You'll actually get an AB Calculus sub-score when you take the BC exam. Some schools teach AP Calculus BC in two class periods to fit in all the material or have more intensive summer assignments. So how do you figure out whether the AP Calculus teachers are your school are good? One of the single most important parts of your college application is what classes you choose to take in high school (in conjunction with how well you do in those classes). Calculus AB covers derivatives, definite integrals and the fundamental theorem of calculus. Other factors to take into consideration regarding whether to choose Calculus AB vs. BC are your upcoming course load and your overall goals. You will still get a calculus background that'll set you up for college math. We'll tell you the topics and discuss the benefits of each option below. The College Entrance Examination BoardTM does not endorse, nor is it affiliated in any way with the owner or any content of this site. Also, if you're looking to get a lot of college credits from your AP classes, you can usually get more from taking AB Calculus and another non-calculus AP than you would from taking both AB and BC Calculus. This could be especially good if you want to study engineering or natural science in college. If you're not sure you'll have time to complete the BC summer assignment, you might want to consider taking AB instead. Taking Calculus BC shows motivation and drive when it comes to math, and you'll need strong math skills as an engineering or science major. Ask below and we'll reply! If you're not sure you get Pre-Calculus, consider taking AB Calculus, since it moves slower and you'll have more time to learn the concepts. Since BC Calculus has to cover more material in one year, at many schools it has more frequent and harder assignments. it's probably true. What ACT target score should you be aiming for? (Read more about AP Exam scoring here.) Rebecca Renner is a teacher and college professor from Florida. Calculus BC, on the other hand, covers a full year of college-level calculus over the same period of time. Ask if they feel prepared for the AP test and/or feel confident about the material. Also think about your summer schedule. Again, check the credit policy at the schools you're interested in to see how much of a difference there is between AB and BC credit. But if you only have room for one AP Calculus class (as most people do), which one should you take? Say you've taken or are currently taking Pre-Calculus. This might be a good option if you're pretty sure you want to take BC Calculus but aren't positive you will be able to keep up. BC Calculus is more likely to have a longer assignment. In most cases, we don't recommend taking both AB and BC Calculus. Get Free Guides to Boost Your SAT/ACT Score, University of Michigan College of Engineering, you would get placed in the same math course. Students taking the Calculus BC exam will earn a score for both Calculus AB and Calculus BC. Calculus AB covers derivatives, definite integrals and the fundamental theorem of calculus. This is another practical consideration. Precalculus is the main prerequisite for both Calculus AB and Calculus BC. Or give you less flexibility in other parts of your schedule? SAT® is a registered trademark of the College Entrance Examination BoardTM. BC Calculus has to move faster because it covers more material, which is what makes it more intense than AB. You can continue on to Calculus BC in your senior year after you have acquired a more solid foundation with Calculus AB. You can also make room for AP Statistics, Economics, or Computer Science in your senior year. To begin with, calculus AB has a syllabus that is nearly the same as that of Math 1a. AB Calculus is definitely challenging, but it doesn't move as fast, so it's less likely you'll fall behind. Some people consider taking AB Calculus first then BC Calculus the following year. AP Calculus BC courses often cover everything in Calculus AB in the first semester, while AB stretches that material out over a full year. You're less likely to be overwhelmed and burn out in AB Calculus, as well. While both AP Calculus courses are designed to be college-level classes, Calculus AB is designed to cover the equivalent of one semester of college calculus over the span of a year. Have any questions about this article or other topics? Even though you often get more college credit for BC Calculus, taking AB Calculus can be a great option as well. If you’re thinking about taking AP Calculus, you may have already come upon a difficult question or two: What’s the difference between Calculus AB and BC, and which should I take? If you're going to study the humanities/social sciences, AB Calculus is likely to be plenty to meet your future college's basic math requirement. Taking both also usually won't help your college applications because it will look like you needed two years to learn calculus instead of one. CollegeBoard AP Central: AP Calculus AB Frequently Asked Questions. See our guide for passing the qualifying tests—the AMC 10 and the AMC 12. Stay up to date with the latest information on test dates, AP online review, and what this means for you with our AP COVID-19 FAQ article. But it's also possible that less effective teachers end up in those classes, especially if more students than expected sign up for AP Calculus. If it's markedly lower, you might want to reconsider. Are you trying to decide between taking AB or BC Calculus? See if you can explain your Pre-Calculus homework to a friend or younger sibling. #1: Ask for a copy of this year's syllabus for both AB and BC Calculus. If you can teach something, odds are you know it pretty well. The reason you can take one or the other is because AB and BC aren't totally different classes. Magoosh: What's the Difference Between the AP Calculus AB and BC Tests? However, you can take Calculus BC without having taken Calculus AB. In addition to topics from Calculus AB, the AP Calculus BC exam covers the following: If you are still unsure which class you should take, ask your precalculus teacher for his advice. The concepts in Calculus BC aren’t more difficult than in Calculus AB, but Calculus BC does cover more material in the same period of time. It's also important to note that at some schools, you can drop down to the AB Calculus course if you find that BC is too challenging. Push for BC Calculus if you're fairly certain you want to pursue engineering, natural sciences, or pre-medicine studies in college. The major difference between Calculus AB and BC is scope rather than difficulty. For example, have you already committed to a camp or service trip that's going to take up most of your summer? We'll help you decide which AP Calculus class to take, based on your prerequisite classes, college plans, and career goals. As we discussed above, some schools require more class periods for BC Calculus since it covers more material. What SAT Target Score Should You Be Aiming For? This will give you the fundamentals you need for tougher college math courses. Taking AB Calculus might free up your schedule for an additional class. #3: Ask your guidance counselor about the teacher's AP test passing rate if they've been teaching the class for a while. And finally, in some cases, you'll get the same math placement as you would for BC Calculus if you get a very good AP Exam score. #2: Talk to current students about how they like the class. On the other hand, the syllabus of calculus BC relates with the course of math 1b. Or are you just wondering what the difference between the two classes is? AB Calculus and BC Calculus are similar enough that taking them one after the other will be a lot like taking the same class twice, and it'll probably be pretty boring for you. At some universities, this can translate to up to 8 hours of credit compared to 4 credit hours for Calculus AB. In high school, she earned 99th percentile ACT scores as well as 99th percentile scores on SAT subject tests. PrepScholar: Should I Take AP Calculus AB or AP Calculus BC. How can you tell if you truly understand Pre-Calculus? Have you taken Algebra II and Pre-Calculus? It's possible to get by in many math classes by doing the problems and memorizing formulas but not truly understanding the material. If you're especially reliant on your teachers in math classes, you might want to take the course with the better teacher.