AP Biology Frequently Asked Questions

Print this page
beginning of content:

Questions about the course

The course focuses on topics encompassing evolution; cellular processes and homeostasis; genetics and information transfer; and ecology and biological interactions. The course also emphasizes inquiry-based learning and the development of science practices and skills. For more details go to the course home page.

Yes: prior high school courses in biology and chemistry.

The most helpful are:

  • basic algebra
  • how to collect, analyze, and interpret experimental data
  • basic concepts of probability and statistical analysis
  • graphing, including setting axes and plotting data

Go to the Appendix in the AP Biology Course and Exam Description (.pdf/4.88MB) for a chart of equations and formulas used in the course.

This course requires that 25 percent of the instructional time will be spent in hands-on laboratory work, with an emphasis on inquiry-based investigations that provide students with opportunities to apply the science practices.

In this type of inquiry lab the students themselves design/select procedures to investigate a question presented by the teacher.

The College Board does not recommend specific textbooks. However a list of example textbooks that appropriate for the course appears on the AP Course Audit page for this course.

Any motivated student should be given the chance to benefit from an AP course. If your school gives the PSAT/NMSQT®, use AP Potential. This free online tool allows you to identify students who are likely to succeed in AP based on their PSAT or SAT® scores. Such scores have been proven to be stronger predictors of AP success than high school grades or GPA.

These resources will help:

The AP Teacher Community might be the best source for answers. You’ll also find articles, tools, and resources to help you teach every aspect of the course on the course home page.

Questions about the AP Course Audit

The AP Course Audit is an authorization process that provides teachers and administrators with guidelines and requirements for offering AP courses. It also ensures that AP courses across high schools meet the same college-level criteria.

Yes. Every school wishing to offer an AP course must participate in the AP Course Audit.

The AP Course Audit requires the online submission of two documents: the AP Course Audit form and the teacher’s syllabus. The AP teacher and the school principal (or designated administrator) submit the Course Audit form, acknowledging the curricular and resource requirements. The syllabus, detailing how the AP course requirements will be met, is submitted by the AP teacher for review by college faculty. To give you more time to familiarize yourself with the new resources and supports launching in August, teachers won’t be required to submit a syllabus for course
authorization until the 2020-21 school year. Go to the AP Course Audit page  for this course for more information and guidance about the requirements for the 2019-20 school year.

The AP Course Audit page for this course will give you the tools you’ll need to create and submit your syllabus for authorization, including information and guidelines.

Go to AP Course Audit for more FAQs, resources, and info about the whole course audit process.

Questions about the exam

These resources will help:

  • A full practice exam, with student samples for the free-response questions, is available by logging in to your AP Course Audit account.
  • Starting in August 2019, you will have access to AP Classroom, a dedicated online platform designed to support you and your students throughout your AP experience. The platform features a variety of powerful resources and tools to give you year-long support
    and enable your students to receive meaningful feedback on their progress as they prepare for the AP Exam.
  • Free-response questions (FRQs) with student samples and scoring guidelines can be accessed from the course’s exam information page.
  • Scroll down the “Scoring” column in the free-response questions table to find yearly Chief Reader Reports (former title: Student Performance Q&A) from the Chief Reader that describe how students performed on the FRQs, typical student errors, and specific concepts that challenged students the most that year.

The exam is given each year in early May. Go to the Exam Calendar for the most current exam dates.

That depends on the college. Some require higher scores than others. Tell your students to use the AP Credit Policy Info tool to verify the credit/placement policies at the colleges they are considering.

Go to the AP Biology Exam Information page for answers. You’ll find specifics about the exam format and more.