AP Biology

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About the Exam

Important Update

Updated April 8 You can now download the digital testing application and take digital practice to prepare for the testing experience. See below for more information on digital practice and taking the digital exam.

2021 AP Biology Exams will be offered on paper in early May and as a digital exam in late May and early June.

All versions of the exams will cover the full scope of course content, giving you the opportunity to qualify for college credit and placement. On the digital exam, you’ll answer free-response questions with a keyboard, rather than by hand. If you take the digital exam, you won’t be asked to draw or graph as part of your response—rather, these skills will be assessed with questions about given graphs or other stimuli. The digital exam app will include any symbols you’ll need to type your responses. No handwritten or photographed work will be accepted.

There are differences between the paper and digital versions of some 2021 AP Exams, and those variations differ by course. The information below applies to AP Biology only. View a summary of all 2021 AP Exam formats.

Learn more about 2021 testing.


As the exam approaches, take advantage of AP Daily: Live Review sessions April 19–29.

Exam Overview
The AP Biology Exam will test your understanding of the biological concepts covered in the course units, as well as your ability to utilize the scientific method and analyze data. You are allowed to use a four-function calculator (with square root), scientific, or graphing functions throughout exam.

Exam Duration
3hrs

Digital Practice and Testing Information

Updated April 8

Digital Practice Now Available

Starting April 8, you can try out the test-day experience, by answering example questions in the digital testing application. See the Digital Practice page for general information about practice options.

AP Biology students will have two options to answer example questions in the digital testing application. Both provide approximately the same time limit per question as the full exam.

  • Digital Practice has a shortened multiple-choice section (14 questions, 20 minutes), a shortened break of 5 minutes, and a full-length free-response section (6 questions, 90 minutes). 
  • The App Demo is an even shorter subset of the questions in Digital Practice–5 multiple-choice questions, a 2-minute break, and 2 free-response questions.

We highly recommend you take the Digital Practice, and strongly advise that if you can’t take the Digital Practice, at least take the App Demo. Both can be taken multiple times, and can be accessed directly in the digital testing application. You can access your answers and solution materials (MCQ answer key, FRQ scoring guidelines) for the Digital Practice. Note: Taking the App Demo after completing Digital Practice may override your answers from Digital Practice.

Taking the Digital Exam

You should be aware of some aspects of testing digitally that you’ll encounter–in the Digital Practice and on exam day:

  • You may use a four-function (with square root), scientific, or graphing calculator on the exam. However, you will need to bring your own calculator because the digital testing application does not include one.
  • As a reminder, you will answer all multiple-choice questions and type all free-response answers directly in the digital exam application. Scratch paper is permitted for notes or planning, but you cannot handwrite or otherwise upload responses. The free-response questions won’t require you to draw diagrams, charts or complicated mathematical expressions.
  • As a reminder, you cannot go back to questions you’ve already answered, and cannot skip ahead. 
  • However, free-response questions will each be presented in multiple parts, and you’ll answer each part on a separate screen. You may move among the parts of the question currently being answered, with the Back and Next buttons. Once you’ve entered your response to the last part of a question and moved ahead to the next, you won’t be able to go back to any part of that question you finished.
  • Exam directions and section-specific directions will not be read by a proctor–they’ll appear entirely in the application. You’ll see them at the beginning of each section, and can access them at any time during the exam. Please note that the exam timer starts when the directions appear. While you should read the directions, be aware that the timer will be running while you do so. You can view the full text of the exam and section directions in advance of the exam.

Exam Dates

  • Fri, May 14, 2021,
    8 AM Local

    Paper, In School

    AP Biology Exam

    This is the Administration 1 date for the AP Biology Exam.

  • Thu, May 27, 2021,
    12 PM EDT

    Digital, In School and At Home

    AP Biology Exam

    This is the Administration 2 date for the AP Biology Exam.

  • Fri, Jun 11, 2021,
    12 PM EDT

    Digital, In School and At Home

    AP Biology Exam

    This is the Administration 3 date for the AP Biology Exam.

Exam Components

Note on 2021 Exams

There are differences between the paper and digital versions of some 2021 AP Exams, and those variations differ by course. The information below applies to AP Biology only. View a summary of all 2021 AP Exam formats.

Both the paper and digital versions of the AP Biology Exam will be full length and measure the full range of skills and knowledge specified in the course and exam description. On the digital exam, you’ll answer free-response questions with a keyboard, rather than by hand. If you take the digital exam, you won’t be asked to draw or graph as part of your response — rather, these skills will be assessed with questions about given graphs or other stimuli. No handwritten or photographed work will be accepted.

60 questions 1hr 30mins 50% of Score

The multiple-choice section includes individual, single questions as well as sets of questions that refer to the same diagram or data presentation.

Questions will test your ability to:

  • Explain biological concepts, processes, and models
  • Analyze diagrams, flow charts, and other visual representations
  • Use the scientific method
  • Perform mathematical calculations to analyze data
  • Support scientific claims with evidence

6 questions 1hr 30mins 50% of Score

The free-response section includes two long questions and four short questions.

Questions will test your ability to:

  • Interpret and evaluate results from an experiment
  • Graph and analyze data
  • Understand the principles and procedures of lab investigations
  • Predict the causes or effects of a change in a biological system
  • Analyze a visual representation of a biological phenomenon

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