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Home > AP Courses and Exams > AP Exam Information > The AP Biology Exam

The AP Biology Exam

Exam Overview

AP BIOLOGY EXAM: 3 HOURS

Exam questions are based on learning objectives, which combine science practices with specific content. Students learn to

  • Solve problems mathematically — including symbolically
  • Design and describe experiments and analyze data and sources of error
  • Explain, reason, or justify answers with emphasis on deeper, conceptual understanding
  • Interpret and develop conceptual models

Due to the increased emphasis on quantitative skills and application of mathematical methods in the questions, students are allowed to use simple four-function calculators (with square root) on the entire exam. Students also receive a formula list as part of their testing materials.

The AP Biology Course and Exam Description(.pdf/5.8MB) provides complete details about the exam.

Visit A Guide to Demonstrating Understanding on the revised AP Biology Exam for additional support.

Format of Assessment

Section I: Multiple Choice | 69 Questions | 90 Minutes | 50% of Exam Score

  • Multiple-Choice: 63 Questions
    • Discrete Questions
    • Questions in sets
  • Grid-In: 6 Questions
    • Discrete Questions
    • Questions integrate biology and mathematical skills

Section II: Free Response | 8 Questions | 90 minutes | 50% of Exam Score

  • Long Free Response (2 questions, one of which is lab or data-based)
  • Short Free Response (6 questions, each requiring a paragraph-length argument/response)

Free-Response Questions

Free-Response Questions 2015 2014 2013


2015: Free-Response Questions
Questions Scoring Samples and Commentary Score Distributions
Free-Response Questions



2014: Free-Response Questions
Questions Scoring Samples and Commentary Score Distributions
Free-Response Questions

Scoring Guidelines

Student Performance Q&A


Scoring Statistics
Sample Responses Q1
Sample Responses Q2
Sample Responses Q3
Sample Responses Q4
Sample Responses Q5
Sample Responses Q6
Sample Responses Q7
Sample Responses Q8
Score Distributions


2013: Free-Response Questions
Questions Scoring Samples and Commentary Score Distributions
Free-Response Questions

Scoring Guidelines

Student Performance Q&A


Scoring Statistics
Sample Responses Q1
Sample Responses Q2
Sample Responses Q3
Sample Responses Q4
Sample Responses Q5
Sample Responses Q6
Sample Responses Q7
Sample Responses Q8
Score Distributions

Past Exam Questions

The College Board provides free-response questions from past AP Biology Exams. These questions do not reflect the redesigned AP Biology Exam administered for the first time in May 2013, but the question types are the same and the topics similar, making them a valuable resource for students and teachers. Included with the questions are scoring guidelines, sample student responses, and commentary on those responses, as well as exam statistics and the Student Performance Q&A (Chief Reader's Report) for the May 2012 administrations and before.

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