Here are my suggestions from things people told me or things I figured out on my own.

Changes to AP BIO Curriculum starting Fall 2019
~ Content objectives are organized into 8 sequential units
~ Human body systems are no longer required (but can be used as examples for other topics)
~ Increased emphasis on data analysis and hypothesis testing
~ Increased emphasis on science practices
~ 6 Science practices instead of 7

Changes to 2020 AP Bio Exam
~ 60 multiple choice questions instead of 69
~ No grid in questions (Calculations may now be included as multiple choice)

~ Fewer FRQs (2 long and 4 short) with focus on the following:
QUESTION 1: Interpreting and Evaluating Experimental Results
presents students with an authentic scenario accompanied by data in a table and/or graph.
This question assesses student ability to do the following in four question parts:
• Part A (1-2 pts) Describe and explain biological concepts, processes, or models.
• Part B (3-4 pts) Identify experimental design procedures.
• Part C (1-3 pts) Analyze data.
• Part D (2-4 pts) Make and justify predictions.
QUESTION 2: Interpreting and evaluating experimental results with Graphing (8-10 points)
presents students with an authentic scenario accompanied by data in a table.
This question assesses students’ ability to do the following in four question parts:
• Part A (1-2 pts): Describe and explain biological concepts, processes, or models.
• Part B (4 pts): Construct a graph, plot or chart and use confidence intervals or error bars.
• Part C (1-3 pts): Analyze data.
• Part D (1-3 pts): Make and justify predictions.

QUESTION 3: Scientific investigations (4 points)
presents students with a description of a lab investigation scenario.
This question assesses students’ ability to do the following in four question parts:
• Part A (1 point): Describe biological concepts or processes.
• Part B (1 point): Identify experimental procedures.
• Part C (1 point): Predict results.
• Part D (1 point): Justify predictions

QUESTION 3: Scientific investigations (4 points)
presents students with a description of a lab investigation scenario.
This question assesses students’ ability to do the following in four question parts:
• Part A (1 point): Describe biological concepts or processes.
• Part B (1 point): Identify experimental procedures.
• Part C (1 point): Predict results.
• Part D (1 point): Justify predictions
QUESTION 4: Conceptual Analysis (4 points)
presents students with an authentic scenario describing a biological phenomenon with a disruption.
This question assesses students’ ability to do the following in four question parts:
• Part A (1 point): Describe biological concepts or processes.
• Part B (1 point): Explain biological concepts or processes.
• Part C (1 point): Predict the causes or effects of a change in a biological system.
• Part D (1 point): Justify predictions.
QUESTION 5: Analyze Model or visual Representation (4 points)
presents students with a description of an authentic scenario accompanied by a visual model or representation.
This question assesses students’ ability to do the following in four question parts:
•Part A (1 point): Describe characteristics of a biological concept, process, or model represented visually.
• Part B (1 point): Explain relationships between different characteristics of a biological concept or process represented visually. 
• Part C (1 point): Represent relationships within a biological model.
• Part D (1 point): Explain how a biological concept or process represented visually relates to a larger biological principle, concept, process, or theory
QUESTION 6: Analyze data (4 points)
presents students with data in a graph, table, or other visual representation.
This question assesses students’ ability to do the following in four question parts:
• Part A (1 point): Describe data.
• Part B (1 point): Describe data.
• Part C (1 point): Use data to evaluate a hypothesis or prediction.
• Part D (1 point): Explain how experimental results relate to biological principles, concepts, processes, or theories

Changes to Formula sheet
~ Addition of Simpson's Diversity Index
~  Removal of Q10


2020 Course & Exam Description (CED) 2019 Lab Manual Includes teacher and student labs College Board-Comprehensive Lab Resources
2020 Formula Sheet    

A hard copy of the new CED can be ordered from the College Board store here  Cost is $25. If you take a summer ASPI workshop you may receive a copy of the CED in a binder.


Course Updates
Exam Updates
New Resources and Supports
Countdown May 11 2022 AP BIO EXAM
(Time change to Noon!)

If you’re teaching an AP Biology course for the first time in 2020-21, you’ll need to submit two items:
 • A subject-specific AP Course Audit form
 • Documentation showing your understanding of course scope—choose 1 of 4 options:
    •adopt a sample syllabus - AP Biology Sample Syllabus 1
    •adopt the AP unit guides (on Audit site-just click and accept)
    •claim identical to a colleague’s approved syllabus
    •submit your own course syllabus for review
(For help creating your syllabus, 
sign in to your AP Course Audit account and click on the Resource section.

What does it mean to “adopt” the AP Unit Guides or a pre-approved syllabus? This simply means that the teacher has reviewed the material, is aware of the content and skills colleges expected to see in any course labeled “AP,” and will use the document as the starting point for their own course plan, adapting and modifying it over time as the teacher determines what will best enable his/her students to develop the knowledge and skills required for college credit and placement.

In order for your school to put "AP Biology" on a student's transcript you must have an approved audit!


4. Definitely go to a summer WORKSHOP.
The College Board has lists of workshops in your area.
They should walk you through and have you do the new labs plus give you some direction on how to organize things, plan your audit, what to cover etc. They are offered for "New" and "Experienced" teachers. "New" means you are new to teaching AP Biology (not necessarily new to teaching).

With the COVID changes there are many workshops offered online now.

I have also attended several wonderful workshops not sponsored by the College Board:
Kristen Dotti (Catalyst Learning Curricula). She has 5-day AP Biology/Experimental Biology workshops in the summer on topics such  "Using Labs and Statistics for AP/IB Science" and "Using critical Thinking Activities for Teaching Evolution and Genetics". She adds new ones every year. She also has case studies you can purchase, but if you can't attend one of her workshops there are sample lessons/activities on her CLC website. Watch for her presentations if you attend any of the national meetings like NABT or NSTA too.
Sample lesson plans       
5. Make Connections with other AP BIOLOGY TEACHERS:

Join the
AP BIO TEACHER COMMUNITY Select the "AP Biology Community" from the drop-down menu.
You will be in on the latest discussions, access to veterans who can answer your ?'s, new ideas, and much more.
There is also a series of informational screencasts on using the Teacher Community:  
AP BIO TEACHER COMMUNITY SITE is moderated by Lee Ferguson. It's an amazing resource
You must first register with Collage Board. Simply use your College Board professional account to log on for the first time if you haven't before. This is the same account for audits and such.
If you don't have a professional account with the
College Board you can apply here.
There is also a NATIONAL AP BIOLOGY TEACHER Facebook group. It is a closed group but when you ask to join you just have to answer these questions to show you are a teacher.
As a member this gives you access to an AMAZING SHARE GOOGLE DRIVE folder with tons of activities, labs, etc. Plus thousands of AP Bio teachers to answer your questions, give suggestions, and bounce ideas off of.

Once you are a member of the National AP Biology Teachers Facebook page you can:
     ~ sign up for Tiffany Shoham Jones's new AP BIO teacher monthly
         ~ you can also request a MENTOR on the AP Bio Teacher Facebook page (tab at top of page)

7. Figure out which textbook/resources you will use.
The College Board requires your textbook to be less than 10 years old. EXAMPLE TEXTBOOK LIST
Most people use Campbell and Reece (Big Campbell), Campbell Biology in Focus (BIF), or Principles of Life (Raven)book. OpenStax is an online textbook that is also a possibility and it's free.

I used Campbell for 7 years for because that is what people suggested to me,then switched to Biology in Focus.
Students find it more readable and it came with access to Mastering Biology online resources/study links.
The consensus on the AP Bio listserve is that the Raven book is a little easier read for students, but maybe needs to be supplemented more. It is up to you.


You do NOT have to buy lab manuals for all your students
You can download these here:    2019 Teacher Lab Manual      2019-AP BIOLOGY LAB MANUAL
You don't have to do the exact labs from the manual as long as you cover the concepts in some way.
Ex: Do the whole plant version of the transpiration lab instead of the one in the lab manual. It is way easier and less mess. 

Some labs can be virtual. EX: Kim Foglia has a activity posted for doing online fruit fly crosses

You must to a minimum of 8 labs (2 for each of the Big Ideas).
They don't all have to be inquiry, you can start with guided labs and work up to that level.

Testing Hypotheses in AP Biology

Biology Investigative Labs: An Inquiry-Based Approach

If you have $ for extra resources I recommend the following:

POGIL Website  (Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning)
- students work IN CLASS in small groups with the instructor acting as a facilitator.

POGILs are not for use as "homework" ! The discussion and group work is where the "learning magic" happens
Besides, the answer keys are all over the internet.
Book with CD available from Flin Scienific
Activities for AP Biology Activities for High School Biology

Fred and Teresa Holtzclaw
test prep guide from Savvas
I would highly recommend this one!)
Make sure you get the 7e edition.
This is the latest version to go with
the new 2020 exam changes.
There a number of other study guides out ther. The Holtzclaw 7e edition is the only one I know that has been updated for the new 2019 CED changes.

They also have reading guide ?'s available online also for Campbell and Reece on Mastering Biology
When I used the older version of Campbell, I emailed my book rep and got access to the newer one online too so I could use the Holtzclaw reading guides there.

They are also the creators of the online AP Biology LabBench activities, also available on Mastering Biology.
There old AP Biology "Dirty Dozen" LabBench activities (modified due to loss of Flash) are still available.
8. Discover some websites of really good AP teachers:
Kim Foglia- ExploreBiology site -
She is considered by ALL to be the guru of AP BIO; most if not all AP teachers are using some or all of her stuff. She has Powerpoints for all the chapters, reading guides, activities, labs etc posted. Kim passed away a few years ago . . . a tragic loss to the AP BIO community. You can request access to her Teacher Vault by contacting Cheryl Hollinger (on AP BIO Teacher Facebook).

Lee Ferguson- Biology Space- Check out her AP BIO Teacher Resources
Her advice to new AP Bio teachers
Lee Ferguson's BILL      My Bill Links

Shannon Muskopf- Biology Corner

David Knuffke's Google Drive docs &
AP BIO Wiki  & Prezi's

Mrs. Chou AP BIO website       Youtube channel       Labs for online learning

Tiffany Shoham Jones (Find on AP Bio Teacher Facebook page)
sign up for her New AP BIO teachers Newsletter:
Instagram LIVE Review
Quizizz review games

Cheryl Massengale- Biology Junction -
Tons of resources, etc.

Robin Groch -
Groch Biology

Kristen Dotti - Catalyst Learning-
She sells her curriculum for about $500, but her website has sample activities you can download for free.
Plus she has great PD workshops.

Here are some links to other AP BIO TEACHER WEBSITES too

I don't claim to be the best AP Bio teacher, but I have also put some links on my webpage to things that that helped me starting out. (Obviously you found this one... you are here!)
My Homepage

My Exam Prep for students   MY TIPS FOR TAKING THE AP BIO EXAM
9. Use examples of old AP EXAMS and have students "practice how they will play"
Once you get your audit approved, you will have access to the AP Classroom.  Since the revamp, the College Board has released a multiple choice exam every year.  These are posted on the College Board teacher login link. 
These are NOT to be released, posted on a website, or allowed to leave your classroom.

AP CLASSROOM is also where there are practice AP exams and sample questions that are the "new format"
Sad to say ... if you Google hard enough you can find these out there on the web.
PAST FRQ's (free response questions) are publicly available on the AP Central website along with scoring rubrics, sample student responses, and scoring data.
 2021     2020-1999    FRQ's by topic

University of Georgia has essays even farther back

2013 AP BIOLOGY Exam Released by College Board
This is a multiple choice exam has been released to the public by the College Board but NOT the new format.

FRQ Power words
Know what the ? is asking you to do

WRITE, WRITE, WRITE . . . Have students write as many essays as you can. You don't have to grade them all yourself. I find there is great value in having them grade their own, write rubrics of their own and compare to actual rubrics, group score, use short answer FRQ's as bell ringers or exit tickets......
10. Find some great video resources
Crash Course-Playlist
Amoeba Sisters-Playlist
It's OK to Be Smart- Playlist
Khan Academy- Playlist
Kristina Gremski videos

11. Don't STRESS out over how much there is to cover!
Campbell has 55 chapters and we have 36 weeks of school. YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO COVER EVERYTHING!!!!
Everyone will tell you that, but I know I need to keep reminding myself of this. It is pretty overwhelming.
TEACH WHAT YOU LOVE! Try to look for connections and teach the "Big Ideas" rather than focusing on tiny details. Follow the 2019 COURSE & EXAM DESCRIPTION (CED)  from the College board.

AP Exam questions are based on combining one of the "essential knowledge" content bullets with a "learning objective" or "science practice". So look closely at LO's and SP's not just the content/facts.
What can students DO with the Biology info they know?
12. Brush up on your MATH:
The new curriculum puts more focus on math/statistics/data analysis.
AP Biology Quantitative Skills Guide
HHMI Mathematics & Statistics in Biology
Testing Hypotheses in AP Biology (College Board)
Quantitative Methods in AP Biology- An Introduction to Descriptive Statistics
 Training Modules -Brad Williams & Jen Pfannerstill (College Board)

Bozeman videos
1- Models & Representation
2 - Using Mathematics
3 - Scientific Questioning
4 - Data Collection Strategies
5 - Analysis & Evaluation of Evidence
6 - Scientific Explanations & Theories
7 - Scales, Concepts &
Chi square
Khan Academy Videos
Mean, Median, Mode
    Standard error
    Standard deviation
Chi-Square Intro

I would be glad to try and answer any ?'s you have.


Use of our material:
All original materials links are created by Kelly Riedell for students in AP BIOLOGY classes at Brookings High School  and are licensed under a Creative Commons Atribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

We have worked very hard on activities, Powerpoints/games/worksheets, etc to make this a resource for our students. If you are using our materials, please give us credit for our efforts by listing us as a source with links to our site. DO NOT USE these materials for commercial purposes.  PLEASE DO NOT POST ANSWER KEYS FOR OUR MATERIALS TO OTHER WEBSITES!
Any questions, comments, or corrections can be directed to Kelly Riedell at










































Hi Everybody,

Akin to the Written and Oral tradition simultaneously received at Sinai... and out of respect to the rest of the community I am posting this document (a long time in making) as a new string.

Nobody (especially a newbie such as me) should have the final definitive word on advice to newbies. You can find the document on RESORCES. I will also repost below.

I am hoping that others will recognize any inadvertent sins of omission or sins of commission on my part and proffer their own suggestions/corrections accordingly. As this process winds down, I will rewrite the document and repost in any form our intrepid moderator deems best.

Best regards to one and all and thanks in advance!

Getting Novice Teachers Started

This document assumes the worst case-scenario that you are a new teacher that has just parachuted into an AP Biology assignment with little or no preparation.  How is one to start?  Your first priority is to become a member of a very supportive community.  I will be referring to links on:

You should also consider some professional development provided by so-called institutes and workshops.  This is an immediate priority.  You should sign on quickly, as many institutes and workshops are over-subscribed:

OK, now your next priority is to determine exactly what you are required to teach.  This link provides the Collegeboard Curriculum Framework document.

The AP designation on a course requires approval of the syllabus by the College Board.  You must refer to the framework document when constructing your own syllabus/audit. 

A version of this framework document in “word” format permitting cutting and pasting from the original would be most useful when constructing your own syllabus. To prove a point (regarding the value of the ap-cyber community) follow this link to an altruistic veteran who has responded to exactly such a need:

OK – now to continue in this vein, here are four different syllabi/audits to provide you guidance when constructing your own syllabus (again in word format).

Now that you know the material you need to cover, you will, at some time need to construct your own syllabus for audit.   Here is a timeline.  (Please note the preferred deadline and the absolute deadline.)

A guide to preparing and submitting your own syllabus is found on this link:

When preparing your audit, remember that you must include a minimum of two labs from each “Big Idea” and a minimum of 25% of your course time must be devoted to lab experiences.  Long-term planning for laboratories can be problematic for beginning teachers.  This link will be useful:   


Ordering lab supplies can also be a daunting prospect.  One suggestion would be to order all recommended lab activities in one convenient, economical package.  Next year, you will be in a better position to cherry-pick and order supplies individually.  Remember – you do NOT need to do all the labs AND other suppliers are also available.  That said, here are two links you may find useful:  or


Student and teacher versions of the lab book are both provided here:

Parenthetically, rumour has it that some auditors who may review your syllabus can quite particular about student lab books.  Any such concerns can be instantly addressed by making specific reference to a student lab notebook such as or an equivalent. 

The importance of laboratory lab/data books is addressed in this link:

Regarding analysis of lab results:  the new curriculum puts an emphasis on increased statistical analysis including

•Mean, Median, Mode, Range

•Standard Deviation

•Standard Error

•Chi-Square Analysis

• … and for enthusiasts – the T-Test is optional


For a full discussion, please refer to . During the exam, the Collegeboard will permit so-called four function calculators that cannot store equations.  Formulas for the above formulas do NOT need to be memorized.  However, your students should be able to calculate, for example, the standard deviation for a small data set by referring to a formula sheet provided on the exam.


On the subject of labs – please note how the new AP labs are “inquiry-based”.  Given many teachers are considerably outside their comfort zone with an inquiry approach, the importance of professional development at a workshop or at a summer institute cannot be overemphasized.  

AP Biology should NOT be a student’s first encounter with Biology in high school.   All too often AP teachers are re-teaching much of what should already have been mastered in previous grade levels and introductory biology courses.  The Collegeboard clearly defines the knowledge, skills and abilities required of students for success in first-year college science courses or their Advanced Placement counterparts.   Of course, reality on occasion dictates that students (eg. recent new arrivals to your school) may not yet have mastered the prerequisite knowledge required for AP Biology.  Many AP teachers circumvent this obstacle by providing “review sheets” or “summer assignments” bringing everybody up to speed.  Many teachers employ online tutorials.


This “standards” document should provide an outline of what your students should already know and how to design just such a “summer assignment”.


Here is another useful document for your consideration:

OK – now presuming you are in the thick of battle the question is how best to facilitate your students’ mastery of AP Biology.  These links will get you started.



Of course, as you become more adept you should employ the searchable apbio resource library. 


Links to other veterans’ WebPages will prove invaluable.  These links should get you started:  This last link also has a “restricted access” teacher vault requiring a password.


Let us assume you need to obtain new textbooks for your class.  Which one is preferred?  That question comes up a lot and is quite contentious.  Here is just one string:  For more:

When deciding which text to use, you should consider online resources.  That said – many Biology texts have interactive tutorials and evaluations on 

The site  is outstanding.  To be frank, a traditional didactic/lecture mode cannot do justice to the new AP curriculum.  In a typical so-called “flipped class”, students listen to lectures at home via podcast and apply their newfound knowledge in the classroom while completing assignments ascending higher levels of “Bloom’s Taxonomy”.  The role of teacher thus tends to become more a roving “trouble-shooter” and less the traditional “sage on the stage”. 

The excellent website  pushes this envelope even further.   As opposed to cyber-“chalk and talk” on-line lectures, students are instead engaged in interactive tutorials.  Old fashioned homework could fossilize error, online tutorials immediately correct error.  Students can also complete online evaluations thereby providing ready marks that ease the task of overworked teachers.  A teacher is also able to quickly assess student readiness and identify common misconceptions before proceeding the next day.  Some textbooks do not employ but have instead their own equivalent online tutorials.

Do not be intimidated by the idea of “flipped classroom” pedagogy.  Typically, teachers flirt with this novel methodology before fully embracing it.   For more on the subject of “flipped classrooms” please refer to .  An important caveat is embedded within this string!  Beginning teachers sometimes fall in the trap of overshooting the mark and overloading their students.  Please refer to

In any case, students must be prepared for the final AP exam, especially the so-called Free Response Questions.  By no means should you “teach to the exam”; but you should know what you are up against.  Along these lines this link is most useful:

Embedded in this link is another:

Please note that answers are provided with rubrics.  Class practice with this AP exam format is essential for success.

This document is by no means complete nor comprehensive and is merely intended as an impromptu starting point.  You are urged to continue with this site

Consider that you are not alone!   Most likely, some predecessor has already asked the very same question presently vexing you.  You are urged to SEARCH  BEFORE posting a new string that may repose an old question.  Meanwhile, rumor has it that one of our esteemed veterans is about to publish an ebook that will provide guidance to the perplexed in far more detail than this hasty introduction.  You will be posted.

Remember – you are not alone but in good company.  Good Luck!



In an attempt to model suggested changes to the document and hoping others will follow suit– I am posting a reference to this link for inclusion in the final version on the understanding it is a work in progress. I invite other suggestions for improvement.

Referring back to the original challenge as first presented here

…I am hoping to now pass along the so-called "chump volunteer" card.

Karalyn Ramon seems to have some great ideas on how to continue with Intermediate/Advanced:

Ditto Cherylann Hollinger:

The fact is – I deliberately kept references to websites and links limited to a barest of minimums to avoid information-overload and with a view to getting novice teachers “started”.

Chapter 2 should be pursued by experts more adept and more experienced than I. In the hope that cognoscenti present hear my plaintive and lonely cry from the wilderness! From my failing hands I “throw the torch; be yours to hold it high”.

I must have baked my brains on the sunny Adriatic Coast!

I realize more and more how I neglected to add some important links to the document!

Regarding getting classes ready for the new exam here are some important links:

As soon as I have a copy of the new sample exam - I will post a link and update the document.

Any other suggestions gratefully welcomed and appreciated!







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