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Course Updates

AP Environmental Science has been updated for the 2019-20 school year to make things clearer for you and your students, reduce scope, and better align with college-level expectations.

Course and exam information is now clearly presented in a course and exam description (CED).

The CED organizes the course into commonly taught units.

  • This series of units represents a sequence that is found in widely adopted college textbooks and that many AP Environmental Science teachers have told us they follow:
    1. The Living World: Ecosystems
    2. The Living World: Biodiversity
    3. Populations
    4. Earth Systems and Resources
    5. Land and Water Use
    6. Energy Resources and Consumption
    7. Atmospheric Pollution
    8. Aquatic and Terrestrial Pollution
    9. Global Change
  • By organizing the course content and skills into units, we’re able to give you and your students free formative assessments—personal progress checks—that you can assign throughout the year to measure student progress.
  • We want to respect your time and expertise by providing a road map you can modify and adapt to your local priorities and preferences. You can choose to follow this suggestion for how content can be sequenced and paced. As always, you’ll have the flexibility to organize the course content as you like.

The CED defines specific learning objectives and skills for students.

  • Now, specific learning objectives are included in the course framework so that it's clear for you and your students exactly what they should be able to do.
  • Each learning objective is clearly connected to specific course content in the form of essential knowledge statements. With this kind of specificity, you and your students will know how that content will be assessed on the AP Exam.
  • The framework also outlines specific science practices that AP Environmental Science students should practice throughout the yearskills that will help them learn to think and act like environmental scientists. For example, students will design labs, propose solutions to environmental problems, and work with quantitative and qualitative data.
  • Throughout the CED, you’ll find thoughtful suggestions for pairing course content with these skills.

Exam Updates

Starting in the 2019-20 school year:

  • The specific types of questions on the AP Environmental Science Exam will stay consistent every year so that you and your students know what to expect on exam day.
  • The number of free-response questions will be reduced from 4 to 3. Each free-response question will continue to have 10 points.
  • The number of multiple-choice questions will be reduced from 100 to 80.
  • A new type of multiple-choice question will ask students to analyze texts.
  • For the first time, students taking the AP Environmental Science Exam will be permitted to use a graphing calculator on both sections of the exam.
Exam Updates
Currently (2019 Exam) Starting with the 2020 Exam

Section I: Multiple Choice

100 Questions | 1 Hour, 30 Minutes | 60% of Exam Score

  • Currently, the multiple-choice section doesn't include any text-based stimulus.
  • Each question has 5 options.

Section I: Multiple Choice

80 Questions | 1 Hour, 30 Minutes | 60% of Exam Score

  • New question type analyzing texts: 5 questions will assess students' ability to evaluate sources of information with a text-based stimulus.
  • Questions will now place equal emphasis on the analysis of quantitative data and data in the form of models and representations.
  • Each question will have 4 options.

Section II: Free Response

4 Questions | 1 Hour, 30 Minutes | 40% of Exam Score

Question types currently vary in the skills they assess:

  • 1 data set question
  • 1 document-based question
  • 2 synthesis and evaluation questions

Section II: Free Response

3 Questions | 1 Hour, 10 Minutes | 40% of Exam Score

The 3 free-response question types will now remain the same from year to year:

  • Question 1 will ask students to design and analyze an investigation.
  • Question 2 will ask students to analyze an environmental problem and propose a solution using models and representations.
  • Question 3 will ask students to analyze an environmental problem and propose a solution using calculations.

Key Dates for AP Environmental Science Teachers

Summer 2019

  • 2019 AP Summer Institutes begin. Updated AP Environmental Science workshop materials will be available to provide context on the CED, unit guides, and other new resources.
  • 2019 CED binders are available. You can preorder your free copy now using the 2019-20 AP Course and Exam Description Preorder Form.
  • August 1: The AP Classroom system resources—including unit guides, personal progress checks, progress dashboard, and question bank—become available, along with interactive tutorials on how to make the most of these resources with your students.
    • Completing a simple digital activation process will give you immediate access to the system and ensure your students can register for the exams by the new fall deadlines.*
  • Mid-August: 1-day workshops begin.
  • Your school’s AP coordinator will set up your class sections in the system. If your coordinator chooses not to create class sections, you can create your own.
  • Familiarize yourself with the system and start exploring the resources.
  • As you create your sequencing and pacing calendars, use the Course at a Glance and unit guides in the CED to inform your decisions. These can also help you determine how to fit the personal progress checks into your instruction so you and your students can receive timely instructional feedback.
  • Access the AP question bank to see what questions are available for you to assign to your students for instructional and assessment purposes throughout the year.
  • Before classes start, log in to the system to get join codes for each of your class sections.O

2019-20 School Year

On the First Day of Class

  • Post the join code for your class section on the board or distribute it to your students. Tell students to log in and join you class section before the next class.*
  • October 4: Preferred deadline for your AP coordinator to order 2020 AP Exams. 
  • November 15: Deadline for your AP coordinator to order 2020 AP Exams.
  • Use your progress dashboard to see where students are demonstrating strength and where they have opportunities for further growth.
  • January 31, 2020: Deadline to submit your AP Environmental Science Course Audit form and have it approved by your administrator for 2019-20 AP Course Audit authorization.*
  • Before March: If your course started after November 15, 2019, make sure that all your students have joined your AP Classroom section and are following your AP coordinator’s directions about registering for AP Exams.*
  • March 13, 2020: Deadline for your AP coordinator to place exam orders for students in courses that started after November 15, 2019.*
  • Use the AP question bank and feedback on the progress dashboard to help students prepare for their AP Exams.
  • May 2020: AP Exam administration.

* = required action