AP® Calculus BC Exam Format
Are you curious to learn about the AP® Calculus BC exam format? If so, you've come to the right place. This article is your guide to the AP Calc BC exam structure. We have simplified the exam format to help you understand each exam section, including the type of questions you'll get and the time allotted to each section.
What Is the Exam Format for AP Calculus BC?
The AP Calculus BC exam contains two parts, Section I and Section II. Section I consists of 45 multiplechoice questions, and Section II consists of six freeresponse questions. The exam is scored on a scale from 1 to 5. Each carries 50% of the total exam weight. The AP Calculus BC exam lasts for a total of three hours and 15 minutes.
The AP Calculus BC exam structure is as follows:
Section  Question Types  No. of Questions  Time Per Section  Exam Weight 

Section I  MultipleChoice Questions (MCQs)  45  1 hour 45 mins  50% 
Section II  FreeResponse Questions (FRQs)  6  1 hour 30 mins  50% 
Let’s now dive deeper into each section to know what they look like.
Section I: Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs)
The first part of your AP exam will consist of MCQs. Each question provides four answer options from which you need to pick the correct answer. This section has two parts:
Section I  Part A  Part B 

No. of Questions  30 MCQs  15 MCQs 
Exam Weight  33.3%  16.7% 
Time Allotted  1 hr  45 minutes 
Calculator Usage  Not Permitted  Permitted 
Question Types 

The total number of points you can score in this section is 54, with each question carrying 1.2 points. There’s no penalty for a wrong answer, so make sure you attempt all the questions. There’s always a 25% chance of guessing correctly.
Section II: FreeResponse Questions (FRQs)
The second part of your AP exam consists of FRQs, which do not provide any answer choices and require you to solve the problems methodically to derive the answers. Remember to demonstrate each step that you take to deduce the solution. This section will assess your analytical and problemsolving skills. The FRQ section has two parts:
Section II  Part A  Part B 

No. of Questions  2 FRQs  4 FRQs 
Time Allotted  30 minutes  1 hr 
Exam Weight  16.7%  33.3% 
Calculator Usage  Permitted  Not Permitted 
Question Types 

The number of points you can score in this section is 54. Each question carries 9 points. As mentioned earlier, this section follows the ‘stepmarking’ method, so you’ll earn points for solving each step of a problem correctly. That means, even if you mess up after a few steps, you’ll still score a few points out of a total of 9 per question.
With the exam sections and format knowledge at hand, let’s now proceed to the types of questions and learn what each section tests.
Types of Questions in the AP Calculus BC Exam
The sections mentioned above include questions from all course units. However, the exam tests each course unit in distinct amounts. Let’s learn how each unit is weighted in detail to understand the AP Calc BC format better.
Multiplechoice questions (MCQs)
Section I consists of multiplechoice questions. These questions can appear from any of the ten units you learned in your AP Calculus BC curriculum. Below, you can see the weight of each unit in the MCQ section of the exam.
Units  Unit Name  Weight 

Unit 1  Limits and Continuity  4–7% 
Unit 2  Differentiation: Definition and Fundamental Properties  4–7% 
Unit 3  Differentiation: Composite, Implicit, and Inverse Functions  4–7% 
Unit 4  Contextual Applications of Differentiation  6–9% 
Unit 5  Analytical Applications of Differentiation  8–11% 
Unit 6  Integration and Accumulation of Change  17–20% 
Unit 7  Differential Equations  6–9% 
Unit 8  Applications of Integration  6–9% 
Unit 9  Parametric Equations, Polar Coordinates, and VectorValued Functions  11–12% 
Unit 10  Infinite Sequences and Series  17–18% 
The units with higher weights tend to appear more frequently in the MCQ section than the others, implying that you will likely see more questions from these units than from units such as Units 1 and 3. Keeping this in mind will help you focus on these sections, and you can create your study plan based on the unit weights.
In the MCQ section, you'll face questions with similar answer choices, often tricking you into thinking that there could be more than one possible correct answer. Most of the time, selecting one of these answer choices results from common mistakes students commit in a hurry. To help you spot these trick answer options, we've put together a few tips:

Look at the answer choices before reading the question.
Use the answer choices as clues to solve the problem. This approach helps you anticipate the form of the correct answer and eliminate incorrect options, saving time.

Doublecheck your chosen answer.
Sometimes, the answer choices may appear similar; however, there is often a slight difference between the correct and incorrect options. After answering all your questions, try to reserve a 10minute buffer to review your answers and correct any errors.

Come back to tricky questions later.
If you struggle with a question, set it aside and return to it later. Since you have only two to three minutes per question, it's recommended to complete all the multiplechoice questions before revisiting your answers. Mark a 'temporary' answer for the ones you find tricky, allowing you to easily review and adjust them later.

Make educated guesses even when you’re uncertain.
Since there's no penalty for incorrect answers in this section, feel free to guess if you're unsure. However, try to eliminate as many incorrect options as possible to increase your chances of guessing correctly.

Assess your weaknesses while you prep.
As you practice multiplechoice questions in your mock tests, keep track of the ones you answer incorrectly. After completing your practice tests, tally this information to identify your weak areas and topics, and then concentrate your study efforts on them. Additionally, when using UWorld’s QBank, make sure to read through the explanations for questions you get wrong. This will aid in your understanding and help you answer correctly in future attempts.
Do you want to learn tips and tricks that could save you time and help you ace this section? Check out our guide on how to approach AP Calculus BC MultipleChoice Questions. In this article, we break down the MCQ section and guide you through answering each question successfully.
Freeresponse questions
Section II of the exam comprises freeresponse questions based on the 10 course units, requiring essay responses. The College Board® does not specify the relative weight of each unit in the FRQ section. However, analysis of past exams reveals that units 9 and 10 consistently appear in the FRQs, with unit 6 also being prominently featured. To best prepare, practice with past FRQs from the College Board to become familiar with the common patterns and question types.
In this section, you will need to solve problems and clearly demonstrate each step of your solution, as grading follows a stepmarking method. At the beginning of the exam, it is advisable to read through all the questions to strategize which to address first and which to save for later. Aim to allocate about 10–12 minutes per question, ensuring you have approximately 30 minutes at the end to tackle any challenging problems and to review your answers.
The AP Calculus BC exam is challenging. Following a disciplined study schedule with the exam format knowledge at hand, along with the right resources, such as UWorld AP Calculus BC practice questions will certainly help you ace the exam.
If you are curious to learn more, check out our article on how to answer AP Calculus BC FRQ. We have included a few sample questions with stepbystep instructions on solving them.
References
 AP Calculus BC. (n.d.). apcentral.collegeboard.org. Retrieved February 15, 2024, from https://apcentral.collegeboard.org/courses/apcalculusbc/exam
 AP Calculus AB and BC Course and Exam Description. (2020). apcentral.collegeboard.org. Retrieved February 15, 2024, from https://apcentral.collegeboard.org/media/pdf/apcalculusabandbccourseandexamdescription.pdf