Optimization problems are really just a 1st Derivative Test or Global Extrema Process wrapped in a “real world” situation. The best way to prepare for optimization problems is to do as many different types as you can. I know that this sounds like the standard way that someone tells you to prepare for anything math related. However, when it comes to optimization problems it is more about the diversity of the set of problems you practice. The more different types of problems you do, the more you will start being able to see how to get the setups started on different types of problems. Based upon your experience you will start relating new problems back to problems you have done before.

This is the section of the AP Calc Exam where much of your geometry and trig formulas will start coming back to haunt you. You will want to know at a minimum:

  • Perimeter, area, and volume formulas for all the standard shapes.
  • Pythagorean Theorem
  • Distance Between Two Points Formula
  • Six Standard Trig Functions.
  • Similar Triangles.
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