AP Biology Course Description / Syllabus 2019-20

Watch Biology Educational Videos
Table of Contents hide

Last Updated on July 1, 2020 by Sagar Aryal

Disclaimer: AP Biology Logo, CollegeBoard Logo, and course description are only used for educational purposes. If there are any copyright issues regarding the logo and information of the CollegeBoard and AP Biology, please email us at [email protected].

Image Credit: College Board AP Central

Unit 1- Chemistry of Life

1.1 Structure of Water and Hydrogen Bonding

Learning Objective

  • Explain how the properties of water that result from its polarity and hydrogen bonding affect its biological function.

1.2 Elements of Life

Learning Objective

  • Describe the composition of macromolecules required by living organisms.

1.3 Introduction to Biological Macromolecules

Learning Objective

  • Describe the properties of the monomers and the type of bonds that connect the monomers in biological macromolecules.

1.4 Properties of Biological Macromolecules

Learning Objective

  • Describe the properties of the monomers and the type of bonds that connect the monomers in biological macromolecules.

1.5 Structure and Function of Biological Macromolecules

Learning Objective

  • Explain how a change in the subunits of a polymer may lead to changes in the structure or function of the macromolecule.

1.6 Nucleic Acids

Learning Objective

Unit 2- Cell Structure and Function

2.1 Cell Structure: Subcellular Components

Learning Objective

  • Describe the structure and/or function of subcellular components and organelles.

2.2 Cell Structure and Function

Learning Objective

  • Explain how subcellular components and organelles contribute to the function of the cell.
  • Describe the structural features of a cell that allow organisms to capture, store, and use energy.

2.3 Cell Size

Learning Objective

  • Explain the effect of surface area to volume ratios on the exchange of materials between cells or organisms and the environment.
  • Explain how specialized structures and strategies are used for the efficient exchange of molecules to the environment.

2.4 Plasma Membranes

Learning Objective

  • Describe the roles of each of the components of the cell membrane in maintaining the internal environment of the cell.
  • Describe the Fluid Mosaic Model of cell membranes.

2.5 Membrane Permeability

Learning Objective

  • Explain how the structure of biological membranes influences selective permeability.
  • Describe the role of the cell wall in maintaining cell structure and function.

2.6 Membrane Transport

Learning Objective

  • Describe the mechanisms that organisms use to maintain solute and water balance.
  • Describe the mechanisms that organisms use to transport large molecules across the plasma membrane.

2.7 Facilitated Diffusion

Learning Objective

  • Explain how the structure of a molecule affects its ability to pass through the plasma membrane.

2.8 Tonicity and Osmoregulation

Learning Objective

  • Explain how concentration gradients affect the movement of molecules across membranes.
  • Explain how osmoregulatory mechanisms contribute to the health and survival of organisms.

2.9 Mechanisms of Transport

Learning Objective

  • Describe the processes that allow ions and other molecules to move across membranes.

2.10 Compartmentalization

Learning Objective

  • Describe the membrane-bound structures of the eukaryotic cell.
  • Explain how internal membranes and membrane-bound organelles contribute to the compartmentalization of eukaryotic cell functions.

2.11 Origins of Cell Compartmentalization

Learning Objective

  • Describe similarities and/or differences in compartmentalization between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells.
  • Describe the relationship between the functions of endosymbiotic organelles and their free-living ancestral counterparts.

Unit 3- Cellular Energetics

3.1 Enzyme Structure

Learning Objective

3.2 Enzyme Catalysis

Learning Objective

  • Explain how enzymes affect the rate of biological reactions.

3.3 Environmental Impacts on Enzyme Function

Learning Objective

  • Explain how changes to the structure of an enzyme may affect its function.
  • Explain how the cellular environment affects enzyme activity.

3.4 Cellular Energy

Learning Objective

  • Describe the role of energy in living organisms.

3.5 Photosynthesis

Learning Objective

  • Describe the photosynthetic processes that allow organisms to capture and store energy.
  • Explain how cells capture energy from light and transfer it to biological molecules for storage and use.

3.6 Cellular Respiration

Learning Objective

  • Describe the processes that allow organisms to use energy stored in biological macromolecules.
  • Explain how cells obtain energy from biological macromolecules in order to power cellular functions.

3.7 Fitness

Learning Objective

  • Explain the connection between variation in the number and types of molecules within cells to the ability of the organism to survive and/or reproduce in different environments.

Unit 4- Cell Communication and Cell Cycle

4.1 Cell Communication

Learning Objective

  • Describe the ways that cells can communicate with one another.
  • Explain how cells communicate with one another over short and long distances.

4.2 Introduction to Signal Transduction

Learning Objective

  • Describe the components of a signal transduction pathway.
  • Describe the role of components of a signal transduction pathway in producing a cellular response.

4.3 Signal Transduction

Learning Objective

  • Describe the role of the environment in eliciting a cellular response.
  • Describe the different types of cellular responses elicited by a signal transduction pathway.

4.4 Changes in Signal Transduction Pathways

Learning Objective

  • Explain how a change in the structure of any signaling molecule affects the activity of the signaling pathway.

4.5 Feedback

Learning Objective

  • Describe positive and/or negative feedback mechanisms.
  • Explain how negative feedback helps to maintain homeostasis.
  • Explain how positive feedback affects homeostasis.

4.6 Cell Cycle

Learning Objective

  • Describe the events that occur in the cell cycle.
  • Explain how mitosis results in the transmission of chromosomes from one generation to the next.

4.7 Regulation of Cell Cycle

Learning Objective

  • Describe the role of checkpoints in regulating the cell cycle.
  • Describe the effects of disruptions to the cell cycle on the cell or organism.

Unit 5- Heredity

5.1 Meiosis

Learning Objective

  • Explain how meiosis results in the transmission of chromosomes from one generation to the next.
  • Describe similarities and/or differences between the phases and outcomes of mitosis and meiosis.

5.2 Meiosis and Genetic Diversity

Learning Objective

  • Explain how the process of meiosis generates genetic diversity.

5.3 Mendelian Genetics

Learning Objective

  • Explain how shared, conserved, fundamental processes, and features support the concept of common ancestry for all organisms.
  • Explain the inheritance of genes and traits as described by Mendel’s laws.

5.4 Non-Mendelian Genetics

Learning Objective

  • Explain deviations from Mendel’s model of the inheritance of traits.

5.5 Environmental Effects on Phenotype

Learning Objective

  • Explain how the same genotype can result in multiple phenotypes under different environmental conditions.

5.6 Chromosomal Inheritance

Learning Objective

  • Explain how chromosomal inheritance generates genetic variation in sexual reproduction.

Unit 6- Gene Expression and Regulation

6.1 DNA and RNA Structure

Learning Objective

  • Describe the structures involved in passing hereditary information from one generation to the next.
  • Describe the characteristics of DNA that allow it to be used as the hereditary material.

6.2 Replication

Learning Objective

  • Describe the mechanisms by which genetic information is copied for transmission between generations.

6.3 Transcription and RNA Processing

Learning Objective

  • Describe the mechanisms by which genetic information flows from DNA to RNA to protein.

6.4 Translation

Learning Objective

  • Explain how the phenotype of an organism is determined by its genotype.

6.5 Regulation of Gene Expression

Learning Objective

  • Describe the types of interactions that regulate gene expression.
  • Explain how the location of regulatory sequences relates to their function.

6.6 Gene Expression and Cell Specialization

Learning Objective

  • Explain how the binding of transcription factors to promoter regions affects gene expression and/or the phenotype of the organism.
  • Explain the connection between the regulation of gene expression and phenotypic differences in cells and organisms.

6.7 Mutations

Learning Objective

  • Describe the various types of mutations.
  • Explain how changes in genotype may result in changes in phenotype.
  • Explain how alterations in DNA sequences contribute to the variation that can be subject to natural selection.

6.8 Biotechnology

Learning Objective

  • Explain the use of genetic engineering techniques in analyzing or manipulating DNA.

Unit 7- Natural Selection

7.1 Introduction to Natural Selection

Learning Objective

  • Describe the causes of natural selection.
  • Explain how natural selection affects populations.

7.2 Natural Selection

Learning Objective

  • Describe the importance of phenotypic variation in a population.

7.3 Artificial Selection

Learning Objective

  • Explain how humans can affect diversity within a population.
  • Explain the relationship between changes in the environment and evolutionary changes in the population.

7.4 Population Genetics

Learning Objective

  • Explain how random occurrences affect the genetic makeup of a population.
  • Describe the role of random processes in the evolution of specific populations.
  • Describe the change in the genetic makeup of a population over time.

7.5 Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium

Learning Objective

  • Describe the conditions under which allele and genotype frequencies will change in populations.
  • Explain the impacts on the population if any of the conditions of Hardy-Weinberg are not met.

7.6 Evidence of Evolution

Learning Objective

  • Describe the types of data that provide evidence for evolution.
  • Explain how morphological, biochemical, and geological data provide evidence that organisms have changed over time.
  • Describe the fundamental molecular and cellular features shared across all domains of life, which provide evidence of common ancestry.

7.7 Common Ancestry

Learning Objective

  • Describe structural and functional evidence on cellular and molecular levels that provide evidence for the common ancestry of all eukaryotes.

7.8 Continuing Evolution

Learning Objective

  • Explain how evolution is an ongoing process in all living organisms.

7.9 Phylogeny

Learning Objective

  • Describe the types of evidence that can be used to infer an evolutionary relationship.
  • Explain how a phylogenetic tree and/or cladogram can be used to infer evolutionary relatedness.

7.10 Speciation

Learning Objective

  • Describe the conditions under which new species may arise.
  • Describe the rate of evolution and speciation under different ecological conditions.
  • Explain the processes and mechanisms that drive speciation.

7.11 Extinction

Learning Objective

  • Describe factors that lead to the extinction of a population.
  • Explain how the risk of extinction is affected by changes in the environment.
  • Explain species diversity in an ecosystem as a function of speciation and extinction rates.
  • Explain how extinction can make new environments available for adaptive radiation.

7.12 Variations in Populations

Learning Objective

  • Explain how the genetic diversity of a species or population affects its ability to withstand environmental pressures.

7.13 Origins of Life on Earth

Learning Objective

  • Describe the scientific evidence that provides support for models of the origin of life on Earth.

Unit 8- Ecology

8.1 Responses to the Environment

Learning Objective

  • Explain how the behavioral and/or physiological response of an organism is related to changes in the internal or external environment.
  • Explain how the behavioral responses of organisms affect their overall fitness and may contribute to the success of the population.

8.2 Energy Flow Through Ecosystems

Learning Objective

  • Describe the strategies organisms use to acquire and use energy.
  • Explain how changes in energy availability affect populations and ecosystems.
  • Explain how the activities of autotrophs and heterotrophs enable the flow of energy within an ecosystem.

8.3 Population Ecology

Learning Objective

  • Describe factors that influence the growth dynamics of populations.

8.4 Effect of Density of Populations

Learning Objective

  • Explain how the density of a population affects and is determined by resource availability in the environment.

8.5 Community Ecology

Learning Objective

  • Describe the structure of a community according to its species composition and diversity.
  • Explain how interactions within and among populations influence community structure.
  • Explain how community structure is related to energy availability in the environment.

8.6 Biodiversity

Learning Objective

  • Describe the relationship between ecosystem diversity and its resilience to changes in the environment.
  • Explain how the addition or removal of any component of an ecosystem will affect its overall short-term and long-term structure.

8.7 Disruptions to Ecosystems

Learning Objective

  • Explain the interaction between the environment and random or preexisting variations in populations.
  • Explain how invasive species affect ecosystem dynamics.
  • Describe human activities that lead to changes in ecosystem structure and/or dynamics.
  • Explain how geological and meteorological activity leads to changes in ecosystem structure and/or dynamics.

Exam Weighting

Unit

 Exam Weighting (Multiple-Choice Section)

 Unit 1: Chemistry of Life 8%–11%
 Unit 2: Cell Structure and Function 10%–13%
 Unit 3: Cellular Energetics 12%–16%
 Unit 4: Cell Communication and Cell Cycle 10%–15%
 Unit 5: Heredity 8%–11%
 Unit 6: Gene Expression and Regulation 12%–16%
 Unit 7: Natural Selection 13%–20%
 Unit 8: Ecology 10%–15%

12 Recommended Books for AP Biology (Alphabetical order of books title)

  • Mikulecky, Gilman, and Peterson. 2008. AP Biology For Dummies. Wiley Publishing, Inc.
  • Deborah T. Goldberg. 2010. Barron’s AP Biology. 3rd Edition. Barron’s Educational Series, Inc.
  • Campbell, Urry, Cain, Wasserman, Minorsky, and Reece. 2018. Biology: A Global Approach. 11th Edition. Pearson Education, Inc.
  • Reece, Urry, Cain, Wasserman, Minorsky, and Jackson. 2014. Campbell Biology. 10th Edition. Pearson Education, Inc.
  • Taylor, Simon, Dickey, Hogan, and Reece. 2018. Campbell Biology: Concepts & Connections. 9th Edition. Pearson Education, Inc.
  • Urry, Cain, Wasserman, Minorsky, and Reece. 2016. Campbell Biology in Focus. 2nd Edition. Pearson Education, Inc.
  • Urry, Cain, Wasserman, Minorsky, and Reece. 2017. Campbell Biology: Test Bank. 11th Edition. Pearson Education, Inc.
  • Simon, Dickey, and Reece. 2019. Campbell Essential Biology. 7th Edition. Pearson Education, Inc.
  • Phillip E. Pack. 2017. CliffsNotes AP Biology. 5th Edition.
  • Sylvia S. Mader. 2011. Concepts of Biology. 2nd Edition. McGraw-Hill.
  • Sylvia S. Mader and Michael Windelspecht. 2018. Essentials of Biology. 5th Edition. McGraw-Hill.
  • Sadava, Hillis, Heller, and Hacker. 2017. Life: The Science of Biology. 11th Edition. Sinauer Associates, Inc.

References and Source

AP® Biology. Course and Exam Description. Fall 2019. CollegeBoard. Updated 10/22/2019.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.