Parametric and Vector Equations (Type 8)

AP  Questions Type 8: Parametric and Vector Equations (BC Only)

The parametric/vector equation questions only concern motion in a plane. Other topics, such as dot product and cross product, are not tested.

In the plane, the position of a moving object as a function of time, t, can be specified by a pair of parametric equations $x=x\left( t \right)\text{ and }y=y\left( t \right)$ or the equivalent vector $\left\langle x\left( t \right),y\left( t \right) \right\rangle$. The path is the curve traced by the parametric equations or the tips of the position vector. .

The velocity of the movement in the x- and y-direction is given by the vector $\left\langle {x}'\left( t \right),{y}'\left( t \right) \right\rangle$. The vector sum of the components gives the direction of motion. Attached to the tip of the position vector this vector is tangent to the path pointing in the direction of motion.

The length of this vector is the speed of the moving object. $\text{Speed }=\sqrt{{{\left( {x}'\left( t \right) \right)}^{2}}+{{\left( {y}'\left( t \right) \right)}^{2}}}$. (Notice that this is the same as the speed of a particle moving on the number line with one less parameter: On the number line $\text{Speed}=\left| v \right|=\sqrt{{{\left( {x}'\left( t \right) \right)}^{2}}}$.)

The acceleration is given by the vector $\left\langle {{x}'}'\left( t \right),{{y}'}'\left( t \right) \right\rangle$.

What students should know how to do:

• Vectors may be written using parentheses, ( ), or pointed brackets, $\left\langle {} \right\rangle$, or even $\vec{i},\vec{j}$ form. The pointed brackets seem to be the most popular right now, but all common notations are allowed and will be recognized by readers.
• Find the speed at time t$\text{Speed }=\sqrt{{{\left( {x}'\left( t \right) \right)}^{2}}+{{\left( {y}'\left( t \right) \right)}^{2}}}$
• Use the definite integral for arc length to find the distance traveled $\displaystyle \int_{a}^{b}{\sqrt{{{\left( {x}'\left( t \right) \right)}^{2}}+{{\left( {y}'\left( t \right) \right)}^{2}}}}dt$. Notice that this is the integral of the speed (rate times time = distance).
• The slope of the path is $\displaystyle \frac{dy}{dx}=\frac{{y}'\left( t \right)}{{x}'\left( t \right)}$. See this post for more on finding the first and second derivatives with respect to x.
• Determine when the particle is moving left or right,
• Determine when the particle is moving up or down,
• Find the extreme position (farthest left, right, up, down, or distance from the origin).
• Given the position find the velocity by differentiating;
• Given the velocity find the acceleration by differentiating.
• Given the acceleration and the velocity at some point find the velocity by integrating.
• Given the velocity and the position at some point find the position by integrating. These are just initial value differential equation problems (IVP).
• Dot product and cross product are not tested on the BC exam, nor are other aspects.

When this topic appears on the free-response section of the exam there is no polar equation free-response question and vice versa. When not on the free-response section there are one or more multiple-choice questions on parametric equations.

Free-response questions:

• 2012 BC 2
• 2016 BC 2

Multiple-choice questions from non-secure exams

• 2003 BC 4, 7, 17, 84
• 2008 BC 1, 5, 28
• 2012 BC 2

This question typically covers topics from Unit 9 of the 2019 CED .

Schedule of future posts for reviewing for the 2019 Exams

Exams for AP Calculus are Tuesday May 5, 2020 at 08:00 local time

NOTE: The type number I’ve assigned to each type DO NOT correspond to the 2019 CED Unit numbers. Many AP Exam questions have parts from different Units. The CED Unit numbers will be referenced in each post.

Tuesday February 25 – AP Exam Review 2020
Friday, February 28 – Reviewing Resources 2020
Tuesday March 3, 2020: Rate and accumulation questions (Type 1)
Friday March 6, 2020: Linear motion problems (Type 2)
Tuesday March 10, 2020: Graph analysis problems (Type 3)
Friday March 13, 2020: Area and volume problems (Type 4)
Tuesday March 17, 2020: Table and Riemann sum questions (Type 5)
Friday March 20, 2020: Differential equation questions (Type 6)
Tuesday March 24, 2020: Other questions (Type 7)
Friday March 27, 2020: Parametric and vector questions (Type 8) BC topic NOT TESTED on the 2020 Exam
Tuesday March 31, 2020: Polar equations questions (Type 9) BC Topic NOT TESTED on the 2020 Exam
Friday April 3, 2020: Sequences and Series questions (Type 10) BC Topic

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