Taking a class with the fancy “AP” letters before a class is definitely a motivator for quite a few hard-working students, maybe for some others, they’re arriving at the beginning of the course with butterflies in their stomach as they finally see all the mathematical concepts they’ll have to learn. “How am I going to pass this class?!?” you may be asking yourself. For those that have mastered high school math from Algebra to Geometry to Trigonometry, all the way to pre-calculus, taking an AP Calculus course will be very challenging, however, it will also be very rewarding and therefore worth it!

 In this blog you will get an amazing breakdown of everything you need to know about AP Calculus, that is AP Calculus AB as well as AP Calculus BC. What resources are available to you to help you do great in AP Calculus, how difficult it will be, and what the exams will be, all important information you’ll need to know heading into your AP Calculus course. If you have decided in the end to take an AP Calculus course then you have come to the right blog!

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So, AB or BC? That is the question

If you didn’t know by now I'm here to tell you, there are two different paths you can take of AP Calculus. You can take AP Calculus AB or AP Calculus BC. They offer more or less the same AP Calculus experience in terms of material and ideas. However, the major difference is the intensity at which you learn the material. You will learn the material at a much more subtle pace in AP Calculus AB than in BC. Therefore the AP Calculus BC course is more intense, you’ll learn a semester’s worth of college math in a semester, meanwhile AP Calculus AB you will learn over the course of the entire Academic year. 

During AP calculus AB you will learn about:

  • Limits and Continuity
  • Differentiation
  • Integration
  • Differential Equations
  • Applications of Integration

These also feature in AP Calculus BC of course. In AP Calculus BC as said earlier is learned at a faster pace. In AP Calculus BC therefore in addition to the previously mentioned concepts, you’ll also be learning Parametric equations and functions, polar functions, and vector functions.

What will the exam be like? 

Of course, you’re taking a high school course, and just like any course, there is an exam at the end. Both exams are really similar concepts. Both exams have two sections, one section being multiple-choice, the other being free response. Both sections will have two parts and in each section, one will allow the use of a calculator, and the other section will not. 

Is AP Calculus impossible? 

Student studying on laptop in a cafe
AP Calculus is not the easiest subject, but it is not impossible. Source: Unsplash

So you’re most likely entering your senior year of high school, or at the very least you’re a high school junior. Obviously taking an AP Calculus course and getting a high mark on the exam will earn you some college credit, however, it won’t be so easy. AP Calculus is not easy, whether it is AP Calculus AB or AP Calculus BC, however it is not impossible! 

Prior knowledge

Firstly you’ll need to know what exactly it is you will be studying of course. During your AP course you’ll need to study a few different concepts such as Limits, Derivatives, Integrals, and Series. All of the mathematics, such as Algebra, and Geometry, that you learned throughout your high school years will help you to understand these concepts. This mathematical background will help you to comprehend the new mathematical ideas you’re going to be taught in AP Calculus. 

The skills you’ll need 

Besides the background knowledge, you’ll have to develop some different math skills. The ability to read mathematical symbols will be key to you during your AP Calculus course. Reading skills will also be really important to complete problems throughout your course and exam. It may seem silly, having reading skills in math. However, reading skills will help you to complete problems by understanding what you’re being asked.

Tricks and Tips to help you Pass

There are many different AP Calculus resources that will be available to you throughout your time taking the AP Calculus course, as well as when you are preparing for the exam. Let’s have a look at some things you can use to help you understand everything in AP Calculus, as well as get a really high score on your exam.

  • The internet
  • Prep books
  • Past exams
  • Your teacher
  • Tutors 

The internet nowadays is an endless resource of knowledge. For information and tips on AP Calculus, it is no different. Of course, having cell phones also allows you to use the internet wherever you may be. There are several educational websites that offer you help with understanding AP Calculus as well as tips for the exam. 

Prep books are also a great resource for you to practice and understand the material as you go through your course. There are many different prep books available, from different prestigious institutions that you can purchase. 

Another useful hint, use past exams! Past exams will be available to you over the internet. Not only is it a great method to drill yourself, but you can also analyze how exams are graded. Free-response questions can be difficult, as there is a lot of work you must show, therefore using past exams and seeing how they were graded will be an asset. 

There is someone that is always close by that is another fantastic resource for you. Your teacher of course! Your teacher is a teacher for a reason, he or she is dedicated to helping you learn. You can figure out a way to work with your teacher to improve both your strengths and weaknesses in AP Calculus.

Finally, another fantastic tip to help you ace AP Calculus AB or BC is finding a tutor! A tutor is a professional that you can work with on your schedule, that you can meet with when you need to at home or in a library, and nowadays even over the internet! Luckily websites such as Superprof will help you find a very helpful tutor. Using Superprof you’ll be able to find a math tutor that can make sure you practice everything you need to practice, such as your teacher, however you’ll have even more access to a personal tutor. 

Is AP Calculus worth the effort? 

A student, a library, a laptop
It will be much easier to learn AP Calculus if you take advantage of the resources. Source: Unsplash

Ultimately you’ll have to make a lot of personal sacrifices to make sure you have a high grade in AP Calculus AB or BC. While if you manage your schedule well you’ll be able to work and have a social life, there are times your friends will want to meet up and you’ll need to study. Assuring you have enough time during the week to study AP Calculus will be a priority, however, it definitely will be totally worth it in the end. 

Taking AP Calculus can lead to quite a few really promising fields of study, which means really interesting jobs in the future, which of course pay well!

  • Engineering
  • Computer Networking
  • Chemistry 
  • Physics
  • Air Transportation

These are only some of the fields that taking AP Calculus can lead you to. These jobs require you to be highly capable in mathematics and have a great capacity for thought and processing complex problems. Taking and mastering AP Calculus will be a huge asset for you to have a successful career and job. 

AP Calculus exams are graded on a scale of 1 to 5. If you score at least a 3 you could earn some college credit as well. Having a jump start at college will also be really useful when you’re trying to settle into a completely new environment, especially if you decide to go to college away from home. 

All in all taking AP Calculus may seem like too hard a task for some students. However, it is definitely worth the effort and sacrifice if you are seriously considering studying in a field of study that requires a lot of mathematics. If you have studied your fair share of math and developed your skills in math you can definitely take AP Calculus. Using your resources will be extremely important to your success in AP Calculus. Knowing everything to know beforehand using a website such as Superprof and so on will assure you are the most prepared. Having arrived at this stage in your academic career you surely have the abilities and skills to do the best job possible in AP Calculus! 

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