The Course

AP Environmental Science

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Course Overview

Students cultivate their understanding of the interrelationships of the natural world through inquiry-based lab investigations and field work as they explore concepts like the four Big Ideas; energy transfer, interactions between earth systems, interactions between different species and the environment, and sustainability.

New AP Environmental Science Labs

Ten new laboratory investigations are available in AP Classroom to use with your students. These labs are in addition to the nine that were made available in the 2022-23 school year.

Course and Exam Description

Course Resources

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 big ideas that encompass core principles and theories of the discipline. The framework also encourages instruction that prepares students for advanced environmental science coursework.

The AP Environmental Science framework is organized into nine 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: The Living World: Ecosystems


Unit 2: The Living World: Biodiversity


Unit 3: Populations


Unit 4: Earth Systems and Resources


Unit 5: Land and Water Use


Unit 6: Energy Resources and Consumption


Unit 7: Atmospheric Pollution


Unit 8: Aquatic and Terrestrial Pollution


Unit 9: Global Change


Science Practices

The AP Environmental Science 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 environmental scientists.



Exam Weighting (Multiple-Choice Section)

Exam Weighting (Free-Response Section)

1. Concept Explanation

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



2. Visual Representations

Analyze visual representations of environmental concepts and processes



3. Text Analysis

Analyze sources of information about environmental issues


Not assessed in free-response section.

4. Scientific Experiments

Analyze research studies that test environmental principles



5. Data Analysis

Analyze and interpret quantitative data represented in tables, charts, and graphs



6. Mathematical Routines

Apply quantitative methods to address environmental concepts



7. Environmental Solutions

Propose and justify solutions to environmental problems



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.

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 AP Credit Policy Search.

Meet the Development Committee for AP Environmental Science

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.