The biology free response questions can be a bit daunting, but here are some quick tips to help you ace the written portion of the exam. If you want an overall content review, go check out our ultimate guide

As a brief overview, here are the point distributions per each question: 

  1. There are 2 long free response questions, each worth 10 points. 
  2. Questions 3-5 are worth 4 points each. 
  3. Questions 6-8 are worth 3 points each. 

Now, just because the first two questions are worth the most amount of points, that does not mean you should spend all of your time there. The name of the game of acing this portion of the exam is to accumulate as many points as you can; you should definitely try to get around to all of the questions. 

Here is a list of key phrases and words you should look out for and how to respond to them: 

  1. Design an experiment: "I would manipulate [independent variable] to see the change in [dependent variable]. I would also make sure to keep [control] constant to ensure that the [independent variable] is the sole change of the [dependent variable]." Make sure to answer ALL parts of the question.  
  2. Identify: Restate the question and include the answer. Super simple!
  3. Justify: This one requires a bit more explanation. Make sure to restate the question and answer using specific data from the chart or the question. When referencing data, make sure to use the figure labels, such as "Figure 1: ..." instead of describing the entire experiment again. 
  4. Describe/Explain: Usually, this information is in the beginning paragraph, so look back at this for the information you need. 
  5. Predict: "If [variable] were to change/[x] were to happen, the most likely change would be [y]. [y] seems most likely because [explanation]." Again, make sure to answer ALL parts of the question. 
  6. Provide reasoning: Super easy! Just reference the data and clearly tie it back to your claim. If there's no data present, use your outside knowledge to justify your answer. 

Some tips and tricks for exam day: 

  1. Use the reading period to look over all the questions. This way, you can make sure to answer all the questions you are sure about and get the most points you can. I would also recommend marking the ones you know and don't know that way if you're short on time, you can quickly answer the questions you're certain of. 
  2. If something comes up that seems completely out of the blue, don't panic! The information you need to answer the question is likely in the paragraph description or data. 
  3. Don't stress! All the knowledge you need to answer the questions is in you brain. 

Good luck!! 

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