Advanced Placement (AP®) courses are designed by the College Board, a non-profit organization created by colleges and university to promote excellence and equity in education through programs for K–12 and higher education institutions. The redesigned AP® Biology Curriculum Framework, which went in effect in Fall 2012, reduces breadth, but “shifts the instructional emphasis from content to skills, and promotes the complex thinking and reasoning skills essential for in-depth study at the college level.”
AP® Biology Concepts: These concepts and competencies are described in detail in CollegeBoard’s AP® Biology Course and Exam Description (Effective Fall 2012) which can be downloaded from the AP® Biology website as a PDF. We have included some of the relevant details below, but we highly recommend that you refer to the full document as well as to the AP® Biology website which includes many helpful resources for educators.
|Big Idea 1||The process of evolution drives the diversity and unity of life.|
|Enduring understanding 1.A||Change in the genetic makeup of a population over time is evolution.|
|Essential knowledge 1.A.1||Natural selection is a major mechanism of evolution.|
|Essential knowledge 1.A.2||Natural selection acts on phenotypic variations in populations.|
|Essential knowledge 1.A.3||Evolutionary change is also driven by random processes.|
|Essential knowledge 1.A.4||Biological evolution is supported by scientific evidence from many disciplines, including mathematics.|
|Enduring understanding 1.B||Organisms are linked by lines of descent from common ancestry.|
|Essential knowledge 1.B.1||Organisms share many conserved core processes and features that evolved and are widely distributed among organisms today.|
|Essential knowledge 1.B.2||Phylogenetic trees and cladograms are graphical representations (models) of evolutionary history that can be tested.|
|Enduring understanding 1.C||Life continues to evolve within a changing environment.|
|Essential knowledge 1.C.1||Speciation and extinction have occurred throughout the Earth’s history.|
|Essential knowledge 1.C.2||Speciation may occur when two populations become reproductively isolated from each other.|
|Essential knowledge 1.C.3||Populations of organisms continue to evolve.|
|Enduring understanding 1.D||The origin of living systems is explained by natural processes.|
|Essential knowledge 1.D.1||There are several hypotheses about the natural origin of life on Earth, each with supporting scientific evidence.|
|Essential knowledge 1.D.2||Scientific evidence from many different disciplines supports models of the origin of life.|
|Big Idea 2||Biological systems utilize free energy and molecular building blocks to grow, to reproduce, and to maintain dynamic homeostasis.|
|Enduring understanding 2.A||Growth, reproduction and maintenance of the organization of living systems require free energy and matter.|
|Essential knowledge 2.A.1||All living systems require constant input of free energy.|
|Essential knowledge 2.A.2||Organisms capture and store free energy for use in biological processes.|
|Essential knowledge 2.A.3||Organisms must exchange matter with the environment to grow, reproduce and maintain organization.|
|Enduring understanding 2.B||Growth, reproduction and dynamic homeostasis require that cells create and maintain internal environments that are different from their external environments.|
|Essential knowledge 2.B.1||Cell membranes are selectively permeable due to their structure.|
|Essential knowledge 2.B.2||Growth and dynamic homeostasis are maintained by the constant movement of molecules across membranes.|
|Essential knowledge 2.B.3||Eukaryotic cells maintain internal membranes that partition the cell into specialized regions.|
|Enduring understanding 2.C||Organisms use feedback mechanisms to regulate growth and reproduction, and to maintain dynamic homeostasis.|
|Essential knowledge 2.C.1||Organisms use feedback mechanisms to maintain their internal environments and respond to external environmental changes.|
|Essential knowledge 2.C.2||Organisms respond to changes in their external environments.|
|Enduring understanding 2.D||Growth and dynamic homeostasis of a biological system are influenced by changes in the system’s environment.|
|Essential knowledge 2.D.1||All biological systems from cells and organisms to populations, communities and ecosystems are affected by complex biotic and abiotic interactions involving exchange of matter and free energy.|
|Essential knowledge 2.D.2||Homeostatic mechanisms reflect both common ancestry and divergence due to adaptation in different environments.|
|Essential knowledge 2.D.3||Biological systems are affected by disruptions to their dynamic homeostasis.|
|Essential knowledge 2.D.4||Plants and animals have a variety of chemical defenses against infections that affect dynamic homeostasis.|
|Enduring understanding 2.E||Many biological processes involved in growth, reproduction and dynamic homeostasis include temporal regulation and coordination.|
|Essential knowledge 2.E.1||Timing and coordination of specific events are necessary for the normal development of an organism, and these events are regulated by a variety of mechanisms.|
|Essential knowledge 2.E.2||Timing and coordination of physiological events are regulated by multiple mechanisms.|
|Essential knowledge 2.E.3||Timing and coordination of behavior are regulated by various mechanisms and are important in natural selection.|
|Big Idea 3:||Living systems store, retrieve, transmit and respond to information essential to life processes.|
|Enduring understanding 3.A:||Heritable information provides for continuity of life.|
|Essential knowledge 3.A.1:||DNA, and in some cases RNA, is the primary source of heritable information.|
|Essential knowledge 3.A.2:||In eukaryotes, heritable information is passed to the next generation via processes that include the cell cycle and mitosis or meiosis plus fertilization.|
|Essential knowledge 3.A.3:||The chromosomal basis of inheritance provides an understanding of the pattern of passage (transmission) of genes from parent to offspring.|
|Essential knowledge 3.A.4:||The inheritance pattern of many traits cannot be explained by simple Mendelian genetics.|
|Enduring understanding 3.B:||Expression of genetic information involves cellular and molecular mechanisms.|
|Essential knowledge 3.B.1:||Gene regulation results in differential gene expression, leading to cell specialization.|
|Essential knowledge 3.B.2:||A variety of intercellular and intracellular signal transmissions mediate gene expression.|
|Enduring understanding 3.C:||The processing of genetic information is imperfect and is a source of genetic variation.|
|Essential knowledge 3.C.1:||Changes in genotype can result in changes in phenotype.|
|Essential knowledge 3.C.2:||Biological systems have multiple processes that increase genetic variation.|
|Essential knowledge 3.C.3:||Viral replication results in genetic variation, and viral infection can introduce genetic variation into the hosts.|
|Enduring understanding 3.D:||Cells communicate by generating, transmitting and receiving chemical signals.|
|Essential knowledge 3.D.1:||Cell communication processes share common features that reflect a shared evolutionary history.|
|Essential knowledge 3.D.2:||Cells communicate with each other through direct contact with other cells or from a distance via chemical signaling.|
|Essential knowledge 3.D.3:||Signal transduction pathways link signal reception with cellular response.|
|Essential knowledge 3.D.4:||Changes in signal transduction pathways can alter cellular response.|
|Enduring understanding 3.E:||Transmission of information results in changes within and between biological systems.|
|Essential knowledge 3.E.1:||Individuals can act on information and communicate it to others.|
|Essential knowledge 3.E.2:||Animals have nervous systems that detect external and internal signals, transmit and integrate information, and produce responses.|
|Big Idea 4:||Biological systems interact, and these systems and their interactions possess complex properties.|
|Enduring understanding 4.A:||Interactions within biological systems lead to complex properties.|
|Essential knowledge 4.A.1:||The subcomponents of biological molecules and their sequence determine the properties of that molecule.|
|Essential knowledge 4.A.2:||The structure and function of subcellular components, and their interactions, provide essential cellular processes.|
|Essential knowledge 4.A.3:||Interactions between external stimuli and regulated gene expression result in specialization of cells, tissues and organs.|
|Essential knowledge 4.A.4:||Organisms exhibit complex properties due to interactions between their constituent parts.|
|Essential knowledge 4.A.5||Communities are composed of populations of organisms that interact in complex ways.|
|Essential knowledge 4.A.6:||Interactions among living systems and with their environment result in the movement of matter and energy.|
|Enduring understanding 4.B:||Competition and cooperation are important aspects of biological systems.|
|Essential knowledge 4.B.1:||Interactions between molecules affect their structure and function.|
|Essential knowledge 4.B.2:||Cooperative interactions within organisms promote efficiency in the use of energy and matter.|
|Essential knowledge 4.B.3||Interactions between and within populations influence patterns of species distribution and abundance.|
|Essential knowledge 4.B.4:||Distribution of local and global ecosystems changes over time.|
|Enduring understanding 4.C:||Naturally occurring diversity among and between components within biological systems affects interactions with the environment.|
|Essential knowledge 4.C.1:||Variation in molecular units provides cells with a wider range of functions.|
|Essential knowledge 4.C.2:||Environmental factors influence the expression of the genotype in an organism.|
|Essential knowledge 4.C.3:||The level of variation in a population affects population dynamics.|
|Essential knowledge 4.C.4:||The diversity of species within an ecosystem may influence the stability of the ecosystem.|
AP® Biology Science Practices:
These practices are described in detail on pages 97-102 of the AP® Biology Course and Exam Description (Fall 2012) which can be downloaded from the AP® Biology website as a PDF.
Science Practice 1: The student can use representations and models to communicate scientific phenomena and solve scientific problems.
. 1.1 The student can create representations and models of natural or man- made phenomena and systems in the domain.
. 1.2 The student can describe representations and models of natural or man-made phenomena and systems in the domain.
. 1.3 The student can refine representations and models of natural or man- made phenomena and systems in the domain.
. 1.4 The student can use representations and models to analyze situations or solve problems qualitatively and quantitatively.
. 1.5 The student can reexpress key elements of natural phenomena across multiple representations in the domain. Science Practice 2: The student can use mathematics appropriately.
. 2.1 The student can justify the selection of a mathematical routine to solve problems.
. 2.2 The student can apply mathematical routines to quantities that describe natural phenomena.
. 2.3 The student can estimate numerically quantities that describe natural phenomena. Science Practice 3: The student can engage in scientific questioning to extend thinking or to guide investigations within the context of the AP course.
. 3.1 The student can pose scientific questions.
. 3.2 The student can refine scientific questions.
. 3.3 The student can evaluate scientific questions. Science Practice 4: The student can plan and implement data collection strategies appropriate to a particular scientific question.
. 4.1 The student can justify the selection of the kind of data needed to answer a particular scientific question.
. 4.2 The student can design a plan for collecting data to answer a particular scientific question.
. 4.3 The student can collect data to answer a particular scientific question.
. 4.4 The student can evaluate sources of data to answer a particular scientific question.
Science Practice 5: The student can perform data analysis and evaluation of evidence. . 5.1 The student can analyze data to identify patterns or relationships.
. 5.2 The student can refine observations and measurements based on data analysis.
. 5.3 The student can evaluate the evidence provided by data sets in relation to a particular scientific question. Science Practice 6: The student can work with scientific explanations and theories.
. 6.1 The student can justify claims with evidence.
. 6.2 The student can construct explanations of phenomena based on evidence produced through scientific practices.
. 6.3 The student can articulate the reasons that scientific explanations and theories are refined or replaced. . 6.4 The student can make claims and predictions about natural phenomena based on scientific theories and models.
. 6.5 The student can evaluate alternative scientific explanations.
Science Practice 7: The student is able to connect and relate knowledge across various scales, concepts and representations in and across domains.
. 7.1 The student can connect phenomena and models across spatial and temporal scales.
. 7.2 The student can connect concepts in and across domain(s) to generalize or extrapolate in and/or across enduring understandings and/or big ideas.