Thursday, March 31, 2011


I’m starting study for the AP Calc AB test, a mere 4 weeks away. I’m using the Barron’s text 10th Edition and completing the practice exercise questions in each chapter. My students are following suit, working independently through the Barron’s test prep book AND, of course, keeping up with the classroom assignments as directed by their teachers.

Here’s the plan.
1. Take the Diagnostic Test. I was shocked at how much I had to review for some of the basic questions from the beginning of first semester. The Diagnostic served as a motivator to get me moving and gave me a rough outline of what to study. I did this over Spring Break so there would be time to follow through on the study that was indicated.

2. I don’t find the “lessons” to be very helpful. But when I run into trouble, I’m reviewing from both the classroom text and the Barron’s descriptions.

3. Complete the Practice Exercises, a few at a time. There are gobs and I DO have other things on my to-do list. Sometimes I may work 3 or 4 problems; other times I have an hour or so and can work through more at once. But at the end of each study time, I check my answers and highlight the questions that I missed. The next study period, I review the missed problems before starting any new ones.

4. HERE’S THE IMPORTANT STUDY STEP: I have a separate piece of paper next to me when I’m correcting my work. I like card stock because it’s easier to keep track of and there will be a LOT of paper generated during this study program. When I run into a concept that caused the loss of points, I make a note of it on the “study guide.”

I’m actually creating a composite of all the information I need to review again and again until I can employ it at will. Beside the concept, I indicate the page and problem number that I will work again after the Practice Exercises for that chapter are complete. I’ll keep reworking these problems until I can do them perfectly (and quickly).

Why do I study so much before the AP test? There are several ways that the AP score might be used. Some teachers make the score part of the classroom grade. Some students (myself included) are personally committed to... (how can I say this without sounding dangerously like a nerd?)...well, there’s no way to get around it....committed to the highest possible score. And we obsessive test takers are not alone: some universities require a “perfect score” in order to count the grueling high school work as college credit. Earning an A in high school is nice; getting a good score on a high ability test is great; but earning college credit is why many students take AP courses in the first place, so it’s worth the effort to save the money and time required to retake the same course in college.

So, let’s get started.....differentiation, page 139, question 34 out of 101 in this section. If you have unanswerable questions or suggestions for solutions or study strategies, email and indicate "Calculus 911."

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