5 Steps to a 5: AP Biology - Mark Anestis 2021

Introduction: The Five-Step Program


If you focus on the beginning, the rest will fall into place. When you purchase this book and decide to work your way through it, you are beginning your journey to the Advanced Placement (AP) Biology exam. We will be with you every step of the way.

Why This Book?

We believe that this book has something unique to offer you. We have spoken with many AP Biology teachers and students and have been fortunate to learn quite a bit. Teachers helped us understand which topics are most important for class, and students described what they wanted from a test-prep book. Therefore, the contents of this book reflect genuine student concerns and needs. This is a student-oriented book. We did not attempt to impress you with arrogant language, mislead you with inaccurate information and tasks, or lull you into a false sense of confidence through ingenious shortcuts. We have not put information into this book simply because it is included in other review books. We recognize the fact that there is only so much that one individual can learn for an exam. Believe us, we have taken our fair share of these tests—we know how much work they can be. This book represents a realistic approach to studying for the AP exam. We have included very little heavy technical detail in this book. (There is some . . . we had to . . . but there is not very much.)

Think of this text as a resource and guide to accompany you on your AP Biology journey throughout the year. This book is designed to serve many purposes. It should:

✵ Clarify requirements for the AP Biology exam

✵ Provide you with test practice

✵ Help you pace yourself

✵ Function as a wonderful paperweight when the exam is completed

✵ Make you aware of the five steps to mastering the AP Biology exam.

Organization of the Book

We know that your primary concern is to learn about the AP Biology exam. We start by introducing the five-step plan. We then give an overview of the exam in general. We follow that up with three different approaches to exam preparation and then move on to describe some tips and suggestions for how to approach the various sections of the exam. The Diagnostic Exam should give you an idea of where you stand before you begin your preparations. We recommend that you spend 45 minutes on this practice exam.

The volume of material covered in AP Biology is quite intimidating. Step 4 of this book provides a comprehensive review of all the major sections you may or may not have covered in the classroom. Not every AP Biology class in the country will get through the same amount of material. This book should help you fill any gaps in your understanding of the course work.

Step 5 of this book is the practice exam section. Here is where you put your skills to the test. The multiple-choice questions provide practice with the types of questions you may encounter on the AP exam. Keep in mind that they are not exact questions taken directly from past exams. Rather, they are designed to focus you on the key topics that often appear on the actual AP Biology exam. When you answer a question we’ve written in this book, do not think to yourself, “OK . . . that’s a past exam question.” Instead, you should think to yourself, “OK, the authors thought that was important, so I should remember this fact. It may show up in some form on the real exam.” The essay questions are designed to cover the techniques and terms required by the AP exam. After taking each exam, you can check yourself against the explanations of every multiple-choice question and the grading guidelines for the essays.

The material at the end of the book is also important. It contains a bibliography of sources that may be helpful to you, a list of websites related to the AP Biology exam, and a glossary of the key terms discussed in this book.

Introducing the Five-Step Program

The five-step program is designed to provide you with the skills and strategies vital to the exam and the practice that can help lead you to that perfect “Holy Grail” score of 5.

Step 1: Set Up Your Study Program

Step 1 leads you through a brief process to help determine which type of exam preparation you want to commit yourself to:

1. Full-year prep: September through May

2. One-semester prep: January through May

3. Six-week prep: the six weeks prior to the exam

Step 2: Determine Your Test Readiness

Step 2 consists of a Diagnostic Exam, which will give you an idea of what you already know and what you need to learn between now and the exam. Take the test, which is broken down by topic, look over the detailed explanations, and start learning!

Step 3: Develop Strategies for Success

Step 3 gives you strategy advice for the AP Biology exam. It teaches you about the multiple-choice questions and the free-response questions you will face on exam day.

Step 4: Review the Knowledge You Need to Score High

Step 4 is a big one. This is the comprehensive review of all the topics on the AP exam. You’ve probably been in an AP Bio class all year, and you’ve likely spent hours upon hours reading through the AP Biology textbooks. These review chapters are appropriate both for quick skimming (to remind yourself of salient points that may have slipped your mind) and for in-depth study (to teach yourself broader concepts that may be new to you.)

Step 5: Build Your Test-Taking Confidence

Ahhhh, the full-length practice tests—oh, the joy! In addition to the Diagnostic Exam, this book has two more full-length practice tests. If you purchased the cross-platform version of this book, you will find three more practice tests online. One of the most effective ways to improve as you prepare for any exam is to take as many practice tests as you can. Sit down and take these tests fully timed, see what you get wrong, and learn from those mistakes. Remember . . . it’s good to make mistakes on these exams because if you learn from those mistakes now, you won’t make them again in May!

The Graphics Used in This Book

To emphasize particular skills and strategies, we use several icons throughout this book. An icon in the margin will alert you that you should pay particular attention to the accompanying text. We use three icons:


1. This icon points out a very important concept or fact that you should not pass over.


2. This icon calls your attention to a problem-solving strategy that you may want to try.


3. This icon indicates a tip that you might find useful.

Boldfaced words indicate terms that are included in the Glossary at the end of the book. Boldface is also used to indicate the answer to a sample problem discussed in the test. Throughout the book you will find marginal notes, boxes, and starred areas. Pay close attention to these areas because they can provide tips, hints, strategies, and further explanations to help you reach your full potential.