AP Calculus BC is frequently touted as having the easier exam compared to AP Calc AB, even though the overall amount and difficulty of the material is harder.
That's not the case.
Like most advanced placement exams, AP Calculus BC is daunting for the unprepared. However, finding the right materials and tools solves half the problem.
We've examined, tried, and tested all of the books and we got the best ones for you below.
In order to find the right materials and texts for an exam, it is important to consider the mindset and expectations of the exam creators.
For AP Calculus BC, these expectations are summarized in the course description which states that participants are expected to understand the application of integral and differential calculus, solve problems relating to limits and continuity, functions infinite sequences and series and demonstrate the depth of their knowledge of each topic.
To be of significant value to exam participants, a great AP calculus BC book should.
We considered all the above when creating the below list. If you study hard and use the books below, there's no reason for why you shouldn't get a 5.
For those who are all about getting the optimum value for the money, Barron's AP calculus is a sure winner.
This book makes the cut because it is a two-in-one text, with an impressive coverage of both AB and BC syllabuses. And despite being a compilation of first and second-semester work, it maintains a high standard with sections dedicated to graphing calculator reviews, AB and BC course work as well as a ridiculous number of practice tests for both AB and BC exams -- all of which with keep most learners on their toes.
Most importantly, Barron's AP calculus comes highly recommended by top scorers. And while it is often advised that it is used alongside your textbook due to being unable to explain all concepts in extreme detail, it will no doubt be useful all year long, in the days leading to the exam, and a few more years afterward.
Like its preceding editions, Five Steps to a 5: AP Calc BC encourages a healthy ambition. It has a 5 point agenda that is aimed at launching readers towards achieving the perfect score.
The textbook starts out with a diagnostic test of your current knowledge of AP Calculus BC.
This is especially useful for customizing the learning process as well as sharpening already acquired skills. Additionally, it provides multiple full-length practice exams, an appendix of theorems and formulas, as well as an accompanying study app which brings online resources and other reading materials within reach.
To top things off, end-of-chapter reviews are shrunk down and easy to digest, while being thorough and extensive enough that you get all the needed information.
Like Barron's AP Calculus, this book by Kaplan is a condensed combination of both AP calculus courses like the name suggests.
It is reviewed and restructured yearly in order to be up to date with the most current AP exams. The 2020 edition, just like its predecessors is loaded with customizable study plans, diagnostic tests useful for evaluating ability and post-chapter quizzes to constantly monitor your progress.
Most impressive of this book is perhaps the fact that it offers access to full-length practice exams as well as an online tool that evaluates performance on a 1-5 scale. With bite-sized reviews of essential topics, expert exam-taking strategies and over 400 practice questions (and explained answers) the AP Calculus AB & BC Prep Plus by Kaplan guarantees results that certainly surpass its price tag.
A calculus textbook unlike its peers, these "lecture note" offer a different angle to learning Calc BC with an extensive slew of lecture note that mimics the typical classroom experience.
In place of practice tests and concise reviews, it offers examples and explanations in a detailed manner that makes it ideal for participants with only a basic or intermediate understanding of the course topics.
It goes without saying that the AP Calculus BC Lecture Notes is better suited as supplemental learning materials rather than the main text. Nevertheless, it offers everything from formulas, to updated lessons and theorems such that it can be a worthy rival of most conventional texts.
Naturally, it has garnered an impressive following of high-scorers and tutors alike due to its of its simplicity and interactive layout. What's more, its author has a reputation that more than speaks for itself -- and whether it is the beginning of the year or crunch time, it will provide you with the confidence you need to pass with flying colors.
Cracking The AP Calculus BC Exam by The Princeton Review
While it is true that The Princeton Review has built quite an impressive repertoire of helpful textbooks, the 2019 edition of turned out to be quite a sour disappointment.
From multiple typos, and math errors to the fact that the practice tests are nowhere near the complexity of the actual exam, unknowing students found themselves misled up till the day of the actual test without a hint. Even worse, the diagnostic test questions were found to be blatantly wrong or had none of the crucial exponents required for the exam. So even participants with a fair understanding of the course syllabus found themselves on a wild-goose chase trying to match the answers provided in the text.
Between being plagued with errors, and having misleading answers that made most problems unsolvable, this book was hardly usable. And while we can only hope that the 2020 edition offers a much better experience, it is safer not to take any chances especially since the market is already brimming with error-free, helpful alternatives.
Examines are required to have an extensive knowledge of graphing calculators and demonstrate their understanding of related topics as well as unrelated topics covered in the course overview.
Remember that you are required to bring your own graphing calculator.
The test has a multiple choice section and a free response section, each worth 50%.
For the multiple choice section, participants are required to answer a total of 45 questions in no more than 105 minutes.
Part A of the multiple choice section contains 30 multiple choice questions and does not allow the use of a graphing calculator. Part B of the multiple choice question contains the remaining 15 questions of the section and requires the use of a graphing calculator.
On the other hand, the free response section requires practical demonstration of each participants knowledge. Part A of this section requires a graphing calculator and contains 2 questions which must be solved in 30 minutes or less. Part B of the free response section however has 3 questions which do not permit the use of a calculator and must be solved in under 60 minutes.
As mentioned earlier, the AB Calculus BC exam incorporates concepts of the AB syllabus and evaluates the understanding of topics from both BC and AB course overview. However, examines are also required to consider the knowledge of AB calculus independently of the BC portion, so a thorough knowledge of both courses is pertinent.
Overall, there are slight modifications made to AP courses and exams on a yearly basis. However, a few key updates were made to AP calculus in 2019 these include:
For most participants, tackling an extensive course overview might seem a tad overwhelming unless they incorporate interesting resources and strategies to their study schedule that aid retention. Here are a few that may come in handy:
Not everyone learns best from books and text. For those of you who prefer more dynamic learning here are some other options for you: