AP Environmental Science Frequently Asked Questions

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Questions about the course

Students explore and investigate the interrelationships of the natural world. They analyze environmental problems, both natural and human-made, and examine solutions for resolving and preventing those problems. The course is interdisciplinary, embracing topics from geology, biology, environmental studies, environmental science, chemistry, and geography. For more details go to the two-page Course Overview (.pdf/932KB).

The course is comparable to a one-semester, introductory college course in environmental science. It will enable students to undertake more advanced study of environmental science topics or, alternatively, to fulfill basic requirements for a laboratory science.

Students should have completed two years of high school laboratory science—one year of life science and one year of physical science. They should also have taken at least one year of algebra. A course in earth science is desirable but not necessary.

The College Board does not recommend specific textbooks. However, a list of example textbooks 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 administers 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/NMSQT® 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:

Yes. You should spend a minimum of one class period per week, or the equivalent, engaged in lab or field work.

Yes, students will need strong algebra-based mathematical skills to fully understand many of the concepts woven throughout the course. The AP Environmental Science Exam also requires quantitative reasoning and application on the multiple-choice and free-response questions. To succeed in the course and on the exam, students need to apply the following mathematical skills in the context of environmental concepts:

  • basic algebra
  • ratios, percents, scientific notation
  • statistical validity
  • dimensional analysis
  • graphing techniques, such as plotting data on graphs and interpreting and extrapolating data and trends.

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 a course 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.

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, sample syllabi, and a tutorial.

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

Questions about the exam

These resources will help:

  • Secure exams for classroom use are available on the AP Course Audit website. Log in to your account and then click on the Secure Documents link within the Resources section of your Course Status page.
  • 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 Student Performance Q&A’s 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.
  • Released Exams can be purchased on the College Board store.

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 high 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 Environmental Science Exam information page for answers. You’ll find specifics about the exam format and more.