AP Biology

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About the Course

Study the core scientific principles, theories, and processes that govern living organisms and biological systems. You’ll do hands-on laboratory work to investigate natural phenomena.

Skills You'll Learn

  • Designing experiments and procedures to test a prediction or theory

  • Collecting and analyzing data

  • Interpreting data to draw conclusions

  • Developing and supporting a scientific claim with evidence

Equivalency and Prerequisites

College Course Equivalent

A two-semester college introductory biology course for biology majors


Recommended Prerequisites

High school courses in biology and chemistry

Exam Date

Thu, May 16, 2024

12 PM Local

AP Biology Exam

This is the regularly scheduled date for the AP Biology Exam.

About the Units

The course content outlined below is organized into commonly taught units of study that provide one possible sequence for the course. Your teacher may choose to organize the course content differently based on local priorities and preferences.

Course Content

Unit 1: Chemistry of Life

You’ll learn about water’s role as the basis of life and the functions of macromolecules like lipids and proteins.

Topics may include:

  • The structure and chemical properties of water
  • The makeup and properties of macromolecules
  • The structure of DNA and RNA


On The Exam

8%–11% of exam score

Unit 2: Cell Structure and Function

You’ll study the makeup of cells and the fundamentals of evolution.

Topics may include:

  • Cellular components and functions of those components
  • Cell interaction with its environment
  • The cell membrane structure and function
  • Cell regulatory mechanisms like osmosis and selective permeability
  • Cellular compartmentalization


On The Exam

10%–13% of exam score

Unit 3: Cellular Energetics

You’ll explore how cells interact with their environment and how fundamental biological processes work at the cellular level.

Topics may include:

  • The structure and function of enzymes
  • The role of energy in living systems
  • The processes of photosynthesis
  • The processes of cellular respiration
  • Molecular diversity and cellular response to environmental changes

On The Exam

12%–16% of exam score

Unit 4: Cell Communication and Cell Cycle

You’ll learn how cells grow and reproduce, as well as how cells communicate.

Topics may include:

  • The mechanisms of cell communication
  • Signal transduction
  • Cellular responses and feedback mechanisms
  • The events in a cell cycle

On The Exam

10%–15% of exam score

Unit 5: Heredity

You’ll learn how traits are passed down from one generation to the next.

Topics may include:

  • The process and function of meiosis
  • The concepts genetic diversity
  • Mendel’s laws and probability
  • Non-mendelian Inheritance
  • Factors affecting inheritance and gene expression

On The Exam

8%-11% of exam score

Unit 6: Gene Expression and Regulation

You’ll study how hereditary information passes from parent to offspring and how those traits are expressed.

Topics may include:

  • The roles and functions of DNA and RNA
  • The mechanisms of gene expression
  • How genotype affects phenotype
  • Mutations, genetic diversity, and natural selection
  • Genetic engineering and biotechnology

On The Exam

12%-16% of exam score

Unit 7: Natural Selection

You’ll learn about Darwin’s theory, the concept of natural selection, and evolution.

Topics may include:

  • Evidential support for evolution and common ancestry
  • The mechanisms of natural selection and speciation
  • Environmental and human-caused factors in evolution
  • Charting species ancestry through phylogenetic trees and cladograms
  • Extinction
  • Models of the origin of life on Earth

On The Exam

13%-20% of exam score

Unit 8: Ecology

You’ll explore biological concepts at a broader organism level and analyze how populations interact within ecosystems.

Topics may include:

  • Communication and responses to environmental changes
  • Energy flow within and across ecosystems
  • Factors in the growth, density, and success of populations
  • Factors in community and ecosystem dynamics
  • Invasive species, human interaction, and environmental changes

On The Exam

10%-15% of exam score

Credit and Placement

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Course Resources


AP Biology Lab Manual

See an overview of the manual that supports AP Biology laboratory investigations and learn how to order a copy.

See Where AP Can Take You

AP Biology can lead to a wide range of careers and college majors

Career Areas 103
Majors 52