• A List of Topics for AP Calculus AB
    I. Functions, Graphs, and Limits


    Analysis of graphs With the aid of technology, graphs of functions are often

    easy to produce. The emphasis is on the interplay between the geometric and

    analytic information and on the use of calculus both to predict and to explain
    the observed local and global behavior of a function.

    Limits of functions (including one-sided limits)

    • An intuitive understanding of the limiting process

    • Calculating limits using algebra

    • Estimating limits from graphs or tables of data


    Asymptotic and unbounded behavior

    • Understanding asymptotes in terms of graphical behavior

    • Describing asymptotic behavior in terms of limits involving infinity

    • Comparing relative magnitudes of functions and their rates of change (for

    example, contrasting exponential growth, polynomial growth, and logarithmic



    Continuity as a property of functions

    • An intuitive understanding of continuity. (The function values can be made as

    close as desired by taking sufficiently close values of the domain.)

    • Understanding continuity in terms of limits

    • Geometric understanding of graphs of continuous functions (Intermediate

    Value Theorem and Extreme Value Theorem)


    II. Derivatives


    Concept of the derivative

    • Derivative presented graphically, numerically, and analytically

    • Derivative interpreted as an instantaneous rate of change

    • Derivative defined as the limit of the difference quotient

    • Relationship between differentiability and continuity


    Derivative at a point

    • Slope of a curve at a point. Examples are emphasized, including points at
    which there are vertical tangents and points at which there are no tangents.

    • Tangent line to a curve at a point and local linear approximation

    • Instantaneous rate of change as the limit of average rate of change

    • Approximate rate of change from graphs and tables of values


    Derivative as a function

    • Corresponding characteristics of graphs of ƒ and ƒ

    • Relationship between the increasing and decreasing behavior of ƒ and the
    sign of ƒ

    • The Mean Value Theorem and its geometric interpretation

    • Equations involving derivatives. Verbal descriptions are translated into

    equations involving derivatives and vice versa.


    Second derivatives

    • Corresponding characteristics of the graphs of ƒ, ƒ’ and ƒ”

    • Relationship between the concavity of ƒ and the sign of ƒ

    • Points of inflection as places where concavity changes

    Applications of derivatives

    • Analysis of curves, including the notions of monotonicity and concavity

    • Optimization, both absolute (global) and relative (local) extrema

    • Modeling rates of change, including related rates problems

    • Use of implicit differentiation to find the derivative of an inverse function

    • Interpretation of the derivative as a rate of change in varied applied contexts,

    including velocity, speed, and acceleration

    • Geometric interpretation of differential equations via slope fields and the

    relationship between slope fields and solution curves for differential equations


    Computation of derivatives

    • Knowledge of derivatives of basic functions, including power, exponential,

    logarithmic, trigonometric, and inverse trigonometric functions

    • Derivative rules for sums, products, and quotients of functions

    • Chain rule and implicit differentiation


    III. Integrals


    Interpretations and properties of definite integrals

    • Definite integral as a limit of Riemann sums

    • Definite integral of the rate of change of a quantity over an interval
    interpreted as the change of the quantity over the interval:

    • Basic properties of definite integrals (examples include additivity and linearity)


    Applications of integrals Appropriate integrals are used in a variety of

    applications to model physical, biological, or economic situations. Although only

    a sampling of applications can be included in any specific course, students
    should be able to adapt their knowledge and techniques to solve other similar
    application problems. Whatever applications are chosen , the emphasis is on
    using the method of setting up an approximating Riemann sum and
    representing its limit as a definite integral. To provide a common foundation,
    specific applications should include finding the area of a region, the volume of
    a solid with known cross sections, the average value of a function, the distance
    traveled by a particle along a line, and accumulated change from a rate of


    Fundamental Theorem of Calculus

    • Use of the Fundamental Theorem to evaluate definite integrals

    • Use of the Fundamental Theorem to represent a particular antiderivative,
    and the analytical and graphical analysis of functions so defined


    Techniques of antidifferentiation

    • Antiderivatives following directly from derivatives of basic functions

    • Antiderivatives by substitution of variables (including change of limits for

    definite integrals)

    Applications of antidifferentiation

    • Finding specific antiderivatives using initial conditions, including applications
    to motion along a line

    • Solving separable differential equations and using them in modeling (including

    the study of the equation y_ = ky and exponential growth)


    Numerical approximations to definite integrals Use of Riemann sums (using

    left, right, and midpoint evaluation points) and trapezoidal sums to
    approximate definite integrals of functions represented algebraically,
    graphically, and by tables of values