Course Syllabus



AP Biology Course Syllabus 

Instructor:  Henna Jaffry                                                           Email: 

Tutoring Hours: TBA

WELCOME to Mrs. Jaffry's AP Biology Class!!!


Course Design: This course is for students desiring a first year college-level biology course.  AP Biology is taken in high school as a second year course. AP biology meets every day for 90 minutes for two semesters.   


Course Description 

Advanced Placement Biology is designed to offer students a solid foundation in college level introductory biology. This course is aligned to the College Board AP Biology Curriculum Framework and is based on four Big Ideas, which encompass core scientific principles, theories, and processes that cut across traditional boundaries and provide a broad way of thinking about living organisms and biological systems. 

Twenty-five percent of instructional time  will be devoted to hands-on laboratory work with an emphasis on inquiry-based investigations. Investigations require students to ask questions, make observations and predictions, design experiments, analyze data, and construct arguments in a collaborative setting, where they direct and monitor their progress.

  Students should be prepared for complex science texts and readings, including a minimum of 45 minutes to 1.5 hours of work outside class each day (about 5-8 hours a week). As a college level course, the amount of material covered as well as the complexity of the topics will be high. An ongoing expectation, therefore, is to learn the material as it is presented and come to class each day understanding the previous day’s material; there will even be times where students are expected to come to class already understanding the material before it has been worked over in class. Students should be certain that they are willing to accept this challenge and be committed to keep up with the work. 

Upon completion of the course students should be able to have the conceptual framework, factual knowledge, and analytical skills necessary to deal critically with the rapidly changing science of biology. Students who earn a qualifying score on the AP Biology Exam are typically eligible to receive college credit and placement in an advanced science course in college; please note that this varies by university, so please look into the AP Exam score requirement for the colleges to which you will be applying.


Objectives and Skills: 

  • To develop reasoning skills so that students can grasp science as a process rather than an accumulation of facts.
  • Use inquiry-based learning to explore essential concepts and gain understanding of scientific processes.
  • Learn to collaborate with others both in and outside of class. 
  • Realize that studying is a daily process and must never be put off until the last minute.


Course Overview 

The College Board has organized the AP Biology course around the Curriculum Framework which is broken into four big ideas that our course will be based on.


 Big Idea 1: The process of evolution drives the diversity and unity of life.  (Evolution)

Big Idea 2: Biological systems utilize free energy and molecular building blocks to grow, to reproduce, and to maintain dynamic homeostasis. (Energetics)

Big Idea 3: Living systems store, retrieve, transmit, and respond to information essential to life processes. (Information, Storage, & Transmission)

Big Idea 4: Biological systems interact, and these systems and their interactions possess complex properties. (Systems Interaction)


 A more detailed list of each of these Big Ideas can be found towards the end of this syllabus.


These four Big Ideas will be divided up over eight different units of study.

There are Eight Units in AP Biology. Each unit is broken down into topics. The pacing of these topics is in line with their weighting on the multiple-choice section of the AP Biology Exam. 



Exam Weighting

Unit 1: Chemistry of Life


Unit 2: Cell Structure and Function 


Unit 3: Cellular Energetics 


Unit 4: Cell Communication and Cell Cycle 


Unit 5: Heredity 


Unit 6: Gene Expression and Regulation 


Unit 7: Natural Selection 


Unit 8: Ecology 



 A more detailed list of what each of these units contains can be found in the CED (course & exam description) 


AP Biology Science Practices

The College Board emphasizes students understanding the practice of science. It is pertinent that students enter college with a specific set of skills. A set of skills designed to allow students to succeed in the science world. The College Board focuses curriculum on six specific skills.

  1. Concept Explanation
  2. Visual Representations 
  3. Questions and Methods 
  4. Representing and Describing Data
  5. Statistical Tests and Data Analysis 
  6. Argumentation A more detailed list of these scientific practices is attached to this document. 


The AP Exam  (Wednesday, May 10th in the afternoon)

The AP Biology Exam is scored on a scale from 1-5. A score of 3 or higher is usually needed in order to receive college credit for the course. Remember, the scores that universities accept differ, so please double check what scores the college to which you are applying accepts. The AP Biology Exam is made up of two sections. The breakdown of each section is as follows: 

Section I: Multiple Choice (50%)  

90 minutes – 60 Questions 

Section II: Free Response Questions (50%)

 90 minutes – 6 Questions; 2 long essays (10 pts each), 4 short essays (4 pts each)

 (A list and explanation of the task verbs used in the FRQ section of the exam can be found at the end of this document.)


Course Materials 

  • Chromebook • Pens/pencils • One 3-ringed binder • Tab dividers
  • Loose leaf paper • calculator • Lab Notebook & Biozone Workbook (You will receive instructions in class about how to purchase these 2 items.)


Grade Distribution 








Unit Tests



*Unit Tests will be separated into Multiple Choice and Free Response sections. Students will receive a separate test grade for each section resulting in two test grades per unit. 


Lab Component

 You will engage in and complete eight inquiry-based investigations (two per Big Idea). Additional labs will be conducted to deepen your understanding and reinforce the application of science practices within a hands-on environment. This course will provide opportunities for you to develop, record, and properly communicate the results of your laboratory investigations. Materials, lab setups, preparation of stock solutions, and cultures of the specimen may need to be done prior to the class for some labs. 


 Class Policies, Expectations and Rules

  • Arrive to class on time with your materials out and ready, starting any work posted.
  • No food or drink other than water during class.
  • The student should not leave the classroom at any time without the teacher’s permission.
  • A pass must be used to leave the room for any reason. 
  • Phones will be put away at the beginning of the class.  (More details will be given on the first day of school.)  Phones may be used with teacher's permission.
  • Students who do not follow instructions or create disruptions during labs will not be able to participate in the lab and will lose points


 Absences/ Late work/ Make up work:

  • Late work is accepted, but not for full credit, and must be turned in  before the scheduled assessment for the unit the assignment belongs to. Late work will NOT be accepted for credit after the unit assessment.
  • If a student is absent or sick, it is their responsibility to get class notes and handouts from online or a classmate. The student is responsible for checking online or asking the teacher for make-up work! I can always be reached through email. 
  • Make up work for excused absences should be done within 2 days of the day missed. Please note that project and lab due dates are not flexible! If a student is gone, they can email the assignment and then bring a hard copy the first day the student is back at school. 
  • It is the student's responsibility to make arrangements to make up the work for absences due to school activities.
  • The AP test assumes students have knowledge of certain labs. Labs cannot always be made up. All labs will be announced.


Academic Integrity: MRHS Honor Code

Collaboration is encouraged; however, each student should turn in their own work separate from other students. Students may not cite another student and copy their work. There are times throughout the school year where students will turn in projects and reports as a group effort, which will still be expected to meet the MRHS Honor Code The Honor code can be found in the MRHS Parent/Student Handbook. 




Enduring Understandings with Their Alignment to the Four Big Ideas

The AP Biology Curriculum is framed around the AP Biology course and Exam Description Effective Fall 2019 where Four Big Ideas serve as the foundation of the course and allow students to create meaningful connections among course concepts. There is a set of core concepts called Enduring Understanding, which will be used to guide the AP Biology course curriculum. Below is an outline of the AP Biology Curriculum Big Ideas and the Enduring Understandings topics covered in this course. AP Biology is a rigorous course that demands personal responsibility from the student.


Big Idea

Enduring Understanding


The process of evolution drives the diversity and unity of life

A. Change in the genetic makeup of a population over time is evolution. 

B. Organisms are linked by lines of descent from common ancestry.

C. Life continues to evolve within a changing environment. 

D. The origin of living systems is explained by natural processes.


Biological systems utilize energy and molecular building blocks to grow, reproduce, and maintain homeostasis.

A. Growth, reproduction, and maintenance of the organization of living systems require free energy and matter. 

B. Growth, reproduction, and dynamic homeostasis require that cells create and maintain internal environments that are different from their external environments.

 C. Organisms use feedback mechanisms to regulate growth and reproduction, and to maintain dynamic homeostasis.

 D. Growth and dynamic homeostasis of a biological system are influenced by changes in the system’s environment.

 E. Many biological processes involved in growth, reproduction, and dynamic homeostasis include temporal regulation and coordination.


 Living systems retrieve, transmit, and respond to information essential to life processes..

A. Heritable information provides for continuity of life.

 B. Expression of genetic information involves cellular and molecular mechanisms.

 C. The processing of genetic information is imperfect and is a source of genetic variation.

 D. Cells communicate by generating, transmitting, and receiving chemical signals.

 E. Transmission of information results in changes within and between biological systems.


 Biological systems interact and these interactions possess complex properties. 

A. Interactions within biological systems lead to complex properties.

 B. Competition and cooperation are important aspects of biological systems.

 C. Naturally occurring diversity among and between components within biological systems affects interactions with the environment. 



                                     Task Verbs Used in Free Response Questions (FRQs)

The following task verbs are commonly used in the free-response questions on the AP Biology Exam. 

Calculate: Perform mathematical steps to arrive at a final answer, including algebraic expressions, properly substitute numbers, and correct labeling of units and significant figures. 

Construct/Draw: Create a diagram, graph, representation, or model that illustrates or explains relationships or phenomena. Labels may or may not be required. 

Describe: Provide relevant characteristics of a specified topic. Determine: Decide or conclude after reasoning, observation, or applying mathematical routines (calculations).

Determine: Decide or conclude after reasoning, observation, or applying mathematical routines (calculations).

Evaluate: Judge or determine the significance or importance of information, or the quality, or accuracy of a claim. 

Explain: Provide information about how or why a relationship, process, pattern, position, situation, or outcome occurs, using evidence and/or reasoning to support or qualify a claim. Explain “how” typically requires analyzing the relationship, process pattern, position, situation, or outcome; whereas explaining “why” typically requires analysis of motivations or reasons for the relationship, process, pattern, position, situation, or outcome.

 Identify: Indicate or provide information about a specified topic, without elaboration or explanation. 

Justify: Provide evidence to support, qualify, or defend a claim, and/or provide reasoning to explain how the evidence supports or qualifies the claim.

Make a claim: Make an assertion that is based on evidence or knowledge. 

Predict/Make a prediction: Predict the causes or effects of a change in, or disruption to, one or more components in a relationship, pattern, process, or system. 

Represent: Use appropriate graphs, symbols, words, illustrations, and/or tables of numerical values to describe biological concepts, characteristics, and/or relationships.

State (the null/alternative hypothesis): Indicate or provide a hypothesis to support or defend a claim about a scientifically testable question.

 Support a claim: Provide reasoning to explain how evidence supports or qualifies a claim




I am very excited to spend the next school year delving into the world of Biology with you!


Here is a rough timeline of this school year. There are 89 days in the Fall & 86 days in the Spring (including finals).



Approximate Dates

UN1: Chemistry of Life (14 days)

1 – 5, 8

August 29th -Sep 20th

UN2: Cell Structure & Function (14 days)

6, 7

Sep 21st – Oct 13th

UN3: Cellular Energy (14 days)

8 - 10

 Oct 14th-Nov 3rd

UN4: Cell Communication & Cell Cycle (12 days)

11 - 12

Nov 4th- Nov 28th

UN5: Heredity (14 days)

13 - 15

Nov 29th - Dec 16th

Units 1-5 MIDTERM



UN6: Gene Expression , Regulation & Biotechnology (24 days)

16 -20

Jan 3rd- Feb 14th
UN7: Evolution/Natural Selection (19 days)

22 - 26

Feb 15th – March 14th

UN8: Ecology (16 days)

51 - 56

March 15th – April 6th

Review (17days)


April 17th  - May 9th 

AP Biology Exam on Wednesday May 10th 2023 in the afternoon