beginning of content:

Important Updates

2019-20 AP Course Audit: What You’ll Need to Do

To give you more time to familiarize yourself with the new resources and supports launching in August, you won’t be required to submit a syllabus for course authorization until the 2020-21 school year.

If you’re teaching AP Environmental Science in 2019-20, you’ll need to:

  • Submit an AP Course Audit Form
  • Download the AP Environmental Science unit guide

These steps will ensure that your course appears on the AP Course Ledger and that you have access to online score reports in July 2020.

AP Course Audit

All schools that want to label a course “AP” must get authorization through the AP Course Audit.

Get Started

Sign In

Don’t have an account? Sign up.

Designing Your AP Environmental Science Course


The AP Environmental Science course should be designed by your school to provide students with a learning experience equivalent to that of an introductory college course in environmental science. Your AP Environmental Science course should be based upon scientific principles and analyses from a variety of scientific fields and approaches, and include a scientific laboratory and/or field investigation component.

Schools’ AP Environmental Science courses are typically designed to be taken by students after the completion of two years of high school laboratory science (one year of life science and one year of physical science) and at least one year of algebra. Also desirable, but not necessary, is one year of earth science. Students are encouraged to keep copies of their laboratory and field investigation work for use in determining college credit or placement.

Getting to Know the Course and Exam

The key document for each AP course is the course and exam description. Start by reviewing it to understand the objectives and expectations of the AP course and exam.

AP Environmental Science Course and Exam Description

This is the core document for this course and is new for the 2019-20 school year. New unit guides clearly lay out the course content and skills and recommend sequencing and pacing for them throughout the year. The CED also more clearly outlines how material will be assessed on the exam, provides instructional strategies, and gives information on the AP Program in general.

Creating Your Syllabus

Use these resources to design your AP Environmental Science syllabus.


AP Environmental Science curricular requirements:

  • The students and teacher have access to college-level resources including a recently published (within the last 10 years) college-level textbook and reference materials in print or electronic format.
  • The course includes the required environmental legislation and policies.
  • The course provides opportunities to deepen student understanding of the required content outlined in each of the units described in the course and exam description.
  • The course provides opportunities to deepen student understanding of the big ideas.
  • The course provides opportunities for students to develop the skills related to science practices:
    • Science Practice 1: Concept Application
    • The Living World
    • Science Practice 2: Visual Representations
    • Science Practice 3: Text Analysis
    • Science Practice 4: Scientific Experiments
    • Science Practice 5: Data Analysis
    • Science Practice 6: Mathematical Routines
    • Science Practice 7: Environmental Solutions
  • The course provides students with opportunities to apply their knowledge of AP Environmental Science concepts to real-world questions or scenarios (including societal issues or technological innovations) to help them become scientifically literate citizens.
  • Students spend a minimum of 25% of instructional time engaged in a wide range of hands-on, inquiry-based laboratory investigations and/or field work to support learning required content and developing science practices throughout the course.
  • The course provides opportunities for students to record evidence of their scientific investigations in lab reports/notebooks (print or digital format) and present evidence of their scientific investigations through oral, written, and visual presentations.

AP Environmental Science resource requirements:

  • The school ensures that each student has a college-level environmental science textbook (in print or electronic format) published within the last 10 years for individual use inside and outside the classroom. The textbook is supplemented when necessary to meet the curricular requirements.
  • The school ensures that the teacher has a copy of the most recent edition of a college-level environmental science textbook or other appropriate materials to support instruction.
  • The school ensures that students have access to scientific equipment/materials, all necessary resources, and adequate time to conduct hands-on, college-level environmental science laboratory and/or field investigations as outlined in the teacher’s course syllabus.

The list below represents examples of textbooks that meet the curricular requirements of AP Environmental Science. The list below is not exhaustive and the texts listed should not be regarded as endorsed, authorized, recommended, or approved by the College Board. Not using a book from this list does not mean that a course will not receive authorization. Syllabi submitted as part of the AP Course Audit process will be evaluated holistically, with textbooks considered along with supplementary, supporting resources to confirm that the course as a whole provides students with the content delineated in the curricular requirements of the AP Course Audit.

The current editions of the following textbooks meet the AP Course Audit curricular requirements. Earlier editions of these texts or other textbooks not listed here may meet the AP Course Audit curricular requirements if supplemented with appropriate college-level instructional resources. For discussions regarding the usefulness of these texts and other teaching materials in the AP Environmental Science classroom, please consult the AP Environmental Science Teacher Community.

  • Berg, Linda, Peter Raven, David Hassenzhal. Environment. New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons.
  • Botkin, Daniel and Edward Keller. Environmental Science: Earth as a Living Planet. New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons.
  • Brennan, Scott R. and Jay H. Withgott. Environment: The Science Behind the Stories. San Francisco, CA: Pearson Education.
  • Chiras, Daniel D. Environmental Science. Boston, MA: Jones and Bartlett.
  • Cunningham, William and Mary Cunningham. Environmental Science: A Global Concern. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.
  • Enger, Eldon and Bradley Smith. Environmental Science: A Study of Interrelationships. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Higher Education.
  • Friedland, Andrew and Rick Relyea. Environmental Science for AP. W. H. Freeman and Company.
  • Laposata, Matthew and Scott Brennan. Environment: The Science Behind the Stories–AP Edition. San Francisco, CA: Pearson Education.
  • Miller, G. Tyler and Scott Spoolman. Living in the Environmental. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.
  • Wright, Richard and Dorothy Boorse. Environmental Science. Boston, MA: Benjamin Cummings.