2015 AP Biology Exam
Monday, May 11,
10 Minute Reading Time
1 Point Each.
1 Point Each.
10 Points Each.
It's Study Time!
2015 AP Biology Exam Countdown
Clear Biology’s Review Plan
The AP Biology Exam is only a few days, hours, minutes away, and there’s a good chance you’re scanning the web right now looking for words of reassurance or tokens of comfort that you’re ready for show time. Take a deep breath and relax; you’ve found a good place. In the following article, I hope to share with you valuable resources to help you prepare for the AP Biology Exam. This article will serve useful to teachers, but it is written for you – the student.
This is No Cure All
I want to make it clear up front that there is no short cut for hard work. The plan I lay out is meant to help you organize and supplement what you have learned throughout the year. The AP Biology Curriculum Framework is not something you can consume overnight, or even over the course of a few nights. In my opinion, the BEST way to master the framework is to read, read, read. If you haven’t cracked open your biology book all year, then the chance of you scoring a 3 or higher on the exam are certainly diminished. Of course, there is always the exception; you may be a fantastic listener and your teacher may be a fantastic lecturer. Although, as a teacher I know how difficult it is to recite every concept in class. Or maybe you’ve spent many an hour listening to science guru Paul Andersen over at Bozemanscience.com (If you have, you should thank him). Regardless of the course of events, you’re here now and it’s time to get down to business.
Organization of the Curriculum Framework
The AP Curriculum framework is organized in the top-down manner, shown in Figure 1. The statements of essential knowledge clearly identify what you, the learner, should know at the end of the course.
As you prepare for a large, comprehensive exam, one of the biggest challenges is organizing what you know in order to identify areas of strength and areas of weakness in your content knowledge. I believe a very productive first step is laying the cards on the table – literally. In order to organize the essential knowledge statements, I have created study cards for you to cut out and manipulate.
Time for Sorting
Cut out the study cards, read through each statement, and place them into one of three piles. These piles will be called RED, YELLOW, and GREEN. Essential knowledge statements in which your understanding is strong will go in the GREEN pile, essential knowledge statements in which your understanding is weak will go in the RED pile, and essential knowledge statements in which your understanding is moderate will go in the YELLOW pile.
Initially you will focus on the RED pile. In order to deepen your understanding of these statements of essential knowledge, you will be referencing two separate sources, the AP Biology Course and Exam Description (CED) and your AP Biology textbook. The CED contains the Curriculum Framework (CF), the Science Practices, practice exam questions, and much, much more. If you haven’t been referencing this document throughout the whole year, you should have. The CED is THE guiding document for the AP Biology Exam.
Get to Correlating!
Pick up a card from the red pile and find it in the CED. The best way to do this is to use the “find” function. If you are using a mac, press command-f, if you are using a pc, press control-f. Type the essential knowledge code into the search field (e.g., 3.d.2). As you click on the forward arrow in the search bar, you will be taken to every instance in which this essential knowledge (EK) is referenced in the CED. This includes the description of the essential knowledge in the Curriculum Framework and if it was referenced in any of the practice questions.
The description of the essential knowledge in the Curriculum Framework is going to provide you with the most information. The CF will have a detailed outline of the EK and list the associated Learning Objectives. Depending on the EK, you will also find illustrative examples, connections to other EK statements, and exclusion statements. Would it be beneficial to copy and paste this information into a separate document? I think so!
AP Biology Course and Exam Description
AP Biology Curriculum Framework Textbook Correlations
Below are links to correlation documents for the widely used textbooks for AP Biology (courtesy of the College Board). If your book is not on the list, try searching online.Campbell Biology, 7th EditionCampbell Biology, 8th Edition Campbell Biology, 9th EditionBiology: The Unity and Diversity of Life, 12th EditionBiology: The Unity and Diversity of Life, 13th EditionMader Biology, 10th Edition Mader Biology, 11th EditionRaven Biology, 9th EditionBiology: Life on Earth with Physiology, 9th EditionPrinciples of Life, Hillis, 1st Edition Life: The Science of Biology, 9th EditionBiology: The Dynamic Science, 2nd EditionBiological Science, Freeman, 4th EditionBiology, Berg and Martin, 9th Edition
The Essential Knowledge statements provided in the AP Biology Curriculum Framework are scientific claims. These claims describe phenomenon occurring in the physical world. These concepts are supported by numerous observations. The observations are an “illustration” of the concept at work. The number of examples supporting or demonstrating a particular concept may be too numerous to count. Students are not expected to memorize every one. Consider the following statements from the AP Biology Course and Exam Description.
“Illustrative examples are suggested contexts for instructional purposes and are not required content components of the course. A student’s knowledge of these contexts will not be assessed on the AP Biology Exam.” (AP Biology CED, Pg. 6)
“While illustrative examples and excluded content will not be assessed on the AP Biology Exam, they may be provided in the body of exam questions as background information for the concept and science practice(s) being assessed.” (AP Biology CED, Pg. 7)
“In order to answer multiple-choice questions correctly, students will not be required to recall specific illustrative examples. However, an illustrative example may appear on the exam provided that the question includes sufficient information to enable students to answer the question.” (AP Biology CED, pg. 126)
Not remembering a specific illustrative example is not the same as not remembering any illustrative examples. Your conceptual knowledge can be greatly enhanced when understood in the context of a real-world example. This will be particularly helpful when answering the free response questions. The CED also states the following.
“For the free-response questions, students will be expected to provide appropriate scientific evidence and reasoning to support their responses. Students can draw upon the illustrative examples or any other appropriate, relevant examples in order to assist in answering the questions.” (AP Biology CED, pg. 127)
When reviewing the essential knowledge, try to think about the concept in terms of an illustrative example. You’ll strengthen your understanding of the concept, and your ability to answer the free response questions.
“In short, to be successful on the AP Biology Exam, students must clearly connect a biological concept to a larger big idea or enduring understanding while using designated science practices and skills.
On the exam, students must make claims and defend them — providing evidence as part of their reasoning.
This should include making appropriate and insightful connections across big ideas and/or enduring understandings.”
The quote above comes from a recent article on AP Central titled Demonstrating Understanding on The AP Biology Exam. It will be well worth your time to read this article.
“To earn a 5, students must learn the course content well enough to be able to perform the skills required in the grid-ins and the free-response section: when confronted with scientific data or evidence illustrative of the required course content, students must be able to ‘calculate,’ ‘predict,’ ‘justify,’ ‘propose,’ ‘explain,’ ‘perform,’ ‘specify,’ ‘identify,’ ‘describe,’ ‘pose a scientific question,’ and ‘state a hypothesis.’ True understanding requires that students develop the depth of understanding required to perform such tasks with accuracy and precision.”
Remember: “Justify” means provide evidence that supports your particular claim or conclusion
Make a prediction and then justify your prediction
Propose something and explain the effect(s) of your proposition
Perform a statistical test (e.g., chi-square test)
Provide an explanation and justify your explanation (in other words, you must provide evidence that supports your explanation)
Propose a model
Identify or select something and then explain and justify your selection
Propose a scenario that may have resulted in a particular outcome
Make a prediction and then justify your prediction
Pose a scientific question
State a hypothesis
Identify the steps of process and explain the purpose of each step
Don't Bring 'Em
Some items are prohibited. Seriously, don't bring them. Make sure to take a look at the AP Exam Policies.
College Board Standards for College Success
Several important words from the AP Biology Curriculum Framework are defined in the following College Board document.
College Board Standards for College Success: Science
Claim An assertion that is based on evidence or knowledge. Claims can be based on the following: natural or human-designed systems and phenomena, observations of the natural world, results of a planned investigation, scientific questions, or answers to a posed question.
Concept A single word or a short phrase (e.g., species, geographical isolation, solid, atom, repeating pattern). An accepted concept results from an amalgamation of multiple investigations, observations or explanations. The terms “concept,” “law” and “principle” are often used interchangeably when describing scientific knowledge. However, the term “concept” is sometimes used to describe a broad category that includes laws and principles.
Evidence Data (from investigations, scientific observations, the findings of other scientists, historic reconstruction and/or archived data) that have been represented, analyzed and interpreted in the context of a specific scientific question. Modes of representing data could include, but are not limited to, verbal summaries, discipline-specific drawings or diagrams, maps, summary charts and tables, frequency plots, bar graphs (histograms), and scatter plots. These representations, based on accepted science knowledge and mathematics processes or procedures, are used to interpret the data in terms of properties, trends or patterns. Interpretations can be represented by linguistic or mathematical models.
Hypothesis A type of testable explanation (model) of natural systems or phenomena, or of evidence from an investigation. A hypothesis can be proposed prior to data collection and has the components of an explanation: an assertion (claim), desired evidence related to the claim, and reasoning that connects the assertion and the evidence. A hypothesis serves the same role as a scientific question in that it guides the collection and interpretation of data that will support the assertion. A hypothesis must be consistent with accepted scientific knowledge, result in predictions that can be tested through further investigations, and be supported (justified) with reasoning (argumentation). For the purpose of these standards, the development of a hypothesis is achieved through the process of question formulation.
Prediction An assertion (claim) about what might happen under certain conditions concerning a natural phenomenon or the results of a planned investigation. The assertion (claim) is supported by principles, models, theories about natural phenomena, or previous empirical evidence.
Reasoning Scientific principles that provide justification serving as a link between a claim and the evidence related to an explanation, a model, a hypothesis or a prediction. They also provide additional support for how the evidence supports the claim. Justification and reasoning allow the evidence to be linked to explanations within the larger scientific world of theories. These explanations are relevant to theories within a discipline and are linked to the discipline and the larger body of knowledge that accumulates through empirical studies that are accepted and reviewed by peers.
Model Refers to “physical, mathematical, and conceptual models [that] are tools for learning about the things they are meant to resemble.”
A model can represent physical objects that are too big, too small, too dangerous or unethical for humans to observe or experiment with directly.
A model can also represent a concept, principle, law or theory that explains a wide body of evidence that has been gathered in a scientific investigation.
While the term “model” can be used to refer to other things, its meaning here is limited to discipline-specific diagrams; flow charts or maps; physical models (e.g., scale models of actual objects, systems); mathematical representations (e.g., graphs, equations); and conceptual models (e.g., imagery, metaphor and analogy). The terms “model” and “representation” are used interchangeably due to the different applications in different disciplines.
Representation A table, graph, equation or diagram that is constructed for the purpose of organizing data. This type of representation differs from that which is created for the purpose of explanation.
Scientific Question A question that leads to an empirical investigation (collecting and interpreting data to develop an explanation). Types of
scientific questions include existence, causal/functional and exploratory questions that involve collecting novel data (NOT testing a hypothesis).
AP Biology Power Words
The words and images in the following slide deck are meant to guide students as they prepare for the AP Biology Exam. The words were chosen based on their emphasis in the AP Biology Curriculum Framework and/or their history of appearing on previous exams. This work builds upon the contributions of many great science teachers. Attributions are listed at the end.
Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app
Ultimate AP Biology Review Cards
Bozeman Science Final Review
Bozeman Science - Final Review
Paul Andersen’s final review for the 2014 AP Biology Exam.
The importance of the AP Biology learning objectives has been firmly established. Teachers of AP Biology need tools to aid them as they continue to organize and assimilate the objectives into their courses. I’m a visual learner, but I also like to manipulate information in a tangible way; I made lots of flashcards in college. And so—driven by my love for manipulatives—I formatted the 149 AP Biology learning objectives into sheets of equally sized boxes, perfect for cutting into cards.
Over the last few weeks, much information has been released by the College Board about the results of the 2013 AP Biology test. In order to help make sense of this data I created an infographic as a visual summary of the results.
It may come as no surprise that many students struggle with answering the free response questions on the AP Biology test. One possible reason is that they don’t know the answer. A less obvious reason is that they don’t understand the question.
The 2013 AP Biology Exam features many new question styles. Of particular interest is the grid-in style format. Here you can find a detailed description on how to answer the new AP Biology Grid-In Question.
With the new AP Biology Exam just over two months away, I’ve started thinking more about the new question formats. According to the College Board, the first half of the exam will have 69 questions; 6 of these will be grid-in questions. These questions require numerical responses and the answers must be entered into a grid on the answer sheet. Here’s a resource I created in order to prepare my students for this unique question style.