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Advanced Placement

The Complete Guide to AP Calculus BC Exam [Updated for 2024]

Written by Apoorvaa Agarwal

Updated on: 07 Dec 2023

Content

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  • The AP Calculus BC course is organized into 8 topics: Limits and Derivatives, Applications of Differentiation, Integration, Sequences and Series, Functions of Several Variables, Vector-Valued Functions, Polar Coordinates, and Differential Equations.
  • The AP Calculus BC exam is divided into two sections: multiple-choice (45 questions, 1 hour 45 minutes) and free-response (6 questions, 90 minutes).
  • The mean score for the AP Calculus BC exam in 2021 was 3.68 out of 5. This is slightly higher than the mean score for all AP subjects in 2021, which was 2.92.
  • The pass rate of the AP Calculus BC Exam for 2021 was 76.9%. This is slightly higher than the pass rate for AP overall, which was 60.2%.
  • With AP Calculus BC, some majors that you could choose from include mathematics, engineering, and economics. Some career pathways you could pursue include mathematician, engineer, economist, and data scientist.

Are you ready to tackle the advanced concepts of calculus? Prepare yourself for the AP Calculus BC exam, a comprehensive assessment that builds upon the foundation of AP Calculus AB.

As you dive deeper into the realm of calculus, you’ll encounter topics such as integration techniques, infinite series, parametric equations, and more which can be difficulty to self-study, as analyzed through a reddit survey.

With a pass rate of 76.9% in 2022, the AP Calculus BC exam, it’s clear why the AB students opt for this. And a mean score of 3.68 out of 5 in 2022, it’s evident that success is achievable with focused preparation. The exam’s difficulty rating stands at 5.5 out of 10.

Get ready to conquer the complexities of calculus and showcase your mathematical prowess in the upcoming AP Calculus BC exam. Let’s delve into the fascinating world of advanced calculus together!

What is the AP Calculus BC exam?

The AP Calculus BC Exam is a college-level exam offered by the College Board that tests students on their understanding of differential and integral calculus.

The purpose of the exam is to provide students with the opportunity to earn college credit or advanced placement in calculus courses by demonstrating their mastery of the subject.

What is the AP Calculus BC Exam format?

The AP Calculus AB exam is divided into two sections:

  • Section A: Multiple-Choice Questions
  • Section B: Free Response Questions

The multiple-choice section consists of questions that assess a student’s understanding of the concepts and techniques of calculus.

The free-response section consists of questions that require students to apply their knowledge of calculus to solve problems and answer questions. It is divided into two types:

  1. PART A questions require students to show their work and explain their reasoning to solve a problem or answer a question.
  2. PART B questions are called “application questions” and require students to use their understanding of calculus to solve a problem or answer a question in a real-world context.
Section No. of questionsType of questionsTime allocated
Multiple choice questionsPart A: 30 questions 
Part B: 15 questions
Questions include algebraic, exponential, logarithmic, trigonometric, and general types of functions.1 hour 45 mins
Free choice questionsPart A:2 questions
Part B: 4 questions
Questions include various types of functions and function representations and a roughly equal mix of procedural and conceptual tasks.30 mins
Total 45
questions
 3 hour 15 mins
Type of Questions

How long Is the Calculus BC AP exam?

The total duration of the AP Calculus BC Exam is 3 hours and 15 minutes. The exam is divided into two sections: multiple-choice and free-response, each with a specific time allotment.

  • Section 1: Multiple Choice

The multiple-choice section lasts for 1 hour and 45 minutes and includes 45 questions and it is worth 50% of the total exam score.

  • Section 2: Free Response

The free-response section lasts for 1 hour and 30 minutes and includes 6 questions and it is also worth 50% of the total exam score.

  • Break Time

After the multiple-choice section, students are given a 10-minute break before starting the free-response section. During this break, students are allowed to use the restroom, have a snack, or take a break to recharge before starting the second section of the exam.

Topics for AP Calculus BC Review

AP Calculus BC involves the study of the core scientific principles, theories, and processes that govern living organisms and biological systems. Students will do hands-on laboratory work to investigate natural phenomena.

Units CoveredMajor Topics Covered Exam Weightage (MCQ)
Unit 1: Limits and Continuity– How limits help us handle change in an instant
– Definition and properties of limits in various representation
– Definitions of continuity of a function at a point and over a domain 
4% – 7%
Unit 2: Differentiation: Definition and Fundamental Properties– Applying limits to define the derivative
– Determining derivatives
– Connecting differentiability and continuity 
4% – 7%
Unit 3: Differentiation: Composite, Implicit, and Inverse Functions– Use of the chain ruleImplicit differentiation
– Differentiation of general and particular inverse functions
– Determining higher-order derivatives 
4% – 7%
Unit 4: Contextual Application of Differentiation– Identifying relevant mathematical information in verbal representations of real-world problems involving rates of change
– Applying understandings of differentiation to problems involving motionLocal linearity and approximation 
6% – 9%
Unit 5: Analytical Application of Differentiation– Mean Value Theorem and Extreme Value Theorem
– Derivatives and properties of functions
– How to use the first derivative test, second derivative test, and candidates test
– Sketching graphs of functions and their derivatives
– How to solve optimization problemsBehaviors of Implicit relations 
8% – 11%
Unit 6: Integration and Accumulation of changeUnit 6: Integration and Accumulation of Change17% – 20%
Unit 7: Differential Equations– Solve differential equations
– Apply knowledge of how to solve differential equations to understand exponential growth and decay and logistic models 
6% – 9%
Unit 8: Application of Integrals– Solve problems involving net change over an interval of time
– Find lengths of curves, areas of regions, or volumes of solids defined using functions 
6% – 9%
Unit 9: Parametric Equations, Polar Coordinates, and Vector-Valued Functions– Solve parametrically defined functions, vector-valued functions, and polar curves using applied knowledge of differentiation and integration
– Deepen understanding of straight-line motion to solve problems involving curves 
11% – 12%
Unit 10: Infinite Sequence and Series– Explore convergence and divergence behaviors of infinite series
– Learn how to represent familiar functions as infinite series
– Learn how to determine the largest possible error associated with certain approximations involving series 
17% – 18%
Topics covered in AP Calculus BC

In summary, the AP Calculus BC Exam is a college-level exam that tests students on their understanding of differential and integral calculus, sequence and series, and applications of calculus.

AP Calculus BC Exam Guide
AP Calculus BC Exam Guide

How is the AP Calculus BC scored?

The AP Calculus BC exam is graded on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the best score possible. Both the multiple-choice section and the free-response section contribute equally to the total score.

The parts of the exam where calculators are not allowed (Part A of the first section and Part B of the second section) are worth more toward your total score than the parts where calculators are allowed.

SECTION A: MULTIPLE CHOICE QUESTIONS50%Calculator Policy
PART A: 30 questions33.3%No calculator permitted
PART B: 15 questions16.7%Calculator permitted
SECTION B: FREE RESPONSE50% Calculator Policy
PART A: 2 questions16.7%Calculator permitted
PART B: 4 questions33.3%No calculator permitted
Score distribution

When is the AP Calculus BC exam in 2024?

The exam is scheduled for May 13, 2024, which is a Monday.

Registration deadlines for the 2024 exam will vary depending on the student’s location and school. Typically, registration for the exam opens in the fall of the previous year and closes in early March of the exam year.

Students are required to follow a set of policies and guidelines when taking the AP Calculus BC exam. Some of the key policies include:

  • Students must bring a government-issued photo ID to the exam
  • Calculators are allowed on the exam, but there are restrictions on the type of calculator that can be used
  • Students are not allowed to bring any electronic devices, including cell phones, into the exam room
  • Cheating or any form of misconduct during the exam is strictly prohibited and can result in the cancellation of scores and other penalties.

Why should you take AP Calculus BC?

Taking AP Calculus BC offers many benefits to students, including:

  1. College credits

Many colleges and universities offer college credit or advanced placement to students who score a 3 or higher on the AP Calculus BC exam. This could save students time and money in college by allowing them to bypass introductory calculus courses.

  1. Admission advantages

Taking challenging courses like AP Calculus BC can enhance a student’s college application and demonstrate their academic preparedness and readiness for college-level work.

  1. Math proficiency

AP Calculus BC provides students with a rigorous and comprehensive study of calculus concepts, including differential and integral calculus, sequence and series, and applications of calculus.

This can help students develop strong problem-solving skills and a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts that can be applied to future coursework and career paths.

  1. Career opportunities

 A strong background in calculus and mathematics can open up opportunities for a variety of careers in fields such as engineering, computer science, finance, and more.

Overall, taking AP Calculus BC can provide students with a range of benefits, from college credit and admission advantages to enhanced math education and career opportunities. It is a challenging but rewarding course that can help students develop important skills and knowledge for their future academic and professional pursuits.

How to prepare for the AP Calculus BC exam

Preparing for the AP Calculus BC exam can be challenging, but students can increase their chances of success with the right strategies and techniques. Here are some tips and strategies for preparing for the exam:

  1. Review course notes: It is important to review and consolidate the course content regularly. Focus on understanding the fundamental concepts and their applications. This will help students to identify patterns and concepts that could be tested on the exam.
  1. Practice with past exams: Practice exams are a great way to simulate the exam environment and get familiar with the types of questions that are likely to appear on the actual exam. By practicing past exams, students can get an idea of the level of difficulty of the exam and identify areas where they need to improve.
  1. Manage time effectively during the exam: Students should be familiar with the structure and timing of the exam to help them manage their time effectively. They should allocate time for each section and question type, and spend only the required amount of time on any single question.
  1. Approach each question type effectively: Students should be familiar with the different question types, including multiple-choice and free-response questions, and have strategies for approaching each one. For example, for multiple-choice questions, students can use the process of elimination to narrow down their options and increase their chances of selecting the correct answer.
  1. By enrolling in Wiingy’s Calculus BC course: Students can receive one-on-one private tutoring that aligns perfectly with the course curriculum. The tutors also provide guidance on homework, test preparation, and coursework.

How can Wiingy help with AP AP Calculus BC  exam prep?

In 2022, only 41.2% of the 120,238 students who took the AP AP Calculus BC  exam scored a 5. While 3 is considered the unofficial passing rate, most elite universities, such as Harvard or Princeton, offer AP credit only if you score 5 or higher. 

Getting a 5 is possible if you have the right support in your high school, but that’s rarely the case.

Here at Wiingy, we work with vetted AP AP Calculus BC  tutors with demonstrated expertise and experience in helping students score a 5 on AP exams

Unlike tutor marketplaces, every Wiingy tutor is screened individually and undergoes a comprehensive assessment.

Less than 3% of applicants are selected to become tutors on Wiingy’s platform, ensuring tutors are highly qualified and experienced in teaching AP courses.

Our tutors will work with you 1-on-1 to master the content and skills you need to succeed.

Experienced tutors can provide you with curriculum-specific guides and practice questions and familiarize you with the exam format to help you ace the test.

We know that sometimes you don’t want to pay for private tutoring because it is too expensive. It’s common to see tutoring costs between $100 to $150 per hour.

Wiingy’s rates are very affordable, starting from just $28 per hour, much lower than the average AP tutoring offered by other platforms.

One more advantage of studying with us is that we don’t require you to sign up for any packages or yearly subscriptions. You can sign up for as little as a single lesson and add more lessons as per your requirements.

While we try to match you with the perfect tutor as per your needs, we know that sometimes even the best tutors might not be the right fit for you. That’s why we offer you the Perfect Match Guarantee, which means that if you are not satisfied with your tutor for any reason, you can request a free replacement at any time. 

Sign up with Wiingy AP AP Calculus BC  Tutoring today and achieve your goal of scoring a 5 on your AP Test!

Conclusion

In conclusion, the AP Calculus BC exam provides students with the opportunity to showcase their mastery of advanced calculus concepts. With a pass rate of 76.9% and a mean score of 3.68 out of 5 in 2022, it is evident that many students have successfully navigated the challenges of this rigorous exam.

The AP Calculus BC exam is a timed assessment consisting of a multiple-choice section and a free-response section. The multiple-choice section has 45 questions to be completed in 1 hour and 45 minutes, while the free-response section comprises six questions to be answered within 1 hour and 30 minutes.

The difficulty rating of 5.5 out of 10 highlights the level of complexity involved in the exam, requiring a solid understanding of topics such as derivatives, integrals, series, and more. However, with diligent preparation, practice, and a thorough grasp of the fundamental principles, students can confidently approach the AP Calculus BC exam and strive for success.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

How long is the AP Calculus BC exam?

The AP Calculus BC exam is a total of 3 hours and 15 minutes long. The exam is divided into two sections: a 90-minute multiple-choice section and a 105-minute free-response section. Students are given a 15-minute break in between the two sections.

How many questions are on the AP Calculus BC exam?

The AP Calculus BC exam consists of 45 multiple-choice questions and 6 free-response questions. The multiple-choice section has 30 questions (that are worth 1.5 points each) and 15 questions (that are worth 2 points each). The free-response section has 2 long-form questions and 4 short-form questions. The exam is scored on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being the highest possible score.

What is the hardest topic in AP Calculus BC?

Based on student performance data, AP Calculus BC students generally did well across most units. However, Unit 10, which covers infinite sequences and series, was found to be the most challenging, followed by Unit 9 (Parametric, Polar, and Vector Functions) and Unit 6 (Differential Equations). Students may find these topics, particularly difficult due to their complex nature and the need for a strong understanding of fundamental calculus concepts.

When is the AP Calculus BC exam 2024?

The AP Calculus BC Exam for 2024 is scheduled to take place on Monday, May 13,2024.

What is the average AP Calculus BC score?

The average score for the AP Calculus BC Exam varies each year, depending on the performance of the test takers. In 2022, the average score for the AP Calculus BC Exam was 3.68 out of 5, which was slightly higher than the average score in 2021, which was 3.62.

References

  1. apcentral.collegeboard.org/courses/ap-calculus-bc/exam
  2. princetonreview.com/college-advice/ap-calculus-bc-exam
  3. blog.prepscholar.com/ap-calculus-bc-exam
  4. STUDENT SCORE DISTRIBUTIONS AP Exams – May 2021
  5. Student Score Distributions AP Exams – May 2022

Reviewed by

Priyanshi Agrawal

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