AP Calculus BC Exam Information

Learn What Score You'll Need and What Course Credit You'll Receive

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Advanced Placement Calculus BC is one of the best options for a strong college application. uchar / Getty Images

Of all the Advanced Placement courses a high school student can take, AP Calculus BC is probably the one that will most impress colleges. Nearly all colleges and universities will offer college credit for a high score on the exam. This includes top engineering schools such as MIT, Stanford, and Georgia Tech.

About the AP Calculus BC Exam

The AP Calculus BC exam covers topics such as functions, graphs, limits, derivatives and integrals.

Unlike the Calculus AB exam, it also covers  parametric, polar, and vector functions. Because the BC exam covers more material than the AB test, it often offers students higher course placement, more course credit, and greater acceptance at colleges with rigorous math programs. Most colleges and universities have a math or quantitative reasoning requirement, so a high score on the AP Calculus BC exam will often fulfill this requirement. But the exam is more difficult, and in 2017 just 132,514 students took the BC exam. By comparison, 316,099 students took the Calculus AB exam.

You'll notice, however, that the average scores on the BC exam tend to be higher than those on the AB exam. Don't be fooled into thinking this means the BC exam is easier or has a more forgiving grading standard. The reality is that the scores are higher because the students who take the BC exam tend to come from schools with strong math programs.

The comparison of BC and AB exam takers is fairly easy, for the College Board released AB subscores for students who take the BC exam (the content of the AB exam is part of the BC exam). In 2017, the mean score for students taking the Calculus AB exam was a 2.93. The mean AB subscore for students taking the BC exam was a 4.00.

What Are Average AP Calculus BC Scores?

The mean score for the AP Calculus BC exam was 3.8, and the scores were distributed as follows (2017 data):

  • 5 - 42.6%
  • 4 - 18.1%
  • 3 - 19.9%
  • 2 - 14.1%
  • 1 - 5.3%

To learn more specific information about the AP Calculus BC exam, be sure to visit the official College Board website.

AP Calculus BC College Course Placement

The table below presents some representative data from a variety of colleges and universities. This information is meant to provide a general overview of the scoring and placement practices related to the AP Calculus BC exam. You'll want to contact the appropriate Registrar's office to get AP placement information for a particular college, and the placement information can change from year to year.

AP Calculus BC Scores and Placement
CollegeScore NeededPlacement Credit
Georgia Tech3, 4 or 5MATH 1501 (4 semester hours)
Grinnell College3, 4 or 54 semester credits; MAT 123, 124, 131; 4 additional credits are possible for a 4 or 5
LSU3, 4 or 5MATH 1550 (5 credits) for a 3; MATH 1550 and 1552 (9 credits) for a 4 or 5
MIT4 or 518.01, Calculus I (12 units)
Mississippi State University3, 4 or 5MA 1713 (3 credits) for a 3; MA 1713 and 1723 (6 credits) for a 4 or 5
Notre Dame3, 4 or 5Mathematics 10250 (3 credits) for a 3; Mathematics 10550 and 10560 (8 credits) for a 4 or 5
Reed College4 or 51 credit; placement determined in consultation with the faculty
Stanford University3, 4 or 5MATH 42 (5 quarter units) for a 3; MATH 51 (10 quarter units) for a 4 or 5
Truman State University3, 4 or 5MATH 198 Analytic Geometry & Calculus I and MATH 263 Analytic Geometry & Calculus II (10 credits)
UCLA (School of Letters and Science)3, 4 or 58 credits and Calculus for a 3; 8 credits and MATH 31A and Calculus for a 4; 8 credits and MATH 31A and 31B for a 5
Yale University4 or 51 credit for a 4; 2 credits for a 5

A Final Word about AP Calculus BC

AP classes are important in the college admissions process, and Calculus BC is one of the best AP subjects you can take. Many students struggle in math, and if you are successful in this AP class, you are showing that you are well prepared for the challenges of college-level mathematics. The course is a particularly good choice for students planning to enter engineering, science, and business fields.

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Grove, Allen. "AP Calculus BC Exam Information." ThoughtCo, May. 21, 2018, thoughtco.com/ap-calculus-bc-score-information-786947. Grove, Allen. (2018, May 21). AP Calculus BC Exam Information. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/ap-calculus-bc-score-information-786947 Grove, Allen. "AP Calculus BC Exam Information." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/ap-calculus-bc-score-information-786947 (accessed May 24, 2018).