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If you’re reading this right now, you’re probably in AP Biology or thinking about taking AP Biology. Biology, according to Wikipedia, is the study of life and living organisms. It’s a fascinating subject and you’ll be amazed at what your body does on a regular basis. Though it is a very interesting class, AP Biology can be a tough class to succeed in. There is a lot of material to learn and not everything is easy to grasp. Here are some tips to help you succeed in the class and do well on the AP exam.

The Exam

The AP Biology exam format is pretty similar to all the other AP exams. There are two sections: a multiple choice section and a free response section. In 2013, the AP Biology exam had many changes made to it. The FRQ is more lab based and a math portion was added on to the multiple choice section. The exam is three hours long; there are 90 minutes for the multiple choice section and 90 minutes for the free response section. The multiple choice section has two parts. Part A is 63 questions and tests you on the things you have learned in AP Biology. Part B contains 6 grid-in math-type questions that can be solved using a basic calculator. The free response section has two types of questions: a long response and short response. There are 2 long response questions and 6 short response questions. You will be given a 10 minute reading period where you are free to plan out your responses. Take advantage of the reading period and don’t rush to start. Outline what you want to say and organize your thoughts.

The Summer Before

At many schools, students are given summer homework for their AP Biology class. This could vary from reading certain chapters before class starts or working on a project. If you are assigned summer homework, be sure to pay attention to what you’re reading and doing. The AP Biology book is huge and there is a lot of information to cover. Take notes while you read and make them clear and concise. I know that it’s summer break and it’s not fun having to do work while you’re on vacation, but studying and working smart will make the class much easier during the school year. If you’re not given any homework during the summer, a good idea is to get a head start on the reading. Like I mentioned before, the Biology textbook is one of the biggest AP textbooks and there are many complicated concepts to learn. Start reading the beginning chapters and the ecology section. You’ll have a head start and avoid feeling overwhelmed in the spring.

Test Prep/Using the Test Prep Book

At the beginning of the course I would recommend getting an AP test prep book and use it during the year. The test prep books are not only good for reviewing everything before the AP exam, but helpful during the class.

It contains summaries of biological concepts and key vocabulary words. If there is something that seems complicated in the textbook or the information is convoluted, reading the summaries can help you understand what you did not before. Be sure to read both the textbook and the prep book. The textbook contains more information that could not be included in the prep book. Use both of them together.

Before the AP exam take the review quizzes at the end of each chapter on the prep book. This is an easy way to see which questions you are missing and what information you need to review. This will save you from reviewing everything and it will help you pinpoint the areas you need to work on. Also be sure to take multiple AP practice exams and complete the released FRQ questions. Review any labs you have done in the class and their concepts. There could be questions about them on the AP exam. The most important thing is to relax and do your best! By the time of the exam, you will have learned everything you are supposed to and you will get that 5!

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