AP Biology is a science course that is part of the Advanced Program designed for high school students by the College Board. Other classes, apart from Biology, are; English, Chemistry, Physics, History, Math, Art, and much more school courses. You can find all the information about these on the College Board site.
Students often find themselves asking about the level of difficulty of the AP system, the specific topics they'll be learning about or review and what resources are available in order to help them throughout their studies and during their time at an AP class.
In each chapter of this introduction article you're going to find information about the final exam (which is scheduled for May), the content and structure of the class (the content of each unit) and the resources you can use to study, practice and get ready for any test and assignment and overall be ready to ace the course.
We hope we can answer all of your questions, and if not, be sure to write down each question you might have in order to ask your teacher as soon as possible.
What to expect from AP Biology
In a nutshell, you’ll spend your time in this science course doing both, classwork (lectures, taking notes, PPT) and lab work (where you’ll get your hands dirty learning about the scientific method).
There are two terms for you to complete this class, the fall and spring terms, after which you will have a final exam where you will show everything you learned throughout the class terms.
The course has 8 different units of which you'll learn about cells (structure and function), photosynthesis, the plant, cell respiration, water cell structure & function, energy, evolution, mitosis, a little bit of Chemistry, genetics, DNA, and more.
Here is a detailed list of each unit:
- Unit 1 Chemistry of life: you’ll learn about the basics of life.
- Unit 2 Cell structure and function: you’ll be studying the cell and evolution.
- Unit 3 Cellular energetics: you’ll understand how a cell interacts with its environment.
- Unit 4 Cell communication and cell cycle: the topic here is cell reproduction.
- Unit 5 Heredity: you’ll be studying traits passed from one generation to the other (genetics transport and DNA).
- Unit 6 Gene expression and regulation: the topic continues on heredity (DNA and RNA).
- Unit 7 Natural Selection: you’ll learn about Darwin’s theory.
- Unit 8 Ecology: you’ll analyze how populations interact (for example in a plant environment).
For a more detailed explanation of each unit go to our article: What to Expect from AP Bio.
Is AP Biology hard?
The AP Bio class curriculum consists of teaching students about biology and to
“study the core scientific principles, theories, and processes that govern living organisms and biological systems. You’ll do hands-on lab work to investigate natural phenomena.”
As we mentioned already, students often wonder about the level of difficulty of the course. Many say that it is as hard as AP Math or AP Chemistry. Truth is, these classes are designed to test your limits and prepare you for the next chapter of your life, college.
If you are looking to ace the tests, assignments, lab work, and especially the final exam, the first step is knowing what you’ll be tested on, how it is designed, how much time you’ll have to complete it, and how many questions you’ll have to answer.
According to the College Board, the AP Bio final exam is normally scheduled for the 14th of May at 8 AM. Make sure you review and practice for everything before this date.
You will have three hours to complete the final exam, which is designed to see your comprehension of biological concepts. In the exam, you'll be challenged to show your understanding and proper use of the scientific method and how to analyze data.
All the exams in the Advanced Program are divided into two sections, the first is multiple choice and the second is free response.
To complete the multiple-choice section, students will have 1 hour and 30 minutes. You’ll have to answer 60 questions that count for 50% of your score. This section is designed to see if you can define concepts and use the scientific method.
For the free-response section, students have 1 hour and 30 minutes to answer six questions that make up 50% of the score. Two questions ask for a long free-response and four questions designed for a short free-response.
The free-response section is intended to see if you know how to analyze experiment results and data.
For a more detailed explanation of the exam check our article: How hard is AP Biology?
Resources to help you study for AP Biology
The College Board has created many spaces where students can find different resources that will help them throughout their AP courses studies.
The resources are:
- AP Classroom
- AP Daily
- AP Course Pacing Guide
- AP Community
You can access the AP Classroom with your student log in and password (which was given to you at the beginning of the year). In this platform, you'll find all the resources available (like video) to help you perform better. You'll find a bank of questions, a progress dashboard, progress checks, and more.
AP Daily is a set of videos designed to help students and classes who are behind in the AP curriculum. There are videos for each unit and each video addresses different topics. Each video is a tool to be used as complementary to in-class work and not as a full lesson.
The AP Course Pacing Guide is a PDF document you can download from the College Board site that will help you follow the AP Daily videos and provide you with practice assignments to ensure you understood the content of each video.
The AP Biology Community is designed for students in the same classroom across the country to connect and help each other answering questions or studying.
Remember that these are systems in place designed to help you progress through the class curriculum, you should use them as complementary to classwork and know that they will help you ace the exam.
For a better understanding of all the resources available to you, check our AP Biology resources article.
We've written this introduction article in the hopes that you find the information in it useful during your studies for AP Biology!
AP Biology can be a great challenge you overcome this year in school, just remember to work hard, practice as much as you can, and use the resources available for you.
Know that this science course includes lab work and lab experiments, which means that you'll have to get your hands a little dirty but also it has a lot of content for you to learn. The Advanced Program is a system carefully designed to test your limits and teach you a thing or two about life.
Be sure to review all the content of each chapter (unit) before any test and especially before the final exam. And, once again, we urge you to use the resources available for you, they have been created to help students cope with remote learning and they will help you get a good grade and properly learn the content of the class.
Remember that you can always find a tutor to help you review the content of the class. You can search for a Superprof for a tutor near you.