Top AP Biology FAQs

  • What’s the difference between AP Biology and the standard high school biology course?
    AP Biology is a challenging, in-depth lab course with a curriculum that equals two semesters of college-level biology coursework.
  • How can I qualify for the AP Biology course in high school?
    Students with an A or B in chemistry are eligible to take the AP Biology course.
  • How do I qualify to take the AP Biology exam?
    High school students who take an AP Biology course instead of the standard biology course are qualified to take the AP biology exam.
  • Can I take the AP Biology exam without taking an AP Biology class?
    Yes. High school students who wish to earn college credits can take the exam. This is not usually recommended as AP course materials are much more in-depth. The AP exam requires hours of dedicated study and prep.
  • How long does it take to complete the AP Biology exam?
    The total exam time is 3 hours, broken down into two 90-minute sections. The first 10 minutes of the second half of the exam is a suggested reading period to review the questions.
  • What type of questions are on the AP Biology exam?
    The first section consists of 60 multiple choice questions. The second section contains 2 free-response long questions and 2 free-response short questions.
  • What if I can’t answer all the questions on the AP Biology exam?
    Your exam score is based on the number of questions you answer correctly. Since there are points lost for incorrect answers, it’s better to make your best guess.
  • What topics are covered in the AP Biology course?
    AP Biology consists of eight units:
    1. Chemistry of Life
    2. Cell Structure and Function
    3. Cellular Energetics
    4. Cell Communications and Cell Cycle
    5. Heredity
    6. Gene Expression and Regulation
    7. Natural Selection
    8. Ecology
  • Do I need to memorize formulas for the AP Biology exam?
    Students taking the AP Biology exam are provided with the AP Biology and Equations Formula Sheet. The sheet contains definitions and formulas, such as the Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium, that students may need during the exam.
  • Can I use a calculator during the AP Biology exam?
    Yes. Students are allowed to use a four-function scientific or graphing calculator.
  • Can memorizing facts help me get a good score on the AP Biology exam?
    The best way to study for the AP Biology exam is to understand and connect the core concepts, theories and processes. You can improve your ability to understand the big ideas by using reading strategies that include questioning, reflecting, reciting and reviewing.
  • How important is it to do practice tests for the AP Biology exam?
    Exam prep helps students become familiar with the test structure and contents. The practice test covers the topics that are listed on the current AP subject course outline.