AP Biology: Data Questions

Data questions require a slightly greater initial time investment, but don’t let that intimidate you! Once the data is understood you may find that you can answer the questions rather quickly. Because most of the new information is in the shared introduction, you’ll probably notice that the question stems are actually a little shorter than those of the average Stand-Alone. As you navigate through the multiple-choice questions, treat the Data questions in much the same way you would the Stand-Alone questions, with awareness of your strengths and weaknesses and your overall goal of getting more questions correct. If you see a Punnett square and you love heredity, then dive right in. However, if the topic is one that is more likely to induce anxiety than correct answers, then skip it and return after your first pass through the section.

The key to getting through the Data Questions section of the exam is to be able to analyze quickly and draw a conclusion from data presented.



At least one—and most likely several—of the Data Questions will deal with experiments. Make sure you understand all the basic points of an experiment: testing a hypothesis, setting up an experiment properly to isolate a particular variable, and so on so that you will be able to breeze through this section when you come to it.

Let’s look at a practice question that does not contain visuals.

Questions 55–59 refer to the following information

Your biology teacher has created a computer game that simulates the function of a living cell. The object for the player is to act as the command center for the cell and to send the appropriate information for protein production and organelle function.

For each situation, select the appropriate cellular structure or functional response needed from the command center.

57 The cell has been dropped into a hypertonic solution.

(A)  Take up water through aquaporins

(B)  Close all membrane-bound proteins

(C)  Pump out solutes

(D)  Lose water through aquaporins

Questions with Graphs

Most graph questions usually require a bit of biology knowledge to determine what the right answer is, but some graph questions only test whether or not you can read a graph properly. If you can make sense of the vertical and horizontal axes, then you can determine what the correct answer is. Granted, very, very few graph questions are this easy, but even so, it’s nice to have a slam-dunk question or two. Therefore, if you see a graph, look at the problem and see if you can answer the question just by knowing how to read a graph.

That’s all that can be said for the multiple-choice section of the AP Biology exam. Be sure to practice these strategies so that you’ll actually use them on the real test. Once you implement these techniques, your mindset, approach, and score should benefit.