## Integration and the AP test

June 7, 2017 by richbeveridge

I was perusing some old AP Calculus exams recently and ran across an interesting problem. The free-response questions are an interesting bunch. I won’t analyze or critique them too much except to say that they tend to be kind of the same, without much variety.

The question I was really drawn to presents the graph of a derivative function and asks a series of questions about the maximum/minimum values and points of inflection of the underlying function. It says that if the graph below is and , then etc, etc.

The graph of the derivative looks like this:

The test questions based on the graph aren’t all that interesting, but I got really interested in wanting to see the original function. I suppose you can integrate the piecewise derivative graph and use the identified points to build a piecewise function, but I did this geometrically, since these are all triangles. Really I was just interested in what the original function looked like – which will appear after the jump for those of you who want to think about this for a minute…

I had fun doing this as an exercise in geometry rather than Calculus, but it was interesting afterwards to look back and think – yeah, of course these are parabolas, if you’re integrating linear functions!!

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