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Important Updates

AP Environmental Science Updates and New Resources for 2019-20
To help more students prepare for—and succeed on—the AP Environmental Science Exam, we’ve clarified the course’s focus starting with the 2019-20 school year and are introducing new resources for your classroom. We’ve also moved exam registration to the fall, a best practice that improves students’ chances of earning college credit and placement.

Download the new course and exam description (CED)

New AP Resources
AP Classroom is now available. Designed with AP educators, it helps you provide students daily practice and personalized feedback throughout the year. Sign in to access AP unit guides with aligned resources, topic questions, personal progress checks, the progress dashboard, and your question bank.

Sign In to AP Classroom

Course Overview

Students cultivate their understanding of the interrelationships of the natural world through inquiry-based lab investigations and field work as they explore concepts likethe four Big Ideas; energy transfer, interactions between earth systems, interactions between different species and the environment, and sustainability.

Course Content

Based on the Understanding by Design® (Wiggins and McTighe) model, this course framework provides a clear and detailed description of the course requirements necessary for student success. The framework specifies what students must know, be able to do, and understand, with a focus on big ideas that encompass core principles and theories of the discipline. The framework also encourages instruction that prepares students for advanced environmental science coursework.

The AP Environmental Science framework is organized into nine commonly taught units of study that provide one possible sequence for the course. As always, you have the flexibility to organize the course content as you like.

Exam Weighting (Multiple-Choice Section)

Unit 1: The Living World: Ecosystems


Unit 2: The Living World: Biodiversity


Unit 3: Populations


Unit 4: Earth Systems and Resources


Unit 5: Land and Water Use


Unit 6: Energy Resources and Consumption


Unit 7: Atmospheric Pollution


Unit 8: Aquatic and Terrestrial Pollution


Unit 9: Global Change


Science Practices

The new AP Environmental Science framework included in the course and exam description outlines distinct skills, called science practices, that students should practice throughout the year—skills that will help them learn to think and act like environmental scientists.

 Exam Weighting (Multiple-Choice Section)
 Exam Weighting (Free-Response Section)
 1. Concept Explanation  Explain environmental concepts, processes, and models presented in written format  30%–38%  13%–20%
 2. Visual Representations  Analyze visual representations of environmental concepts and processes  12%–19%  6%–10%
 3. Text Analysis  Analyze sources of information about environmental issues  6%–8%  Not assessed in free-response section.
 4. Scientific Experiments  Analyze research studies that test environmental principles  2%–4%  10%–14%
 5. Data Analysis  Analyze and interpret quantitative data represented in tables, charts, and graphs  12%–19%  6%–10%
 6. Mathematical Routines  Apply quantitative methods to address environmental concepts  6%–9%  20%
 7. Environmental Solutions  Propose and justify solutions to environmental problems  17%–23%  26%–34%

AP and Higher Education

Higher education professionals play a key role developing AP courses and exams, setting credit and placement policies, and scoring student work. The AP Higher Education site features information on recruitment and admission, advising and placement, and more.

This chart shows recommended scores for granting credit, and how much credit should be awarded, for each AP course. Your students can look up credit and placement policies for colleges and universities on the AP Credit Policy Search.

Meet the Development Committee for AP Environmental Science.