Course Review: AP Biology

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AP Biology is known to be one of the most toughest classes offered here at John Jay. In this course review, I will describe my past experience this year in AP Bio and offer advice to any underclassmen who are interested in taking this class during their 2018-19 school year. I hope this may be helpful.

I’m not going to lie. I felt very nervous on the first day of school when I entered that classroom. People have told me that this class was impossible and it would take up so much of my time. I was also criticized for taking this class during my junior not senior year. It is now June and it is safe to say that this is far from the truth.

The course has four big main ideas: the process of evolution drives the diversity and unity of life; living systems store, retrieve, transmit, and respond to information essential to life processes; biological systems interact, and these systems and their interactions possess complex properties; and biological systems utilize free energy and molecular building blocks to grow, reproduce, and maintain dynamic homeostasis. Every unit that is learned in AP Biology falls under one of these four categories. The order in which we learned the units this year was: ecology, biochemistry, cellular respiration, photosynthesis, cell cycle, Mendelian genetics, molecular genetics, gene regulation, evolution, animal interactions, and body systems. Each of these units are challenging in their own ways. The unit that had the most work required was the genetics unit. Despite this, genetics was by far the most interesting and enjoyable unit for me.

Labs are also a major part of AP Biology. Labs count as much as major exams do. In the beginning of the year, we are given a lab notebook. We used this notebook throughout the year for lab write ups. Not only are the labs enjoyable, but they really help you learn. This hands on experience improves your lab skills and helps you become a better scientist. Having a lab notebook forces you to be organized. There is a strict format that must be followed when doing write ups. Labs do take a long time to complete and will sometimes take multiple days to complete.

I was expecting there to be a load of memorization. I was wrong. AP Biology doesn’t necessarily focus on the “what” piece, but rather the “how” piece. I now have a completely different approach to biology than I did in the beginning of the year. AP Biology has trained my brain to think outside of the box.

I had an amazing first year at AP Biology and I am so glad I took this course during my junior year. Even though people told me to take it as a senior, I honestly enjoyed it more during junior year because it has really made me a better student and has prepared me better for future college level courses. Even though junior year is known to be the busiest and hardest year of high school, I was able to manage my time and was able to be a successful AP Biology student. I strongly recommend AP Biology for anyone who is up for a challenge and who has a strong desire for the sciences.