There are six free-response questions in Section II of the exam.
The first two questions tend to be longer and contain multiple bolded task verbs.
In a few instances, you may be asked to show your mathematical work, or to create a diagram, graph, or table that models something from the question, but you're mostly expected to answer in complete sentences.
The May 2020 AP Biology exam has a new free-response section.
It provides more context for each question in the form of data or a passage, and asks you to combine that information in a variety of formats.
We can't tell you what kind of rubric they're going to use, because this version of the free-response section has never been administered before.
We can give you some strategies and a model for what you might expect the College Board to do, based on what they've done before.
Refer to the full list of the six types of questions.
The best way to get points in this section is to give the test readers exactly what they're looking for.
These free-response readers will accept any answer that fits the criteria that they have been given.
Don't include material that hasn't been asked for.
Write in full sentences, as opposed to outlines or bullet points, to support your statements.
The following strategies can be used to provide complete answers.
Take less than a minute to skim all of the questions and put them into your own personal order of difficulty.
You can begin to formulate your responses once you have decided the order in which you will answer the questions.
A more detailed assessment of each question is the first step.
The most important advice we can give you is to read the questions at least twice.
As you read the question, pay attention to the bolded direction words.
A direction word is almost always the beginning of an essay question.
You need to address each of the questions in your answer if you want to read them all.
You will recognize direction words when you read through the outlines of the questions.
Examples of direction words include calculate, explain, identify, and predict.
The words tell you what the question is looking for, and they are exactly what you should do.
A question that asks you to support a claim expects you to provide reasoning and/or evidence that backs it up.
A question that asks you to construct, draw, or represent data may just want you to include a graph or build a table.
Many students lose points because they fail to do what is asked of them.
You have to figure out where your answers are coming from now that you know what you need.
This isn't as difficult as it might sound.
Some parts can be answered solely on what you've learned in the course thus far, while others will require you to cite evidence or use information from the passage and/or graph that precede the question.
Re-familiarizing yourself with any key terms, definitions, or processes that you'll need to answer the question takes about two minutes per question.
You can write these next to the questions, and you can highlight or circle the parts of the figures you need to focus on.
The multiple parts of the question are answered individually.
You know you have enough points for each part if you label the information that you just set aside.
Pick only those that you feel strongest talking about, if you've come up with more examples than the question is asking.
Make sure to organize your thoughts and address as many bolded verbs as you can.
If there's something you don't know, you should focus on the other parts of the question.
Even if you're not sure about it, a well-written, educated guess may get you partial credit, even if you're not sure about it.
Unless one part specifically references an earlier one, treat each part as its own question.
Each part should have its own space in which to write or draw a response, and if not, you can break it up into parts by putting the words "part A, part B, part C, part D, part E, part F, part G, part H, part J
The key is to answer as many parts as you can, and to not get bogged down in any one part, because each part has a maximum value.
For the first two questions, you can score at most 4 points for a part, and if this is the case, the others will be worth 1 to 2 points.
Each of the four questions is worth a single point.
If the spelling or grammar errors are so bad that they affect the reader's ability to understand you, don't sweat it.
Some responses may require you to answer with a figure as opposed to text.
The key is to clearly and correctly show your work and understanding, so let's briefly discuss the important elements in setting up a graph.
The coordinate graph is the most popular type of graph on the exam.
There is a horizontal and a vertical axis in the coordinate graph.
The independent variable is contained in the x - axis.
When the independent variable is changed, the dependent variable is affected.
Let's look at what happens when you put some points on a graph.
The graph shows both an independent variable and a dependent variable.
You can plot the points on the graph when you draw both axes and label them x and y.
We are going to look at (b) and design an experiment.
They are biological catalysts.
The graph shows the results of an experiment that looked at the relationship between the pH and the activity of the enzyme.
There is only one factor here, the pH.
In the experiment, the pH is being manipulated.
The x- axis will be labeled with the pH values from 0 to 14.
The activity of the enzyme is affected by the pH.
The values will be plotted on the graph.
We know that the functional range of pH is narrow, with optimal performance occurring at or around a pH of 7.
You need to interpret your graph.
The reaction rate of the enzyme will decrease if the pH is lowered.
The rate of reaction will decrease if the pH level increases.
You should include a simple explanation of your graph.
In a later chapter of this text, additional quantitative and graphing skills will be discussed.
You will learn how to include statistics and hypothesis testing in your free-response questions and how to present data using graphs.
Every experiment will have at least one group that represents the neutral version of the independent variable.
The control is what this is.
A control is a standard of comparison.
The biologist can verify that the outcome of the study is due to changes in the independent variable.
The principal of your school thinks that students who eat breakfast do better on the AP Biology exam than those who don't eat breakfast.
Every day for a year, he gives a group of 10 students free breakfast.
The smartest kids in the class would have scored well.
Write your responses using the techniques discussed in this chapter.
There are more sample free-response questions on the AP Students page.
A control group is the best way to make sure that eating breakfast made a difference.
He would need to follow a group of students of equal intelligence to the first group, but who are known to never eat breakfast.
He could have them take the exam at the end of the year.
If they do just as well as the group with similar intelligence who ate breakfast, we can conclude that eating breakfast wasn't necessarily leading to higher AP scores.
The group of students who didn't eat breakfast is called the control group because they weren't exposed to the variable of interest.
Control groups are used to compare groups for the sake of comparison.