AP Biology: Course Description and Information

AP Biology 2016 – 2017



Course Description

This course follows the curriculum designated by The College Board.  It is built around a new framework that organizes biology into four big ideas:


Big Idea 1: The process of evolution drives the diversity and unity of life.

Big Idea 2: Biological systems utilize free energy and molecular building blocks to grow, to reproduce, and to maintain dynamic homeostasis.

Big Idea 3: Living systems store, retrieve, transmit, and respond to information essential to life processes.

Big Idea 4: Biological systems interact, and these systems and their interactions possess complex properties.

These big ideas are supported by concepts called “enduring understandings” which are explained by content requirements designated “essential knowledge.” 


Advanced Placement Biology is the equivalent of a two-semester college introductory biology course. Students are asked to integrate detailed information regarding biological processes into broader thematic schemes.  Students will develop analytical and laboratory skills necessary to investigate modern biology issues.  Topics include molecular and cellular biology, heredity and evolution, and biologic diversity and populations.  The range and depth covered, and the type of laboratory work required of students differs significantly from a typical high school biology course.  The course is very demanding and fast-paced, requiring the student to work independently and thoroughly during and especially, outside of class. An enormous amount of technical reading, self-guided note taking and self-assessment is required. Writing is also an essential component of the course.  Testing is rigorous and will cover large amounts of material.  Material will be delivered through online lecture, traditional lecture, small group discussions, and hands-on labs.  Ancillary materials will be given to help facilitate greater understanding of difficult topics.  Students will be evaluated with frequent short quizzes, take home essays, lab reports and major tests.  It is important that students minimize absences from class.  Students successfully completing this course should have a working knowledge of biology at a collegiate level and be prepared to take The College Board’s AP Biology Examination.


All tests will reflect the format of the AP examination. Students will sit for a mock AP exam at the end of each trimester.  Although students are not required to take the AP exam, they are strongly encouraged to do so. If a student decides to not take the AP exam he/she will be required to take a final exam during the regular exam period. 


Outside class time may be scheduled for completion of labs, AP preparation, and remediation.

 Course Objectives

1.    To successfully complete an introductory college biology curriculum by providing the framework for students to connect supporting knowledge to explain broad based themes.

2.    To encourage students to work independently and collectively to research and integrate new understandings of biology topics.

3.    To foster critical thinking skills to develop questions, design experiments and interpret and draw conclusions based on data.

4.    To engage in college level laboratory experiences and report formally on the process and results.

5.    To prepare students to excel on the AP Biology Examination


Abbreviated Course Outline:      

Preface – An Introduction to the Four Big Ideas

Unit I: From Molecules to Life

Unit II: Storing, Converting, and Releasing Free Energy

Unit III: Continuity of Life

Unit IV: Evolution – concepts and process

Unit V: Evolutionary Trends and Adaptations: Unity and Diversity

Unit VI: Plant Homeostasis and Reproduction

Unit VII: Animal Homeostasis

Unit VIII: Ecology and Behavior

Unit IX: Cellular Regulation, Epigenetics, and Gene Control

Unit X: Genomics and DNA Tech



GRADING:                                          Tests                                                   40%

                                                              Quizzes                                               30%

                                                              Labs/Projects/Daily Work*             30%


Exam                                                     20%

*Daily work includes – homework, reflections, web posts, class participation, etc.