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David Fanning, Principal
Summer School & Summer Bridge Starts on Wednesday July 10th, 2024 @ 8:00 am
Academies » AP Biology Course Syllabus

AP Biology Course Syllabus

AP Biology Course Syllabus

Ms. Bulahan – Room 517

[email protected]


Course Description:


 AP Biology is a college level course that follows closely the syllabus recommended by the College Board and prepares students for the Advanced Placement examination in Biology. This rigorous and demanding course is designed to offer students a solid foundation in introductory college-level biology. Content will be covered in more depth and greater expectations will be placed on interpretation and analysis of information than previous biology courses. In addition, statistical analysis of data and modeling of concepts will be expected. A significant amount of studying must be completed at home to allow time for discussion, labs, and inquiry during class time. The College Board has redesigned the curriculum starting in the 2013 school year, and although the amount of material has been reduced, the emphasis on scientific thinking and analytical thinking has increased. The course will be structured differently this year due to the changes and to allow for more class time for labs and discussions.  Students enrolled in this class are required to take the College Board Advanced Placement test in May.


The new AP Biology curriculum encompasses 4 ‘big ideas’, with Essential Knowledge and Process Skills that support each one.


Big Idea 1: Evolution – the process of evolution drives the diversity and unity of life.

Big Idea 2: Cellular Processes (Energy and Communication) – Biological systems utilize free energy and

molecular building blocks to grow, reproduce, and to maintain dynamic


Big Idea 3: Genetics and Information Transfer – living systems store, retrieve, transmit, and respond to

information essential to life processes.

Big Idea 4: Interactions – Biological systems interact and these systems and their interactions possess complex



Class Expectations:

  • Come to class prepared - in order to facilitate class discussions and reduce lecture time in favor of labs and knowledge enhancing activities, you must complete all required assignments. AP assignments are not ‘busy work’; they are designed to help you learn difficult material.
  • Come to class! The work we will be doing during class cannot be replicated at home, labs in particular. You have committed to an advanced class and that requires your presence in the classroom. Missed labs cannot be made up and will receive a score of zero.
  • Study at home – the convention for college courses is 2 hours of independent study for each hour of class. In order to have productive class discussion you must review the material at home.
  • No whining! This is a college level course. It will be challenging. It will require a significant amount of time outside of class. If you don’t like biology, this is not the class for you!



We will have unit tests at the end of each unit which will consist of multiple choice and free response. Tests are a large part of your grade and it is important that you prepare for them. Keeping current with lessons throughout the semester will help with test preparation.



Labs will constitute at least 25% of the course work. The new curriculum includes more emphasis on inquiry based labs, which means you will design your own experimental procedures for a significant number of labs.  You will conduct a minimum of eight inquiry-based investigations.  Additional labs will be conducted to deepen students’ conceptual understanding and to reinforce the application of science practices within a hands-on, discovery based environment. All levels of inquiry will be used and all seven science practice skills will be used on a regular basis in formal labs as well as activities outside of the lab experience. Formal lab write ups will be completed for each lab.



Homework should be completed every night. Usually it will consist of reading assignments, viewing lectures (Kahn Academy, Bozeman biology), taking notes, finish labs. Even if a formal assignment is not given, you are expected to spend time reviewing content each night. AP Biology is a challenging class and can’t be just ‘picked up’ during class time. You need to invest the time outside of class to be successful in class.



AP courses are fast paced and cover a significant amount of content each day, particularly on lab and test days. It is extremely important that you attend class every day. If you must be absent due to illness or family emergency, you are responsible for making up work within the accepted time frame. Missed labs cannot be made up and will receive a zero.  Missed tests will be made up the day of return to class if you have Parent or Doctor’s note. 



Always be prepared for class so you can fully participate. The goal this year is to promote more discussion and small group analysis of information, more lab time, and less lecture time. For this to work, you must be committed to completing the work required outside of class, and to actively participating during class time.


Grading Policy:

This class grade will be based on a weighted average.                                                  

  1. Exams / Projects / Lab = 60 %
  2. Classwork = 20%
  3. Homework = 20%


Instructional Resources:


  • Reece, Jane, et al., Campbell Biology, 10th Edition, 2015, Pearson Benjamin Cummings.
  • Giffen, Cynthia and Heitz, Jean. Practicing Biology (to accompany Campbell-Reece Biology), 3rd Edition, 2008, Pearson Benjamin Cummings.
  • <> (The website to accompany the main text provides animations, investigations, PowerPoint and other audio-visual sources to enhance instruction)