AP Biology Syllabus 2011-12
Instructor: Cheryl Massengale
The Advanced Placement Biology curriculum is equivalent to a college course usually taken by biology majors during their first year of college. Students obtain weighted credit by successfully completing the AP Biology exam at the end of the course. The course differs significantly from a first year high school Biology course with respect to the kind of textbook used, the range and depth of topics covered, the kind of laboratory work done by students, and the time and effort required by the students. The primary emphasis of the course is on developing an understanding of concepts; a grasp of science as a process rather than as an accumulation of facts; personal experience in scientific inquiry; recognition of unifying themes that integrate the major topics of biology; and the application of biological knowledge and critical thinking to environmental and social concerns.
Topics covered in the course include chemistry of life, cells and cell energetics, heredity, molecular genetics, evolution, diversity of organisms, structure and function of both plants and animals, and ecology. The course is broken down into three areas of study: 25% molecules and cells, 25% genetics and evolution, and 50% organisms and populations. In addition, students will conduct all twelve of the Collegeboard AP Biology laboratories.
- To familiarize students with the terminology and concepts of Biology using a theme-oriented approach that emphasizes concepts and science as a process over knowledge of facts.
- To enhance problem-solving skills of students using hands-on labs, readings, collections, independent projects, and class discussions.
- To strengthen students’ communication skills with the use of written assignments, essays, abstracts, and lab reports.
- To prepare students for further study in the Biological Sciences.
|Subject||Weeks of Instruction||% of AP Test|
|Chemistry of Life||2.5||7%|
|Mechanics of evolution||2||8%|
|Plant Form & Function||3.5||12%|
|Animal Form & Function||7.0||20%|
PreAP Biology, Chemistry I (may take concurrently), and Algebra 1 are required with a grade of 80% (B) for each semester in these courses. Students may also enroll with teacher recommendation.
Students should maintain a “C”, each nine weeks, in order to remain in the course. Students are also required to take the AP Biology exam in May.
Textbook & Study Resources:
Biology 7th ed. By Campbell, Reece, & Mitchell, Benjamin/Cummings Publishing, 2005.
CD-ROM: Interactive Study Partner, By Campbell, Reece, & Mitchell, Benjamin/Cummings Publishing, 2005.
Student Study Guide for Campbell’s Biology, 7th Edition. 2005. Benjamin/Cummings Publishing Co., Inc.
Advanced Placement Biology Laboratory Manual for Students, College Entrance Examination Board, 2006.
- 3-ring binder with pocketed dividers
- Standard size, loose leaf notebook paper
- Pencils with erasers
- Colored pencils
- Graph paper
- Black ink pens
- Typing paper
- Access to the internet & a word processor
Advanced Placement Biology is a two semester course with each semester 18 weeks in length and divided into nine week grading periods. The class period of approximately 50 minutes and meets five days a week.
Credit is based on Carnegie units; therefore, a year course is valued as one (1) unit.
|Grading Scale||Grade Points||Weighted (AP)|
|90 -100 A||A = 4||A = 5|
|80 – 89 B||B = 3||B = 4|
|70 – 79 C||C = 2||C = 3|
|60 – 59 D||D = 1||D = 2|
|0 – 59 F||F = 0||F = 0|
|AP Biology receives weighted credit on the student’s rank GPA and on the state GPA appearing on the transcript.|
Weighted Grades will be determined each nine weeks as follows:
Exams (unit tests, collections, major projects, etc.) 75%
Lab Reports, lab tests, & lab practicals 15%
Daily work, abstracts, etc. 10%
Semester Grades will be determined as follows:
1st nine weeks 40%
2nd nine weeks 40%
Semester Test 20%
Students are required to complete twelve (12) labs set forth by The College Board Advanced Placement Program. Students are expected to read each lab carefully before coming to the laboratory and are responsible for following all correct laboratory and safety procedures. Students should also use the lab aid, LabBench, to make sure they understand all lab procedures before beginning a lab exercise.
Due to the large amount of time required for laboratory set-up, it is essential that you are always present on lab days. Some labs will use Lab Quest sensors and probes to obtain quantitative data. Additional labs will be included such as bioremediation of oil and industrial pollutants, gram staining techniques, and dissection of the fetal pig. Within one week of completing the lab, students will turn in lab reports in the format provided by the instructor.
- Wildflower collections allow you to learn and appreciate the flowers native to your area. To become familiar with various flowers, students will identify, collect, dry, and then mount these flowers on herbarium paper or they may make a photographic collection which preserves the flowers within their environment. Identification of wildflowers will be done primarily through the use of the book, Wildflowers of Arkansas, by Carl Hunter. Wildflower collections are due the first nine weeks and must be done according to the instructor’s directions. The collection will count as a major exam grade.
Hunter, Carl. Wildflowers of Arkansas. Published by the Ozark Society, 1984. ISBN 0-912456-17-5
- Each nine weeks, students will read and abstract a current article from a scientific journal. Articles must be chosen from journals published during the 12 months prior to the abstract due date. The abstract and a copy of the article or journal must be turned into the instructor in an abstract folder and must follow the format provided by the instructor.
- During the first semester, students will read and write a paper on the research book by Mark and Delia Owens entitled, Cry of the Kalahari. The book will be divided into three sections with a written test at the end of each section to ensure that students are keeping up with their reading. The paper will count as a major exam grade.
Cry of the kalahari website
Owens, Mark and Delia. Cry of the Kalahari. Fontana/Collins Publisher, 1984. ISBN: 0395647800
- Second semester, students will view the video, Race for the Double Helix, and write a paper on the discovery of DNA structure.
AP Exam Preparation:
All students should prepare to take the Advanced Placement test given in May; therefore, throughout the course students will use past AP Biology essay questions to improve their skills in writing answers to scientific, free-response questions. Also, all major exams will follow the AP testing format of 60% multiple choice and 40% essay questions.
It is strongly recommended that students utilize the AP Biology test prep book issued to them. There are many other varieties of AP Biology study guides, and they all can be found at a local bookstore. Take the practice tests in these books so that you can become familiar with what to expect. When trying to find an AP Biology test prep book, choose one that also lets you see sample essays. Some books just focus on the multiple choice, and you need to be exposed to both parts of the exam.
Format of the AP Biology Exam:
60 multiple choice in 80 minutes = 60% of test
Essay Section Hints:
- The 4 essay questions are graded equally.
- One question is on molecules and cells.
- One question is on genetics and evolution.
- Two questions are on organisms and populations.
- One or more of the questions will be lab-based.
- Write in essay form! There is room on the test for you to create an outline to guide your answer if you’d like but outlines are not graded. That being said, perfect essay writing is not expected. There aren’t deductions for grammar or spelling mishaps (provided the spelling is close enough to determine the word you are trying to write).
- Diagrams are helpful! If you use a diagram, be sure to refer to it in your essay.
- Points are not deducted from your essay score if you give an incorrect statement. (You just don’t receive points for incorrect statements). But be careful not to contradict yourself, because this can cause you to not receive points.
- A biology textbook cannot be read the way you would read a novel! Begin by pre-reading the chapter; glance at the section headings, charts and tables in order to organize the material in your mind and stimulate your curiosity. This will make it easier to read the chapter and extract more information from it.
- Be an active, not passive reader, by stopping frequently (at least every paragraph) and consider what you have just read. What is the concept being discussed? Put it in your own words (out loud or by writing it down); by doing so you are reprocessing and using the information presented in the text. Place a few key notes in you notebook; make sure these notes include all new terms and illustrative examples.
- Become a note taker and not a note copier! Simply writing down what is written on the board is passive learning (it’s a start, but is not as effective as it could be). To get the most out of taking lecture notes, do it in a systematic manner. Before class read the textbook material to be covered in lecture. You will then use class time more efficiently because you will learn more from the lecture, and you will be able to take better notes having been introduced to many of the concepts in the text. During lecture do not attempt to write down every word that is said; that approach is futile and unnecessary. Instead, focus on the major ideas.
- Summarize information by making your own diagrams and tables which will allow you to rehearse and test yourself on the material.
- Relate new information to other, related information.
- Study with a friend in the class and at home! Take turns explaining the material to each other. Set up on-going study groups and meet at each others home each week.
- There is too much new material in a biology class to be able to learn two weeks’ worth of material the night before an exam! Review your text material and lecture notes daily so that you can avoid cramming at test time. Daily studying and rehearsal helps get information into long-term memory.
- Make the most of your time in lab by arriving fully prepared. AP Biology labs are too long and involved to try to perform without having thoroughly read over them the day before.
How Can Parents Help:
- Quiet structured study time! Help your child to establish a study routine by setting up a quiet study area and a consistent quiet study time nightly. The routine will help them practice good study habits for college. Should the study area be their bedroom or a family area, like the dining room? That depends on your household and your child. If your child is self-motivated and can work steadily without supervision, then a quiet desk space in their bedroom would work well. However, if their bedroom is equipped with distractions like a stereo or TV, then this might not be conducive to concentrating on homework and the family area may work better.
- Work on Biology EVERY night! For your child to stay up-to-date in this course they need to spend some time on biology every night. The ideal would be about one (1) hour per night or approximately six (6) hours per week. This would include textbook reading, lecture review, lab notebook assignments, extra credit assignments, and test preparation. On weeks when they cannot devote that one hour on a weeknight, they should put in extra time on weekends to make up for it. On nights where they have minimal time, your child should at least review the day’s lecture notes (PowerPoint notes on the Web).
- Support Study Groups! Encourage your child to arrange a study group with other students in the class. Each student will have different strengths and weaknesses in this course. In one unit, your child will be the teacher to other students and in a different unit they will be the student. Putting two or more heads together is always a benefit. You never learn something as well as when you have to explain it to someone else. However let me emphasize that, while study groups and cooperative effort are strongly encouraged; on final written work, all students are required to craft their own answers and must have a completely uniquely worded answer for each question!
- Use a Lifeline! Encourage your child to ask for help. I can stay after any day for extra help. Also, all my AP students have my e-mail address and they can readily e-mail me for help at any time after school hours and I will make every effort to reply to them immediately. Do not allow them to feel like they are intruding, I am here to help them understand and learn to love the subject of Biology as much as I do.
- Don’t Panic! Stick with it! Some parts of this course will come more easily than others. Encourage your child to work steadily and not to be discouraged. Success will build as they improve their critical thinking skills and their writing ability through practice. This is a college course and they are working on more than learning biology; they are working on skills that they will use to succeed academically for years to come. Your child needs to work hard and work steadily and they will be rewarded in this course!
Chemistry of Life
- To understand the unique chemical and physical properties of water and to know how these properties make life on earth possible
- To explain the role of carbon in the molecular diversity of life
- To explain how cells synthesize and break down macromolecules
- To explain the structure of biologically important molecules
- To explain how enzymes regulate chemical reactions
- To explain the similarities, differences and evolutionary relationships between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells
- To understand the current model of membrane structure and to explain how different molecules pass across the membrane
- To show how cells use compartmentalization to organize the various cellular function
- To understand which factors limit cell size and to explain how and why cells divide
- To demonstrate the role of ATP and the chemiosmotic theory in cellular energetics
- To show how organic molecules are catalyzed
- To explain the photosynthetic process and to show how it compares and contrasts with cellular respiration
- To explain which features of meiosis are most important to sexual reproduction
- To follow the paths of chromosomes and individual genes through gametogenesis
- To explain how genetic information is organized
- To demonstrate and understanding of the importance of Mendel’s Laws of inheritance
- To know the major types of nucleic acids and explain how their structure is related to their function
- To understand the various mechanisms of gene expression
- To show the forms of gene mutation
- To explain viral structure and replication
- To understand modern biotechnological advances and how they may impact human lives
- To show and understanding of the current models for the origin of biological macromolecules
- To explain the evidence of evolution
- To demonstrate an understanding of the mechanics of evolution at work
Diversity of Organisms
- To explain the main body plans of plants and animals
- To identify a representative organism for the major taxa
- To explain the major characteristics in each primary taxon
- To show evolutionary similarities among related groups
Structure and Function of Plants and Animals
- To show what patterns of reproduction are found in plants and animals and to show how they are regulated
- To understand physiological organization among living things
- To explain how organisms respond to their environment
- To show how models can be used to demonstrate population growth
- To show how energy flows through ecosystems
- To explain how humans may impact the ecosystem around them
Scope & Sequence:
|Date||Topic of Study||Chapters to read||Labs/Projects||Tutorial Links|
Chemistry & Biochemistry
| Chapter 1
| Lab 2: Enzyme Catalysis
|Unit one Test – Biochemistry
Study Guide For Test
||Cells|| Chapter 6
| Lab 1: Osmosis & Diffusion
| Unit 2 Test over Cells (chapters 7,8,11,12,13)
Study Guide For Test
||Cellular Energetics||Chapter 8
|Lab 5: Cell Respiration
Lab 4: Plant Pigments & Photosynthesis
|Photosynthesis Problem Set 1|
|Unit 3 Test over Cellular Energetics (chapters 6, 9, & 10)
Study Guide For Test
|Second Nine Weeks – Genetics|
|Heredity|| Chapter 14
|Lab 3: Mitosis & Meiosis
|The Cell Cycle & Mitosis Tutorial|
| Unit 4 Test over Heredity (chapters 14 & 15)
Study Guide For Test
||Molecular Genetics|| Chapter 16
| Lab 6: Molecular Biology
Bioremediation of Spilled Oil & Industrial Pollutants
|J. Watson bio|
|Unit 5 Test over Molecular Genetics (chapters 16 – 21)
Study Guide For Test
|Third Nine Weeks – Evolution, Taxonomy, Plants|
||Evolutionary Biology|| Chapter 22
|Lab 7: Corn Genetics||The Museum of Paleontology (UCMP)|
|Unit 6 Test over Evolution (chapters 22-25)
Study Guide For Test
|12 days||Diversity of Organisms|| Chapter 26
| Lab 8: Population Genetics & Evolution
Gram Staining Lab
|Introduction to Viruses|
|Unit 7 Test over Taxonomy, Prokaryotes, & Simple Eukaryotes
(chapters 26, 27,28, and 31)
Study Guide For Test
|Structure & Function of Plants|| Chapter 29
| Lab 9: Transpiration
|Angiosperm Structure and Function|
| Units 8A & 8B Tests over Plants ( Chapters 29 & 30, 35 – 39 )
Study Guide For 8A Test
Study Guide For 8B Test
|Fourth Nine Week – Animals & Ecology|
| 15 days
||Invertebrates & Vertebrates|| Chapter 32
|Invertebrate/Vertebrate Dissections||Interactive Animal Diversity Test|
|Unit 9A & 9B Test over Vertebrates & Invertebrates|
||Structure & Function of Animals|| Chapter 40
| Lab 10: Physiology of Circulatory System
| Units 10A & 10 B Tests over Animal Systems (Chapters 40-49 )
Study Guide For 10ATest
Study Guide For 10B Test
|Ecology|| Chapter 50
| Lab 11: Behavior
Lab 12: Dissolved Oxygen & Aquatic Primary Productivity
|Unit 11 Test over Ecology ( Chapters 50 – 55 )
Study Guide For Test
|AP Exam – EARLY MAY
Study Sites For AP Test
|Final Exam – END of MAY|