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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.
AP Biology Course at a Glance
Excerpted from the AP Biology Course and Exam Description, the Course at a Glance document outlines the topics and skills covered in the AP Biology course, along with suggestions for sequencing.
AP Biology Course and Exam Description
This is the core document for this course. It clearly lays out the course content and describes the exam and the AP Program in general. The CED was updated in the summer of 2020 to include scoring guidelines for the example questions.
AP Biology CED Errata Sheet
This document details the updates made to the course and exam description (CED) in September 2019. It includes printable copies of the updated pages, which can be used as replacement sheets in your CED binder. Note: It does not include the scoring guidelines, which were added to the online CED in the summer of 2020.
AP Biology CED Scoring Guidelines
This document details how each of the sample free-response questions in the course and exam description (CED) would be scored. This information is now in the online CED, but was not included in the binders teachers received in 2019.
AP Biology Equations and Formulas Sheet
Students are allowed to use this resource on the AP Biology Exam. It is also available in Appendix A of the CED.
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.
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%|
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 developing AP courses and exams, setting credit and placement policies, and scoring student work. The Higher Education site features information on recruitment and admission, advising and placement, and more.
This chart shows recommended scores for granting credit, and how much credit should be awarded, for each AP course. Your students can look up credit and placement policies for colleges and universities on the Credit Policy Search.
Meet the Development Committee for AP Biology.