Calculus Test Guide

Calculus Test Summary
What: Exams to evaluate calculus skills
Who: Tests are given to high school and college students.
Where: Tests are administered in either a high school or college classroom setting.
When: Tests are given throughout the academic semester or year.
How: Students will answer questions on the exam relating to material they have been studying. The teacher will score the test to see how well the students perform.
Type: Tests are generally given in paper-and-pencil format, but some schools may use computer tests.
Why: Tests are given to measure the progress and aptitude of students taking calculus classes.
Time: Duration varies.
Language: English
Preparation: Students may take advantage of numerous resources available to them such as student study groups, office hours with teachers, and practice problems in text books. Students should be sure to begin studying at least a few days before the exam.
Cost: Free

By Jessica McNally,

Calculus is known amongst high school and college students as one of the most difficult branches of math to study. Calculus classes are infamous for teaching students long, complex problems and for requiring time intensive preparation for homework and exams. Those who succeed in understanding and applying calculus have accomplished a great task.
Calculus is the study of change. It is a discipline in mathematics that involves limits, derivatives, integrals and infinite series. For example:

Using the limit definition, complete the derivative f(x) for f(x)= 2/3x-4/5.
Calculus has two branches:

Differential calculus is the portion of calculus that deals with derivatives. The derivative of a function represents an infinitesimal change in the function with respect to one of its variables.

The simple derivative of a function f with respect to a variable x can be denoted f(x).
Integral calculus involves integrals, which are mathematical objects that can be interpreted as an area or a generalization of area. Integrals and derivatives are the fundamental objects of calculus.

Calculus classes are generally offered to upper high school students and at the collegiate level.

Calculus Tests
Calculus tests are administered multiple times a semester by a teacher or professor in order to measure students’ progress and aptitude. Students taking calculus in high school often choose to take the Advanced Placement (or AP) exam for college credit. (For more on the AP Exam, read our AP Test Guide.)

How to Study
In order to do well on a calculus test, it is critical to devote ample time to studying and homework completion. Here are a few helpful tips to consider when preparing for a test:
  • Start preparing for an exam a few days in advance. Preparing early for the exam will help build self confidence and reduce anxiety on test day.
  • Immediately commit to memory any definitions, formulas, and theorems that are introduced in class. Postponing memorization will slow you down when working on homework assignments and will prohibit a clearer, deeper understanding of calculus.
  • Prepare for an exam by working on new problems, instead of focusing on problems with which you are more familiar. Working on new problems adds variety to your studying process, and more closely simulates an exam situation.
  • Be sure to utilize all resources that are available to you. Such resources include homework solutions (usually located in the back of class books), class notes, personal meetings with your professor or teaching assistants, and study sessions with classmates. Using each of these resources, instead of just one or two, will help you develop a broader base of knowledge.
  • Expect calculus exams to be difficult. If you enter the exam with the expectation that it will be challenging, you will be better prepared. If the test proves less difficult than you expected, you will have an easier time getting a high score.
Do you need additional help with calculus? Check out our Calculus Test Directory to find helpful study aids.

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