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Advanced Placement

The Complete Guide to AP Environmental Science Exam [Updated for AP 2024 Exam]

Written by Apoorvaa Agarwal

Updated on: 27 May 2024

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  • The AP Environmental Science course is organized into 9 topics: The Living World: Ecosystems, The Living World: Biodiversity, Populations, Earth Systems and Resources, Land and Water Use, Energy Resources and Consumption, Atmospheric Pollution, Aquatic and Terrestrial Pollution and Global Change.
  • The AP Environmental Science exam is divided into two sections: multiple-choice (60 questions, 1 hour and 30 minutes) and free-response (3 questions, 1 hour 10 minutes).
  • The mean score for the AP Environmental Science exam in 2022 was 2.88 out of 5. This is slightly lower than the mean score for all AP subjects in 2022, which was 2.92.
  • The pass rate of the AP Environmental Science Exam for 2022 was 56.3%. This is slightly lower than the pass rate for AP overall, which was 60.2%.
  • With AP Environmental Science, some majors that you could choose include environmental science, environmental engineering, environmental policy, and sustainability. Some of the career pathways that you could pursue include environmental scientist, environmental engineer, environmental policy analyst, and sustainability consultant.

AP Environmental Science is offered in over 100 countries around the world. In 2022, over 179,957 students took the AP Environmental Science exam.

In this AP Environmental Science guide, we will provide you with an overview of the AP Environmental Science course, including the format of the exam, the topics covered, and effective ways to study. We will also discuss some of the resources that are available to help you prepare for the exam.

What is on the AP Environmental Science exam?

The AP Environmental Science exam covers the interactions between humans and the environment. The exam covers a wide range of topics, including the Earth’s systems, energy, pollution, population, and sustainability.

Students will examine the concepts of environmental science through reading and discussion, and analyze data from environmental research studies. The exam also requires students to apply their knowledge of environmental science to solve real-world problems.

The AP Environmental Science Exam format includes two sections as below:

SectionNo. of QuestionsTime allocated to  each sectionWeightage
Multiple-choice  questions80 questions1 hour 30 mins60%
Free response   questions3 questions 1 hour 10 mins40% 
AP Environmental Science exam format

Now let’s understand everything about the AP Environmental Science exam: duration, structure, score distribution, etc.

How long is the AP Environmental Science exam?

The AP Environmental Science exam is 2 hours 40 mins long and is divided into two sections

  • The first section consists of 80 multiple-choice questions and is 1 hour 30 minutes long.
  • The second section is a free-response section with 3 questions and is 1 hour 10 minutes long.

The AP Environmental Science Exam will test your understanding of the psychological concepts covered in the course units, as well as your ability to analyze behavioral studies.

How many questions does the AP Environmental Science exam have?

The AP Environmental Science exam has 83 questions in total divided into two major sections; 80 multiple-choice questions and 3 free-response questions.

Topics for AP Environmental Science Review

AP Environmental Science is a rigorous course that covers the core scientific principles, theories, and processes that govern the interactions between humans and the environment. Students will do hands-on activities and experiments to investigate environmental phenomena.

UnitWhat’s includedWeight in Exam
Unit 1: The Living World: Ecosystems
You’ll begin to explore a view of planet Earth as one system made up of regional ecosystems composed of interdependent environmental features, processes, and relationships between species.
-Introduction to ecosystems
-Terrestrial and aquatic biomes
-Primary productivity
-Carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, and water cycles
-Trophic levels
-The flow of energy in an ecosystem and the 10% rule
-Food chains and food webs
16%–8%
Unit 2: The Living World: Biodiversity
You’ll learn about the importance of biodiversity within ecosystems and the impact of outside factors on the evolution of organisms.
-Introduction to biodiversity 
-Ecosystem servicesIsland biogeography
-Ecological tolerance
-Natural disruptions to ecosystems
-Ecological succession
6%-8%
Unit 3: Populations
You’ll examine how populations within ecosystems change over time, and the factors that affect population growth.
-Generalist and specialist species
-Survivorship curves
-Population growth and resource availability
-Age structure diagrams
-Human population dynamics
10%-15%
Unit 4: Earth Systems and Resources
You’ll study the natural components that make up the environment, from geologic features to the atmosphere and climate.
-Tectonic plates
-Soil formation and erosion
-Earth’s atmosphere
-Global wind patterns
-Earth’s geography and climate
-El Niño and La Niña
10%–15%
Unit 5: Land and Water Use
You’ll examine how humans use and consume natural resources, and the ways in which we disrupt ecosystems, both positively and negatively.
-The tragedy of the commons
-The Green Revolution
-Types and effects of irrigation
-Pest-control methods
-Meat production methods and overfishing
-The impacts of mining
-Urbanization and ecological footprints
-Introduction to sustainable practices including crop rotation and aquaculture
10%–15%
Unit 6: Energy Resources and Consumption
You’ll learn about renewable and nonrenewable sources of energy, where they’re used, and their impact on the environment.
-Energy sources and fuel types, including fossil fuels, ethanol, and nuclear power
-Global energy consumption and distribution of natural resources
-Natural sources of energy, including solar power, wind, geothermal, and hydroelectric power
-Energy conservation methods
10%–15%
Unit 7: Atmospheric Pollution
You’ll learn more about air pollution, including how human actions can cause it, and you’ll analyze legislation intended to regulate emissions and improve air quality.
-Introduction to air pollution
-Photochemical smog
-Indoor air pollution
-Methods to reduce air pollutants
-Acid rain
-Noise pollution
7%–10%
Unit 8: Aquatic and Terrestrial Pollution
You’ll examine the impact of pollution on ecosystems and learn how to determine its source.
-Sources of pollution
-Human impact on ecosystems
-Thermal pollution
-Solid waste disposal and waste reduction methods
-Pollution and human health
-Pathogens and infectious diseases
7%–10%
Unit 9: Global Change
You’ll come to understand the global impact of local and regional human activities and evaluate and propose solutions.
-Ozone depletion
-Global climate change 
-Ocean warming and acidification
-Invasive species
-Human impacts on diversity
15%–20%
AP Environmental Science Course Content

For additional course resources such as classroom resources, formulae and equation sheets and lab manuals refer to the College Board AP Environmental Science course page.

How is the AP Environmental Science exam scored?

The test is divided into two sections:

  • Section I: Consists of 80 multiple-choice questions.
  • Section II: Consists of 3 free-response questions. 

The AP Environmental Science exam is scored on a scale of 1 to 5. The multiple-choice section is worth 60% of the total score, while the free-response section is worth 40%.

The multiple-choice section consists of 60 questions, each of which is worth 1 point. The free-response section consists of 3 questions, each of which is worth 10 points.

The multiple-choice questions are designed to assess students’ knowledge of the fundamental concepts of environmental science. The free-response questions are designed to assess students’ ability to apply their knowledge of environmental science to solve real-world problems.

The AP Environmental Science exam is scored on a curve. This means that the percentage of students who earn each score is determined after all of the exams have been graded. In general, a score of 3 or higher is considered to be a passing score.

When is the AP Environmental Science exam in 2024?

The AP Environmental Science exam for 2024 will be held on Thursday, May 9 2024 08:00 Am local time. The 2024 AP Exams will be held over two weeks in May: May 6–10 and May 13–17. 

For the most recent information on exam dates and registration deadlines, students can check with their institution or the College Board website.

How to prepare for the AP Environmental Science exam? 

Here are some tips on how to prepare for AP Environmental Science exam

  • Start studying early. The AP Environmental Science exam covers a lot of material, so it’s important to start studying early. A good rule of thumb is to start studying for the AP Environmental Science exam at least 3 months before the exam date. 
  • Make sure you understand the fundamental concepts of environmental science. The multiple choice questions on the AP Environmental Science exam will test your knowledge of these concepts.
  • Be able to apply your knowledge of environmental science to solve real-world problems. The free response questions on the AP Environmental Science exam will require you to do this.
  • Practice answering multiple-choice questions under timed conditions. This will help you get used to the format of the exam and to manage your time effectively.
  • Write practice-free response essays. This will help you improve your writing skills and to learn how to answer the types of questions that will be asked on the exam.

How can Wiingy help with AP Environment Science exam prep?

In 2022, only 8.9% of the 179,957 students who took the AP Environment Science exam scored a 5. While 3 is considered the unofficial passing rate, most elite universities, such as Harvard or Princeton, offer AP credit only if you score 5 or higher. 

Getting a 5 is possible if you have the right support in your high school, but that’s rarely the case.

Here at Wiingy, we work with vetted AP Environment Science tutors with demonstrated expertise and experience in helping students score a 5 on AP exams

Unlike tutor marketplaces, every Wiingy tutor is screened individually and undergoes a comprehensive assessment.

Less than 3% of applicants are selected to become tutors on Wiingy’s platform, ensuring tutors are highly qualified and experienced in teaching AP courses.

Our tutors will work with you 1-on-1 to master the content and skills you need to succeed.

Experienced tutors can provide you with curriculum-specific guides and practice questions and familiarize you with the exam format to help you ace the test.

We know that sometimes you don’t want to pay for private tutoring because it is too expensive. It’s common to see tutoring costs between $100 to $150 per hour.

Wiingy’s rates are very affordable, starting from just $28 per hour, much lower than the average AP tutoring offered by other platforms.

One more advantage of studying with us is that we don’t require you to sign up for any packages or yearly subscriptions. You can sign up for as little as a single lesson and add more lessons as per your requirements.

While we try to match you with the perfect tutor as per your needs, we know that sometimes even the best tutors might not be the right fit for you. That’s why we offer you the Perfect Match Guarantee, which means that if you are not satisfied with your tutor for any reason, you can request a free replacement at any time. 

Sign up with Wiingy AP Environment Science Tutoring today and achieve your goal of scoring a 5 on your AP Test!

Why take AP Environmental Science?

Here are some advantages of taking AP Environmental Science

  • College credit: Depending on your score and the policies of the college you plan to attend, a high score on the AP Environmental Science exam can earn you college credit. This can save you time and money on tuition costs, as you may be able to skip introductory environmental science courses in college. You can major in environmental science, sustainability, ecology, or environmental engineering.
  • Advanced Placement: In addition to college credit, a high score on the AP Environmental Science exam can also earn you advanced placement in higher-level environmental science courses in college. This can give you a head start and allow you to take more advanced courses earlier in your college career.
  • Career prospect: Taking the AP Environmental Science exam and earning a high score demonstrates to colleges and future employers that you have mastered college-level environmental science concepts and skills. This can be an impressive addition to your college application or resume if you are looking to make your career as an environmental scientist, environmental engineer, sustainability expert, or policymaker.
  • Interest in environmental science: Finally, taking the AP Environmental Science exam can be a way to pursue your interest in environmental science and deepen your understanding of the natural world and the human impact on it. By exploring advanced environmental science concepts and practicing critical thinking skills, you can gain a greater appreciation for the importance of protecting our planet and its resources.
  • Global citizenship: The AP Environmental Science exam also teaches students about the interconnectedness of the global environment, and how human actions can have far-reaching consequences. This can help students develop a sense of global citizenship and a commitment to environmental sustainability.

Conclusion

Students who are interested in majoring in environmental science, sustainability, or other related fields will find the skills learned in AP Environmental Science to be essential. Additionally, the skills learned in this course can be applied to a wide range of careers, such as environmental consulting, policy-making, and activism.

The exam is divided into two sections: multiple-choice (60 questions, 70 minutes) and free-response (3 essays, 80 minutes). The mean score for the AP Environmental Science exam in 2022 was 2.79 out of 5, which is slightly lower than the mean score for all AP subjects in 2022 (2.92). The passing rate for AP Environmental Science in 2022 was 53.9%, which is slightly lower than the pass rate for AP overall (60.2%).

The AP Environmental Science exam is challenging, but it is also rewarding. By learning about the environment and applying your critical thinking skills, you can better understand the natural world and the human impact on it. You can also develop the skills necessary to help solve environmental problems.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

How hard is AP Environmental Science?

The pass rate for the AP Environmental Science exam is around 54%, which is lower than the average pass rate for all AP exams. AP Environmental Science is generally considered to be a moderately difficult AP course. 

The material is not as challenging as some of the other AP sciences, such as AP Physics or AP Chemistry, but it does require a good understanding of basic science concepts and the ability to apply them to real-world environmental issues.

How long is AP Environmental Science exam?

The AP Environmental Science exam is 2 hours and 40 minutes long. It is divided into two sections: a multiple-choice section and a free-response section.

Can you self-study AP Environmental Science exam?

Yes, it is possible to self-study for the AP Environmental Science exam. However, it is important to be organized and dedicated if you choose to self-study.

Written by by

Apoorvaa Agarwal

Reviewed by by

Priyanshi Agrawal

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