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For more information, please see full course syllabus of AP Biology
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Understanding the Basics

Lecture Slides are screen-captured images of important points in the lecture. Students can download and print out these lecture slide images to do practice problems as well as take notes while watching the lecture.

  • Intro 0:00
  • AP Biology Structure 0:18
    • Section I
    • Section II
  • Scoring 2:04
  • The Four 'Big Ideas' 3:51
    • Process of Evolution
    • Biological Systems Utilize
    • Living Systems
    • Biological Systems Interact
  • Items to Bring to the Test 7:56
  • Test Taking Tips 9:53

Transcription: Understanding the Basics

Welcome to Educator.com.0000

In this lesson, I will be covering the basics about the AP Biology exam including items like the test structure,0002

format, scoring, content, what to bring to the test and some test-taking tips.0010

Starting out with the structure of the exam, the exam lasts 3 hours, and there are 2 sections to the test. Each section lasts for a total of 90 minutes.0019

The first section consists of 2 parts. Part A is 63 multiple choice questions, and part B is 6 grid-in questions.0031

Note that some changes were made to the AP Biology exam for the 2012, 2013 academic years.0041

So, they were instituted in 2013, and they affect both sections of the tests.0048

So, for this section, the multiple choice, there are now 4 answer choices instead of 5.0053

The grid-ins are also new. These will require you to calculate an answer and to enter that answer onto a grid.0060

This reflects the increased emphasis on Math in the new AP Biology exam- the revised exam.0068

Section 2 consists of a total of 6 questions. There are 2 long free response questions and 6 short free response questions.0075

Something important to know is that for Section 2, although you have 90 minutes, the first 10 minutes are mandatory reading periods.0086

So, during that time, you read the questions. You start getting some ideas, and then, that leaves you 80 minutes to write.0095

Your score is comprised of Section 1, which is 50% of the total score, and then, for Section 2, the long free response, that makes it 25% of your score.0103

And then, the short free response is the other 25% of your score.0116

When it comes to scoring, what happens on the AP Biology exam is that you receive points when you answer something correctly.0126

However, you do not lose points for incorrect answers. In other words, there is no penalty for incorrect answers, and this is another change to the exam.0135

And it is important when it comes to the strategy, your approach to the test, because you do not want to skip any questions.0144

You want to complete them all, take a guess if you have to.0151

But, since there is no penalty for an incorrect answer, you should go ahead and make an attempt at every question.0154

Now, the way the scoring works is your score is converted into a scaled 1 through 5 score, and there are qualifications that are associated with each.0162

As you can see here, 5 indicates that the college board considers you extremely well-qualified in the subject area. 4 is well-qualified.0173

3 is qualified. 2 is possibly qualified, and 1 is no recommendation.0185

Each college and university has its own policy about how they handle or give credit for various scores.0192

In general, however, a 3, 4 or 5 for many colleges and universities, you will receive - if you get a 3 or above - either credit, some college units.0201

Or you will be able to skip over the General Biology course and then, into a higher level course or maybe a combination of both.0215

So, you have to check with the individual colleges you are interested in about their policy for how they are going to use an AP Biology score.0225

Now, again, in 2012, 2103, revisions were made to the AP Biology courses and to the test.0234

And the idea was to take the focus off of just rote memorization and tons of detail and have students0242

focus more on the major concepts in Biology, on analysis and critical thinking and scientific inquiry.0250

So, there is still a lot of detail and memorization that you are going to have to do to do well in this test.0257

But, some of the emphasis has been taken off that compared to past years.0264

So, the curriculum framework for the revised AP Biology exam is built on four big ideas or four major concepts.0269

These are: that the process of evolution drives the diversity and unity of life;0277

that biological systems utilize energy and molecular building blocks to grow, reproduce and maintain homeostasis;0285

that living systems retrieve, transmit and respond to information essential to life processes;0296

and that biological systems interact, and these interactions possess complex properties.0303

Everything in this course and everything on the exam will fall under one of these four major ideas.0310

And in fact, biology is, life is not neatly compartmentalized, so many of the concepts also, they could fall under more than one.0315

But, this helps to give you a basic organization and framework as you would think about the different concepts you will encounter in this course.0326

Now, as I mentioned, there is not quite as many picky details and memorization on the revised exam.0333

So, to give you an example of what I mean, when you are studying the electron transport chain,0338

you would not be expected to have memorized the names of the electron carriers and to know those for the test.0345

So, you do not have to have the names memorized. You need to understand how the electron transport chain works.0353

You need to know where in the cell those reactions take place, but you do not need to know that particular detail about the names of the carriers.0357

Now, for completeness, I do, sometimes, include details that you will not necessarily be tested on in the exam but just to give you more complete Biology course.0367

I also include certain details in this course just as illustration to give you an example to make a concept clear.0376

If you would like to find out more about which topics are excluded, which topics you do not have to memorize and know for the...0385

directly be tested on for the exam, visit apcentral.collegeboard.com.0393

There, you can find a lot of information about the test including about the curriculum and the content of the test.0408

Another area that has changed with the new test is the lab component of AP Biology courses.0415

In the past, the laboratory components were teacher-driven or teacher-directed. Now, the intention is that AP Biology laboratories are student-driven.0423

By this, I mean that in the past, your Biology instructor in the labs would tell you "here is the question we are asking,0435

and here are the experiments you are going to do to answer this question; and here are the steps you will take in the experiments".0443

Now, the idea is that students will actually come up with the question that they want to answer.0450

Then, they are going to design experiments to answer those question and carry out those experiments.0457

This is much closer to the way science really works and reflects the increased emphasis on learning the practice of science and scientific inquiry.0463

So, that is why that change was made.0474

What to bring to the test, so getting to some of the logistics of test day.0478

Bring a calculator. Again, more emphasis on Math with the grid-ins, and so, you are allowed to bring a calculator.0485

In fact, you are allowed to bring up to two in case something happens to one of them.0492

And these can only be 4-function calculators meaning they are capable of doing addition, subtraction.0496

They multiply, divide, and they can have square root capability. One thing that is not allowed is graphing calculators, so no graphing calculators.0503

Another item that is important to bring is some identification. Third: a watch.0525

There might be a clock in the room. There might not be visible to you.0538

There may not be a clock, so bring a watch; but it cannot be a watch that beeps, makes noises, has an alarm, so just a quiet watch.0540

Then, no. 2 pencils and some erasers. To write on the booklets, you will also need pens that use blue or black ink.0550

Something to note is that a list of formulas is provides for you.0573

Again, this is a change to the test, and so, there are certain formulas you do not have to memorize,0582

and instead, these will be provided for you to refer to during the test.0586

Test taking tips: I already mentioned that no penalty is given for incorrect responses, so do not leave any questions blank.0595

And I am just reemphasizing this because it is very important.0604

When you are taking the test, time-management is critical, so you need to have an awareness of the time throughout the test.0608

And in Section 1, recall that there are 63 questions total- 63 of the multiple choice questions.0616

And then, there are the 6 grid-ins, so 63 multiple choice, 6 grid-ins, and that you have 90 minutes.0633

This means that you have about 1 1/4 minutes per question, so with 1 1/4 per question, that means on average.0652

So, at times, you are going to take a little bit longer. The grid-ins might take a little bit longer.0666

Some will be a little bit shorter, but you need to average out to about 1 1/4 minutes per question.0673

Then, there is Section 2, and for Section 2, you have the 2 long free response. For the 2 long free response, give yourselves about 20 minutes per question.0678

If you spend a little longer on one, you have to speed up for the other.0703

There are also the 4 - excuse me - 6 short free response, and for those, you need to give yourself about 6 minutes per question.0708

And this is where you want to practice under time conditions prior to the test to see how long you are taking.0732

And you also want to make sure to leave yourself a little bit of just wiggle room at the end because as you go through,0738

you may find some difficult questions that you are concerned you are getting a bog down in.0745

You can mark those, skip those, go back to them later, and then, make an educated guess if you need to.0748

But, you want to leave yourself a little bit time at the end and do not push it until the last second.0755

Another important point is to read carefully.0760

Otherwise, you might miss questions just because you misread it, missed a part on the free response, thought it was asking something else.0763

So, take those extra couple seconds to make sure that you read carefully.0775

Thank you for visiting Educator.com.0779