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

Power Series 2

This is a BC topic

Good Question 16 (11-30-2018) What you get when you substitute.

Geometric Series – Far Out (2-14-2017) A very interesting and instructive mistake

Synthetic Summer Fun (7-10-2017) Finding the Taylor series coefficients without differentiating

Error Bounds (2-22-2013) The alternating series error bound, and the Lagrange error bound

The Lagrange Highway (5-20-15) a metaphor for the error bound

REVIEW NOTES Type 10: Sequence and Series Questions (4-6-2018) A summary for reviewing sequences and series.

 


 

 

 

 

 


 

Power Series 1

This is a BC topic

POWER SERIES (Maclaurin series and Taylor series)

Introducing Power Series 1 (2-8-2013) Making better approximations

Introducing Power Series 2 (2-11-2013) Graphing and seeing the interval of convergence

Introducing Power Series 3 (2-13-2013) Questions pointing the way to power series

Graphing Taylor Polynomials (2-7-2017) Using a graphing calculator to graphs Taylor series

New Series from Old 1 (2-15-2013) Substituting

New Series from Old 2 (2-18-2013) Differentiating and Integrating

New Series from Old 3 (2-20-2013) Rational functions as geometric series

REVIEW NOTES Type 10: Sequence and Series Questions (4-6-2018) A summary for reviewing sequences and series.


The College Board is pleased to offer a new live online event for new and experienced AP Calculus teachers on March 5th at 7:00 PM Eastern.

I will be the presenter.

The topic will be AP Calculus: How to Review for the Exam:  In this two-hour online workshop, we will investigate techniques and hints for helping students to prepare for the AP Calculus exams. Additionally, we’ll discuss the 10 type questions that appear on the AP Calculus exams, and what students need know and to be able to do for each. Finally, we’ll examine resources for exam review.

Registration for this event is $30/members and $35/non-members. You can register for the event by following this link: http://eventreg.collegeboard.org/d/xbqbjz


 

 

 

 


 

Sequences

This is a BC topic.

SEQUENCES

Everyday series (1-17-2017) The most familiar series: Numbers

Amortization (2-9-2015) An important use of a (finite) series – Find you mortgage payment without calculus.

Convergence Test List A summary of the tests. Download and copy for your students (and yourself)

Which Convergence Test Should I Use? Part 1 (2-9-2018) You have a big choice

Which Convergence Test Should I Use? Part 2 (2-16-2018) Making the best choice.

REVIEW NOTES Type 10: Sequence and Series Questions (4-6-2018) A summary for reviewing sequences and series.


The College Board is pleased to offer a new live online event for new and experienced AP Calculus teachers on March 5th at 7:00 PM Eastern.

I will be the presenter.

The topic will be AP Calculus: How to Review for the Exam:  In this two-hour online workshop, we will investigate techniques and hints for helping students to prepare for the AP Calculus exams. Additionally, we’ll discuss the 10 type questions that appear on the AP Calculus exams, and what students need know and to be able to do for each. Finally, we’ll examine resources for exam review.

Registration for this event is $30/members and $35/non-members. You can register for the event by following this link: http://eventreg.collegeboard.org/d/xbqbjz


 

 

 

 


 

Parametric Equations and Vectors

In BC calculus the only application parametric equations and vectors is motion in a plane. Polar equations concern area and the meaning of derivatives. See the review notes for more detail and an outline of the topics. (only 3 items here)

Motion Problems: Same Thing Different Context (11-16-2012)

Implicit Differentiation of Parametric Equations (5-17-2014)

A Vector’s Derivative (1-14-2015)

Review Notes 

Type 8: Parametric and Vector Equations (3-30-2018) Review Notes

Type 9: Polar Equation Questions (4-3-2018) Review Notes

Roulettes 

This is a series of posts that could be used when teaching polar form and curves defined by vectors (or parametric equations). They might be used as a project. Hopefully, the equations that produce the graphs will help students understand these topics. Don’t let the names put you off. Except for one post, there is no calculus here.

Rolling Circles  (6-24-2014)

Epicycloids (6-27-2014)

Epitrochoids (7-1-2014) The most common of these are the cycloids.

Hypocycloids and Hypotrochoids  (7-7-2014)

Roulettes and Calculus  (7-11-2014)

Roulettes and Art – 1  (7-17-2014)

Roulettes and Art – 2 (7-23-2014)

Limaçons (7-28-2014)


The College Board is pleased to offer a new live online event for new and experienced AP Calculus teachers on March 5th at 7:00 PM Eastern.

I will be the presenter.

The topic will be AP Calculus: How to Review for the Exam:  In this two-hour online workshop, we will investigate techniques and hints for helping students to prepare for the AP Calculus exams. Additionally, we’ll discuss the 10 type questions that appear on the AP Calculus exams, and what students need know and to be able to do for each. Finally, we’ll examine resources for exam review.

Registration for this event is $30/members and $35/non-members. You can register for the event by following this link: http://eventreg.collegeboard.org/d/xbqbjz


 

 

 

 

 


 

Differential Equations 1

Past posts on differential equations

Differential Equations (1-5-2015) The basics and definitions.

Domain of a Differential Equation (4-7-2017) notes and examples on finding the domain of the solution of a differential equation. (Updated thru the 2018 exam.)

Slope Fields (1-9-2015) Graphical solutions: The solution is lurking in the slope field.

Euler’s Method (1-12-2015) Numerical solutions (BC only topic)

Euler’s Method for Making Money (2-25-2015) The connection between compound growth (compound interest) and Euler’s Method.

Accumulation and Differential Equations  (2-1-2013) Solving differential equations without the “+C


 

 

 

 


 

Applications of Integration – Accumulation 2

Happy New Year !

A few more links to posts on accumulation.

Painting a Point (2-4-2013) Paint often and the paint accumulates.

Good Question 6: 2000 AB 4 (8-25-2015) Accumulation

Good Question 8 – or not? (1-5-2016) Accumulation

Density (1-10-2017)

Accumulation and Differential Equations  (2-1-2013) Solving differential equations without the “+C 

Review Notes: Type 1 Questions: Rate and Accumulation (3-6-2018) Review Notes