The Comprehensive Guide to AP Calculus AB

AP Calculus is a popular choice for high school students looking to further their mathematical journey. As calculus is a prerequisite for students looking to take advanced courses in math and sciences, AP Calculus AB is one of the most popular AP courses, with 300,000 students taking the exam in 2022.

In this blog, we have broken down AP Calculus AB into three sections: Prerequisites & Materials, Course Topics, and Exam & Preparation.

General Information:

This rigorous calculus course, part of the Advanced Placement series, culminates in an AP exam. Achieving a high score can allow students to bypass introductory university calculus or enroll in accelerated courses.

Exam Info:

All information for the exam can be found on the College Board’s page for AP Calculus AB

Date: Monday, May 13th, 2024

Structure and Breakdown

Multiple Choice Section (50% exam weight):

  • Part A (60 mins)
    • 30 multiple choice questions 
  • Part B (45 mins)
    • 15 multiple choice questions Free Response Questions

FRQs (50% exam weight):

  • Part A (30 mins)
    • 2 long-form questions, work is shown 
  • Part B (60 mins)
    • 4 long-form questions, work is shown

Total Duration: 3 hrs 15 mins

Official Practice Problems

Historical Exam Results

AP exam scores range between a 1 and a 5, with a 3 or higher being a passing mark and accepted for credit in many colleges, though requirements vary by institution.

2023 Statistics:

58% of students passed the exam

22% of students scored a 5
A full score breakdown of AP Calculus AB and other AP exams can be found here

Prerequisites, Materials, and Topics

Prerequisites & Materials

Before you take AP Calculus AB, it is important to understand what prior knowledge you should have before entering the course. Additionally, you should also understand what textbooks and other materials, such as calculators, you may need. For a deeper look into this, check out our article on Prerequisites for Calculus

Topics

The AP Calculus AB curriculum covers a variety of foundational calculus topics in 4 main categories: Limits and Continuity, Differentiation, Integration, and Differential Equations. To understand these topics more in-depth, read our article on What is Calculus.

TopicUnitExam Weightage
Limits and ContinuityLimits and Continuity11%
DifferentiationDefinition and Fundamental Properties49%
Composite, Implicit and Inverse Properties
Contextual Applications of Differentiation
Analytical Applications of Differentiation
IntegrationIntegration and Accumulation of Change31%
Applications of Integration
Differential EquationsDifferential Equations9%

Full descriptions of units and their exam weights can be found on the College Board’s official page

Exam

Exams Preparation

To prepare for the exam, you should:

  • Use I Aced Calculus resources such as:
    • Practice decks for each topic to reinforce key ideas
    • Calculator tips to understand how to be efficient during the exam
    • Problem sets and practice tests to track growth and prepare for both course exams and the AP exam
    • Videos to gain a more in-depth understanding of the material
    • One-on-one tutors who will work to identify areas of growth and reinforce understanding of tricky concepts
  • Use physical resources such as a reputable textbook approved by the College Board. Students can find an extensive, though not exhaustive, list on College Board’s webpage. Other trusted sources include those by Larson & Stuart and Barrons AP.

Conclusion

Following these steps can increase your confidence and competence in the AP Calculus AB course. Remember that AP Calculus AB is not only a challenging course but also a rewarding one. This course allows you to develop your mathematical skills, enhance your critical thinking, and prepare yourself for college-level math courses. We hope that this guide has helped you understand the content of AP Calculus AB and how to succeed in the course. Good luck!

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