AP Calculus AB • Quarter 1 Benchmark • Michael Fenton


Up next: first quarter benchmark assessment from Michael Fenton’s AP Calculus AB class. As you read through the assessment and consider adding your comments to the discussion, keep these questions in mind:

  • What do you like (and why)?
  • What would you do differently (and why)?
  • What questions do you have for Michael?

Submission Type

“Share an assessment you don’t hate…”

“Share an assessment you do hate…”

Okay, I’m really in between on this one. The reason I started the Better Assessments project is that I’m disappointed in the quality of nearly all of my assessments. I’ve already benefitted so much from those who’ve shared their assessments. (Thanks Stephanie, Jim, Jennifer, Luke, and Sam!) This one is certainly better than a lot of my assessments, but I know it could be so much better.


The assessment is here.

The solutions I provided to students after the assessment are here.

Author’s Commentary

I gave this benchmark assessment to my AP Calculus AB class nine weeks into the 2012-2013 school year. We use Paul Foerster’s Calculus book (here’s a look at my course outline). The benchmark addresses Chapters 1-3

  1. Course Overview
  2. Properties of Limits
  3. Derivatives, Antiderivatives, and Indefinite Integrals

When I first started teaching from Foerster’s books (I also use his Precalculus text) I was quickly drawn to his fourfold approach: Verbal, Numerical, Graphical, and Algebraic. (As a student, I didn’t have a sense of this multiple representations framework.) I tried to include questions that would require students to demonstrate understanding in each of those four categories.

In reading through the questions again, I see myself leading students and offering hints where they shouldn’t really need them. I may have been trying to guard against poor results based on the weakness of that class, or the gaps I perceived in my teaching.

The assessment was given in one 50-minute class period. It was quite a few months ago, but if my memory serves me well, then my stronger students needed only about half the period, while several of my struggling students took the entire allotted time.

Thanks in advance for your comments!