AP Calculus At BHS


BHS -> Mr. Stanbrough -> AP Calculus -> AP Calculus Intro -> this page


Advanced Placement Calculus at Batesville High School is a 3-cycle, 1-year course (132 85-minute periods). We use the course goals and AB Calculus Curriculum published by The College Board. The course is a college-level, introductory course in differential and integral calculus. Students who successfully complete the course should be able to qualify for advanced placement in college mathematics by taking the AP Calculus AB Test or other qualifying test.

(Please visit the Official Advanced Placement Calculus Web site for information on the official AP curriculum, testing, calculator information, and policies.)

The Advanced Placement Calculus Test

AP Calculus students are encouraged, but not required, to take the AP Calculus test. (Students should check with the mathematics department of the college or university that they plan to attend to ascertain their policy regarding advanced placement as soon as possible.) The AP Calculus test will be given on the morning of Wednesday, May 6, 2009. The test consists of four sections and is 3 hours and 15 minutes in length (I guess the old 3-hour length wasn't long and grueling enough..). The 4 sections are:

The multiple-choice (part A and B) and the free-response (part A and B) count equally toward the exam grade. The state of Indiana pays the $74 cost of the AP exam for students who successfully complete an AP course.

The "Rule of 4"

It would be difficult to argue with the fact that the AP Calculus Test is the most difficult and grueling test you have ever taken and quite possibly the most difficult and grueling test you will ever take. It would also be difficult to argue with the fact that this AP Calculus course is the most difficult course you have ever taken and quite possibly ever will take. Why is that?

Aside from the fact that colleges and universities are not at all eager to admit that high school students are capable of learning calculus, admit that high school teachers are capable of teaching calculus, or hand out free credit, there are some good reasons why an AP Calculus course needs to be particularly difficult.

First, there are almost as many different introductory calculus courses as there are colleges and universities. These courses run the gamut from "old fashioned", no calculator, strictly analytical courses (just like I took in the late 60's) to computer-based, software-intensive graphically-oriented courses. If AP Calculus is to be valid for credit at any college or university, it has to account for all of the possible approaches to calculus. Hence, the "Rule of 4."

In AP Calculus, we approach every concept (and you must master every concept) from four different perspectives:

And, you have to be able to do all four of these things with or without a calculator.

So, the bad news is that as an AP Calculus student you will be asked to understand beginning calculus much more thoroughly than students in many beginning calculus courses taught at colleges and universities. The good news is that as an AP Calculus student, you will understand beginning calculus much more thoroughly than students in many beginning calculus courses taught at colleges and universities. In fact, studies (conducted by the College Board) show that students who do well in AP Calculus are much more likely to do well in advanced courses than students who take beginning calculus at a college or university.

AP Calculus Grades at BHS

At BHS, each student receives 3 grades for each course - an achievement/academic grade, an effort grade, and a conduct grade. Here is how these grades are earned in AP Calculus:

Achievement/Academic Grade

The academic grade is the numerical (95-100 = A, 88-94 = B, etc.) grade.

In AP Calculus, a student's achievement grade represents a snapshot of that student's performance relative to the course standards at a particular point in time. In other words, the academic grade summarizes the summative assessments in the course.

The student's grade reflects their academic achievement at a particular time in the course. It does not reflect how hard (or how little) they try - that is the task of the effort grade. It does not reflect the fact that they are a wonderful (or horrid) person - that is the task of the conduct grade.

The academic grade has four components: assignments, tests, quizzes, and projects/challenge problems.

  1. Assignments: There will be frequent (daily) written assignments in AP Calculus, which will be collected and scored on an acceptable (2 points) or unacceptable (1 or 0 points) basis.
  2. Quizzes: There will be frequent (approximately three per week) quizzes, counting generally between 5 and 20 points. Quizzes are not generally announced in advance - students should expect a quiz every day. Quizzes differ from tests in that they are partly formative - students have the option to retake a quiz IF AND ONLY IF THEIR ASSIGNMENTS ARE UP TO DATE. The second quiz score replaces the original score.
  3. Test Grades: There will be two tests during each 4 1/2-week cycle - one near the midpoint of the cycle, and the other near the end of the cycle. Each test will mimic the format of the AP Physics test (except for length), with a multiple-choice section and a free-response section. One test during each cycle will be a calculator-active test and one test will be a no-calculator test. Test dates are announced several days in advance.
  4. Projects/Challenge Problems: There are a wide variety of projects and challenge problems available to students at any time. Each student should always be working on a project or challenge problem. Progress on these challenges counts toward the academic grade because they reflect the student's achievement.

Final Exam and Final Grade:

The final grade for each semester will be the average of the two cycle grades. There will be no additional final exam (pending administration approval).

Grading Scale:

Many of the questions that will appear on quizzes and tests will be taken from old AP exams and materials. The rest will attempt to be AP-level questions. AP-level questions are designed to be very challenging for a knowledgeable and talented student, as opposed to "normal" test questions, which are generally designed so that a capable student will answer almost all questions successfully. In fact, AP literature states that a 50% score can result in an acceptable (passing = "3") grade on an AP exam, and approximately 70% of the total points will generally qualify a student for the highest possible score (a "5") on the AP test. Therefore, AP Calculus test and quiz scores will not adhere to the 95% = A, 88% = B official BHS grading scale. AP Calculus test and quiz scores will be "curved" and converted to the BHS scale for posting to the grade book and report card. Up-to-date grade information will be posted in the classroom (by student number) so that students can gauge their progress.

Effort Grade:

If a student's academic performance is good, then the effort that they expend must be considered at least adequate. If a student's academic performance is below standards, then his/her effort in the course needs to be examined - it may or may not be a contributing factor in their lack of academic success.

Near the end of each cycle, the student will have the opportunity to complete a simple self-assessment of his/her effort in the course. If the instructor concurs with the student's assessment, the student's evaluation becomes the effort grade.

If the student and instructor differ in their evaluation, a short conference will be held in order to reach a consensus. If the student and teacher cannot agree on an effort grade, the opinion of an objective third party will be sought.

Conduct Grade:

A conduct grade will be assigned by the instructor based on the student's behavior in class.


Make Up Work:

Students are responsible to make up all work missed due to field trips, illness, etc. within a reasonable time. Please consult your BHS Student handbook.

Extra Credit:

AP Calculus grades will be awarded based on the student's demonstrated achievement in Calculus. Students who want to do well in AP Calculus need to keep up with the work, ask questions, and take advantage of the help available. Students are strongly encouraged to work on a project of interest to them, either in addition to or instead of the regular class work. On the other hand (Sorry, I just can't find a nice way to say this..), students who sit in class like big dead lumps for four weeks and then suddenly become concerned about their grade the day before the end of the cycle will not be able to turn in meaningless "extra credit" whose only purpose is to "pump up" the grade they have earned.

Machine-Scored Answer Sheets:

Rationale: The multiple-choice section of the AP test is scored by machine - no human ever looks at it. So is the SAT and many other important tests that you have taken and will take in the future. On these tests, any mismarked answers, incomplete erasures, stray marks, etc. are counted wrong - just as wrong as an incorrect answer. Therefore, it would be a good idea to learn to mark machine-scored answer sheets carefully.

Policy: If the ScantronTM machine says an answer is wrong - it's wrong. The only exception is if the machine is clearly out of order (which seldom happens).

Unlike the AP Test or SAT, however, if you "mess up" your answer sheet, you can have another one - just ask.

Classroom Computers:

The classroom computers are to be used for school-related curricular work only. They are not to be used for web surfing, email, or games during classroom hours. At no time are they to be used to visit chat rooms or pornographic sites. Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action.


AP-level work is challenging - even for the most talented students. Students - even very capable students - who will not ask questions or seek help with difficulties should not expect to do well in an AP course.

We will start AP Calculus morning help sessions (7:40 AM - 8:00 AM) in Room F109 in a week or two. Additionally, help is available during "flex" period and after school. I do not mind phone calls at home - before 9:00 P.M.


Please read the Classroom Discipline Policy.


BHS -> Mr. Stanbrough -> AP Calculus -> AP Calculus Intro -> this page

last update August 10, 2008 by JL Stanbrough