Tuesday, April 21, 2015

More on Reviewing for the AP Calculus Exam

My kids just took a mock AP Exam this Saturday (I use one of the secured exams that College Board posts in the course audit page).  My scores this year were much, much better than last year's mock.  Last year, nine out twenty-four kids passed (37.5%); this year, forty-one out forty-eight passed (85.4%).  I revamped the structure of the course a bit this year, and I think it must have made a difference;  I don't think these numbers are a fluke (I guess we'll find out for sure this summer).

A few weeks ago, I wrote about some of the changes I made in the structure of the course here.

However, I did not include my plan for review (which starts immediately after spring break, giving us about six weeks to review...remember, these are AB kids; not BC...most of them need this time, in my opinion).

This year, I structured our review time quite differently also.  Each week--up until the mock--the kids were responsible for one FRQ topic and one or two MC topics.  The weekly format looked like this:

Weekly Format (until Mock Exam)

Monday (FRQ Day): 4-5 problems due by Friday

Tuesday (FRQ Day): 2 problems in class; grade own; grade sample responses (if time allows)

Wednesday (MC Day): Work on MC problems, due Thurs

Thursday (MC Day): Bonus Problem due; go over MC; corrections due Friday
Friday (Quiz Day): 35-min quiz {10 MC, 1 FRQ}; 10-min discussion (if time allows)

For homework, I graded their FRQs by picking one to grade for accuracy (out of the typical 9 points). For their MC, I allowed them to gain all their points back if they did corrections. I also encouraged them to look up the scoring guidelines for their FRQs (I made a TinyURL, if you're interested: tinyurl.com/ScoringGuidelines). I also posted worked-out solutions for the MC each Thursday afternoon. So, there was no reason not to make a 100% on each weekly homework assignment: all answers were given.

Then, came Friday: Quiz Day. For this, I would pick a free response question (typically from a study book), that was worth 9 points. The multiple-choice, however, came from the kids. They were each allowed to submit one multiple choice question (based off the questions in their weekly packet) for an extra point on their quiz. They also had to have four good distractors (and show the work on why they were good distractors). If their question ended up being one I used for that week's quiz, they got an extra two points (total of three bonus points). The MC questions were worth 1.2 points each (like on the actual exam), so the quiz was out of 21 points.

This did mean that I only had Thursday evening to write Friday's quiz; but, I pretty much just had to choose which ten MC questions I wanted to use and then type them up.

If time permitted, we would go over the quiz after they were all turned in. But, honestly, this only happened the first week. Typically, we had to wait until the following week to go over the quiz.

I think these quizzes were a huge help to the kids because it narrowed down the focus each week, and the students were (for the most part) really able to master the given topics each week.

Here is the review schedule for this year. It also includes what we'll do the next two weeks:

Here is an example of what their Monday problems (FRQs) looked like:

For MC, I just grabbed questions from wherever I could find them.  I used Baron's study book a lot because it has MC questions separated by topic.  Typically, each MC packet had about thirty questions in it.  I'd be willing to email you any/everything I used for their homework assignments each week.

I hope some of this is helpful to you.  What kinds of things do you do to review that you find are beneficial to your students?

"Trophies"/commemorative tumblers for the eleven kids who made a 5 on the Mock!


  1. Thank you very much for writing such an interesting article on this topic. This has really made me think and I hope to read more. precalculus homework help


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