How To Get A 5 On AP Biology?

how to get a 5 on ap biology

AP Biology is challenging.

At first, getting a perfect score in ap® biology seems impossible. But for majoring in STEM in college, AP Bio will be a great way to begin in high school.  Before we move ahead, let us understand what exactly AP Biology is.

AP Bio is an advanced placement course equivalent to college-level. The study offered by the College Board standardizes and tests students of 9-12 levels. You get free college credit when you score 3 or more in AP Biology. But there are two aspects of AP courses. First thing, is it hard? Secondly, how to get a score of 5? The answer to this is not as easy as you think.

Like the scorecard ranges from 1 to 5, the difficulty level has three broader ways. One is the content, which gets overwhelming at times. Second, the techniques involved in the lab work are very advanced. Third, the frqs need to be crisp yet explanatory.

I will take you through tips and strategies for how to get a 5 in AP Biology.

Let us dive in!

How To Get A 5 On AP Biology?

1. Begin from scratch

In recent results of the AP Biology exam, the pass rate was only 59%. Out of which, only 7.5% got a score of 5. The score distribution chart below clarifies this:

 Percentage Wise Score Distribution Of AP Biology
5 4 3 2 1
15% 23.1% 29.7% 21.6% 10.5%

Credit- College Board

To get a perfect 5 in AP Biology, you need to think critically, apply logic, and be creative in answering.

Start studying the basic terminologies before you jump to complex concepts. Get a basic understanding of the time duration, type of questions, and response pattern.

2. Make the most out of your AP Biology class

Your journey towards getting a 5 in  AP Bio begins in your classroom. While in your

AP classes, pay attention to the coursework.

Become an expert note-taker. Note-taking does not just mean listening and writing down during class hours. It also involves marking important concepts and data. Remember that in the AP Bio exam, you will analyze data in multiple formats in which detailed notes will help.

For example, the nucleus is the core of a cell (This line is an introductory sentence you write down in your notes.)

The nuclear pores around the nucleus allow protein synthesis. The Ran-GTP cycle describes the import and export process very well. (This is a part of the detailing.)

In the beginning, you may not find it worth it. But organically, it will help you retain information about your learning topics.

Read: Benefits of AP Classes

Remember, practice noting down the important points will make you perfect!

3. Ask as many questions as you can

They say if you aspire to clear the AP Biology exam with a score of 5,  get into a Scientist’s shoes!  What does that mean?

It means to start asking questions. All types of questions are welcome: the silliest, most complicated ones! Ask your peers, your tutor, or any subject matter expert. Ask yourself. Learn through visual representation and predict the correlations. Do not see an explanation with a preconceived notion. Use the theories to train your brain for critical thinking.

Get a knack for spotting a trend, data analysis, and conceptual analysis. Recheck the mathematical calculations and see how it holds to the hypothesis. Take big ideas and break them into questions to understand where they began.

In this process, you will see yourself claiming your findings with concrete evidence. Over time, your mind will be equipped to brainstorm, following the right direction. It is something that will help you even after your AP Bio exam. Read here more about the life of an AP student.

4. Your lab notes are your official guide too

As you proceed with your AP Biology course, you will do much lab work and statistical tests. You will compare many graphs and models too. These in-class lab work and study material will be a great insight during final preparation.

Though the internet will provide many resources, the scientific data and experience you get in a lab are unmatchable. So, save them as your best course guide. Your goal is to get a high 5 score, not just any exam score.

5. Create your glossary and flashcards

Every book has a glossary at the end. Similarly, create your dictionary of all possible keywords you will encounter. Writing in your own words fits better in your memory bank.

Glossary usually has definitions only, but when you write them, you will add a few more relevant sentences to the word. It’s note-making only, which you write in context to the AP Bio exam.

Moreover, you can also create them as flashcards. You can also use these flashcards as quizzes for yourself or in a group. It may look repetitive, but you must do every possible exercise to improve memory retention. After all, your goal is to get a 5 AP Bio score.

Note: Logical projection of concepts to the brain is an excellent way to retain knowledge rather than relying on rote learning.

6. Devote some time for reviews and study

See, there is no point in cramming up at the last hour. Instead, schedule your time for self-study. Make a study plan. Work on your time management skill. In-class tests will be a regular thing once you join an AP course.

After every test, sit with yourself and review your performance, take the feedback constructively, and take criticism with a pinch of salt. A review guide is the best way to understand your weaknesses and celebrate your strengths.

7. Take as many quizzes, and tests as possible

Take as many practice tests as possible if you want a perfect 5 score. College Board releases official practice tests. Refer to that. These complete practice tests will help you when you are halfway through your course.

But if you have just begun, then quizzes are a better option. These are short questions from the early units. Quizzes are an excellent exercise to fill the gap between the foundation and mid-level knowledge. Khan Academy  has a good collection of quizzes. You must check it.

8. Know the task verbs well

Free-response questions do mention the task verbs. Some of them are:

  • Describe
  • Evaluate
  • Construct
  • Determine
  • Justify
  • Identify
  • Explain
  • Predict
  • Claim
  • Support
  • State

Usually, you might not miss them, but you may overlook these verbs under AP exam pressure. To avoid this mistake, practice encircling the task verbs in each question. It will help you give the apt answer, which will help you score a 5.

9. Focus on the outline

AP Bio exam involves a STEM-based test. Therefore, it is important to organize your thoughts and write down the outline of your answer in the first two minutes. Also, the outline will not let you lose track of answering a question, especially the free response questions.

It is true that every minute counts in an AP exam. But it is also a fact that if used correctly, every minute will lead you to the best AP score.

10. Take care of your mental health

take care of mental health to score 5 in AP Bio and other courses

Remember, you are preparing for a college-level course. These practical tips will help you only when you focus on your mental health. Take care of your body.

Eat right, sleep well, and keep yourself hydrated. We don’t realize that while we study, we also accumulate unidentified stress. And that shows up just before the exam. Sometimes, when you see the disadvantages of AP classes, you wonder if it is all worth it.

So, before the exam, do more prep talks than worrying about the test day. It will boost your confidence to another level.

What more can you do to score 5 in AP Bio?

  • Pick up extra books for your self-study.
  • Refer to Bozeman Science videos for lab techniques and graphs.
  • Practice more with Quizlets, mock papers, and past three years’ AP questions.
  • Solve practice questions and compare your level using the AP Biology grade calculator.


I have only one month left for my AP Biology exam. What is the best practice to prepare for it?

The best practice to prepare for the AP Bio exam will be making a study schedule per the weekly target. Set a smaller goal and review it at the end of the day. It’s a good idea to outline a complex topic. The last week should focus on solving questions, going through the outline, and giving yourself a break before the exam.

What fundamental things do I need to get a good score in the AP Bio exam?

You will need these fundamental things to get a good AP Bio score. You must know what to conduct and how to conduct experiments. You must collect, analyze, interpret, and display your data in your answers. Also, you must present your observation and understanding in the crispest form while answering the questions. You can read more on this under science practices suggested by College Board.

How does the exam weigh the 8 units of the AP Biology course?

As per the College Board, each unit has an approximate exam weighting that helps you during your AP Bio exam preparation. The table is as follows:

Unit Topics Weighting
1 Chemistry of Life 8-11%
2 Cell Structure & Function 10-13%
3 Cell Energetics 12-16%
4 Cell Cycle & Cell Communication 10-15%
5 Heredity 8-11%
6 Gene Expression 12-16%
7 Evolution and Natural Selection 13-20%
8 Ecology 10-15%

How do they determine the score in an AP Biology exam?

For multiple-choice questions, each correct answer gets one point. For short free-response questions, you get a maximum of 4 points. For long questions, it can be anywhere between 8-10. The composite score of these points then converts into a final score of 1-5.

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The key here is to make a consistent and balanced plan. Do not overdo and overburden yourself just because the world says AP Bio is hard. Ask yourself concept-based questions more often. While you go through a list of strategies and tips, make one for yourself that will be your go-to guide.

Wish you good luck with your AP Bio studies.

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