The Math Forum

Search All of the Math Forum:

Views expressed in these public forums are not endorsed by NCTM or The Math Forum.

Math Forum » Discussions » Courses » ap-calculus

Notice: We are no longer accepting new posts, but the forums will continue to be readable.

Topic: [ap-calculus] Rational Zero Theorem Test
Replies: 1   Last Post: Sep 16, 2012 6:06 PM

Advanced Search

Back to Topic List Back to Topic List Jump to Tree View Jump to Tree View  
Wilder Bob

Posts: 406
Registered: 2/1/08
RE: [ap-calculus] Rational Zero Theorem Test
Posted: Sep 16, 2012 6:06 PM
  Click to see the message monospaced in plain text Plain Text   Click to reply to this topic Reply

Hi Michael - the short answer is no.

It is easy to think of the AP Calculus test as a comprehensive 'we are going to test you on everything anyone should have covered up to this point ....', but it is not. In fact, it is possible for students who are absolutely horrid at algebra to score fairly well.

The reason for this is that the goal of the exam is to test a student on their calculus knowledge and understanding. It is really interesting to see how they are able to construct questions to assess ONLY that. There is, of course, some algebra required, but it is not as extensive as many of our class tests probably are.

Now - that said - a goal of many of our classes is also to prepare our students for success in whatever STEM courses follow in college, and some colleges may expect students to remember such details from a precalculus class, but I have never asked questions that aim to review that. One of the calculator capabilities AP Calc students are expected to be familiar with is finding roots, and any question that asks for roots I would expect to be a calculator question.....

It is possible that a question could expect a student to use the IVT to assess the guarantee of a root in a particular interval..... but not the rational root theorem.

Another thing to remember - polynomials are very specialized functions, and the goal of AP Calculus is, in some respects, to show how calculus is used to analyze various properties of functions that are NOT polynomials. So - the students' prior knowledge is loaded with properties and behavior of nice smooth continuous polynomial things, but calculus questions often ask about similar properties of more unusual functions (think about the use of limits to define/identify horizontal and vertical asymptotes and continuity; or the use of derivatives to identify points of inflection and so on ....)

Hope this helps some ....

Bob Wilder
Middletown High School

From: Michael Penigian []
Sent: Sunday, September 16, 2012 2:48 PM
To: AP Calculus
Subject: [ap-calculus] Rational Zero Theorem Test

Good Afternoon everyone,

Thank you for your feedback on the greatest integer function. I have another question about how far the AB test may go for certain questions. Would they ever have a function whose highest power is greater than 2 where students would have to use the Rational Zero Theorem and list all of the root candidates for say finding zeros or vertical asymptotes? Thanks.

Appended to this posting by the moderator:
This ap-calculus EDG will be closing in the next few weeks. Please sign up for the new AP Calculus Teacher Community Forum at and post messages there.

Lin McMullin
Calculus EDG Moderator
Course related websites:
To search the list archives for previous posts go to

Point your RSS reader here for a feed of the latest messages in this topic.

[Privacy Policy] [Terms of Use]

© The Math Forum at NCTM 1994-2018. All Rights Reserved.