How to Approach AP Biology Multiple-Choice Questions

AP Biology Multiple-Choice Questions

You have approximately 90 seconds per question on the multiple-choice section of this exam. Remember that to be on pace for a great score on this exam, you need to correctly answer approximately 42 multiple-choice questions or more. Here are a few rules of thumb:

1. Don't out-think the test. It is indeed possible to be too smart for these tests. Frequently during these standardized tests we have found ourselves overanalyzing every single problem. If you encounter a question such as, "During what phase of meiosis does crossover (also referred to as crossing over) occur?" and you happen to know the answer immediately, this does not mean that the question is too easy. First, give yourself credit for knowing a fact. They asked you something, you knew it, and wham, you fill in the bubble. Do not overanalyze the question and assume that your answer is too obvious for that question. Just because you get it doesn't mean that it was too easy.

2. Don't leave questions blank. The AP Biology exam used to take off one-fourth point for each wrong answer. This is no longer the case. You should bubble in an answer for each multiple-choice question.

3. Be on the lookout for trick wording! Always pay attention to words or phrases such as "least," "most," "not," "incorrectly," and "does not belong." Do not answer the wrong question. There are few things as annoying as getting a question wrong on this test simply because you didn't read the question carefully enough, especially if you know the right answer.

4. Use your time carefully. Some of these questions require a lot of careful reading before you can answer them. If you find yourself struggling on a question, try not to waste too much time on it. Circle it in the booklet and come back to it later if time permits. Remember—you are looking to answer approximately 42 multiple-choice questions correctly to be on pace for a great score—this test should be an exercise in window shopping.

It does not matter which questions you get correct. What is important is that you answer enough questions correctly. Find the subjects that you know the best, answer those questions, and save the others for review later on.

5. Be careful about changing answers! If you have answered a question already, come back to it later on, and get the urge to change it . . . make sure that you have a real reason to change it. Often an urge to change an answer is the work of exam "elves" in the room who want to trick you into picking a wrong answer. Change your answer only if you can justify your reasons for making the switch.

6. Check your calculations! The math required isn't overly complicated. That said, it would be unfortunate to lose points because of a silly calculation error. Make sure to work carefully and check your math. Happily, any equations you need will be provided for you.

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