Course Overview

AP Biology is an introductory college-level biology course. Students cultivate their understanding of biology through inquiry-based investigations as they explore topics like evolution, energetics, information storage and transfer, and system interactions.

Course Content

Based on the Understanding by Design® (Wiggins and McTighe) model, this course framework provides a clear and detailed description of the course requirements necessary for student success. The framework specifies what students must know, be able to do, and understand, with a focus on the big ideas that encompass core principles, theories, and processes of the discipline. The framework also encourages instruction that prepares students for advanced work in STEM majors.

The AP Biology framework is organized into eight commonly taught units of study that provide one possible sequence for the course. As always, you have the flexibility to organize the course content as you like.

 Unit

 Exam Weighting (Multiple-Choice Section)

 Unit 1: Chemistry of Life

 8%–11%

 Unit 2: Cell Structure and Function

 10%–13%

 Unit 3: Cellular Energetics

 12%–16%

 Unit 4: Cell Communication and Cell Cycle

 10%–15%

 Unit 5: Heredity

 8%–11%

 Unit 6: Gene Expression and Regulation

 12%–16%

 Unit 7: Natural Selection

 13%–20%

 Unit 8: Ecology

 10%–15%

Science Practices

The AP Biology framework included in the course and exam description outlines distinct skills, called science practices, that students should practice throughout the year—skills that will help them learn to think and act like biologists.

 Skill

 Description

Exam Weighting (Multiple-Choice Section)

 1. Concept Explanation

 Explain biological concepts, processes, and models presented in written format

 25%–33%

 2. Visual Representations

 Analyze visual representations of biological concepts and processes

 16%–24%

 3. Question and Method

 Determine scientific question and method

 8%–14%

 4. Representing and Describing Data

 Represent and describe data

 8%–14%

 5. Statistical Tests and Data Analysis

 Perform statistical tests and mathematical calculations to analyze and interpret data

 8%–14%

 6. Argumentation

 Develop and justify scientific arguments using evidence

 20%–26%

AP and Higher Education

Higher education professionals play a key role in developing AP courses and exams, setting credit and placement policies, and scoring student work. The AP Higher Education section features information on recruitment and admission, advising and placement, and more.

Your students can look up credit and placement policies for colleges and universities on the AP Credit Policy Search.

Meet the AP Biology Development Committee

The AP Program is unique in its reliance on Development Committees. These committees, made up of an equal number of college faculty and experienced secondary AP teachers from across the country, are essential to the preparation of AP course curricula and exams.