Calculus AB and
Calculus BC are both designed to be college-level calculus courses. As
such, **the main prerequisite for both AB and BC Calculus is
pre-Calculus.**

When it comes to
the AP Calculus classes, you have three options: **you can take AB and BC
Calculus as a sequence, take AB Calculus only, or skip AB Calculus and go
straight to BC Calculus.**

The reason you can take one or the other is because AB and BC aren’t totally different classes. BC Calculus includes everything in AB Calculus, plus a few extra topics. You’ll actually get an AB Calculus sub-score when you take the BC exam.

**So Calculus BC is not necessarily more difficult than Calculus AB. BC
Calculus has to move faster **because it covers more material,
which is what makes it more intense than AB.

Some schools teach
AP Calculus BC in two class periods to fit in all the material or have
more intensive summer assignments. **AP Calculus BC courses often
cover everything in Calculus AB in the first semester**, while AB stretches
that material out over a full year.

If you decide to take Calculus AB and Calculus BC as a sequence – for example take AB Calculus junior year and then BC Calculus senior year – you don’t have to worry about picking between the two classes.

But if you only
have room for one AP Calculus class (as most people do), which one should you
take? **We’ll tell you the topics** and discuss the benefits of
each option below.

**AP Calculus AB Topics**

- Functions, Graphs, and Limits
- Derivatives
- Applications of Derivatives
- Integrals
- Applications of Integrals

*Source: AP Central*

**AP Calculus BC Topics**

- Functions, Graphs, and Limits
- Derivatives
- Applications of Derivatives
- Integrals
- Applications of Integrals
- Polynomial Approximations and Series
- Series of Constants
- Taylor Series

*Source: AP Central*

**Should You Jump to AP Calculus BC?**

If you’re up to the challenge, jumping from pre-calculus to Calculus BC can be a great option.

This
could be especially good if you want to study engineering or natural science in
college. **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.

If you’re big
on math, **you could take an even more advanced
calculus course at a local university or community college as a senior** (that
is if you take AP Calculus BC junior year). You can also make room for AP
Statistics, Economics, or Computer Science in your senior year. Jumping to AP
Calculus BC gives you a chance to really challenge yourself as a high school
student.

It’s also
important to note, **at some schools, you can drop down to
the AB Calculus course if you find that BC is too challenging.** 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. (Of course, check with your
guidance counselor before you sign up to make sure this is possible.)

Finally, **taking
and passing the BC Calculus exam gives you more math credit in college in the
vast majority of cases.** This is helpful for future engineering
and natural science majors since you can jump into required math courses
sooner.

To give just one example, at the University of Michigan College of Engineering, getting a 5 on AB Calculus gets you 4 credit hours, but getting a 5 on BC Calculus gets you 8 credit hours. (To look up the credit policy at any university, check out the AP’s college database.)

## Should You Take AB Calculus Instead?

Even though you often get more college credit for BC Calculus, taking AB Calculus can be a great option as well.

**You will still get a
calculus background that’ll set you up for college math. **Although you won’t get to
the extra topics that BC Calculus covers, you’ll still learn core calculus
concepts like limits, derivatives, and integrals. This will give you the
fundamentals you need for tougher college math courses.

**You’re less likely to be overwhelmed and burn out in AB Calculus**, as well. Since BC
Calculus has to cover more material in one year, at many schools it has more
frequent and harder assignments. AB Calculus is definitely challenging, but it
doesn’t move as fast, so it’s less likely you’ll fall behind.

**Taking AB Calculus might
free up your schedule for an additional class.** Since some schools
teach BC over two class periods, you might not be able to fit in a different AP
class or extracurricular. But AB Calculus will just be one class period, which
could leave you room for another class.

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.** (Read
more about AP Exam scoring here.) For example, at my alma mater
Stanford, if you had a 5 on AB Calculus, you would get placed in the same math course as
students who had gotten a 4 or 5 on BC Calculus. 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.

## Should You Take AB Calculus Then BC Calculus?

Some people consider taking AB Calculus first then BC Calculus the following year. They’re often tempted to do this if they don’t feel quite prepared enough to start with BC Calculus, but they want extra college credits for passing the AP exam or they want to impress colleges by taking the more difficult AP calculus class.

**In most cases, we don’t
recommend taking both AB and BC Calculus.** 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.
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.** 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.

If you were considering taking both AB and BC Calculus but aren’t sure which one to take now, keep reading for the questions you should ask yourself.

Source: https://blog.prepscholar.com/should-i-take-ap-calculus-ab-or-ap-calculus-bc