1. Introduction
  2. Unit by Unit Table of Contents (for teaching AP Bio with
  3. Teaching with The Big Picture
  4. The Importance of Planning

1. Introduction

The goal of this page, and the pages linked below, is to provide you with a comprehensive guide to teaching an AP Bio course that

  1. makes your students love biology, and
  2. helps your students crush the AP Bio exam.

The sections immediately below focus on how to use with your students and how to calendar your course.

In each linked unit guide, you’ll find

  • Learning objectives. These are based closely on what’s in the College Board’s Course and exam description, but written in a student-friendly format that you can share with your students.
  • An overview to the tutorials on
  • Ideas and links for labs and other activities.

If you want to skip down to the unit-by-unit table of contents, click here. Otherwise, continue below with the big picture.

Want more support? Just email me questions. If you need one-to-one support, we can set up a time to meet.

2. Unit-by-Unit Guide to AP Bio: Table of Contents

Note: I’m still building this section. If there’s no link, it’ll be coming…as soon as I finish. You can peak ahead by looking at my weekly email archive from last year (but note that these emails were written during the Pandemic shutdown, and my approach and advice might be pretty different this year).

3. Teaching with The Big Picture

It’s a textbook… on steroids

The AP Bio course at is an online-interactive textbook.

That means that you can use just as you’d use Campbell Biology, Campbell Biology in Focus, Principles of Life (Hillis, Sadava, Heller, Price), or any other textbook. You’ll assign topics, and you’ll expect that your students will have done some learning from that experience.

But because presents material in the form of interactive tutorials, there’s a crucial difference. After your students complete our tutorials, you can have a very high degree of confidence that your students will understand the topic that you’ve assigned. Why? Because they’ll have intensely interacted with the material. They’ll have answered dozens or hundreds of questions, and received feedback on their answers. If their answers weren’t correct, they were guided toward mastery.

So, how do you use As with any textbook, you have a lot of options.

  • Before instruction: If you like your students to arrive at your lessons with previous exposure to the content that you’re going to teach, then assign the tutorials that correspond to what you’re teaching before class for homework (or for the previous day’s lesson). You’ll be astonished at how much understanding your students will be able to bring to your lesson.
  • After instruction: If you prefer to initially deliver content yourself, and to use reading for reinforcement, then assign our tutorials as a follow up to your lessons. This can be for homework, or for the next day’s lesson. When you check for understanding (here’s a guide for doing that), you’ll similarly be astonished at how much your students have learned.
  • As a replacement for lecture. Note that doesn’t have to be for homework. Instead of lecturing, you can let do much of the content delivery. That frees you up to interact with individual students or groups of students. You can use this time to check for understanding, or to provide extra support to students who need it.

Use our Student Learning Guides to Deepen Understanding is more effective than paper or online textbooks because it’s interactive. But students who are learning biology also need opportunities to reflect on what they’re learning. That’s what our Student Learning Guides do. They provide students with opportunities to summarize, connect, make connections, think thematically, and apply what they’ve learned.

Our Student Learning Guides are available as google docs, and we have one for each learning module in our curriculum. Used in conjunction with our tutorials, they’ll help your students to become sophisticated biological thinkers. If you assess your students’ work on the Student Learning Guides and monitor their completion of the quizzes and flashcards in our online tutorials, then you’ll have an unmatchable combination of accountability and achievement. You won’t believe how much your students will learn.

You can find the student learning guides for each module on the AP Bio main menu. is your flipped learning solution for AP Bio

If you’re looking for a flipped learning solution, look no further. You can use’s interactive tutorials for students to learn biology content on their own. They’ll arrive in class with a solid foundation in whatever content you wanted them to learn. With that foundation in place, you’ll be able to free up classroom time for

  • Labs and demonstrations
  • Class discussion
  • Group activities that get your students to grapple with interpreting and analyzing biological data, including
    • HHMI Biointeractives
    • Practice FRQs
    • POGILS
  • Assessments
  • Student-initiated inquiry projects

4. The Importance of Having a Calendar

As an AP Bio teacher, one of my goals is having my students ace the AP Biology exam. It’s not my only goal, and it doesn’t have to be your only goal, either. Here’s a list of some of my other goals:

  • I want my students to come to love biology.
  • I want them to become sophisticated biological thinkers, able to understand the biology that underlies many of the issues they’ll get to participate in as citizens of our country (or whatever country they live in).
  • I want to set up students who might pursue careers in the life sciences with a solid foundation for future learning.

If you don’t plan carefully, planning for success on the AP Bio exam could potentially interfere with some of those other goals. Why? Because cramming and learning under intense pressure are not fun. They also don’t lead to substantial, deep, and enduring learning.

To avoid a painful end to your course, plan your course so that you end instruction of all course content about three weeks before the AP Bio exam. During those three weeks, you can administer practice FRQs and multiple choice questions. You’ll be able to test your students, analyze their test results, and teach to the gaps, as I discuss in this video.

Here’s a link to a Google spreadsheet in which I calendar out my entire course. My high school has an early start date. That means that you might have less time than I do before this year’s AP exam. If that’s the case, then make your own copy of the document, and adjust your dates so that you end instruction three weeks before this year’s AP Bio exam date.

One way to do that is to reduce the time spent on each topic. Another is to assign some learning modules for completion during Thanksgiving, Winter Break, or Spring Break. The modules I’d recommend doing that with are:

  • Topic 4.5: Feedback and Homeostasis. This topic requires very little previous knowledge to complete. However, if you assign this for students to complete independently, make sure to check for understanding about negative and positive feedback loops.
  • Topic 7:13: Origin and Early History of Life, The RNA World . While this module is in unit 7 (Evolution), it pretty much stands on its own. Once your students understand protein synthesis, they’ll be able to take this on. In years when I’ve felt short of time, I’ve often assigned this during Winter Break.
  • Topic 8.1: Responses to the Environment (Animal Behavior). This topic, like feedback and homeostasis, requires very little previous knowledge. In the AP curriculum, there are few principles of animal behavior for students to know, but they do need to be able to make evolutionary sense of animal behavior on the exam. This module, which is full of illustrative examples with lots of data analysis, will set your students up for success.

You can also safely skip parts of some of the learning modules on For example, the only required knowledge related to Genetic Engineering is covered in the first two and a half tutorials in my Genetic Engineering module. Your students can skip the second half of the DNA fingerprinting tutorial, and all of sequencing and CRISPR. It’s all great material (and great application of molecular genetics) but this material goes beyond the scope of the course.

Want more support?

If you still have big-picture questions about how to use, please let me know.