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Updates to the AP Biology Curriculum


For the 2019-2020 academic year, CollegeBoard made several revisions to the AP Biology Course and Exam. The reasoning was that many educators had complained that the scope of Biology was too wide to fit into an AP course, so both the number of questions on the exam and the breadth of material were trimmed. Among these changes, Human Physiology was not included in one of the eight units of the revised edition.

To be clear, the AP Biology Exam may still reference human physiology in order to set up a question that tests other concepts in the new curriculum, but prerequisite knowledge of how those human body systems work is not necessary. Background knowledge might help you understand the question quicker but is not required for a perfect score.

Subsequently, many AP Biology teachers have cut Human Physiology in favor of spending more time on units that will be explicitly tested. While both students and teachers benefit from revised curricula that improve AP Scores, this does mean that Human Physiology will join the other subsections of biology, like Botany and Classification, in most likely not being included as a core part of the student’s learning.

What is a potential drawback to this? In what could affect your student a few years down the line, universities do not adhere to what is taught in AP Biology―competitive Biology programs will still fit in a Human Physiology unit into their first-year Biology courses. If your student is planning on taking General Biology in a year or two, they might end up facing a unit that they know less about in an already challenging course. 



If you discover that your AP Biology class this year will indeed not cover Human Physiology, and you think that you want to learn it to feel more confident going into the AP Exam, prepare for the future, or enrich your knowledge for any other application, what are your options?

First of all, you could self-study from a biology textbook. Campbell Biology remains the gold standard for biology textbooks and has a dozen chapters related to animal form and function. While it will take a long time to go through all of the pages, you can pace yourself in learning a little bit at a time so that there is not a feeling of information overload.

For those who learn better through audio or video instruction or maybe want more abridged lessons, many Biology and MCAT-focused YouTube channels have content centering around Human Physiology. The ability to pause, rewind, and replay videos as many times as necessary is a valuable resource.

Alternatively, if you find that self-studying lacks structure, you could also enroll in an online course that has not removed Human Physiology from its curriculum. However, students may find that their schedules do not have the space to accommodate a full online course and its deadlines.

Finally, you could reach out to us at AJ Tutoring. Our tutors are trained to customize sessions toward specific needs, and we can provide the depth of knowledge required to succeed in higher education while also being flexible toward scheduling demands. Feel free to give us a call! We would be more than happy to discuss with you a plan to help further your student’s education.

Human Physiology may have been sidelined for more foundational units in AP Biology, but that does not take away from its importance within the field. Biology welcomes those who are interested in solving problems related to the human body, and it is never too late to start studying it. Please reach out to us to learn more and get set up with a tutor.


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