Ap biology: How does one study for it?

Hey CCers! I’m a rising sophomore, and I’ll be taking ap bio next year. This year, however, I didn’t do well in normal Honors biology- I got a low A last semester, and a 91 (a B for me) this semester. However, this was all from projects and homework assignments, not tests. Almost every test I’ve taken I’ve gotten a high B or a low A- even when I study for hours on end. After going through the tests with my teacher, it’s all either stupid mistakes/ other weird issues he had no idea how to give me advice with. I’m really worried for Ap biology, because I need that five yo, and it doesn’t seem like what I’m doing now is working. So, how does one study for bio? What am I doing wrong? What should I be doing this summer and next year to keep an A in the class? And get that magic five? Please help. This is my first B and I have no idea what to do.

Tdlr; I suck at biology and I need advice on how to study for ap bio so I can get into Harvard lol

Forgot to mention, I’ve only just started “studying” this semester bc I used to be one of those annoying kids that got good grades w/out studying but now I’m not lol

Search up “Biology by Campbell and Reece” and see if you can find a pdf of the textbook, any edition. If you can, scroll through and look at the format and length of one of the chapters. This is the textbook that most AP Biology students use.

This year, I had unit tests about every three weeks in AP Bio. Each unit that my teacher gave was two to three chapters long. Every test day, I would get up at 4:30 and read the chapters that were about to be tested until 7:30, and by doing this I was able to ace almost every test (with the occasional B+). Mind you, I paid zero attention in class. That’s all you have to do… read the content.

P.S., keep this in mind: only 6% of all AP Biology test takers get a 5, so your chances of getting a 5 and getting into Harvard are approximately equal.

I always took notes in class, and I usually read the textbook, did review guides, and used Quizlet.

It doesn’t have to be a hard class.

Biology definitely comes easier to some people than others. I read the textbook very carefully and paid attention to my teacher’s lectures, which was easy considering that I found the content to be fascinating.

The test is actually pretty difficult if you do not completely understand the material. There’s a lot of analysis, lab questions, and questions where two answers seem correct but one is more correct. It’s not impossible, but if you struggled in Honors Biology, keep in mind that a 5 may require a lot of work. And as mohchan said, only 6% of AP Bio students got 5s.

What you want to do is focus on the bigger picture. Don’t get caught up in the details. Sure, it’s cool to know the steps of glycolysis, but if you know that it occurs in the cytoplasm and changes glucose into two pyruvate, you should be fine. You may understand the material when the teacher explains it to you, but you might forget it before the test, so ask questions and review everyday. Finally, do questions similar to the AP exam. If your teacher only gives you questions like “Jellyfish are a part of which phylum”, you will not be prepared for the AP exam, so begin early. I recommend getting a review book like the Holtzclaw book to practice.

In terms of the silly mistakes, are you sure that you didn’t have a misconception during the test that caused you to make the mistake? Sometimes you may think you understand the concept but get it slightly wrong. If it’s due to true carelessness, there’s nothing you can do other than develop good test taking habits. If it’s due to misconceptions, make sure you truly know the material. Sometimes, I try to teach my pets the concepts to see if I can put these abstract topics into words.

@muufeen @awesomepolyglot @mohchan360 thank you guys for the advice! I’ve ordered a review book and have started cracking down on the summer homework, so I’ll keep what you guys said in mind.

@Muufeen looking back, I don’t think I understood the concepts as well as I should have. I did make stupid mistakes like filling in the wrong bubbles on scantrons - - but I think that I might try talking them through instead of just vaguely remembering things.

Try the edx AP biology study courses by Rice https://www.edx.org/course/apr-biology-part-1-cell-ricex-advbio-1x-0

The best way to study for AP bio is to

  1. Learn the concepts
  2. Do practice AP questions (Can be found online)