Excel at Science
- Feb 16, 2021
AP Biology Past FRQs by Topic
Updated: Sep 22
**Updated on 11/19/22 to include the 2020-2022 exams!**
If you are looking for past AP Biology free-response questions (FRQs) that are organized by topic, then you have come to the right place. In this post, we have linked every freely available past FRQ there is and organized it into the following major topics of AP Biology :
Metabolism & Energetics
Plants (note that this topic will not be tested on the official AP Biology exam this year in 2021, although some questions about plants also cover concepts that will be tested)
Physiology (note that this topic will not be tested on the official AP Biology exam this year in 2021, although many questions about physiology could also cover concepts that will be tested)
Need more AP-style practice problems?
Intensively doing and reviewing practice questions is proven to be much more effective than spending hours studying. Check out our AP Bio Practice Portal , which is an easy-to-use database of 300+ AP-style MCQ and FRQ practice questions. Students love the Practice Portal because it includes answers and explanations for every problem, tracks progress, saves time from Googling practice problems.
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How to make the most of past frqs from college board.
As noted above, the diversity of organisms, plants, and physiology will not be on the 2021 AP Biology exam. However, the exam could include questions about topics or hypothetical situations that are related to those topics. One great example is cell communication, which is used in multiple systems inside our bodies. Let’s say an FRQ was to appear about the immune system and how the immune cells communicate. That would be fair game as long as the question focuses on the cell signaling part, not the details of the immune system. If the question requires some background knowledge about the immune system, it will be provided.
If you want to do a whole practice FRQ set just like the ones on the real exam (which we highly recommend), all the freely available past FRQs by year are available here on the College Board website. Tip: time yourself and take the practice FRQ set in an environment that mimics how you imagine your actual testing environment to be.
If you would like to focus on a particular topic, then the section coming up is for you. Some FRQs will show up under multiple topics because they truly do test students’ understanding of multiple different topics.
Tip : Whether you are doing individual free-response questions or doing a full problem set in one go, it is extremely important and effective to do test corrections! Don’t only consult the scoring guidelines and model responses when you have no clue how to answer a question. You should be checking them for all the FRQs you do. When you find a difference between your answer and the scoring guidelines, it is important that you pause and analyze why your response is incorrect. Take the time to understand your mistakes and see how your answer could have been better. This will help you boost your scores the most efficiently.
AP BIOLOGY FRQs BY TOPIC
Basic and organic chemistry concepts do not come up often on the FRQs (but of course, it’s better to be prepared). The properties of water and macromolecules come up occasionally.
2017 #7 and 8
Includes cell structure and function, cell transport and the proteins involved.
2019 #3 and 8
2018 #2, 6, and 8
2006 #1, 3, and 4
2001 #1 and 4
Metabolism & Energetics:
This topic includes enzymes, cellular respiration, and photosynthesis.
2021 #3 (cell respiration)
2019 #3 (cell respiration)
2018 #2 (cell respiration)
2017 #7 (cell respiration)
2017 #5 (photosynthesis)
2015 #2 (cell respiration)
2013 #2 (photosynthesis) and 4 (cell respiration & photosynthesis)
2012 #2 (cell respiration) and 4 (cell respiration & photosynthesis)
2010 #2 (enzymes)
2007 #3 (photosynthesis)
2006 #4 (photosynthesis)
2005 #1 (cell respiration & photosynthesis)
2004 #3 (photosynthesis)
Cell cycle & cell signaling:
This topic has shown up more frequently and in more difficult FRQs in recent years, especially cell communication. The trend will most likely continue.
2021 #1 (cell communication)
2019 #4 (cell communication)
2018 #8 (cell communication)
2017 #8 (cell communication)
2016 # 7 (cell division)
2015 # 4 (cell division)
2015 #5 and 7 (cell communication)
2013 #8 (cell communication)
2011 #1B (cell division)
2010 #1 (cell communication)
2006 #1B (cell division)
2004 #1 (cell division)
Genetics, Gene Expression and Regulation
This section includes the classic Mendelian genetics, with Punnett squares, crosses, and Mendel’s laws. It also includes DNA replication, protein synthesis, and gene expression regulation for both eukaryotes and prokaryotes.
2021 #6 (gene expression)
2021 #2 (heredity + pedigrees)
2020 #1 parts a-b
2019 #1 and 3
2018 #1, 4, and 7
2016 #4 and 7
2020 #1 parts f-j
2015 #3 and 6
2014 #2 and 4
2015 #2 (nervous system)
2014 #2 (immune system) and 6 (musculoskeletal system) and 7
2017 #2 and 3
2011 #2 and 4
2017 #2, 4, and 7b
2016 #3 and 5
2014 #3 and 4
This is an additional section that isn’t focused on any particular topic or has significant data analysis involved. While most FRQs do pertain to a specific topic(s), some are simply there to test your knowledge of experimental design and understanding of statistical concepts such as performing Chi-Square tests and interpreting error bars on graphs. These types of questions have become more and more common on the AP exam, so it is important to feel comfortable and confident with them.
2020 #1 parts c-e
2016 #2 , 6 and 8
2014 #1 and 5
2013 #1 and 7
Hope these organized FRQs saved you some time so you can focus more on actually doing them and practicing! You can easily share this post with friends who may find it helpful as well.
How to Improve AP Biology FRQ Scores, Fast
Do a lot of FRQ practice problems and review the answers! Practice is key, especially for a subject as dense as AP Bio. Check out the AP Bio Practice Portal , which is our popular vault of 300+ AP-style MCQ and FRQ problem sets with answers and explanations for every question. Don't waste any more time Googling practice problems or answers - try it out now!
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2018 AP Biology Free Response Questions 1 - 8 Solutions
Polar bears are highly adapted for life in cold climates around the North Pole. …
Some pathogenic bacteria enter cells, replicate, and spread to other cells, causing illness in the host organism. …
Seagrasses are aquatic plants that reproduce sexually. …
The common bedbug is a species of insect that is becoming increasingly resistant to insecticides. …
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Cystic fibrosis is a genetic condition that is associated with defects in the CFTR protein. …
In the tongue sole fish, sex is determined by a combination of genetics and environmental temperature. …
Acetylcholine receptor proteins are found at the synapse betwenn neurons and skeletal muscle cells. …
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2018 AP® Biology Free-Response Questions
This 2018 ap® biology free-response questions ap test prep also includes:.
- Scoring Guidelines
- Chief Reader Report
- Scoring Statistics
- Sample Responses Q1
- Sample Responses Q2
- Sample Responses Q3
- Sample Responses Q4
- Sample Responses Q5
- Sample Responses Q6
- Sample Responses Q7
- Sample Responses Q8
- Scoring Distributions
- Join to access all included materials
The average AP Biology score dropped in 2018 with the addition of more data tables and graphs. Offer additional practice free-response questions by using the questions from the 2018 AP exam covering phylogenetic trees, cell structure and function, and genetic mutations. Scholars learn the format, expectations, time management, and more after using these resources.
- Use each question to practice for a future AP Biology test
- Have scholars use the sample responses to compare their own answers and discuss improvements
- Assumes prior knowledge of all AP Biology content
- Encourages interpreting data tables and graphs, scientific writing, and problem-solving skills
- Includes many teacher resources for helping scholars study
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Ap® biology practice tests.
- The Albert Team
- Last Updated On: March 1, 2022
If you’re looking for a comprehensive list of the best AP® Biology practice tests, we’ve put them together here. In this post, we’ll outline background about the course and go over practice tests for AP® Biology that you can start using for your test prep efforts towards earning a 5.
Whether you’re reviewing Unit 1 or Unit 8, there’s a set of AP® Biology practice questions for you.
The exam features 60 multiple choice questions that make up 50% of your score, and 6 free response questions that comprise of the other half of your score.
AP® Biology aims to strengthen students’ abilities to demonstrate inquiry-based learning of essential concepts, and to use these skills to develop reasoning skills for science practices.
In case you’re looking for other free AP® Biology resources, check out our blog section for review articles, score calculators, and more .
What We Review
The 6 Science Practices AP® Biology Promotes
- Concept Explanation : Explain biological concepts, processes, and models presented in written format.
- Visual Representation : Analyze visual representations of biological concepts and processes.
- Questions and Methods : Determine scientific questions and methods.
- Representing and Describing Data : Represent and describe data.
- Statistical Tests and Data Analysis : Perform statistical tests and mathematical calculations to analyze and interpret data.
- Argumentation : Develop and justify scientific arguments using evidence.
The Big Ideas of AP® Biology
There are four big ideas in the course:
- Big Idea 1: Evolution – The process of evolution drives the diversity and unity of life.
- Big Idea 2: Energetics – Biological systems use energy and molecular building blocks to grow, reproduce, and maintain dynamic homeostasis.
- Big Idea 3: Information Storage and Transmission – Living systems store, retrieve, transmit, and respond to information essential to life processes.
- Big Idea 4: Systems Interactions – Biological systems interact, and these systems and their interactions exhibit complex properties.
Being intentional in your studying is crucial. Here, we’ve broken down our AP® Biology prep course into their individual units so that you can identify which parts of the test are a greater percentage of the exam, and start targeting your practice.
If you’ve never used Albert, click into Units 2, 4, and 7 to try our free AP® Biology multiple choice practice questions.
Unit 1: Chemistry of Life
- 8-11% of the exam
- 35+ AP® Biology practice questions
- Unit 1 covers topics like the structure of water and hydrogen bonding, elements of life, properties and functions of biological macromolecules and nucleic acids
Unit 2: Cell Structure and Function
- 10-13% of the exam
- 110+ AP® Biology practice questions
- Unit 2 digs more into topics like cell size, plasma membranes, membrane transport, tonicity and osmoregulation, and cell compartmentalization
- Try 15 free AP® Biology practice questions on Topic 2.2 Cell Structure and Function
Unit 3: Cellular Energetics
- 12-16% of the exam
- 50+ AP® Biology practice questions
- Unit 3 digs into topics such as enzyme structures and catalysis, photosynthesis, cellular respiration and fitness.
Unit 4: Cell Communication and Cell Cycle
- 10-15% of the exam
- 80+ AP® Biology practice questions
- Unit 4 investigates how cells communicate with one another via signal transduction, the parts of the cell cycle and regulation of the cell cycle.
- Try 10+ free AP® Biology review questions on Topic 4.4 Changes in Signal Transduction Pathways
Unit 5: Heredity
- Unit 5 explores topics like meiosis and genetic diversity, digging into things like Mendelian genetics and Non-Mendelian genetics.
Unit 6: Gene Expression and Regulation
- Unit 6 digs into the DNA some more, covering transcription and RNA processing, translation, how mutations work, and biotechnology.
Unit 7: Natural Selection
- 13-20% of the exam
- 200+ AP® Biology practice questions
- Unit 7 teaches about natural selection, artificial selection, population genetics, evidence of evolution and common ancestry.
- Try 20 free AP® Biology multiple choice practice questions on Topic 7.5 Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium
Unit 8: Ecology
- 140+ AP® Biology practice questions
- Unit 8 wraps up AP® Biology with a look at the big picture: energy flow through ecosystems, population ecology, community ecology and biodiversity are just some of the topics covered.
AP® Biology Investigative Labs
- 150 AP® Biology practice questions
- These practice questions serve as supplemental review after you’ve completed the 13 AP® Biology laboratory investigations in class.
- Confirmation: Confirming a principle through an activity where the results are known in advance.
- Structured Inquiry: Exploring a teacher-presented question through a prescribed procedure.
- Guided Inquiry: Evaluating a teacher-presented question through a student-designed process.
- Open Inquiry: Investigating topic-related questions that students formulate and complete with their own designed process.
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AP® Biology Practice Tests Sorted by Big Ideas & Enduring Understandings
One of the best parts about using Albert for your AP® Biology review is that each practice question is tied directly back to the College Board standard, enduring understanding, or essential knowledge that’s being evaluated.
We’ve gone ahead and filtered down our AP® Bio multiple choice practice questions to help you get a head start:
Big Idea 1: Evolution
- EVO-1: Evolution is characterized by a change in the genetic makeup of a population over time and is supported by multiple lines of evidence
- EVO-2: Organisms are linked by lines of descent from common ancestry.
- EVO-3: Life continues to evolve within a changing environment.
Big Idea 2: Energetics
- ENE-1: The highly complex organization of living systems requires constant input of energy and the exchange of macromolecules.
- ENE-2: Cells have membranes that allow them to establish and maintain internal environments that are different from their external environments.
- ENE-3: Timing and coordination of biological mechanisms involved in growth, reproduction, and homeostasis depend on organisms responding to environmental cues.
- ENE-4: Communities and ecosystems change on the basis of interactions among populations and disruptions to the environment.
Big Idea 3: Information Storage and Transmission
- IST-1: Heritable information provides for continuity of life.
- IST-2: Differences in the expression of genes account for some of the phenotypic differences between organisms.
- IST-3: Cells communicate by generating, transmitting, receiving, and responding to chemical signals.
- IST-4: The processing of genetic information is imperfect and is a source of genetic variation.
- IST-5: Transmission of information results in changes within and between biological systems.
Big Idea 4: Systems Interactions
- SYI-1: Living systems are organized in a hierarchy of structural levels that interact.
- SYI-2: Competition and cooperation are important aspects of biological systems.
- SYI-3: Naturally occurring diversity among and between components within biological systems affects interactions with the environment.
AP® Biology Unit Assessments
We’ve compiled unit assessments for some of the most important topics covered in AP® Bio. Use these after you’ve completed your targeted practice above.
Note: You’ll need an Albert subscription to access these tests.
- AP® Biology Unit 1 Assessment
- AP® Biology Unit 2 Assessment
- AP® Biology Unit 3 Assessment
- AP® Biology Unit 4 Assessment
- AP® Biology Unit 5 Assessment
- AP® Biology Unit 6 Assessment
AP® Biology Full-Length Practice Tests
After you complete your unit specific review, use these full-length AP® Biology exams to simulate the real test. Give yourself 180 minutes to complete these.
- AP® Biology Practice Test 1
- AP® Biology Practice Test 2
- AP® Biology Practice Test 3
- AP® Biology Practice Test 4
Previous AP® Biology Free Response Questions & Answers
The College Board provides a comprehensive database of the past years’ AP® Biology free response questions and answers. Here are some of the FRQs from recent years:
- 2019 AP® Biology Free-Response Scoring Guidelines
- 2019 Chief Reader Report
- 2018 AP® Biology Free-Response Scoring Guidelines
- 2018 Chief Reader Report
- 2017 AP® Biology Free-Response Scoring Guidelines
- 2017 Chief Reader Report
Helpful AP® Biology FRQ Videos
We’ve made two in-depth AP® Bio free response videos to help you get started in your studying:
Need help preparing for your AP® Biology exam?
Albert has hundreds of AP® Biology practice questions, free response, and full-length practice tests to try out.
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