New Format Online AP Biology Study Guide – 2020 Changes

Published on Mar 26, 2020

๐Ÿ‘‹๐Ÿผ Hi, I’m Caroline Koffke! I’m an AP Biology teacher from Chicago, IL and streamer at Fiveable. This year’s exam is different than we expected, but I’m here to help. I’ve put together this study guide to help keep you on track while you are studying from home. You can follow this guide on your own with a free Fiveable account! I’ll also be joining a group of students live on Mondays @ 8pm ET during cram sessions. Pick up your cram pass to join us.

Format of the New Exam

This year, the AP Biology will look different than you were expecting. As weโ€™re all on quarantine ๐Ÿ˜ท due to COVID-19, the College Board has decided to update the format and content of the test to fit an online testing format.

Youโ€™ll have 45-minutes to take the exam online and it will only cover units 1-6. If you have already studied content from unit 7 or 8 donโ€™t stress! Itโ€™s all worth knowing.

These units are on the exam. Click the unit to see the study guide!

1 – ๐Ÿงช Chemistry of Life
2 – ๐Ÿงฌ Cell Structure and Function
3 – ๐Ÿ”‹ Cellular Energetics
4 – ๐Ÿฆ  Cell Communication and Cell Cycle
5 – ๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ‘ฆโ€๐Ÿ‘ฆ Heredity
6 – ๐Ÿ‘ป Gene Expression & Regulation

These units will not be on the exam:

7 – ๐Ÿฆ Natural Selection
8 – ๐ŸŒฒ Ecology

As of March 20th, we know the test will ONLY include free-response questions and no multiple-choice questions. However, we donโ€™t know yet exactly what this will look like.ย 

What will be on the test?

  • Two FRQs
    • Q1 = 25 minutes and will be 65% of your score
      • Same type of response as FRQ 1
      • You’ll get a scenario + data table and need to complete four parts:
        • Part A: Describe and explain biological concepts, processes, or models, in applied context
        • Part B: Identify and justify experimental design procedures
        • Part C: Analyze data
        • Part D: Make and justify predictions
    • Q2ย = 15 mins and will be 35% of your score
      • Same type of response as FRQ 4
      • You’ll get a scenario of a biological phenomenon with a disruption and need to complete four parts:
        • Part A: Describe biological concepts or processes, in applied context
        • Part B: Explain biological concepts or processes, in applied context
        • Part C: Predict the causes or effects of a change in a biological system
        • Part D: Support or justify a claim with reasoning or evidence

When is the exam and how do I take it?

May 18 @ 2p Eastern!ย Wherever you are in the world, this is the time youโ€™ll take the test. Unless you have been approved for the make-up date in June, but only your school can request that. Youโ€™ll take the test online. There will be a practice simulation posted by College Board within the next few weeks.

How do I prepare for the exam?

With so many school closures and the stress of a global pandemic, this review season will be different than usual. If this is your first AP exam, welcome! Donโ€™t worry, itโ€™s not usually this chaotic.ย 

Weโ€™ve put together this plan for you to follow between now and May. This will cover all of the units and leave you time to practice questions before test day. Some classes may have done units out of chronological order throughout the year, which is ok. The units donโ€™t have to be taught in order. If you are learning new material on your own and need some help, use the chat bubble on http://fiveable.me. Weโ€™ll answer any questions you may have.ย 

What resources does this study plan use?

All of the required resources are free, including cheat sheet PDFs. Youโ€™ll need to create a free Fiveable account to jump in.ย  Weโ€™ve also linked a few other websites, articles, and YouTube videos that you can access for free. Some of the suggested resources include paid products. There are some documentaries that you can find on streaming sites with a paid membership and weโ€™ll also list streams and practice questions that require a paid cram pass on Fiveable.

 


PRE-WORK: SET-UP YOUR STUDY ENVIRONMENT

Before we begin, take some time to get organized. Remote learning can be great, but it also means youโ€™ll need to hold yourself accountable more than usual.ย 

๐Ÿ–ฅ Create a study space.
Make sure you have a designated place at home to study. Somewhere you can keep all of your materials, where you can focus on learning, and where you are comfortable. Spend some time prepping the space with everything you need and you can even let others in the family know that this is your study space.ย 

๐Ÿ“š Organize your study materials.
Get your notebook, textbook, prep books, or whatever other physical materials you have. Download the AP Biology 1-page cheat sheet from our collection of 2020 AP Cram Charts. Also create a space for you to keep track of review. Start a new section in your notebook to take notes or start a Google Doc to keep track of your notes. Get your self set up!

๐Ÿ“… Plan designated times for studying.
The hardest part about studying from home is sticking to a routine. Decide on one hour every day that you can dedicate to studying. This can be any time of the day, whatever works best for you. Set a timer on your phone for that time and really try to stick to it. The routine will help you stay on track.

๐Ÿ† Decide on an accountability plan.
How will you hold yourself accountable to this study plan? You may or may not have a teacher or rules set up to help you stay on track, so you need to set some for yourself. First set your goal. This could be studying for x number of hours or getting through a unit. Then, create a reward for yourself. If you reach your goal, then x. This will help stay focused!


 

๐Ÿงช UNIT 1: Chemistry of Life

๐ŸŒถ Join the live cram stream: Unit 1 Review with Caroline Koffke. Sign up here!

Big takeaways:

Unit 1 introduces all chemistry concepts that need to be applied to biological principles. The key elements are named, macromolecules are defined, and the characteristics of the chemical contribution to life are laid out. The content in this unit can be a bit dry, with a focus on vocabulary and more detailed chemical applications than are seen in other aspects of the course. A lot of processes discussed in later units depend on a strong understanding of this unit.

Definitely do this:

If you have more time or want to dig deeper:

  • ๐Ÿ’Ž Check out the FRQ checkpoint for Unit 1 in AP Classroom
  • โžฝ Can you answer these questions about macromolecules? Take this quiz!

 

๐Ÿงฌ UNIT 2: Cell Structure and Function

๐ŸŒถ Join the live cram stream: Unit 2 Review with Caroline Koffke. Sign up here!

Big takeaways:

Unit 2 introduces all things cellular. It starts with a basic overview of cells (review!) and then moves into the various types of transport and how the chemical composition of the membrane controls the movement of molecules. The transport of molecules becomes a large topic in Unit 3: Cellular Energetics, so ensure that you are familiar with the composition of the plasma membrane and the various types of transport.

Definitely do this:

If you have more time or want to dig deeper:

  • ๐Ÿ’Ž Check out the FRQ checkpoint for Unit 2 in AP Classroom
  • โžฝ Can you answer these questions about cell transport? Take this quiz!

 

๐Ÿ”‹ UNIT 3: Cellular Energetics

๐ŸŒถ Join the live cram stream: Unit 3 Review with Caroline Koffke. Sign up here!

Big takeaways:

Unit 3 is all about energy. This unit relies heavily on the knowledge gained in Unit 2, with a focus on organelles and cellular transport. Cellular respiration and photosynthesis are the two biggest topics in this unit. Donโ€™t worry… You do not need to have this memorized! You just need to understand the โ€œwhyโ€ behind the energetic processes.

Definitely do this:

If you have more time or want to dig deeper:

  • ๐Ÿ’Ž Check out the FRQ checkpoint for Unit 3 in AP Classroom
  • โžฝ Can you answer these questions about cellular respiration? Take this quiz!

 

๐Ÿฆ  UNIT 4: Cell Communication and Cell Cycle

๐ŸŒถ Join the live cram stream: Unit 4 Review with Caroline Koffke. Sign up here!

Big takeaways:

Unit 4 discusses the multiple methods in which cells communicate with each other, with a focus on signal transduction pathways. The topic of mitosis and the regulation of the cell cycle are also major topics. Feedback mechanisms with relation to the many different body systems are also discussed in this unit.

Definitely do this:

If you have more time or want to dig deeper:

  • ๐Ÿ’Ž Check out the FRQ checkpoint for Unit 4 in AP Classroom
  • โžฝ Can you answer these questions about cell communication? Take this quiz!

 

๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ‘ฆโ€๐Ÿ‘ฆ UNIT 5: Heredity

๐ŸŒถ Join the live cram stream: Unit 5 Review with Caroline Koffke. Sign up here!

Big takeaways:

Unit 5 encompasses a lot of material. From meiosis, to Mendelian and Non-Mendelian genetics, to chromosomal inheritance, there are many topics covered. The use of probability for both Mendelian and Non-Mendelian genetics is an important understanding, and this concept can be applied to chi-square analysis.ย 

Definitely do this:

If you have more time or want to dig deeper:

  • ๐Ÿ’Ž Check out the FRQ checkpoint for Unit 5 in AP Classroom
  • โžฝ Can you answer these questions about genetics? Take this quiz!

 

๐Ÿ‘ป UNIT 6: Gene Expression and Regulation

๐ŸŒถ Join the live cram stream: Unit 6 Review with Caroline Koffke. Sign up here!

Big takeaways:

This unit describes how a gene becomes and protein and the regulations that are in place for these processes. Transcription and translation are both discussed in detail. The regulation of genes is essential to the conservation of energy in all organisms, and the process can be quite complex. Lastly, mutations and biotechnology are discussed.

Definitely do this:

If you have more time or want to dig deeper:

  • ๐Ÿ’Ž Check out the FRQ checkpoint for Unit 6 in AP Classroom
  • โžฝ Can you answer these questions about gene regulation? Take this quiz!

 

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