Yet another one of the infamous Advance Placement exams given by the College Board, the AP Biology exam covers an introductory, theoretically college-level course in, what else, Biology, with a one-shot exam in May. Like most of the AP's, it consists of two main parts:

    Section I: Multiple Choice

        120 Questions, 90 minutes, 60% of your grade.
    Section II: Essay

        4 Questions, 90 minutes, 40% of your grade.


    Like the other Advance Placement exams, on a 1-->5 scale.
   Approximate Percentages:

Grade/Percentage of Students receiving grade
  1. 13%
  2. 22%
  3. 25%
  4. 21%
  5. 19%
What it covers:

It's divided into three broad categories, and then several smaller sub-categories:
  1. Molocules and Cell --> 25% of the test
  2. Genetics and Evolution  --> 25% of the test
  3. Organisms and Populations --> 50% of the test

Sub-Categories and Percentage of Test:

Note on the essay section:

It is important to note that the essay-grading scale, unlike the history AP's, is very objective and non-style oriented. Get your facts out, in clear, easy-to-see fashion, and include as much as you know about the subject. Oh, and on 3 out of 4 practice AP biology essays I've had, a Punnet Square got you some points, so throw one in there.

Sources: Coach Taylor's wonderful (haha) biology class notes and CliffsAP book, highly recommended.

Just finished taking the AP Biology test today, and figured I might as well describe the test, so that people who are taking the alternate version in a week(and people taking it next year) will know what not to study.

Question 1 gave readers a choice of two out of three molecular biology processes:

The question asked readers to describe the processes and show how they relate to the understanding of genetics. The second part of the the first question stated "Most human proteins are exactly the same, yet DNA differs. Why?"

Question 2 gave a graph decribing a pointy-eared bombat, who lived on an island. The graph described the activity level of the bombat, stating that it was active during the day (not night like real bats). The first part of the question asked the reader to choose 3 of 4 of the following:

  • Temperature
  • Predators
  • Nutrition
  • Social Behavior

One was supposed to describe how this factor would cause the bombat to live the life that the graph indicates. The second part of the question was a classic from previous AP exams: Make a hypothesis about the effect of light on bombats, design an experiment to test the hypothesis, and predict the results of the experiment(isn't this kind of like hypothesizing?).

Question 3 was over three phyla from the animal kingdom, Cnidarians, Annelids, and Chordates. The question asked how the structure and function of these animals aided in two of four choices. Unfortunately, I can only remember the two I picked, locomotion and gas exchange. The second part asked how these structures showed evolutionary progress.

Question 4 described an experiment where a permeable bag filled with salt water was put in a container of distilled water. A table was shown representing the amount of salt in the outer container at any given time. In part a, readers were asked to draw a graph of the results from the table on axes provided. Part b asked readers to draw graphs like those in part a if the experiment was done with bags containing a higher, lower, and zero concentration of salt in the bag. Part c asked how salt water seeping into agricultural areas would lower crop production, and asked the reader to include a discussion of water potential.

Overall, fairly easy, due to the benevolent "choose X of X" style of questions. Most people interviewed after the test agreed that question 1 and 3 were more difficult, with 3 being the hardest, since half the people didn't know anything about the structure of a Cnidarian, even though they were told that Cnidarians consisted of hydras and jellyfish in the question. Many people misread number 4, thinking the graph was supposed to measure concentration in the bag, not in the water. As for the multiple choice, there were the infamous matching questions over plant cells, DNA replication, chemiosmosis & electron carriers. There were also a disproportionally large number of Hardy-Weinburg equilibrium questions.

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