It is no secret that AP Biology is a challenging course, but it can be a crucial academic stepping stone for students interested in pursuing STEM programs in college – especially those in the natural sciences. The course provides students with a strong foundational understanding of biology, which will help them to pursue high-level science programs at the collegiate level. The course utilizes an interdisciplinary approach that challenges students to study how the principles of physics and chemistry can be applied to the life sciences.

Admissions officers love to see AP Biology on transcripts of students who articulate an interest in STEM, especially those students contemplating a pre-med (or pre-vet, public health or pre-dental) track. The coursework covers college-level biology topics such as Natural Selection, Chemistry of Life, Ecology, Heredity and many other disciplines.

For many students, AP Biology may be their first chance to take an Advanced Placement science course, which can be daunting. The workload will be significantly more intensive than standard level courses, and the pace of the course moves quickly.

But for students who are up to the challenge, and are successful in the course, it can be a primary focal point in the admissions review process. Here are a few tips to consider before the course begins:

  • Familiarize yourself with the content and material covered in the course. You certainly don’t need to have a mastery of the material, but you should be aware of the topics that will be covered to give yourself confidence.
  • Keep up with the reading. AP Biology requires a great deal of reading, so commit yourself to maintaining (or even exceeding) the reading pace of the course. This will also allow you to be more engaged in the conversation and lectures in the classroom.
  • Ask questions. If you are having trouble understanding a certain topic, move beyond the textbook to gain a better understanding. Go online and watch videos related to the subject matter, or better yet, ask your teacher for help. The more engaged you are, the more your teacher will recognize your effort and enthusiasm, which is often rewarded.
About the author
Marc Zawel

As author of Untangling the Ivy League, Marc literally wrote the book on gaining admission to highly selective colleges. He earned a BA from Cornell University – where he met AcceptU’s co-founder – and an MBA from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At UNC, Marc chaired the admissions advisory board; he has also conducted alumni interviews for Cornell for more than fifteen years.

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