Rate & Accumulation (Type 1)

The Free-response Questions

There are ten general types of AP Calculus free-response questions. This and the next nine posts will discuss each of them.

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


AP Questions Type 1: Rate and Accumulation

These questions are often in context with a lot of words describing a situation in which some quantities are changing. There are usually two rates acting in opposite ways (sometimes called an in-out question). Students are asked about the change that the rates produce over a time interval either separately or together.

The rates are often fairly complicated functions. If the question is on the calculator allowed section, students should store the functions in the equation editor of their calculator and use their calculator to do any graphing, integration, or differentiation that may be necessary.

The main idea is that over the time interval [a, b] the integral of a rate of change is the net amount of change

\displaystyle \int_{a}^{b}{{{f}'\left( t \right)dt}}=f\left( b \right)-f\left( a \right)

If the question asks for an amount, look around for a rate to integrate.

The final (accumulated) amount is the initial amount plus the accumulated change:

\displaystyle f\left( x \right)=f\left( {{{x}_{0}}} \right)+\int_{{{{x}_{0}}}}^{x}{{{f}'\left( t \right)dt}}

where \displaystyle {{x}_{0}} is the initial time, and \displaystyle f\left( {{{x}_{0}}} \right) is the initial amount. Since this is one of the main interpretations of the definite integral the concept may come up in a variety of situations.

What students should be able to do:

  • Be ready to read and apply; often these problems contain a lot of words which need to be carefully read and understood.
  • Understand the question. It is often not necessary to do as much computation as it seems at first.
  • Recognize that rate = derivative.
  • Recognize a rate from the units given without the words “rate” or “derivative.”
  • Find the change in an amount by integrating the rate. The integral of a rate of change gives the amount of change (FTC):

\displaystyle \int_{a}^{b}{{{f}'\left( t \right)dt}}=f\left( b \right)-f\left( a \right)

  • Find the final amount by adding the initial amount to the amount found by integrating the rate. If \displaystyle {{x}_{0}} is the initial time, and \displaystyle f\left( {{{x}_{0}}} \right)  is the initial amount, then final accumulated amount is

\displaystyle f\left( x \right)=f\left( {{{x}_{0}}} \right)+\int_{{{{x}_{0}}}}^{x}{{{f}'\left( t \right)dt}},

  • Write an integral expression that gives the amount at a general time. BE CAREFUL, the dt must be included in the correct place. Think of the integral sign and the dt as parentheses around the integrand.
  • Find the average value of a function
  • Use FTC to differentiate a function defined by an integral.
  • Explain the meaning of a derivative or its value in terms of the context of the problem. The explanation should contain (1) what it represents, (2) its units, and (3) what the numerical argument means in the context of the question.
  • Explain the meaning of a definite integral or its value in terms of the context of the problem. The explanation should contain (1) what it represents, (2) its units, and (3) how the limits of integration apply in the context of the question.
  • Store functions in their calculator recall them to do computations on their calculator.
  • If the rates are given in a table, be ready to approximate an integral using a Riemann sum or by trapezoids. Also, be ready to approximate a derivative using a quotient from the numbers in the table.
  • Do a max/min or increasing/decreasing analysis.

Shorter questions on this concept appear in the multiple-choice sections. As always, look over as many questions of this kind from past exams as you can find.

The Rate – Accumulation question may cover topics primarily from Unit 4, Unit 5, Unit 6 and Unit 8 of the CED.

Typical free-response examples:

  • 2013 AB1/BC1
  • 2015 AB1/BC1
  • 2018 AB1/BC1
  • 2019 AB1/BC1
  • 2022 AB1/BC1 – includes average value, inc/dec analysis, max/min analysis
  • One of my favorites Good Question 6 (2002 AB 4)

Typical multiple-choice examples from non-secure exams:

  • 2012 AB 8, 81, 89
  • 2012 BC 8 (same as AB 8)


Updated January 31, 2019, March 12, 2021, March 11, 2022

Posts on Accumulation

One of the main uses of the definite integral is summed up (pun intended) in the idea of accumulation. When you integrate a rate of change you get the (net) amount of change. This important idea is often treated very lightly, if at all, in textbooks.

Here are a series of past posts that use, explain, and illustrate that concept.

Accumulation – Need an Amount? The Fundamental Theorem of Calculus says that the integral of a rate of change (a derivative) is the net amount of change. This post shows how that works in practice.

AP Accumulation Questions and Good Question 7 – 2009 AB 3 the “Mighty Cable Company” show how accumulation is tested on the AP Calculus exams. The “Mighty Cable Company” question is a particularly good and difficult example.

The next two posts show how to use the concept of accumulation to analyze a function and its graph without reference to the derivative. The graphical idea of a Riemann sum rectangle moving across the interval of integration makes the features of function much more intuitive than the common approach. You will not find these ideas in textbooks. Nevertheless, a lesson on this idea may help your students.

Graphing with Accumulation 1 explains how to analyze the derivative to determine when a function is increasing or decreasing and finding the locations of extreme values. By thinking of the individual Rieman sum rectangles moving across the interval the features of the function are easy to see and easier to remember. Once understood, this method will help students with their graph analysis work.

Graphing with Accumulation 2 continues the idea of using accumulation to determine information about the concavity of a function.

Unit 6 – Integration and Accumulation of Change

Unit 6 develops the ideas behind integration, the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus, and Accumulation. (CED – 2019 p. 109 – 128). These topics account for about 17 – 20% of questions on the AB exam and 17 – 20% of the BC questions.

Topics 6.1 – 6.4 Working up to the FTC

Topic 6.1 Exploring Accumulations of Change Accumulation is introduced through finding the area between the graph of a function and the x-axis. Positive and negative rates of change, unit analysis.

Topic 6.2 Approximating Areas with Riemann Sums Left-, right-, midpoint Riemann sums, and Trapezoidal sums, with uniform partitions are developed. Approximating with numerical methods, including use of technology are considered. Determining if the approximation is an over- or under-approximation.

Topic 6.3 Riemann Sums, Summation Notation and the Definite Integral. The definition integral is defined as the limit of a Riemann sum.

Topic 6.4 The Fundamental Theorem of Calculus (FTC) and Accumulation Functions Functions defined by definite integrals and the FTC.

Topic 6.5 Interpreting the Behavior of Accumulation Functions Involving Area Graphical, numerical, analytical, and verbal representations.

Topic 6.6 Applying Properties of Definite Integrals Using the properties to ease evaluation, evaluating by geometry and dealing with discontinuities.

Topic 6.7 The Fundamental Theorem of Calculus and Definite Integrals Antiderivatives. (Note: I suggest writing the FTC in this form displaystyle int_{a}^{b}{{{f}'left( x right)}}dx=fleft( b right)-fleft( a right) because it seem more efficient then using upper case and lower case f.)

Topics 6.5 – 6.14 Techniques of Integration

Topic 6.8 Finding Antiderivatives and Indefinite Integrals: Basic Rules and Notation. Using basic differentiation formulas to find antiderivatives. Some functions do not have closed-form antiderivatives. (Note: While textbooks often consider antidifferentiation before any work with integration, this seems like the place to introduce them. After learning the FTC students have a reason to find antiderivatives. See Integration Itinerary

Topic 6.9 Integration Using Substitution The u-substitution method. Changing the limits of integration when substituting.

Topic 6.10 Integrating Functions Using Long Division and Completing the Square 

Topic 6.11 Integrating Using Integration by Parts (BC ONLY)

Topic 6.12 Integrating Using Linear Partial Fractions (BC ONLY)

Topic 6.13 Evaluating Improper Integrals (BC ONLY) Showing the work requires students to show correct limit notation.

Topic 6.14 Selecting Techniques for Antidifferentiation This means practice, practice, practice.


Timing

The suggested time for Unit 6 is  18 – 20 classes for AB and 15 – 16 for BC of 40 – 50-minute class periods, this includes time for testing etc.


Previous posts on these topics include:

Introducing Integration

Integration Itinerary

The Old Pump and Flying to Integrationland   Two introductory explorations

Working Towards Riemann Sums

Riemann Sums

The Definition of the Definite Integral

Foreshadowing the FTC 

The Fundamental Theorem of Calculus

More About the FTC

Y the FTC?

Area Between Curves

Under is a Long Way Down 

Properties of Integrals 

Trapezoids – Ancient and Modern  On Trapezoid sums

Good Question 9 – Riemann Reversed   Given a Riemann sum can you find the Integral it converges to?  A common and difficult AP Exam problem

Adapting 2021 AB 1 / BC 1

Adapting 2021 AB 4 / BC 4

Accumulation

Accumulation: Need an Amount?

Good Question 7 – 2009 AB 3

Good Question 8 – or Not?  Unit analysis

AP Exams Accumulation Question    A summary of accumulation ideas.

Graphing with Accumulation 1

Graphing with Accumulation 2

Accumulation and Differential Equations 

Painting a Point

Techniques of Integrations (AB and BC)

Antidifferentiation

Why Muss with the “+C”?

Good Question 13  More than one way to skin a cat.

Integration by Parts – a BC Topic

Integration by Parts 1

Integration by Part 2

Parts and More Parts

Good Question 12 – Parts with a Constant?

Modified Tabular Integration 

Improper Integrals and Proper Areas

Math vs the Real World Why displaystyle int_{{-infty }}^{infty }{{frac{1}{x}}}dx does not converge.


Here are links to the full list of posts discussing the ten units in the 2019 Course and Exam Description.

2019 CED – Unit 1: Limits and Continuity

2019 CED – Unit 2: Differentiation: Definition and Fundamental Properties.

2019 CED – Unit 3: Differentiation: Composite , Implicit, and Inverse Functions

2019 CED – Unit 4 Contextual Applications of the Derivative  Consider teaching Unit 5 before Unit 4

2019 – CED Unit 5 Analytical Applications of Differentiation  Consider teaching Unit 5 before Unit 4

2019 – CED Unit 6 Integration and Accumulation of Change

2019 – CED Unit 7 Differential Equations  Consider teaching after Unit 8

2019 – CED Unit 8 Applications of Integration   Consider teaching after Unit 6, before Unit 7

2019 – CED Unit 9 Parametric Equations, Polar Coordinates, and Vector-Values Functions 

2019 CED Unit 10 Infinite Sequences and Series


Integration and Accumulation of Change – Unit 6

Unit 6 develops the ideas behind integration, the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus, and Accumulation. (CED – 2019 p. 109 – 128 ). These topics account for about 17 – 20% of questions on the AB exam and 17 – 20% of the BC questions.

Topics 6.1 – 6.4 Working up to the FTC

Topic 6.1 Exploring Accumulations of Change Accumulation is introduced through finding the area between the graph of a function and the x-axis. Positive and negative rates of change, unit analysis.

Topic 6.2 Approximating Areas with Riemann Sums Left-, right-, midpoint Riemann sums, and Trapezoidal sums, with uniform partitions are developed. Approximating with numerical methods, including use of technology are considered. Determining if the approximation is an over- or under-approximation.

Topic 6.3 Riemann Sums, Summation Notation and the Definite Integral. The definition integral is defined as the limit of a Riemann sum.

Topic 6.4 The Fundamental Theorem of Calculus (FTC) and Accumulation Functions Functions defined by definite integrals and the FTC.

Topic 6.5 Interpreting the Behavior of Accumulation Functions Involving Area Graphical, numerical, analytical, and verbal representations.

Topic 6.6 Applying Properties of Definite Integrals Using the properties to ease evaluation, evaluating by geometry and dealing with discontinuities.

Topic 6.7 The Fundamental Theorem of Calculus and Definite Integrals  Antiderivatives. (Note: I suggest writing the FTC in this form \displaystyle \int_{a}^{b}{{{f}'\left( x \right)}}dx=f\left( b \right)-f\left( a \right) because it seem more efficient then using upper case and lower case f.)

Topics 6.5 – 6.14 Techniques of Integration

Topic 6.8 Finding Antiderivatives and Indefinite Integrals: Basic Rules and Notation. Using basic differentiation formulas to find antiderivatives. Some functions do not have closed-form antiderivatives. (Note: While textbooks often consider antidifferentiation before any work with integration, this seems like the place to introduce them. After learning the FTC students have a reason to find antiderivatives. See Integration Itinerary

Topic 6.9 Integration Using Substitution The u-substitution method. Changing the limits of integration when substituting.

Topic 6.10 Integrating Functions Using Long Division and Completing the Square 

Topic 6.11 Integrating Using Integration by Parts  (BC ONLY)

Topic 6.12 Integrating Using Linear Partial Fractions  (BC ONLY)

Topic 6.13 Evaluating Improper Integrals (BC ONLY) Showing the work requires students to show correct limit notation.

Topic 6.14 Selecting Techniques for Antidifferentiation This means practice, practice, practice.


Timing

The suggested time for Unit 6 is  18 – 20 classes for AB and 15 – 16 for BC of 40 – 50-minute class periods, this includes time for testing etc.


Previous posts on these topics include:

Introducing Integration

Integration Itinerary

The Old Pump and Flying to Integrationland   Two introductory explorations

Working Towards Riemann Sums

Riemann Sums

The Definition of the Definite Integral

Foreshadowing the FTC 

The Fundamental Theorem of Calculus

More About the FTC

Y the FTC?

Area Between Curves

Under is a Long Way Down 

Properties of Integrals 

Trapezoids – Ancient and Modern  On Trapezoid sums

Good Question 9 – Riemann Reversed   Given a Riemann sum can you find the Integral it converges to?  A common and difficult AP Exam problem

Accumulation

Accumulation: Need an Amount?

Good Question 7 – 2009 AB 3

Good Question 8 – or Not?  Unit analysis

AP Exams Accumulation Question    A summary of accumulation ideas.

Graphing with Accumulation 1

Graphing with Accumulation 2

Accumulation and Differential Equations 

Painting a Point

Techniques of Integrations (AB and BC)

Antidifferentiation

Why Muss with the “+C”?

Good Question 13  More than one way to skin a cat.

Integration by Parts – a BC Topic

Integration by Parts 1

Integration by Part 2

Parts and More Parts

Good Question 12 – Parts with a Constant?

Modified Tabular Integration 

Improper Integrals and Proper Areas

Math vs the Real World Why \displaystyle \int_{{-\infty }}^{\infty }{{\frac{1}{x}}}dx does not converge.


Here are links to the full list of posts discussing the ten units in the 2019 Course and Exam Description.

2019 CED – Unit 1: Limits and Continuity

2019 CED – Unit 2: Differentiation: Definition and Fundamental Properties.

2019 CED – Unit 3: Differentiation: Composite , Implicit, and Inverse Functions

2019 CED – Unit 4 Contextual Applications of the Derivative  Consider teaching Unit 5 before Unit 4

2019 – CED Unit 5 Analytical Applications of Differentiation  Consider teaching Unit 5 before Unit 4

2019 – CED Unit 6 Integration and Accumulation of Change

2019 – CED Unit 7 Differential Equations  Consider teaching after Unit 8

2019 – CED Unit 8 Applications of Integration   Consider teaching after Unit 6, before Unit 7

2019 – CED Unit 9 Parametric Equations, Polar Coordinates, and Vector-Values Functions 

2019 CED Unit 10 Infinite Sequences and Series


Rate & Accumulation (Type 1)

The Free-response Questions

There are ten general categories of AP Calculus free-response questions.

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.


AP  Questions Type 1: Rate and Accumulation

These questions are often in context with a lot of words describing a situation in which some things are changing. There are usually two rates acting in opposite ways (sometimes called an in-out question). Students are asked about the change that the rates produce over some time interval either separately or together.

The rates are often fairly complicated functions. If they are on the calculator allowed section, students should store the functions in the equation editor of their calculator and use their calculator to do any graphing,  integration, or differentiation that may be necessary.

The main idea is that over the time interval [a, b] the integral of a rate of change is the net amount of change

\displaystyle \int_{a}^{b}{{f}'\left( t \right)dt}=f\left( b \right)-f\left( a \right)

If the question asks for an amount, look around for a rate to integrate.

The final (accumulated) amount is the initial amount plus the accumulated change:

\displaystyle f\left( x \right)=f\left( {{x}_{0}} \right)+\int_{{{x}_{0}}}^{x}{{f}'\left( t \right)}\,dt,

where {{x}_{0}} is the initial time, and  f\left( {{x}_{0}} \right) is the initial amount. Since this is one of the main interpretations of the definite integral the concept may come up in a variety of situations.

What students should be able to do:

  • Be ready to read and apply; often these problems contain a lot of writing which needs to be carefully read.
  • Recognize that rate = derivative.
  • Recognize a rate from the units given without the words “rate” or “derivative.”
  • Find the change in an amount by integrating the rate. The integral of a rate of change gives the amount of change (FTC):

\displaystyle \int_{a}^{b}{{f}'\left( t \right)dt}=f\left( b \right)-f\left( a \right).

  • Find the final amount by adding the initial amount to the amount found by integrating the rate. If x={{x}_{0}} is the initial time, and f\left( {{x}_{0}} \right)  is the initial amount, then final accumulated amount is

\displaystyle f\left( x \right)=f\left( {{x}_{0}} \right)+\int_{{{x}_{0}}}^{x}{{f}'\left( t \right)}\,dt,

  • Write an integral expression that gives the amount at a general time. BE CAREFUL, the dt must be included at the correct place. Think of the integral sign and the dt as parentheses around the integrand.
  • Find the average value of a function
  • Understand the question. It is often not necessary to as much computation as it seems at first.
  • Use FTC to differentiate a function defined by an integral.
  • Explain the meaning of a derivative or its value in terms of the context of the problem. The explanation should contain (1) what it represents, (2) its units, and (3) how numerical argument applies in context.
  • Explain the meaning of a definite integral or its value in terms of the context of the problem. The explanation should contain (1) what it represents, (2) its units, and (3) how the limits of integration apply in context.
  • Store functions in their calculator recall them to do computations on their calculator.
  • If the rates are given in a table, be ready to approximate an integral using a Riemann sum or by trapezoids.
  • Do a max/min or increasing/decreasing analysis.

Shorter questions on this concept appear in the multiple-choice sections. As always, look over as many questions of this kind from past exams as you can find.

The Rate – Accumulation question may cover topics primarily from Unit 4, Unit 5, Unit 6 and Unit 8 of the 2019 CED.

Typical free-response examples:

Typical multiple-choice examples from non-secure exams:

  • 2012 AB 8, 81, 89
  • 2012 BC 8 (same as AB 8)

 

 

 

 

 


Updated January 31, 2019, March 12, 2021

2019 CED Unit 8: Applications of Integration

This unit seems to fit more logically after the opening unit on integration (Unit 6). The Course and Exam Description (CED) places Unit 7 Differential Equations before Unit 8 probably because the previous unit ended with techniques of antidifferentiation. My guess is that many teachers will teach Unit 8: Applications of Integration immediately after Unit 6 and before Unit 7: Differential Equations. The order is up to you. 

Unit 8 includes some standard problems solvable by integration (CED – 2019 p. 143 – 161). These topics account for about 10 – 15% of questions on the AB exam and 6 – 9% of the BC questions.

Topics 8.1 – 8.3 Average Value and Accumulation

Topic 8.1 Finding the Average Value of a Function on an Interval Be sure to distinguish between average value of a function on an interval, average rate of change on an interval and the mean value

Topic 8.2 Connecting Position, Velocity, and Acceleration of Functions using Integrals Distinguish between displacement (= integral of velocity) and total distance traveled (= integral of speed)

Topic 8. 3 Using Accumulation Functions and Definite Integrals in Applied Contexts The integral of a rate of change equals the net amount of change. A really big idea and one that is tested on all the exams. So, if you are asked for an amount, look around for a rate to integrate.

Topics 8.4 – 8.6 Area

Topic 8.4 Finding the Area Between Curves Expressed as Functions of x

Topic 8.5 Finding the Area Between Curves Expressed as Functions of y

Topic 8.6 Finding the Area Between Curves That Intersect at More Than Two Points Use two or more integrals or integrate the absolute value of the difference of the two functions. The latter is especially useful when do the computation of a graphing calculator.

Topics 8.7 – 8.12 Volume

Topic 8.7 Volumes with Cross Sections: Squares and Rectangles

Topic 8.8 Volumes with Cross Sections: Triangles and Semicircles

Topic 8.9 Volume with Disk Method: Revolving around the x– or y-Axis Volumes of revolution are volumes with circular cross sections, so this continues the previous two topics.

Topic 8.10 Volume with Disk Method: Revolving Around Other Axes

Topic 8.11 Volume with Washer Method: Revolving Around the x– or y-Axis See Subtract the Hole from the Whole for an easier way to remember how to do these problems.

Topic 8.12 Volume with Washer Method: Revolving Around Other Axes. See Subtract the Hole from the Whole for an easier way to remember how to do these problems.

Topic 8.13  Arc Length BC Only

Topic 8.13 The Arc Length of a Smooth, Planar Curve and Distance Traveled  BC ONLY


Timing

The suggested time for Unit 8 is  19 – 20 classes for AB and 13 – 14 for BC of 40 – 50-minute class periods, this includes time for testing etc.


Previous posts on these topics for both AB and BC include:

Average Value and Accumulation

Average Value of a Function and Average Value of a Function

Half-full or Half-empty

Accumulation: Need an Amount?

AP Accumulation Questions

Good Question 7 – 2009 AB 3 Accumulation, explain the meaning of an integral in context, unit analysis

Good Question 8 – or Not Unit analysis

Graphing with Accumulation 1 Seeing increasing and decreasing through integration

Graphing with Accumulation 2 Seeing concavity through integration

Area

Area Between Curves

Under is a Long Way Down  Avoiding “negative area.”

Improper Integrals and Proper Areas  BC Topic

Math vs. the “Real World”  Improper integrals  BC Topic

Volume

Volumes of Solids with Regular Cross-sections

Volumes of Revolution

Why You Never Need Cylindrical Shells

Visualizing Solid Figures 1

Visualizing Solid Figures 2

Visualizing Solid Figures 3

Visualizing Solid Figures 4

Visualizing Solid Figures 5

Painting a Point

Subtract the Hole from the Whole and Does Simplifying Make Things Simpler?

Other Applications of Integrals

Density Functions have been tested in the past, but are not specifically listed on the CED then or now.

Who’d a Thunk It? Some integration problems suitable for graphing calculator solution


Here are links to the full list of posts discussing the ten units in the 2019 Course and Exam Description.

2019 CED – Unit 1: Limits and Continuity

2019 CED – Unit 2: Differentiation: Definition and Fundamental Properties.

2019 CED – Unit 3: Differentiation: Composite , Implicit, and Inverse Functions

2019 CED – Unit 4 Contextual Applications of the Derivative  Consider teaching Unit 5 before Unit 4

2019 – CED Unit 5 Analytical Applications of Differentiation  Consider teaching Unit 5 before Unit 4

2019 – CED Unit 6 Integration and Accumulation of Change

2019 – CED Unit 7 Differential Equations  Consider teaching after Unit 8

2019 – CED Unit 8 Applications of Integration   Consider teaching after Unit 6, before Unit 7

2019 – CED Unit 9 Parametric Equations, Polar Coordinates, and Vector-Values Functions 

2019 CED Unit 10 Infinite Sequences and Series


 

 

 

 

 

 

Type 1 Questions: Rate and Accumulation

The Free-response Questions

There are ten general categories of AP Calculus free-response questions, listed below. These are usually the subject of individual free-response questions. Keep in mind that two or more types may be included in the same free-response question and are also the topics of shorter multiple-choice questions. There are links to all the types here.

  • Type 1 questions – Rate and accumulation questions
  • Type 2 questions – Linear motion problems
  • Type 3 questions – Graph analysis problems
  • Type 4 questions – Area and volume problems
  • Type 5 questions – Table and Riemann sum questions
  • Type 6 questions – Differential equation questions
  • Type 7 questions – miscellaneous
  • Type 8 questions – Parametric and vector questions (BC topic)
  • Type 9 questions – Polar equations
  • Type 10 questions – Sequences and Series

AP Type Questions 1: Rate and Accumulation

These questions are often in context with a lot of words describing a situation in which some things are changing. There are usually two rates acting in opposite ways (sometimes called in-out question). Students are asked about the change that the rates produce over some time interval either separately or together.

The rates are often fairly complicated functions. If they are on the calculator allowed section, students should store the functions in the equation editor of their calculator and use their calculator to do any graphing,  integration, or differentiation that may be necessary.

The main idea is that over the time interval [a, b] the integral of a rate of change is the net amount of change

\displaystyle \int_{a}^{b}{{f}'\left( t \right)dt}=f\left( b \right)-f\left( a \right)

If the question asks for an amount, look around for a rate to integrate.

The final (accumulated) amount is the initial amount plus the accumulated change:

\displaystyle f\left( x \right)=f\left( {{x}_{0}} \right)+\int_{{{x}_{0}}}^{x}{{f}'\left( t \right)}\,dt,

where {{x}_{0}} is the initial time, and  f\left( {{x}_{0}} \right) is the initial amount. Since this is one of the main interpretations of the definite integral the concept may come up in a variety of situations.

What students should be able to do:

  • Be ready to read and apply; often these problems contain a lot of writing which needs to be carefully read.
  • Recognize that rate = derivative.
  • Recognize a rate from the units given without the words “rate” or “derivative.”
  • Find the change in an amount by integrating the rate. The integral of a rate of change gives the amount of change (FTC):

\displaystyle \int_{a}^{b}{{f}'\left( t \right)dt}=f\left( b \right)-f\left( a \right).

  • Find the final amount by adding the initial amount to the amount found by integrating the rate. If x={{x}_{0}} is the initial time, and f\left( {{x}_{0}} \right)  is the initial amount, then final accumulated amount is

\displaystyle f\left( x \right)=f\left( {{x}_{0}} \right)+\int_{{{x}_{0}}}^{x}{{f}'\left( t \right)}\,dt,

  • Understand the question. It is often not necessary to as much computation as it seems at first.
  • Use FTC to differentiate a function defined by an integral.
  • Explain the meaning of a derivative or its value in terms of the context of the problem. The explanation should contain (1) what it represents, (2) its units, and (3) how numerical argument applies in context.
  • Explain the meaning of a definite integral or its value in terms of the context of the problem. The explanation should contain (1) what it represents, (2) its units, and (3) how the limits of integration apply in context.
  • Store functions in their calculator recall them to do computations on their calculator.
  • If the rates are given in a table, be ready to approximate an integral using a Riemann sum or by trapezoids.
  • Do a max/min or increasing/decreasing analysis.

Shorter questions on this concept appear in the multiple-choice sections. As always, look over as many questions of this kind from past exams as you can find.

Typical free-response examples:

Typical multiple-choice examples from non-secure exams:

  • 2012 AB 8, 81, 89
  • 2012 BC 8 (same as AB 8)

 

 

 

 

 


Updated January 31, 2019, March 12, 2021