AP Prep

Published February 16, 2024

Everything You Need to get a 5 on AP Precalculus


Natasha Potter

MSU Alumni, Creative Advertising Major, Marketing Associate at Knowt 😃

In this article, we'll dive into some of our nifty tricks and handy AP Precalculus exam tips to help you snag that coveted 5! I'll break it all down for you right here. With the right strategies, resources, and a bunch of AP Precalculus test tips, you'll totally have what it takes to nail that AP Precalculus exam.

Free AP Precalculus Resources

No need to panic if you're pulling a last-minute cram session for AP Precalculus – we've all been in that boat! If you're wondering how to study for the AP Precalculus exam with limited time, check out these AP Precalculus exam tips and resources put together by fellow students, perfect for a last-minute cram.

What Do I Need to Memorize for the AP Precalculus Exam?

Here's the scoop: AP Precalculus isn't doing any crazy format acrobatics. If you've rocked an AP class before, this one's going to roll out in familiar territory. You'll dive into the College Board's required topics, put in the work, and then comes the grand finale – the test. And if your test scores kick up enough dust, you're in for some sweet college credit, and you’ll know how to ace the AP Precalculus exam.

Now, let's get down to what you'll actually be diving into. The course is all about flexing three big math muscles, and each one comes with its own cool calculus-powered skill:

  1. Muscle 1: Nailing Procedures and Symbols

  2. Muscle 2: Playing Around with Different Representations

  3. Muscle 3: Talking the Talk and Walking the Reasoning Walk

What is on the AP Precalculus Exam?


Content Covered

Unit 1:

Polynomial and Rational Functions

Unit 2:

Exponential and Logarithmic Functions

Unit 3:

Trigonometric and Polar Functions

Unit 4:

Functions with Some Extra Flair – Parameters, Vectors, and Matrices

With those rad skills locked and loaded, embarking on the AP Precalculus adventure reveals a fascinating journey that neatly divides into four distinct units, each brimming with its own unique mathematical wonders and challenges.

Unit 1 welcomes you into the world of Polynomial and Rational Functions, unraveling the intricate dance of algebraic expressions and fractions. This unit delves into the art of polynomial manipulation, uncovering the secrets behind their behavior, transformations, and roots. Rational functions step into the spotlight, showcasing their remarkable ability to represent real-world scenarios and their puzzling asymptotic nature.

Venturing into Unit 2, the spotlight shifts to Exponential and Logarithmic Functions, unmasking the exponential growth and decay patterns that permeate our surroundings. You'll journey through the land of logarithms, unraveling their mesmerizing properties and their seamless partnership with exponential counterparts. These functions hold the keys to modeling everything from population growth to radioactive decay, equipping you with powerful tools for decoding the natural world.

Unit 3 ushers in the realm of Trigonometric and Polar Functions, a realm where angles, waves, and circles take center stage. You'll explore the mesmerizing world of sine, cosine, and tangent, uncovering their cyclical beauty and their role in unraveling the mysteries of periodic phenomena. Polar coordinates offer a fresh perspective, inviting you to navigate space using angles and distances, and unveiling the elegance of parametric equations.

As you delve into the fourth and final unit, the stage is set for Functions with Some Extra Flair – Parameters, Vectors, and Matrices. This unit introduces an exciting blend of mathematical tools that extend your understanding beyond the confines of single-variable functions. Parameters breathe versatility into equations, allowing you to fine-tune their behavior and explore a spectrum of possibilities. Vectors step onto the scene, paving the way for visualizing magnitude and direction in three-dimensional space. Matrices enter the equation, offering a powerful framework for solving systems of equations and transforming geometric objects.

In this rich tapestry of units, the AP Precalculus journey invites you to unlock the intricacies of these mathematical domains, igniting your curiosity and honing your problem-solving prowess for the challenges that lie ahead. So buckle up and dive into the world of Precalculus – where equations, functions, and mathematical beauty converge, and learn how to pass the Precalculus exam.

AP Precalculus Exam Format

Get ready to buckle in for the grand finale – the Precalculus test. It's a marathon, clocking in at three hours, and just like its AP buddies, it's got a two-part gig going on. We're talking the classic setup: multiple choice on one side, and the free-response jam on the other. Understanding and practicing this exam format is the best way to study for the AP Precalculus exam. So get ready to flex those AP exam tips and remember the breakdown of units to know how to prepare for the AP Precalculus exam. 

Now, let's break it down further. Each of these sections comes in pairs – one part is all about that trusty graphing calculator, while the other is a no-calculator zone. So, whether you're crunching numbers or flexing your mental math prowess, there's a piece of the pie for every kind of math wizard.

The Precalculus exam consists of two main sections: multiple choice and free-response. The multiple choice section comprises 40 questions in total. Among these, 28 questions do not require the use of a calculator and are allocated a duration of 80 minutes. The remaining 12 questions involve calculator usage and are given a dedicated time frame of 40 minutes.

On the other hand, the free-response section is composed of four questions. Among these, two questions are designed to be tackled with the assistance of a calculator and are allotted 30 minutes. The remaining two questions, requiring no calculator, also have a time limit of 30 minutes.

Overall, the exam spans a duration of 3 hours, encompassing both sections and their respective question types.

What does the AP Precalculus MCQ look like?

Exam Weight

Time Allotted

# of Questions 

Section A: No Calculator


80 Minutes


Section B: Calculator Required


40 Minutes


What does the AP Precalculus FRQ look like?

Exam Weight

Time Allotted

# of Questions 

Section A: No Calculator


30 Minutes


Section B: Calculator Required


30 Minutes


When do AP Precalculus scores come out?

Advanced Placement (AP) Precalculus stands as a pioneering precalculus course and examination, meticulously crafted by the College Board. This innovative educational offering has been in the making since 2021, and its official announcement resonated in May 2022. The culmination of these efforts materialized with the debut of the course in the autumn of 2023, marking the commencement of a transformative academic journey. Anticipation and preparation culminated in May 2024 when the inaugural AP Precalculus exam session came to fruition, presenting students with an opportunity to showcase their mastery of this dynamic field of study.

Is the AP Precalculus Exam Hard?

Similar to numerous other Advanced Placement (AP) courses, the realm of AP Precalculus can prove to be quite the formidable challenge for certain students. Its academic terrain is characterized by a rigorous curriculum, coupled with a demanding workload that beckons students to engage in substantial depth and breadth of study. Moreover, the class is known to unfold at a brisk pace, requiring a level of adaptability and quick thinking that can sometimes catch even the most diligent learners off guard.

Navigating the intricate pathways of AP Precalculus demands a fusion of determination, strategic time management, and an unyielding thirst for understanding. The course's intricacies can unravel at an accelerated rate, occasionally creating a sense of intensity that some might find daunting. The intricacies of algebraic, trigonometric, and analytical concepts blend to create a tapestry of mathematical complexity that requires steadfast dedication and a willingness to delve deep into problem-solving intricacies.

Yet, within this challenge lies the opportunity for substantial growth and intellectual maturation. As students grapple with the multifaceted nature of AP Precalculus, they hone not only their mathematical prowess but also their capacity to tackle multifaceted challenges, cultivate resilience, and uncover innovative approaches to problem-solving. It's a journey that beckons the curious and the determined, inviting them to embark on a voyage of intellectual exploration that will undoubtedly leave an indelible mark on their academic journey.

Explaining the 2023 AP Precalculus Scores and College Credit 

AP Precalculus holds significant weight as it serves as a valuable math credit, equivalent to the rigor of college algebra, at numerous esteemed colleges and universities. This credit transferability extends to a wide spectrum of institutions, notably encompassing the majority of public universities. 

It's important to note that within the sphere of highly selective schools, the classification of Precalculus as a college-level course may differ. Consequently, these institutions may not extend the privilege of earning direct college credit for completing AP Precalculus. However, this shouldn't be misconstrued as a limitation. On the contrary, students embarking on this educational journey will find themselves adeptly equipped for the challenges of higher-level mathematics.

In particular, the AP Precalculus experience serves as a robust foundation, paving the way for seamless transitions into future pursuits such as AP Calculus or advanced Calculus courses at the collegiate level. Beyond the realms of calculus, the skills cultivated within AP Precalculus extend their tendrils into various other math and science domains, setting a sturdy groundwork for academic triumph and intellectual growth. Thus, while the avenue to direct college credit might vary, the knowledge and proficiency garnered from undertaking AP Precalculus are an investment that resonates through diverse educational pathways.

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