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applied calculus 1 vs calculus 1

In this post, we’re going to discover the difference between applied calculus 1 and regular calculus 1 courses.

you will discover what is taught in applied calculus 1 and in calculus 1. In addtion to responding to some famous questions, students ask about this topic.

The difference between applied calculus 1 vs calculus 1

There isn’t a big difference between applied calculus 1 and calculus 1, applied calculus 1 is less concentrated on topics than calculus 1. In applied calculus students don’t take trigonometry, or differential equations or focus too much on analyzing functions like in calculus 1.

Applied calculus 1 is a subject devoted to students who are interested to major in biology, business, life science such as psychology, and other non-math-biased subjects.

But, calculus 1 is taught in all majors that require deep knowledge in math, engineering, chemistry, and physics. These majors are required to complete the most difficult calculus subjects like calculus 1 not applied calculus 1

However applied calculus is not easier compared to calculus 1, both majors study the main topics like:

The core difference is in applied calculus you will be focusing more on the theoretical and application of calculus in real life. For instance, you will be employing calculus relations in economics, social science, and other general life applications.

while in calculus 1 students dig deeper into theory and study more detailed subjects. They don’t apply calculus 1 rules in real-life examples until they study the topics related to their major requiring that.

In other words, if you major in physics you will be applying calculus rules in physics topics like kinematics calculating the speed and acceleration of objects, and thermodynamics to determine the energy of systems and study how gazes react in different environments.

If you take engineering you will be using calculus 1 to make calculations in design and manufacturing. For instance designing electronics systems that measure the speed and acceleration of planes, cars, etc.

what students study in applied calculus 1

in applied calculus you will be studying 3 main subjects:

1 – limits and continuity 

limits and continuity is not a tough subject, if you have passed a precalculus course you should have already studied this subject. If you don’t, it is better to take a recluse course before taking an applied calculus course.

limits and continuity are very helpful to prepare for the remaining upcoming subjects like derivatives and integrals.

limits and continuity is a foundation course that students take to prepare for derivatives and integrals. If you have not yet had any idea you could check out this free course.

2 – derivatives

A derivative is an interesting subject for any kind of calculus course:

  1. applied calculus 
  2. honors calculus
  3. regular calculus 

Derivatives are the functions that mathematicians study the change of systems. For instance, in applied calculus, you will use derivatives to determine the speed of objects or how much they accelerate.

Anything that changes, derivatives can study it.

3 integrals 

The last difficult subject you will face if you study applied calculus is integrals. 

Integral is a tool that will help you to determine the surface, and volumes of complex subjects. For instance, it is a way that helps you to measure or determine the volumes of a plane wing. In addition, know how much volume of water you need to fill a given bottle.

Integrals relate hugely to derivatives, struggling in derivatives means you will fail or face hardships to understand integrals.


So to succeed in applied calculus you must:

what students study in calculus 1 

In calculus 1 you will be studying the same topics as applied calculus 1 students do, except adding some additional topics like functions, trigonometry, and differential equations foundations. you can find the curriculum of calculus 1 in the list below:

So the 3 first topics are the same, in calculus 1 you will be using trigonometry and also introductory subjects of differential equations like in the list below:

So in general, applied calculus 1 and calculus 1 are the same.

The rest of the topics like derivatives, limits, and integrals are the same. In applied calculus courses students see a lot of real-life applications than in regular calculus 1.

Is applied calculus harder than calculus 1

applied calculus is easier than calculus 1. It is not difficult because it is shorter, meaning students study fewer topics than regular calculus 1 topics. In addition, applied calculus is less theoretical than calculus 1.

but applied calculus 2 and 3 are more difficult than calculus 1, in this case, there are more advanced calculus courses like:


There isn’t a big difference between applied calculus 1 and calculus 1. So there isn’t a thing to worry about.

The most interesting to focus on is to choose or take a course of calculus 1 then calculus 2 and Finlay multivariable calculus. if you want to major in physics, math, or engineering.

But if you want to major in economics, biology, or social science or prepare for pre-med school or any less concentrated math majors. It would be a good idea to choose applied calculus to reduce some stress and additional hard work.

But you have to ensure if your school accepts applied calculus 1 or calculus 1. Because this thing is volatile and depends on each school.

For instance, some psychology schools require to form their students to complete calculus, which seems weird for this specific major

So, check your school then to know what would be good for you.