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Important Updates for 2019-20

Support for Students and Schools Impacted by Coronavirus
In response to school closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re providing free, live AP online classes and review lessons. We’ll also offer at-home testing for 2020 AP Exams. Note that any related adjustments to 2020 AP Exams, such as length or content covered, may not be reflected on all AP Central pages. Visit Taking the Exams for the latest exam information.

AP Biology Updates and New Resources for 2019-20
To help more students prepare for—and succeed on—the AP Biology Exam, we’ve clarified the course’s focus starting with the 2019-20 school year and are introducing new resources for your classroom. We’ve also moved exam registration to the fall, a best practice that improves students’ chances of earning college credit and placement.

Download the new course and exam description (CED) and the errata sheet.

New AP Resources
AP Classroom is now available. Designed with AP educators, it helps you provide students daily practice and personalized feedback throughout the year. Sign in to access AP unit guides with aligned resources, topic questions, personal progress checks, the progress dashboard, and your question bank.

Sign In to AP Classroom

Course Overview

AP Biology is an introductory college-level biology course. Students cultivate their understanding of biology through inquiry-based investigations as they explore topics like evolution, energetics, information storage and transfer, and system interactions.


Course Content


Based on the Understanding by Design® (Wiggins and McTighe) model, this course framework provides a clear and detailed description of the course requirements necessary for student success. The framework specifies what students must know, be able to do, and understand, with a focus on the big ideas that encompass core principles, theories, and processes of the discipline. The framework also encourages instruction that prepares students for advanced work in STEM majors.

The AP Biology framework is organized into eight commonly taught units of study that provide one
possible sequence for the course. As always, you have the flexibility to organize the course content as you like.

 Exam Weighting (Multiple-Choice Section)
 Unit 1: Chemistry of Life  8%–11%
 Unit 2: Cell Structure and Function  10%–13%
 Unit 3: Cellular Energetics  12%–16%
 Unit 4: Cell Communication and Cell Cycle  10%–15%
 Unit 5: Heredity  8%–11%
 Unit 6: Gene Expression and Regulation  12%–16%
 Unit 7: Natural Selection  13%–20%
 Unit 8: Ecology  10%–15%

Science Practices

The updated AP Biology framework included in the course and exam description outlines distinct skills, called science practices, that students should practice throughout the year—skills that will help them learn to think and act like biologists.


 Skill  Description  Exam Weighting (Multiple-Choice Section)
 1. Concept Explanation  Explain biological concepts, processes, and models presented in written format  25%–33%
 2. Visual Representations  Analyze visual representations of biological concepts and processes  16%–24%
 3. Question andMethod  Determine scientific question and method  8%–14%
 4. Representing and Describing Data  Represent and describe data  8%–14%
 5. Statistical Tests and Data Analysis  Perform statistical tests and mathematical calculations to analyze and interpret data  8%–14%
 6. Argumentation  Develop and justify scientific arguments using evidence  20%–26%

AP and Higher Education

Higher education professionals play a key role developing AP courses and exams, setting credit and placement policies, and scoring student work. The Higher Education site features information on recruitment and admission, advising and placement, and more.

This chart shows recommended scores for granting credit, and how much credit should be awarded, for each AP course. Your students can look up credit and placement policies for colleges and universities on the Credit Policy Search.

Meet the Development Committee for AP Biology.