise.
What Is the Format of the AP Calculus AB Exam?
The AP Calculus AB exam is divided into two sections with a total duration of three hours and 15 minutes. Each section carries equal weight when the College Board® calculates your overall score. Here’s a tabular summary of how the AP Calculus AB exam is structured:
Section  Question Types  No. Of Questions  Time Per Section  Exam Weight 

Section I  MultipleChoice Questions (MCQs)  45  1 hour 45 mins  50% 
Section II  FreeResponse Questions (FRQs)  6  1 hour 30 mins  50% 
Section  Section I  Section II 

Question Types  MultipleChoice Questions (MCQs)  FreeResponse Questions (FRQs) 
No. Of Questions  45  6 
Time Per Section  1 hour 45 mins  1 hour 30 mins 
Exam Weight  50%  50% 
The overall score for the AP Calculus AB exam is calculated on a scale from 1 to 5 and a score of 3+ could qualify you to receive advanced placement and college credit. Every college has a specific set of requirements regarding AP credit. Be sure to check with your college to learn about their AP credit policy and regulations.
Going back to the Calc AB exam format, let’s learn in detail about what each section looks like:
Section I: MultipleChoice Questions (MCQs)
The first section consists of 45 MCQs. You need to pick the correct answer from the five choices for each question. These answer choices often appear similar, tricking the student into thinking there could be more than one possible correct answer. This section has two parts:
SECTION I  Part A  Part B  

No. of Questions  30 MCQs  15 MCQs  
Exam Weight  33.3%  16.7%  
Time Allotted  1 hr  45 minutes  
Calculator Usage  Not Permitted  Permitted  
Question Types 

Section II: FreeResponse Questions (FRQs)
The second section of your AP exam will assess you based on your analytical and problemsolving skills. In the FreeResponse section, you will not be given any answer choices and will be required to solve the problems methodically to derive the answers. This section has two parts:
SECTION II  Part A  Part B  

No. of Questions  2 FRQs  4 FRQs  
Exam Weight  16.7%  33.3%  
Time Allotted  30 minutes  1 hr  
Calculator Usage  Permitted  Not Permitted  
Question Types 

There are a total number of six FRQs in Section II, with each question carrying equal weight. The FRQ section requires you to write out the solutions and detailed steps by which you solved the problems.
Remember, partial credit is given for the steps followed to deduce the answer to each problem. It is recommended that you read through all the questions from this section at the start of the exam. Doing so will help you decide which ones to attempt first and which you wish to tackle later. It is ideal to spare about 1012 minutes on each question so that by the end of the exam, you’ll still have about 30 mins to tackle any difficult problems and revise your answers.
Now that you have a detailed understanding of the sections and the number of questions in the AP Calculus AB exam, let’s get into more detail and learn what these questions will test you on.
Types of Questions in the AP Calculus AB Exam
As discussed above, the MCQ and the FRQ sections each carry 50% of the total exam weightage. These sections will test you on the eight units from the AP Calculus AB course, and each unit has an expected weightage in these two sections.
In the following passages, we’ll analyze the two sections of the AP Calc AB exam to learn about the topics you’ll be tested on and what these questions might look like. Cultivating a solid understanding of the pattern and the content of these questions is essential to achieving a high score on your exam.
MultipleChoice questions (MCQs)
As you may already know, the MCQ section includes questions that come with four predetermined answer choices. You’ll have to analyze each problem and choose the correct answer from the four answer choices. Let’s now look at the units and topics you’ll be tested on and how each unit is weighted in the MCQ section.
Unit  Weight 

Unit 1: Limits and Continuity  10–12% 
Unit 2: Differentiation: Definition and Fundamental Properties  10–12% 
Unit 3: Differentiation: Composite, Implicit, and Inverse Functions  9–13% 
Unit 4: Contextual Applications of Differentiation  10–15% 
Unit 5: Analytical Applications of Differentiation  15–18% 
Unit 6: Integration and Accumulation of Change  17–20% 
Unit 7: Differential Equations  6–12% 
Unit 8: Applications of Integration  10–15% 
The units carrying higher weights will appear more often in the MCQ section. For example, you'll most likely get more questions from Unit 5 than other units like Unit 3. Considering this aspect will help you focus on these sections, and you can distribute your study plan accordingly based on the unit weights.
Are you curious to learn tips and tricks on how to ace the MCQ section? Check out our guide on How to approach AP Calculus AB MultipleChoice Questions. In this article, we break down the MCQ section and guide you through answering each question successfully.
Now let’s move on to the FreeResponse Section and learn how it tests you.
FreeResponse Questions (FRQs)
The freeresponse questions on the AP Calc AB exam include a variety of topics across the units of the course. These questions require you to demonstrate the stepbystep processes you employed to solve a problem and derive its answer. As mentioned earlier, this section assesses your analytical and problemsolving skills. Since this section requires a detailed answering process, it is graded manually by AP instructors and college teachers called AP Readers.
As we mentioned earlier, the entire course content for AP Calculus AB is distributed across three ‘Big Ideas’ prescribed by the College Board. These Big Ideas weave across the eight units taught during your AP Calc AB class. If you’re curious to know more about these Big Ideas and course units, you can check out our indepth article on AP Calculus AB Course and Exam Description.
Worried about the Calc AB freeresponse section? Our article on how to answer AP Calculus AB FRQ is here to help! We’ve also included sample questions with stepbystep instructions on answering each of them.
AP Calculus AB Exam — Paper or Digital Mode?
As of 2023, the AP Calculus AB exam will not be administered in digital format. The only available format for the exam is the paperandpencil version.
The AP Calculus AB exam can be a tricky exam to pass. Now that you know the exam format, you can use these strategies and practice until you’re confident. Speaking of practice, at UWorld, we believe preparing for your AP exam requires a systematic study schedule which will guide you through the stepbystep process of knowledge acquisition and take you to a level where you can easily apply complex concepts and formulae to solve problems.
Try out our AP Calculus AB practice exam to crush the AP Calc AB exam. The best part? It’s a free trial! Rush to our study guide today for tips and guidance on how to study and ace the AP Calculus AB exam.
Read More About the AP Calculus AB Exam
Your ultimate study guide to the AP Calculus AB Exam from our expert educators. Includes review tips and tricks to help you ace the AP Calculus AB Exam!