Getting to know the AP Environmental Science Course
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 course and exam.
If you’re teaching an AP science course for the first time, please submit evidence for the hands-on lab curricular requirement following the same process as in a typical school year.
Laboratory work, data collection, and analysis are integral to the process of science and the training of students in the acquisition and limitations of scientific knowledge. If the coronavirus pandemic, or other emergency, is preventing your school from providing onsite access to a laboratory environment, instruments, and materials, the 25% instructional time spent on the hands-on lab requirement can be met in the following ways:
- Virtual labs
- Simulations accompanied by student work (data collection, data analysis, etc.)
- Labs that can be safely conducted at home
Regardless of the way the hands-on laboratory requirement is met, all student laboratory experiences must continue to be supervised by a science educator. As outlined in the curricular requirements, these experiences must be recorded and maintained by the student.
Your course must fulfill these requirements.
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 is structured to incorporate the big ideas and required content outlined in each of the units described in the course and exam description.
- The course provides opportunities for students to develop the skills related to science practices:
- Science Practice 1: Concept Application
- 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
- 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 the learning of required content and development of science practice skills throughout the course.
- The course provides opportunities for students to record evidence of their scientific investigations. Evidence can be recorded in lab reports, mini-posters, or other appropriate forms for inclusion in lab reports/notebooks (print or digital format).
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 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 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. While every effort is made to keep this list current, it can take a few months for newly published titles and revised editions to be reviewed.
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, and David Hassenzhal. Environment. 10th ed., New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons, 2018.
- Chiras, Daniel D. Environmental Science. 10th ed., Boston, MA: Jones and Bartlett, 2016.
- Cunningham, William and Mary Cunningham. Environmental Science: A Global Concern. 15th ed., New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2021.
- Enger, Eldon and Bradley Smith. Environmental Science: A Study of Interrelationships. 16th ed., New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2022.
- Friedland, Andrew and Rick Relyea. Environmental Science for the AP® Course. 3rd ed., New York, NY: Bedford, Freeman, and Worth, 2019.
- Hassenzahl, David, Mary Catherine Hager, and Linda Berg Visualizing Environmental Science. 5th. New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons, 2017.
- McKinney, Michael L., Robert M. Schoch, Logan Yonavjak, and Grant A. Mincy. Environmental Science: Systems and Solutions. 6th ed., Burlington, MA: Jones and Bartlett Learning, 2019.
- Miller, G. Tyler and Scott Spoolman. Exploring Environmental Science for AP. 1st ed., Boston, MA: Cengage Learning, 2021.
- Miller, G. Tyler and Scott Spoolman. Living in the Environment. 20th ed., Boston, MA: Cengage Learning, 2021.
- Withgott, Jay H. and Matthew Laposata. Environment: The Science Behind the Stories, AP Edition. 7th ed., San Francisco, CA: Pearson Education, 2021.
- Wright, Richard and Dorothy Boorse. Environmental Science: Toward A Sustainable Future. 13th ed., San Francisco, CA: Pearson Education, 2017.
This annotated sample AP Environmental Science syllabus shows how the curricular requirements can be demonstrated in a syllabus and what level of detail you’ll need to include.
AP Environmental Science Sample Syllabus 1 (.pdf/527KB)
Review this document for help creating your syllabus.
Syllabus Development Guide: AP Environmental Science (.pdf/191.15 KB)
This resource includes the guidelines reviewers use to evaluate syllabi along with three samples of evidence for each requirement. This guide also specifies the level of detail required in the syllabus to receive course authorization.