If you are a high school student determined to take the AP Calculus test, you must choose between writing  AP Calculus AB  and AP Calculus BC.

If you’re not sure which is good for you, here’s an article that’s going to help you make up your mind.

What are the AP exams?

The AP or Advanced Placement exams are offered in the United States by the College Board and are conducted every May for high school students across the country.  These exams are the culmination of the year-long Advanced Placement (AP) courses.

AP exams (with few exceptions) have a multiple-choice section and a free-response section.

The tests, designed by college professors working with the College Board are meant specifically for the AP examination for students studying in high school. The portions to be covered have been optimized for the same.

How are the AP  Exams Conducted?

The pattern of the exam is similar for both Calculus AB as well as Calculus BC.

It is an offline exam, mostly consisting of Multiple-Choice questions or in special cases of courses like design and language, portfolios, or oral means. The second half of the test is answered by a freely written response.

Being 2-3 hours long, the exam is made to provide sufficient time for the students to articulate all that they have learned in the AP course into the paper and solve sums made specifically for the given time and course.

What is the difference between Calculus AB and Calculus BC?

Even though both of them are college-level courses there still exists a few key differences between them. The biggest difference between these two courses is the fact that AP calculus BC is essentially just AB Calculus plus a few extra concepts which will be covered below.

This makes preparation for AB calculus a lot less stressful than that for BC calculus. The overwhelming load that studying BC calculus brings would mean that the entire AB syllabus would be covered in half the time it would take the AB course. This means that you will have to study the entire AB syllabus in one semester. However, you do get the benefits of a subscore in AB calculus when writing the BC calculus exam.

Topics of each course:

AB Calculus:

• Limits and Continuity
• Differentiation: Definition and Fundamental Properties
• Differentiation: Composite, Implicit, and Inverse Functions
• Contextual Applications of Differentiation
• Analytical Applications of Differentiation
• Integration and Accumulation of Change
• Differential Equations
• Applications of Integration

BC Calculus:

• Limits and Continuity
• Differentiation: Definition and Fundamental Properties
• Differentiation: Composite, Implicit, and Inverse Functions
• Contextual Applications of Differentiation
• Analytical Applications of Differentiation
• Integration and Accumulation of Change
• Differential Equations
• Applications of Integration
• Parametric Equations, Polar Coordinates, and Vector-Valued Functions
• Infinite Sequences and Series

As you may note, BC Calculus has the added two sub courses of Parametric Equations, Polar Coordinate, and vector-valued functions as well as infinite sequences and series.

Source: CollegeBoard

This results in much more significant stress on time when taking the BC calculus course as there is simply a lot of work to be done at the same time.

So How do you Decide Which Course will be Better Suited for you?

Choosing which course you want to take is done by considering these few basic points:

You can choose between Calculus AB and Calculus BC by considering the following points:

1. Stress:

If you aren’t good when it comes to dealing with stress, then you might want to consider AP calculus. Although BC calculus teaches you far more, it is also incredibly stressful and may make things a lot more difficult than they need to be.

1. Interest:

Do you wish to try out the AP course or are you determined to master its intricacies? If you plan to go ahead with learning the subject in-depth, BC Calculus is the right option for you.

1. Challenge:

If you’re a math whiz looking for a challenge, taking this test is definitely going to quench your thirst.  Apart from this, the perks of completing the BC calculus course in math are far from few and you will definitely see the benefits of taking it up in your junior year. Giving you the opportunity to take several complex courses, later on, to add to your skillset, this is one of the most crucial courses to take to attend advanced courses in physics.

Remember to stay aware of the nuances of the course and remember your reasons behind taking the course and how far you are willing to go for the subject and you will naturally end up doing what’s best for you.