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AP Calculus includes AB and BC, content wise, the content tested in AB are fully covered in BC. In other words, BC is an upgraded version of AB in terms of difficulty. In 2009, the College Board updated the AP Calculus syllabus. In the new syllabus, the BC part is further broken down into 10 sections, while AB only has 8.
The content covered in AP Calculus AB is lesser than AP Calculus BC, while the knowledge covered in AP Calculus BC are about the same as the content of the first semester of undergraduate. The content covered is narrow and not so in dept. The overall difficulty level is relatively low and the exam is also relatively more fault-tolerant.
If the AP subjects are divided into three categories according to difficulty levels (Simple, General, Difficult), AP Calculus AB will be categorised under 'Simple'.
Should You Take AP Calculus AB?
AP Calculus AB is usually a subject that most students will take. However, it is more efficient to take Calculus BC as compared to AB as Calculus BC includes all the content tested in Calculus AB.
Section 1: Multiple Choice
45 Questions I 1 Hour 45 minutes | 50% of Exam Score
• Part A: 30 questions; 60 minutes (calculator not permitted).
• Part B: 15 questions; 45 minutes (graphing calculator required).
• Questions include algebraic, exponential, logarithmic, trigonometric, and general types of functions.
• Questions include analytical, graphical, tabular, and verbal types of representations.
Section 2: Free Response
6 Questions I 1 Hour 30 Minutes I 50% of Exam Score
• Part A: 2 questions; 30 minutes (graphing calculator required).
• Part B: 4 questions; 60 minutes (calculator not permitted).
• Questions include various types of functions and function representations and a roughly equal mix of procedural and conceptual tasks.
• Questions include at least two questions that incorporate a real-world context or scenario into the question.
Test Prep Strategy
AB and BC both contain 1.function 2.limit and continuity 3.derivative and its application 4.indefinite integral, definite integral and its application 5.differential equation 6.infinite series
Only BC involves parametric equations, polar coordinates, series. So the overall difficulty of BC will be greater than AB.
Therefore, you should plan your time wisely when preparing for the exam. Set aside different amount of time for different types of questions. You will also need to learn to summarise the knowledge tested so that you will have a deeper understanding of the knowledge and question types.
Recommended Study Guides
-Precalculus Mathematics for Calculus 6th Edition by James Stewart
-James Stewart Calculus 7th edition
-Calculus, 9th, Ron Larson
-Textbook Early Transcendentals 9th Edition
-Cracking the AP Calculus BC Exa-Princeton Review
-Princeton AP Calculus AB
-Barron AP Calculus AB&BC
-Peterson AP Calculus AB&BC
Collection of Official Papers with Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs)
Click here to obtain the latest AP Calculus AB Guide & Official Past-Year Papers with MCQ from ExclusiveSAT.