AP Environmental Science Overview

Continuing on the theme of self-studying for AP classes, we are going to take a look at the AP Environmental Science (APES for short) exam.  There still are a few months left to study for AP exams, so we hope that this guide is helpful for prepping!

The Resources

AP Environmental Science, better known simply as “APES”, is one of the easiest tests to self-study (I personally did this as a freshman). Although the material covered ranges from chemistry to biology to some physics, it is all very basic, and the test is rather straightforward. Your best bet when studying for APES is probably the Barron’s book. If you are already pretty knowledgeable in the subject, or just need to review beforehand, The Smartypants’ Guide to Environmental Science is also an excellent resource to have.

For preparation directly from the test, check out Collegeboard’s released FRQs for APESand the accompanying sample scoring guidelines. Also, try searching around for released exams to practice the multiple choice (many full tests can be found for free online if one looks carefully enough).

The Timeline

If you have some previous knowledge on the subject, prepping for this test is possible within as little as two months. This means that, with the test on May 2 (8 a.m.), you can begin to prepare around early March and still expect a good score. This said, it would be preferable to begin preparation in February or earlier (especially for complete newcomers). Furthermore, if possible, it is a good idea to pair this test with an AP Biology class, for many of the topics overlap.

The Test

The AP Environmental Science test is 3 hours long, and is comprised of two sections. The first is a 90 minute, 100 question multiple choice section. The second is a 90 minute free response section made up of four essays (one data-set, one document based, and two synthesis and evaluation questions). According to Collegeboard, the test’s questions are

  1. Earth Systems and Resources (10-15%)
  2. The Living World (10-15%)
  3. Population (10-15%)
  4. Land and Water Use (10-15%)
  5. Energy Resources and Consumption (10-15%)
  6. Pollution (25-30%)
  7. Global Change (10-15%)

Paying special attention to pollution’s affect on the environment is a good idea, although the topics are more or less evenly distributed in terms of importance, so I would not recommend skimping anywhere. One area where you do have an easy break is the data set and the document based question; both of these require little outside knowledge of the subject to answer correctly.

(Photo by Christopher Craig)


This entry was posted in Admissions, Standardized Tests, Written by Brian and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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