2021 Exam Information
Updated April 8 Students can now download the digital testing application and take digital practice to prepare them for the testing experience. See below for more information on digital practice and taking the digital exam.
AP Biology Exams will be offered on paper in early May and as a digital exam in late May and early June.
All versions of the exam will cover the full scope of course content, giving students the opportunity to qualify for college credit and placement. On the digital exam, students will answer free-response questions with a keyboard, rather than by hand. Students taking digital exams will not be asked to draw or graph as part of their response—rather, these skills will be assessed with questions about given graphs or other stimuli. The digital exam app will include any symbols students would need to type their responses. No handwritten or photographed work will be accepted.
There are differences between the paper and digital versions of some 2021 AP Exams, and those variations differ by course. The information below applies to AP Biology only. View a summary of all 2021 AP Exam formats.
AP Daily and AP Classroom
Short, searchable AP Daily videos can be assigned alongside topic questions to help you cover all course content, skills, and task models, and check student understanding. Unlock personal progress checks so students can demonstrate their knowledge and skills unit by unit and use the progress dashboard to highlight progress and additional areas for support. As the exam approaches, assign AP practice exams in the AP Classroom question bank and encourage students to take advantage of AP Daily: Live Review sessions April 19–29.
Exam questions assess the course concepts and skills outlined in the course framework. For more information, download the AP Biology Course and Exam Description (CED).
Encourage your students to visit the AP Biology student page for exam information.
Digital Practice and Testing Information
Updated April 8
Digital Practice Now Available
Starting April 8, students can try out the test-day experience by answering example questions in the digital testing application. See the Digital Practice page for general information about practice options.
AP Biology students will have two options to answer example questions in the digital testing application. Both provide approximately the same time limit per question as the full exam.
- Digital Practice has a shortened multiple-choice section (14 questions, 20 minutes), a shortened break of 5 minutes, and a full-length free-response section (6 questions, 90 minutes).
- The App Demo is an even shorter subset of the questions in Digital Practice–5 multiple-choice questions, a 2-minute break, and 2 free-response questions.
We highly recommend all students take the Digital Practice, and strongly advise that if they can’t take the Digital Practice, they at least take the App Demo. Both can be taken multiple times, and can be accessed directly in the digital testing application. Students can access their answers and solution materials (MCQ answer key, FRQ scoring guidelines) for the Digital Practice. Note: Taking the App Demo after completing Digital Practice may override student answers from Digital Practice. Teachers can also access digital practice from the teacher dashboard, available beginning April 22.
Taking the Digital Exam
Students should be aware of some aspects of testing digitally that they’ll encounter—in the Digital Practice and on exam day:
- You may use a four-function (with square root), scientific, or graphing calculator on the exam. However, students will need to bring their own calculator because the digital testing application does not include one.
- As a reminder, students will answer all multiple-choice questions and type all free-response answers directly in the digital exam application. Scratch paper is permitted for notes or planning, but students cannot handwrite or otherwise upload responses. The free-response questions won’t require students to draw diagrams, charts, or complicated mathematical expressions.
- As a reminder, students cannot go back to questions they’ve already answered, and cannot skip ahead.
- However, free-response questions will each be presented in multiple parts, and students will answer each part on a separate screen. They may move among the parts of the question currently being answered, with the Back and Next buttons. Once they’ve entered their response to the last part of a question, they won’t be able to go back to any part of that question.
- Exam directions and section-specific directions will not be read by a proctor–they’ll appear entirely in the application. Students will see them at the beginning of each section, and can access them at any time during the exam. Please note that the exam timer starts when the directions appear. While students should read the directions, they should be aware that the timer will be running while they do so. Teachers and students can view the full text of the exam and section directions in advance of the exam.
More information about taking digital exams is available in the Digital Testing Guide.
Digital Exam Readiness Dashboard
Beginning April 22, AP teachers and AP coordinators will have access to a new digital exam readiness dashboard. Teachers and coordinators will access the dashboard from their personalized AP login page (after signing in through AP Central or through myap.collegeboard.org). The dashboard can be used to monitor students’ progress in taking the steps necessary before and on exam day to enable them to take a digital exam. See details in the “Preparing for Digital AP Exams” section of the AP Digital Testing Guide.
- FRI, MAY 14, 2021, 8 AM LOCAL
AP Biology Exam—Administration 1
- Thu, May 27, 2021, 12 PM EDT
AP Biology Exam—Administration 2
- FRI, JUN 11, 2021, 12 PM EDT
AP Biology Exam—Administration 3
The AP Biology Exam has question types and point values that remain stable and consistent from year to year, so you and your students know what to expect on exam day.
Note on 2021 exams: There are differences between the paper and digital versions of some 2021 AP Exams, and those variations differ by course. The information below applies to AP Biology only. View a summary of all 2021 AP Exam formats.
Both the paper and digital versions of the AP Biology Exam will be full length and measure the full range of skills and knowledge specified in the course and exam description. On the digital exam, students will answer free-response questions with a keyboard, rather than by hand. Students taking digital AP Biology Exams will not be asked to draw or graph as part of their response—rather, skills will be assessed by asking students to answer questions about given graphs. The digital exam app will include any symbols students would need to type their responses. No handwritten or photographed work will be required or accepted.
Section I: Multiple Choice
60 Questions | 1 hour 30 Minutes | 50% of Exam Score
- Individual questions
- Sets of questions with 4–5 questions per set
Section II: Free Response
6 Questions | 1 hour 30 Minutes | 50% of Exam Score
- There are 2 long questions and 4 short questions. Long questions are worth 8–10 points each; short questions are worth 4 points each.
- The long questions ask students to:
- Interpret and evaluate experimental results
- Interpret and evaluate experimental results with graphing
- The short-answer questions assess students’ understanding of the following:
- Scientific investigation
- Conceptual analysis
- Analysis of a model or visual representation
- Data analysis
AP Calculator Policy and Equations and Formulas Sheet
A four-function (with square root), scientific, or graphing calculator may be used on the exam.
Students are permitted to use the AP Biology Equations and Formulas Sheet on the exam. This resource is also available in Appendix A of the CED.
Exam Questions and Scoring Information
2020 (Last Year’s) Free-Response Questions
Last year's free-response questions are available in the AP Classroom question bank for teachers to assign to students as homework or in class, and do not require secure assessment using the LockDown Browser. Since the 2020 exams had to be designed for highly unusual circumstances, these questions were updated, where possible, to best match the format of free-response questions in the course and exam description and on traditional AP Exams.
Sign in to AP Classroom to access resources including personal progress checks and a question bank with topic questions and practice exams aligned to the current course and exam.
To preserve the large number of new FRQs for teacher use, only teachers have access to the 2020 FRQs. If you are a higher education faculty member interested in seeing questions, please fill out this request form.
2019 Free-Response Questions
For free-response questions (FRQs) from the 2019 exam, along with scoring information, check out the table below.
Because of updates to the AP Biology course and exam design after the 2019 exam, FRQs from 2019 and earlier may not directly reflect the format of questions that will appear on the 2021 and future exams. Please see the course and exam description for the most up-to-date exam format and sample questions.
Be sure to review the Chief Reader Report. In this invaluable resource, the chief reader of the AP Exam compiles feedback from members of the AP Reading leadership to explain how students performed on the FRQs, summarize typical student errors, and address specific concepts and content with which students have struggled the most that year.
|Questions||Scoring||Samples and Commentary||Score Distributions|