**AP Calculus AB**is the 12th hardest AP class due to it’s rigorous course.- Covers topics such as limits, derivatives, and integrals.
- Average pass rate of AP Calculus AB exam is approximately
**54%** - AP Calculus AB Exam includes multiple-choice and free-response questions.
- AP Calculus AB has a difficulty rating of
**5.5 out of 10**by class alumnae.

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**Is AP Calculus AB hard?**

Based on a reddit survey of class alumni, AP Calculus AB is considered to have a moderate level of** difficulty, with an overall rating of 5.5 out of 10.** This makes AP Calculus AB the **12th most difficult AP course **out of the 28 large AP classes surveyed.

Opinions on difficulty can vary when comparing AP Calculus AB to other AP subjects. Some students find subjects such as AP Physics or AP Chemistry to be more challenging than AP Calculus AB due to the complexity of the material or the level of mathematical rigor required.

Other students may find subjects such as AP English Language or AP History more challenging due to the critical analysis and writing skills required. Read more about the **hardest AP classes** in our blogs.

Overall, AP Calculus AB can be a difficult course. Still, it also offers high school students a great chance to hone their critical thinking and problem-solving abilities, which will be useful to them in college and beyond.

**What determines the difficulty of AP Calculus AB?**

Different students and teachers may have varying opinions on the difficulty of AP Calculus AB. Some factors that can influence the level of difficulty of the course include:

**1. Student’s math background**

A student’s prior mathematical knowledge and experience can significantly impact their ability to understand and succeed in AP Calculus AB. Students who have taken advanced math courses such as geometry, algebra 2, and pre-calculus will have a better foundation of mathematical concepts.

They may find the course less challenging than students who have yet to take these courses.

**2. Teacher’s teaching style**

The teacher’s teaching style can also play a significant role in the perceived difficulty of the course. Book a free trial lesson with our expert online **AP Calculus AB tutors** and prepare for your exams.

Teachers skilled at breaking down complex concepts into manageable pieces, providing clear examples, and offering additional support may make the course feel more manageable to students.

**3. Student’s study habits**

The level of effort and dedication a student puts into studying for the course can also affect the perceived difficulty of AP Calculus AB.

Students who are diligent in their studies, set aside enough time to complete assignments, and seek out additional resources, such as tutoring or online materials, may find the course more manageable than students who do not prioritize their studies.

**4. Personal interest**

Students with a personal interest in the subject matter may find the course easier and more enjoyable than those who do not have a strong interest in mathematics.

**5. Test-taking skills**

The AP Calculus AB exam format, which includes multiple-choice and free-response questions, may be challenging for some students who struggle with test-taking skills. Overall, while AP Calculus AB is a challenging course, motivated, disciplined, and dedicated students can succeed and gain a deeper understanding of calculus and its applications.

**What does AP Calculus AB cover?**

The following are the important units covered with their weightage in the AP Calculus AB exam:

Units Covered | Exam Weightage (MCQ) |

Unit 1: Limits and Continuity | 10-12% |

Unit 2: Differentiation: Definition and Fundamental Properties | 10-12% |

Unit 3: Differentiation: Composite, Implicit, and Inverse Functions | 09-13% |

Unit 4: Contextual Application of Differentiation | 10-15% |

Unit 5: Analytical Application of Differentiation | 15-18% |

Unit 6: Integration and Accumulation of Change | 17-20% |

Unit 7: Differential Equations | 06-12% |

Unit 8: Application of Integrals | 10-15% |

**How is the AP Calculus AB exam structured?**

The AP Calculus AB exam is divided into two sections: **multiple-choice questions and free-response questions.**

Section A | No. of Questions | Types of questions | Time Allocated | Exam weightage |
---|---|---|---|---|

Multiple-choice questions (MCQs) | Part A: 30 questions | Questions include algebraic, exponential, logarithmic, trigonometric, and general types of functions. | 60 mins | 33.30% |

Multiple-choice questions (MCQs) | Part B: 15 questions | Questions include analytical, graphical, tabular, and verbal types of representations. | 45 mins | 16.70% |

TOTAL | 45 questions | 105 mins | 50% |

***Calculator is only allowed for Part B, not Part A.*

Section B | No.of questions | Types of questions | Time allocated | Exam weightage |
---|---|---|---|---|

Free response questions (FDRs) | Part A: 2 questions | Questions include various types of functions and function representations and a roughly equal mix of procedural and conceptual tasks. | 30 mins | 16.70% |

Free response questions (FDRs) | Part B: 4 questions | Questions include at least 2 questions that incorporates a real-world context or scenario into the question. | 60 mins | 33.30% |

TOTAL | 6 questions | 90 mins | 50% |

****Calculator is only allowed for Part A, not Part B.******* Source: College Board**

**What is the AP Calculus AB exam pass rate?**

The **AP Calculus AB exam** is known for being challenging, and **its pass rate is typically lower than other AP exams**, though it can vary from year to year.

In **2021 and 2022, the pass rates for the exam were 51% and 55.7% respectively**, meaning over half of the students who took the test earned a passing score of 3 or higher. The **mean score of AP Calculus AB is 2.91**.

Compared to other AP exams, the AP Calculus AB exam has a lower pass rate, with the average pass rates across all AP exams in those years being **63.7%** and **66%** respectively. However, despite its difficulty, the exam is very popular, with over **251,639 and 268,352 students taking it in 2021 and 2022 respectively**.

Therefore, despite the lower pass rate, students passionate about pursuing careers in mathematics, science, engineering, and other quantitative fields should still consider taking AP Calculus AB.

**What is the AP Calculus AB score distribution?**

The distribution of AP Calculus AB scores **remained relatively the same between 2017 and 2020**. The **pass rate dramatically decreased in 2021 by 9% but then increased again in 2022**.

Exam Score | 2018 | 2019 | 2020 | 2021 | 2022 |

5 | 19% | 19% | 19% | 18% | 20% |

4 | 17% | 19% | 20% | 14% | 16% |

3 | 21% | 21% | 21% | 19% | 19% |

2 | 22% | 23% | 24% | 25% | 23% |

1 | 20% | 18% | 16% | 24% | 22% |

**When to take AP Calculus AB?**

Typically, students take AP Calculus AB in their junior or senior year of high school. It is recommended that students take a **pre-calculus course** before enrolling in AP Calculus AB, as this will provide them with the foundational knowledge needed to succeed in the class.

However, the exact timing of when to take AP Calculus AB may depend on individual factors such as academic readiness, course availability, and personal goals. Some students may choose to take AP Calculus AB earlier in their high school career if they are particularly strong in math or if they have a specific academic or career goal that requires advanced math skills. Others may choose to take the course later if they need more time to build their math skills or if they have other academic priorities.

It is important to consult with your high school guidance counselor or math teacher to determine the best time to take AP Calculus AB based on your individual needs and goals.

**Why should you take AP Calculus AB?**

Taking AP Calculus Ab can offer several benefits such as:

**1. College credit and placement**

According to the College Board, over 1,000 colleges and universities in the United States offer credit or advanced placement for qualifying AP Calculus AB exam scores.

In 2022, **55.7%** of students who took the AP Calculus AB exam earned a score of 3 or higher, typically considered a passing score for college credit and/or placement.

**2. Improvement of analytical and problem-solving skills**

In a survey of college faculty conducted by the College Board, **92%** of respondents agreed that AP courses improved students’ critical thinking and analytical skills.

Additionally, Thomas B. Fordham Institute study found that students who took AP math courses, including calculus, were more likely to major in STEM fields in college.

**3. Preparation for college-level math courses**

According to a study by the National Science Foundation, students who took calculus in high school were more likely to complete a college degree in a STEM field.

In 2022, over 268,352 students took the AP Calculus AB exam, indicating that many students see the value of preparing for college-level math courses through AP coursework.

Overall, taking AP Calculus AB can be very beneficial to students as it can offer college credit and advanced placement, improve analytical skills, prepare them for college-level math courses, and enhance career opportunities.

**Conclusion**

In summary, AP Calculus AB is considered to have a moderate level of difficulty, with a rating of 5.5 out of 10 based on a survey of class alumni. It ranks as the 12th most difficult AP course out of the 28 large AP classes surveyed. In 2021 and 2022, the pass rates for the exam were 51% and 55.7% respectively, indicating that over half of the students achieved a passing score of 3 or higher. The mean score for AP Calculus AB is 2.91.

Compared to other AP exams, AP Calculus AB has a lower pass rate, with the average pass rates across all AP exams in those years being 63.7% and 66% respectively. Nevertheless, it remains a highly popular exam, with over 251,639 and 268,352 students taking it in 2021 and 2022 respectively.

The distribution of AP Calculus AB scores remained relatively consistent between 2017 and 2020, but there was a significant decrease in the pass rate in 2021 followed by an increase in 2022.

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**Frequently asked questions (FAQs)**

**What is the hardest unit in AP Calculus AB?**

According to the College Board’s data, the Composite, Implicit, and Inverse Functions unit is considered the most challenging for students in the multiple-choice section of the AP Calculus AB exam. Approximately 11% of students received a score of zero on questions related to this unit in the AP Calculus AB exam 2022.

**Is AP Calculus AB or AP Statistics harder?**

According to the College Board, AP Calculus AB and AP Statistics are both classified as moderately difficult AP courses. However, in 2022, the overall passing rate for AP Calculus AB was 55.7%, while the overall passing rate for AP Statistics was 60.5%. This suggests that AP Calculus AB is generally considered harder, based on the pass rates. However, it’s important to note that individual experiences may vary, and personal strengths and weaknesses should also be considered when choosing between the two courses.

**Is AP Calculus AB harder than BC?**

The pass rate of AP Calculus BC is 41% compared to 20% of AP Calculus AB making it easier in terms of scoring. AP Calculus BC is a more advanced course and requires a stronger foundation in calculus concepts compared to AP Calculus AB and is designed to build upon the skills students learned in AP Calculus AB. Students are expected to have a strong math background due to the course’s advanced nature. It may be beneficial for students to have taken AP Calculus AB before enrolling in AP Calculus BC.

**Should I skip Calc AB and take BC?**

It depends on your math background and level of preparation. If you have a strong foundation in pre-calculus and feel comfortable with the concepts covered in AB, it may be feasible to skip AB and go directly to BC. However, if you feel uncertain or unprepared, it is recommended to take AB first. Ultimately, the decision should be based on an assessment of your abilities and goals.

**What is AP Calculus AB equivalent to?**

AP Calculus AB is equivalent to a first-semester college calculus course. If a student successfully passes the AP Calculus AB exam, they may be able to receive college credit or placement in a second-semester calculus course. The course covers limits, derivatives, integrals, and their applications, preparing students for college-level mathematics courses.

**References**

- https://www.bestcolleges.com/resources/ap-calculus-ab/
- https://examstudyexpert.com/is-ap-calculus-hard-easy/
- https://soflotutors.com/is-ap-calculus-ab-hard/
- https://apcentral.collegeboard.org/media/pdf/ap-calculus-ab-and-bc-course-and-exam-description.pdf
- https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1034751.pdf