1. Introduction: The Challenge
Here’s the AP Bio exam-related challenge that’s been imposed upon us by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The test is on May 18th. It’s open book. You’ll take it at home, on a computer.
- It’s 45 minutes long, and it consists of two FRQs (Free Response Questions).
- The first FRQ is longer, and it focuses on experimental design.
- The second is shorter, and focuses on a disruption to a biological system.
- It only covers Units 1 – 6 (no evolution or ecology)
- We have to prepare through online learning.
2. The Plan
If you haven’t finished all the material in AP Bio units 1 -6, then use this menu to find the tutorials that will fill in whatever gaps you need.
If you have finished the course, then what you need to be doing is actively reviewing in a way that’s similar to what you’re going to have to do on May 18.
What you’ll have to do on May 18th is read several prompts and then type your answers. That is how you should be spending your review time between now and then. Specifically, you should be
- Answering AP-style questions.
- Evaluating your responses.
- Improving your responses.
The schedule below can help you organize your review time for each week between now and May 18.
3. Important Details
- Start an AP review journal. As much as you might love writing by hand, you should make this electronic. That’s because you want to practice what you’ll be asked to do on May 18 (when you’ll have to type your answers on a keyboard). Here’s a link to a google doc template, put together by my BHS colleague Sydney Aardal, that you can use. To use it, log into google docs and make your own copy.
- On the College Board’s website, free response questions are available from 2018 to 2012 on this page. For the 2019 exam, use this page. The plan below tells you which questions to do, and when
- In your practice sessions, mix up questions from at least 3 units. That’s harder than just doing one at a time, but it’s the best way to practice. Imagine that you were at batting practice in baseball. Studies have shown that it’s much more effective to get a random assortment of pitches (fastball, curves, sliders, etc) than to get 10 fastballs in a row, followed by 10 curves, followed by 10 sliders). So when you’re doing flashcards, use a setting like the one shown below, which’ll give you a random assortment of questions from units, 2, 4, and 6.
- Since the test is 45 minutes, doing 45 minutes of focused, uninterrupted study in each session will prepare you for the intense 45 minutes of focus you’re going to need to do on May 18. This might be very difficult when you’re stuck at home, sometimes with family responsibilities. But do your best. Turn off your phone.
- During that 45 minute practice session, control the number of questions you do during a single set. In the image below, the number of questions/session has been set to 20. That might be a good number, or it might be too high. Experiment until you find what’s right for you.
4. The Schedule
- Priorities run from left to right (though it goes without saying that whatever your teacher assigns comes first!). If you can’t do anything else, do the public FRQs (column 5). Then do Biomania, etc.
- Even though there are no multiple choice questions on this year’s test, I’ve included multiple choice on Biomania (column 9) as part of your preparation routine. That’s because the multiple choice questions give you direct feedback on what you know and don’t know, and quickly fills in the gaps.
- The College Board has put together a course outline. I’ve written a condensed version of that (column 16). You can also use the original document. Reach the outline for each unit, and then write a weekly self assessment of your gaps. Then you can use Biomania or the tutorials on sciencemusicvideos.com to address those gap. If you use the tutorials, just do the quizzes.
- I might add additional readings, especially related to the biology of the novel coronavirus and the COVID-19 pandemic. Please summarize and respond to these in your journal.
You can view the schedule in the frame below, or you can view it in a new tab.
5. You Can Do This!
None of us imagined the difficulty we’d be experiencing related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of you have loved ones who might be ill. Some of you might be ill.
After taking care of yourself and your loved ones, use whatever time and strength you have to meet one of your own goals. You signed up for AP Biology thinking that success in this class would be a good thing in your life. If you put the time in, you can still succeed. The plan above asks you to review for 50 hours. If you can do more, you’ll get better results. If you can do less, you’ll still measurably benefit.
I believe you can do this. If you need any support, use the contact form in the menu above to shoot me an email, and we’ll figure it out.