This course is designed to be the equivalent of a college introductory biology course usually taken by biology majors during their first year. Some AP students, as college freshmen, are permitted to undertake upper-level courses in biology or to register for courses for which biology is a prerequisite. Other students may have fulfilled a basic requirement for a laboratory science course and will be able to undertake other courses to pursue their majors.
The AP Biology course is designed to be taken by students after the successful completion of a first course in high school biology and one in high school chemistry. It aims to provide students with the conceptual framework, factual knowledge, and analytical skills necessary to deal critically with the rapidly changing science of biology.
The two main goals of AP Biology are to help students develop a conceptual framework for modern biology and to help students gain an appreciation of science as a process. The ongoing information explosion in biology makes these goals even more challenging. Primary emphasis in an AP Biology course should be on developing an understanding of concepts rather than on memorizing terms and technical details. Essential to this conceptual understanding are the following: a grasp of science as a process rather than as an accumulation of facts; personal experience in scientific inquiry; recognition of unifying themes that integrate the major topics of biology; and application of biological knowledge and critical thinking to environmental and social concerns.
The AP Biology Development Committee conducts college curriculum surveys of introductory biology courses for biology majors and develops the AP Biology Examination so that it is representative of the topics covered by the survey group. Accordingly, goals have been set for percentage coverage of three general areas:
- Molecules and Cells, 25%
- Heredity and Evolution, 25%
- Organisms and Populations, 50%
These three areas have been subdivided into major categories with percentage goals for each major category specified. The percentage goals serve as a guide for designing the AP Biology course. The examination is constructed using the percentage goals as guidelines for question distribution.