The AP Biology Exam contains four essay questions, and you have to answer them all. Each question will have multiple sections, so pacing on this part of the test is very important. Here’s what you need to know to excel on the essay section:

1. Essay graders are looking for hard facts, not fluff. If a question asks you to name a hormone and its function, do it in 1-2 sentences and then move on. A long paragraph going into detail about the molecular structure of the hormone isn’t going to do you any good, as a specific number of points are allocated for each part of the question. In this example, you would be given one point for naming the hormone and one point for correctly identifying its function. For this reason, my one sentence answer and your long paragraph would both get the same number of points. The essay graders have set a ceiling, and that ceiling is often pretty low (at least for simple questions like this one).

2. Pace yourself. Skip a question if you get stuck. One of the things about the AP Biology exam essay section is that you are totally responsible for timing yourself. If you can’t think of an answer to a specific question, go on to the next one and come back later. Some questions will be easier than others, so you may as well pick up as many quick points as you can before you really start dealing with the harder questions.

3. Remember that the AP Biology essays must be written in pen. This trips a lot of people up, as most of us are used to writing in pencil. I also suggest that you bring your own pen to the exam, or else you’ll be stuck with a very cheap and very annoying pen. If there’s anything you don’t want during the AP biology exam, it’s an annoying pen. Trust me.

So, in summary, write the facts, manage your time well and practice writing in pen. Study hard and follow these instructions and you should do very well!