AP® Biology Labs

Labs are an important part of what you learn in AP® science classes, and knowing how to write an AP Biology lab report is a skill that will serve you well not only on the AP Biology exam but in helping you think like a scientist. Why does this matter? Well, scientists must be able to communicate their findings to other scientists, and lab reports are one way in which to accomplish this.

Conducting AP Biology labs can be challenging for both students and teachers as it requires a significant amount of time to conduct the experiments. To help students, we developed a list of biology labs, lab materials, and important information to consider for AP Biology lab investigations.

Why are AP Biology Labs Important?

The AP Biology curriculum is geared toward helping students like you understand important biological concepts as well as the scientific evidence that supports these concepts. The AP Biology course focuses on developing your conceptual understanding of biology, scientific reasoning, and quantitative skills.

To that end, the College Board® requires that AP Biology teachers spend at least 25% of their instructional time doing lab investigations in the course. A minimum of 8 labs is expected, so about 2 from each of the four big ideas that connect topics in the AP Biology curriculum. The AP Biology lab manual provides 13 inquiry-based labs that give students practice in designing experiments, collecting and analyzing data, and refining scientific explanations. The experience of “doing science” that students receive by conducting these kinds of labs plays a crucial part in preparing them for the AP Biology exam, which assesses students’ science practice skills as well as their content knowledge.

AP Biology Lab Materials

The equipment and materials required for AP Biology lab investigations are generally similar to those used in typical high school-level biology courses. However, access to some specialized equipment (eg, gel electrophoresis equipment, spectrophotometers, etc) may be needed to conduct certain investigations.

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What labs are in AP Biology?

There used to be 12 labs (called the “Dirty Dozen”) that every AP Biology student was supposed to do. However, that is no longer the case. The AP Biology lab manual that is now used includes 13 inquiry-based lab investigations that are aligned with the AP Biology curriculum framework. However, teachers may substitute other labs that are inquiry-based and cover content within the curriculum framework (as long as a minimum of 2 labs are done for each of the four big ideas in AP Biology).

The list of AP Biology labs consists of the following 13 labs (grouped by big idea) from the lab manual:

You finally know why labs are an essential part of AP Biology. The more experience you have doing labs aligned to the AP Biology curriculum framework, the better prepared you will be for the AP Biology exam. To get a comprehensive plan with everything you need to know about the AP Biology exam, check out our AP Biology Unit Guide and our AP Biology Study Guide. With these resources at your disposal, you have everything you need to reach your goals in AP Biology!
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Related Topics

Knowing how to write an AP Biology lab report can not only help you ace the exam but also help you think like a scientist. Visit this step-by-step guide to begin thinking like a scientist!
Looking for an easy-to-follow course and exam description for AP Biology? Check out our guide to the AP Bio curriculum for detailed information on the units, topics, and key concepts.
Planning to take the AP Biology Exam? Get all the ins and outs of the exam—what is AP Biology equivalent to, who can take it, why to take it, and all FAQs to get a headstart.
UWorld’s free online AP mock tests are here! So, put your skills to practice exam-like questions, get clear explanations, and see where you stand in the AP Biology subject knowledge.
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