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Kaplan AP Biology 2006
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Chapter One: Inside the AP Biology Exam
Chapter One: Inside the AP Biology Exam
- Overview of the Test Structure
- How the Exam Is Scored
- Registration and Fees
- Additional Resources
There's a Good Way and a Bad Way to skip the Introduction to Biology class in college. Many students take the Bad Way, which consists of going to sleep ridiculously late every night with the Xbox controller still wedged in their sweaty hands, setting the alarm for 1:30 p.m., then waking up and asking a roommate, "What did I miss?" Not exactly the sort of behavior that will land you on the Dean's List.
Then there's the Good Way. Skip the whole Introduction to Biology experience entirely -- hundreds of students crammed into an auditorium, the tiny dot that is the professor just visible down in front of an ocean of seats -- by getting a good score on the Advanced Placement (AP) Biology exam. Depending on the college, a score of 4 or 5 on the AP Biology exam will allow you to leap over the freshman intro course and jump right into more advanced classes. These advanced classes are usually smaller in size, better focused, more intellectually stimulating, and simply put, just more interesting than a basic course. If you are just concerned about fulfilling your science requirement so you can get on with your study of pre-Columbian art or Elizabethan music or some such non-biological area, the AP exam can help you there, too. Ace the AP Biology exam and, depending on the requirements of the college you choose, you may never have to take a science class again.
Test Prep Studying
If you're holding this book, chances are you are already gearing up for the AP Biology exam and probably completing the AP Biology course. Your teacher has spent the year cramming your head full of the biology know-how you will need to have at your disposal. But there is more to the AP Biology exam than biology know-how. You have to be able to work around the challenges and pitfalls of the test -- and there are many -- if you want your score to reflect your abilities. You see, studying biology and preparing for the AP Biology exam are not the same thing. Rereading your textbook is helpful, but it's not enough.
That's where this book comes in. We'll show you how to marshal your knowledge of biology and put it to brilliant use on Test Day. We'll explain the ins and outs of the test structure and question format so you won't experience any nasty surprises. We'll even give you answering strategies designed specifically for the AP Biology exam.
Preparing effectively for the AP Biology exam means doing some extra work. You need to review your text and master the material in this book. Is the extra push worth it? If you have any doubts, keep in mind that you can always sleep until 1:30 p.m. with the Xbox controller in your hand on the weekend.
Overview of the Test Structure
Advanced Placement exams have been around for half a century. While the format and content have changed over the years, the basic goal of the AP program remains the same: to give high school students a chance to earn college credit or advanced placement. To do this, a student needs to do two things:
- Find a college that accepts AP scores
- Do well enough on the exam
The first part is easy, since a majority of colleges accepts AP scores in some form or another. The second part requires a little more effort. If you have worked diligently all year in your coursework, you've laid the groundwork. The next step is familiarizing yourself with the test.
What's on the Test
The Educational Testing Service (ETS) -- the company that creates the AP exams -- releases a list of the topics covered on the exam. ETS even provides the percentage of the test questions drawn from each topic. Since this information is useful to anyone considering taking the test, check out the breakdown on the next page. The College Board is the organization that administers the Advanced Placement program. ETS is the company that generates the actual exams.
In addition to factual knowledge, there is a different way to look at the study of biology by understanding the way we synthesize information into broader concepts. Two main goals of the College Board are (1) to help students develop a conceptual framework for modern biology, and (2) to help students gain an appreciation of science as a process. To this end, the AP Biology course is designed to expose the student to eight overarching themes.
I. Science as a Process
III. Energy Transfer
IV. Continuity and Change
V. Relationship of Structure to Function
VII. Interdependence in Nature
VIII. Science, Technology, and Society
For example, both the concept of cellular respiration and the concept of a food web in an ecosystem apply to the theme of Energy Transfer. This approach to scientific discovery is about thinking, not just memorization. It's about learning concepts and how they relate, not just facts. Because of this, the College Board plans to increase the emphasis on themes and concepts and place less weight on specific facts in both the AP Biology course and exam. The chapters in the review section of this book are designed to take advantage of this design by focusing on concepts and synthesizing information from different concepts to better understand, and learn, the AP Biology course and exam content.
Now that you know what's on the test, let's talk about the test itself. The AP Biology exam consists of three parts, or, more precisely, two parts and one intermission. In Section I, you have 80 minutes to answer 100 multiple-choice questions with five answer choices each. This section is worth 60 percent of your total score.
After this section is completed, you get a ten-minute "reading period." This doesn't mean you get to pull your favorite novel out of your backpack and finish that chapter you started earlier. Instead, you get 10 minutes to pore over Section II of the exam, which consists of four "free-response" questions that are worth 40 percent of your score. The term "free-response" means roughly the same thing as "large, multistep, and involved," since you will spend the 90 minutes of Section II answering these four questions. Although these free-response questions are long and often broken down into multiple parts, they usually don't cover an obscure topic. Instead, they take a fairly basic biology concept and ask you a bunch of questions about it. Sometimes diagrams are required, or experiments must be set up properly. It's a lot of biology work, but it's fundamental biology work.
How the Exam Is Scored
When your 200 minutes of testing are up, your exam is sent away for grading. The multiple-choice part is handled by a machine, while qualified graders -- a group that includes biology teachers and professors, both current and former -- grade your responses to Section II. After an interminable wait, your composite score will arrive by mail. (For information on rush score reports and other grading options, visit collegeboard.com or ask your AP Coordinator.) Your results will be placed into one of the following categories, reported on a five-point scale:
5 Extremely well qualified (to receive college credit or advanced placement)
4 Well qualified
2 Possibly qualified
1 No recommendation
Some colleges will give you credit for a score of 3 or higher, but it's much safer to get a 4 or a 5. If you have an idea of where you will be applying to college, check out the schools' websites or call the admissions offices to find out their particular rules regarding AP scores. For information on scoring the practice tests in this book, see "How to Compute Your Score" in Section IV, p. 277.
Copyright © 2006 by Anaxos, Inc.
Excerpted from Kaplan AP Biology 2006 by Kaplan Copyright © 2005 by Kaplan. Excerpted by permission.
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