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

The Biology Exam

For the May 2013 Exam Administration
and Beyond


Exam Content

The AP Biology Exam consists of two sections: multiple choice and free response. Both sections include questions that assess students' understanding of the big ideas, enduring understandings, and essential knowledge and their application of these through the science practices. These may include questions on the following:

  • the use of modeling to explain biological principles;
  • the use of mathematical processes to explain concepts;
  • the making of predictions and the justification of phenomena;
  • the implementation of experimental design; and
  • the manipulation and interpretation of data.

The exam is 3 hours long and includes both a 90-minute multiple-choice section and a 90-minute free-response section that begins with a mandatory 10-minute reading period. The multiple-choice section accounts for half of the student's exam grade, and the free-response section accounts for the other half.

The AP Biology Course and Exam Description, Effective Fall 2012(.pdf/3.7MB) provides complete details about the exam.

Visit, A Guide to Demonstrating Understanding on the revised AP Biology Exam for additional support. April, 2014

Section I: Multiple-Choice Section

Part A consists of 63 multiple-choice questions that represent the knowledge and science practices outlined in the AP Biology Curriculum Framework that students should understand and be able to apply. Part B includes 6 grid-in questions that require the integration of science and mathematical skills. For the grid-in responses, students will need to calculate the correct answer for each question and enter it in a grid on that section of the answer sheet.

Section II: Free-Response Section

Students should use the mandatory reading period to read and review the questions and begin planning their responses. This section contains two types of free-response questions (short and long), and the student will have a total of 80 minutes to complete all of the questions.

AP Biology Exam Format

Section I
Question Type Number of Questions Timing
Part A: Multiple Choice 63 90 minutes
Part B: Grid-In 6
Section II
Question Type Number of Questions Timing
Long Free Response 2 80 minutes + 10-minute reading period
Short Free Response 6

If you are using assistive technology and need help accessing these PDFs in another format, please contact us at ssd@info.collegeboard.org. Note: versions of these PDFs with enhanced accessibility will be available in the upcoming academic year.

Free-Response Questions 2013


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.

The College Board provides free-response questions from past AP Biology Exams. 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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