Are you a student attempting to decide if taking AP Biology will be good for you? Are you wondering what the benefits will be in the long run if you do take the course? Well, you have come to the right place.
Imagine knowing exactly what to expect, which ends up being your exact experience in the course. Though that would be ideal, things may not work out that way. However, our goal is to provide you with as much information as possible and enable you to make a sound decision. That is our hope for you before you commit to the AP biology course.
We will not lie to you, the AP biology pass rate is not as high as some AP courses, and it will require discipline to do well in this course, but it could be worth it. Keep reading to understand further the benefits and difficulties some may face in the AP biology course.
What Does AP Biology Cover?
Your AP biology course is the beginning of what you can expect from freshman-level college courses. It is a course that is expected to mimic two semesters of an introductory science course that includes an abundance of topics to prepare the student for what could potentially be ahead if they are a biology major. The only prereqs for taking this course are to have taken high school chemistry and biology. In addition, students will be required to participate in a hands-on lab. This allows students to put into practice what they may be learning in class.
The AP Biology exam is based on 4 “Big Ideas .”These ideas are the course’s foundations and help connect the various concepts within the class. Units will consistently refer back to the big ideas throughout the course. These big ideas include the following:
- System Interactions
- Information Storage & Transmission
There are several things that students will gain from taking the AP course. One thing that they learn is different scientific practices. These practices are a baseline for the AP Biology coursework. The techniques that students learn will be as follows:
Explaining biological concepts to others – Students should have a good baseline for explaining concepts and processes to others after taking this course. This includes describing important terms and models.
Analyzing Data & Testing hypotheses – Students taking AP Biology will learn to perform several calculations. These may include things like rates, means, and even ratios. Other related analytical tools include confidence intervals and even chi-square testing.
Arguments – This area will help students be able to make scientific claims and be able to support them with scientific evidence. This section allows students to justify their data and explain the relationships between processes. Students will also learn to predict how data changes their hypotheses.
Graphical Representation of Concepts – Students should also be able to identify biological concepts by their flow or visual representation. This can include things like essential tables, flow charts, and more. Students will also learn how to construct different types of graphs. This includes plotting things like trend lines, scaling, and identifying data points.
In addition to learning an abundance of skills to take with you on your biology journey, students will learn several big ideas which further enforce the concepts they learn in each educational section. Each section, referred to as a unit, will cover a different topic and have a different exam weight. The table below shows all the units covered in the course and their estimates eights provided by the CollegeBoard.
|Between 10% and 15%
|Between 8% and 11%
|Chemistry of Life
|Between 8% and 11%
|Between 10% and 13%
|Cell Structure & Function
|Between 13% and 20%
|Between 10% and 15%
|Cell Communication & Cell Cycles
|Between 12% and 16%
|Between 12% and 16%
With this breakdown in mind, students need to remember that College Board provides them with unit breakdowns to help them study for the exam and know precisely what to expect.
What are the Benefits of Taking AP Biology?
You may be wondering if taking the exam has any benefits. However, if you are asking the question, the chances are high that you have not done your homework to find the answer. The AP biology exam can be an excellent benefit to your academic tenure. At a high level, yes, there are several benefits to taking the AP Biology exam. We will walk through and help you identify these benefits and how to determine if they will actually affect you. Though the test does have significant benefits, it will only apply to you in certain academic scenarios, which will be further explained below.
Is AP Biology Really Hard?
AP Biology is what you make it. It can be challenging if you are not prepared to put in the effort that it takes to do well. The AP Biology class requires a lot of effort and a thorough understanding of the topics. However, understanding these efforts may depend on the teacher teaching the subject.
It would help if you considered several questions before you can say that you are ready to take & pass the exam. Some examples of these questions include the following:
- Will my course load allow me to spend the time needed to pass AP Bio?
- Is there more biology in my future?
- Am I going straight to college from high school?
- Do I have a career in the sciences?
Why Do Students Find AP Biology Hard?
If you are wondering about the AP Biology pass rate, it has stayed at 60 percent for the past three years. Students who receive a four or a five have performed within the top 30% of the collective students taking the exam.
Though everyone does not have the same experience, some things are constant. Let’s face it; if you have asked your peers, they may have told you about the long nights they spent studying for their AP Biology course. They may have expressed the early morning sessions with friends shuffling through flashcards to aid in memorizing concepts.
You may be wondering what your testing day will look like for you. However, it’s important to remember that not everyone’s day will be the same, just the same as how everyone’s preparation will look the same. Students will have different needs and different ways of studying based on their learning styles. You must consider several things when registering for AP Biology and several reasons why some students find it to be a challenging course. Why is AP bio so hard? Use the list below to understand the common misconception within the course and what you can do to combat them.
The AP Biology exam is heavily based on memorization and ensuring students understand how to apply the concepts and calculations they have learned. Since this is a foundational course, students must understand the concepts that will stick with them throughout their academic tenure. Therefore, heavy studying for this course is needed.
If you plan on getting eight hours of sleep at night, this may not e the course for you. Many students have attested to the 3 AM bedtimes after reading several chapters of information and taking notes. If you are someone who hates reading, this may not be the best course for you. However, it will not feel like work if you are passionate about the topic.
Extensive Labs and Calculations
In addition to the traditional coursework, students will be expected to complete labs. These will require additional work outside the classroom and supplement the material being taught in the classroom. The course includes 13 different labs, each student-directed. The lab allows students to collect information, draw conclusions and even practice mathematical skills. Twenty-five percent of a student’s time must be spent in a lab.
Heavy Course loads
If you are a student who is carrying a heavy course load or taking multiple AP courses, this can make the AP Biology course very hard for you. Even if you are not taking AP courses, working an outside job in addition to school may be hard to do, especially if you are battling with juggling extracurricular activities as well.
If you are considering taking AP Biology and AP Chemistry, this question may be one that has lingered in your mind. Is AP biology or chemistry harder? This can be relative to your specialty and what you are naturally better in, though AP Chemistry is said to be more challenging.
Students who have taken the exam recommend beginning their studies early and utilizing an exam reference book. You will only have until May to take the exam; it gets here quicker than you may want to believe. Some students recommend starting as early as September.
Should You Take AP Biology? Is It Worth It?
You should and shouldn’t take the AP Biology exam for several reasons. However, it all depends on you and your specific circumstances. The exam can be heavily beneficial if you are in a position to accept the benefits that the exam has to offer. You may be wondering what could stop you from taking the AP Biology course; however, in reality, several things may be holding you up from making the commitment.
Some professors will assume you have taken it.
When you start your college courses, you will be more prepared than some of your peers and ready to take it on head first. If you are looking to go into a STEM major, it may serve you to get a jump start on what is expected of you early. If you do not take the course, you run the risk of being behind, as some teachers will assume that you have already taken the AP Biology course and move faster because of it.
You have a future in the medical profession.
Taking the AP Biology course as a jumpstart is likely not a bad idea. If you want to go into the medical profession, the sciences are something you will definitely need. Similarly, if you want to become a biologist or a doctor, AP biology should be in your future.
What type of college are you looking into? Will they accept the credit?
If you are looking to get college credit for this course, you must check to see if your school will accept the credit. You will also need to see what score the school is looking for in order to receive the credit. However, though some schools offer college credit for a great score, others do not. You will need to check with your intended school. If you plan on attending a community college, this may or may not be an option for you.
Wrapping Things Up: Is AP Biology Worth It? How Will It Benefit You?
Taking the AP Biology exam can be a great benefit depending on your circumstances. The test comprises an enormous amount of ideas, concepts, and practices that make up a foundation for what you can expect as a biology major. So, is AP biology worth it? If you want to pursue a career in medicine or STEM, the answer is a resounding yes. Otherwise, it may not be for you. Taking the AP Biology exam can be a hassle if you are not prepared to do the work, but if you are, the reward is excellent.