Countdown to AP Biology Test Day

The schedule presented here is the ideal. Compress the schedule to fit your needs. Do keep in mind, though, that research in cognitive psychology has shown that the best way to acquire a great deal of information about a topic is to prepare over a long period of time. Because you may have several months to prepare for this exam, it makes sense for you to use that time to your advantage. The Kaplan AP Biology book, along with your text, should be invaluable in helping you prepare for this test.

Two Semester Prep Schedule

September: Take a diagnostic test (one can be found in this book) and isolate areas in which you need help. The diagnostic will serve to familiarize you with the type of material you will be asked about on the AP Biology exam. Begin reading your biology textbook along with the class outline.
October–February: Continue reading this book and use the star system to help guide you to the most salient information for the exam.
March and April:Take the two practice tests and get an idea of your score. Also, identify the areas in which you need to brush up. Then go back and review those topics in your biology textbook.
May: Do a final review and take the exam.

One Semester Prep Schedule

January:Take a diagnostic test (one can be found in this book).
February–April:Begin reading and identify areas of strengths and weaknesses.
Late April:Take the two practice tests and use your performance results to guide you in your preparation.
May:Do a final review and take the exam.

Three Days Before the Test

It’s almost over. Eat a PowerBar, drink some soda—do whatever it takes to keep going. Here are Kaplan’s strategies for the three days leading up to the test.

Take a full-length practice test under timed conditions. Use the techniques and strategies you’ve learned. Approach the test strategically, actively, and confidently.



DO NOT take a full-length practice test if you have fewer than 48 hours left before the test. Doing so will probably exhaust you and hurt your score on the actual test.

Two Days Before the Test

Go over the results of your practice test. Don’t worry too much about your score or about whether you got a specific question right or wrong. The practice test doesn’t count, but examine your performance on specific questions with an eye to how you might get through each one faster and better on the test to come.

The Night Before the Test

DO NOT STUDY. Get together an “AP Biology Exam Kit” containing the following items:

  • A watch (as long as it doesn’t beep)
  • A few No. 2 pencils (pencils with slightly dull points fill the ovals better), mechanical pencils are NOT permitted
  • A pen with black or dark blue ink (for the free-response questions)
  • Erasers
  • Photo ID card
  • Your admission ticket from ETS

Know exactly where you’re going, exactly how you’re getting there, and exactly how long it takes to get there. It’s probably a good idea to visit your test center sometime before the day of the test so that you know what to expect—what the rooms are like, how the desks are set up, and so on.

Relax the night before the test. Do the relaxation and visualization techniques. Read a good book, take a long, hot shower, watch something you’ll enjoy. Get a good night’s sleep. Go to bed early and leave yourself extra time in the morning.



As you study, highlight challenging terms and keep a list of their meanings so they won’t trip you up on Test Day.


The Morning of the Test

First, wake up. After that:

  • Eat breakfast. Make it something substantial, but not anything too heavy or greasy.
  • Don’t drink a lot of coffee if you’re not used to it. Bathroom breaks cut into your time, and too much caffeine is a bad idea.
  • Dress in layers so that you can adjust to the temperature of the test room.
  • Read something. Warm up your brain with a newspaper or a magazine. You shouldn’t let the exam be the first thing you read that day.
  • Be sure to get there early. Allow yourself extra time for traffic, mass transit delays, and/or detours.



Don’t be shaken. If you find your confidence slipping, remind yourself how well you’ve prepared. You know the structure of the test; you know the instructions; you’ve had practice with—and have learned strategies for—every question type.
If something goes really wrong, don’t panic. If you accidentally misgrid your answer page or put the answers in the wrong section, raise your hand and tell the proctor. He or she might be able to arrange for you to regrid your test after it’s over, when it won’t cost you any time.


After the Test

You might walk out of the AP Biology exam thinking that you blew it. This is a normal reaction. Lots of people—even the highest scorers—feel that way. You tend to remember the questions that stumped you, not the ones that you knew. We’re positive that you will have performed well and scored your best on the exam because you followed the Kaplan strategies. Be confident in your preparation, and celebrate the fact that the AP Biology exam is soon to be a distant memory.