preap syllabus

PreAP Biology Syllabus
Cheryl Massengale, Instructor

Textbook: HRW Modern Biology
All Materials © Cmassengale

Course Overview:
Biology is the study of living organisms, their origins, how they survive, reproduce, change over time, and interact with each other and their environments. The Pre-AP Biology curriculum is an introductory course taught in two semesters of high school.  The primary objective of the course is to provide students with a fundamental understanding of modern biology and scientific processes, building a foundation for success in the college level AP courses to follow. Course material is roughly divided as follows:  35% molecules and cells, 35% evolution and genetics, and 30% organisms and populations.  Nature of science will be taught throughout the year.

Pre-AP Biology is recommended for high-achieving students and for students who have a particular interest in biology and the natural sciences, including students who are traditionally underrepresented in AP courses. Students will be ultimately responsible for their learning; therefore, they should be organized, prepared, and motivated to learn every day.

The Pre-AP Biology curriculum differs from the regular Biology curriculum in meaningful ways. The Pre-AP course places a higher priority on developing critical thinking skills by examining real world problems. The Pre-AP curriculum examines topics with more depth and includes more advanced resource material in addition to the adopted text. Laboratory investigations play a more prominent role in the Pre-AP course. Labs are more sophisticated than in the regular curriculum and students are expected to design and carry out experiments using appropriate methods and resources.

Grade Level: 10th grade

PreAP Biology is a two-semester course (37 weeks) with 50-minute class periods.

Pre-Requisites: PreAP physical science or Teacher recommendation, Ability to read & write on grade level, Familiarity with an Internet Browser

Students will learn to –

  • Think Critically
  • Design scientific Hypotheses &  Experiments
  • Write good scientific essays
  • Conceptualize information, rather than memorize
  • Interpret &  Analyze scientific data
  • Solve problems by using the Scientific Method
  • Learn to read informational text for understanding & become a concise note takers

Modern Biology

Holt, Rinehart and Winston
10801 N. Mopac Expressway
Austin, TX 78759
800 225-5425

Publisher’s Web Site:
Holt, Rinehart and Winston
Required Materials:

  • 3-ring binder with pockets
  • Standard size, loose leaf notebook paper
  • Pencils with erasers
  • Black ink pen (for writing scientific labels)
  • Colored pencils
  • Graph paper
  • Folder with 2 pockets for abstracts  
  • Spiral notebook for labs
  • Access to the internet & a word processor 
  • Calculator

Grading Scale:
89.5 -100      A
89.4 -79.5     B
79.4 – 69.5    C
69.4 – 59.5    D
Below 59.4      F  

Grading Policy:
Grades are weighted as follows:

Daily Work:  10% 
Laboratory Exercises:15%
Tests/Collections:  75%
1st nine weeks:   40%
2nd nine weeks:  40%
Semester exam:  20%

Every student must turn in every assignment. Daily work, labs, & projects are not accepted late under any circumstances except in case of excused absence. 

Exams will be over material we cover in class,  supplemental material you are asked to read, and material covered in handouts, labs, or other activities. The test will range from multiple choice to essay questions. Exams are weighted as 75% of each nine weeks grade. Quizzes may be given at any time covering assigned reading, previous lectures, homework, or lab procedures. Comprehensive final exams will be given each semester. Students should study daily to be prepared for exams & quizzes. The teacher reserves the right to administer a different make-up exam &/or quiz.

Laboratory experimentation and exploration are a large part of this course.  It is vital that the students follow all laboratory procedures and safety rules/guidelines. Failure to comply with behavior expectations can result in removal from the lab activities.  A safety contract will be sent home and filled out by the student and the parent/guardian. These documents will be kept on file and are needed before a student can participate in any labs.
Safety Guidelines

Lab Reports:
Lab reports are to be professional quality, typed or hand written, and in the format provided by the instructor. They are due the beginning of class usually within one week after the lab is completed. Approximately 10-12 labs will be formally written. Other labs and investigations may only have data, conclusions, and analyses. Lab reports are weighted and count 15% of the nine weeks grade. Labs missed due to excused absences need to be made up in/on an agreed upon time with the teacher. You cannot borrow data. It is the student’s responsibility to be sure these labs are made up and will be at the teacher’s convenience.
Format for Hand-written labs
Format for Typed Labs

Students will be expected to read science journal & magazine articles each nine weeks and to write an abstract of each article. Students may use the following journals or magazines — Scientific American or National Geographic (science articles only & no more than 1 per month). Articles may not be older than one year of the date the abstract is written. The magazine/journal or a copy of the article along with the written or typed abstract will be turned in each nine weeks in an abstract folder. The abstract must follow the format given by the teacher. No late abstracts will be taken without an excused absence. Abstracts will count as daily work.
Abstract Format

One major collections are required for the course — an insect or a leaf collection.  Collections will count as major exam grades. Collections should follow the teacher guidelines. No collections will be accepted late.
Insect Collection Instructions
Leaf Collection Instructions

Study Techniques:
The most common problem new students have is that their study skills are not adequate for high school level classes. Studying for classes involves more than just "cramming the night before a test." Online pretests and chapter review sheets are provided for you on the PreAP Biology website. You should take these tests online before each exam. The following are suggestions to improve your grade in biology and other high school courses.

  1. Prepare for class before coming by reading over your notes soon after you have written them and also read over the sections of your text that will be covered in that day’s lecture.
  2. Make and use a vocabulary list as you go.
  3. Do all worksheets, study questions, etc.
  4. Keep your handouts, lecture notes, and study questions organized in a notebook.
  5. Always read assigned material and make sure you outline all the main ideas and not just a single item in a section.
  6. Pay attention and don’t daydream in class.
  7. Study frequently and in small doses. Cramming does not foster long term understanding that will stick with you!
  8. Set up a study group and study with friends.
  9. Understand figures and diagrams from lecture and from your text.
  10. If you are having trouble with the material, get help early.  Do not wait until TEST DAY!!!

Online Pretests
Chapter Review Sheets

Click here for Scope & Sequence of Course


Additional Resources:
Paul De Kruif. Microbe Hunter. New York: Harcourt Brace, 2002..

Milne, Lorus and Margery. National Audubon Guide to Insects and Spiders. National Audubon Society: Knopf,1980.

Trees of Arkansas.
Arkansas Forestry Commission
(501) 296-1940
Order online at