What are your chances of acceptance?

Your chance of acceptance
Duke University
Duke University
Your chancing factors
Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
| 800 verbal


Low accuracy (4 of 18 factors)

What Should You Bring to Your AP Exam?

What’s Covered:


After spending months studying for AP exams, the thought of actually taking them can be both exciting and anxiety-inducing. You’ve spent plenty of time with the material, but do you have everything you need to take the test? The last thing you want to do is arrive at the test and realize you left behind something crucial. Make sure you’re ready to leave feeling confident and collected by reviewing our list of must-haves for test day!


Test-Taking Essentials


As you make your list, or prep your bag for exam day, these items are critical. Most of them are actually required for getting into and taking your test. You don’t want to spend all this time preparing and then be turned away because you left your driver’s license at home!


So, what do you actually need for exam day?


  • No. 2 pencils (bring extra, or a pencil sharpener, in case they get dull)
  • A pen with black or dark blue ink
  • A school or government issued photo ID
  • A silent wristwatch that does not have Internet access
  • A ruler or straightedge if you’re taking the AP Physics exam
  • Your College Board SSD Accommodations letter, if needed
  • A digital recording device that meets AP criteria for AP language or Music Theory exams
  • A testing device that meets AP criteria, if taking a digital test


Do I Need to Bring a Calculator?


Some tests allow calculators, and some do not. On some tests, a calculator is even required. On others, the calculator is used for one part, and not another. Here is the full list of AP exams that allow calculators. 


  • Biology
  • Calculus AB
  • Calculus BC
  • Chemistry
  • Environmental Science
  • Macroeconomics
  • Microeconomics
  • Physics 1
  • Physics 2
  • Physics C: Mechanics
  • Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism
  • Precalculus
  • Statistics


Now, just because your exam allows a calculator does not mean that you can bring the same calculator to every exam. There are different types permitted for different tests, so you should check the College Board’s AP Exams Calculator Policy page to make sure that you have the right calculator. Proctors will check before the test begins, and you may not be able to take the test if you don’t have the right kind. 


Other important things to remember are to familiarize yourself with your calculator and its functions before the exam day, so you can use it quickly and easily. Make sure that your calculator is charged or has fresh batteries–you are allowed to bring a backup calculator, or spare batteries, if you aren’t sure that it’s in good working order. 


You are not allowed to share a calculator with another student taking the exam, so if you don’t have a calculator and are considering borrowing one, make sure that you ask someone who will not be in the exam room with you. Finally, you are able to take any exam without a calculator, but we don’t recommend doing so–even if you feel confident without one, it’s nice to have a calculator on hand for quick calculations and checking your work. 


What Not to Bring


There are some items that can get you in trouble, or even thrown out of an AP exam and your scores canceled. You’ll want to avoid all the items on this list.


  • Any electronics, including phones, laptops, tablets, smart watches, recording or listening devices, etc.
  • Books, dictionaries, notes, or reference materials of any kind
  • Mechanical pencils, colored pencils, colored pens, non-No. 2 pencils, or White-Out
  • Scratch paper (scratch paper is provided for AP Chinese and AP Japanese exams)
  • Watches that make any kind of noise or have internet access
  • Unapproved or unnecessary calculators
  • Ear plugs
  • Clipboards
  • Food or drink other than water
  • Clothing or shoes with subject-related information or text


Students seen with any of these items during the exam, or even during the exam’s ten minute break, may have the item confiscated, their score canceled, or be dismissed from the exam. The one exception is food and water–test administrators may allow students to leave the testing room and have a snack during their ten-minute break. 


Good Luck Charms


Hopefully, you feel a little more prepared to head into your AP exams, now that you’ve reviewed this list. However, the list of requirements and banned items might also feel a little intimidating, so you should feel free to make your prep a little more personal and bring something with you that will make you smile and give you confidence on test day. 


Maybe it’s a pair of lucky socks, a t-shirt you borrow from your brother, or a note of encouragement written by your mom. Pick something that lifts you up, and bring it to the test as a reminder of all the hard work you’ve done, and how prepared you are to take this test. 


The Impact of APs on Your Chances of Acceptance


While AP scores themselves don’t play a major role in the college admissions process, having AP classes on your transcript can be a crucial part of your application, especially at highly selective institutions. College admissions officers want to see that you enjoy challenging yourself intellectually, and that you’re capable of handling college-level coursework, and taking AP classes demonstrates both of those qualities.


If you’re wondering how your course rigor will stack up at the colleges you’re considering, check out CollegeVine’s free chancing engine, which evaluates a variety of factors like grades, course rigor, extracurriculars, and standardized test scores to estimate your odds of being accepted at over 1,600 schools across the country. Our admissions calculator can also give you suggestions for how to boost your chances of acceptance—for example, by taking more AP classes in your junior or senior year.

Short Bio
After graduating from Wesleyan University, Francesca Jette is pursuing a Master's in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at George Washington University. She has been helping high school seniors with college essays for three years now.