AP Environmental Science Exam

The AP®  Environmental Science exam focuses on your understanding of environmental concepts and your ability to solve environmental problems and design research studies, all with the use of a calculator. If you score high enough, your AP score could earn you college credit!

Check out our AP Environmental Science Guide for what you need to know about the exam:

AP Environmental Science Exam Overview

The College Board is very detailed in what they require your AP teacher to cover in his or her AP Environmental Science course. You should be familiar with environmental concepts from the following 9 units:

  • Unit 1: The Living World: Ecosystems
  • Unit 2: The Living World: Biodiversity
  • Unit 3: Populations
  • Unit 4: Earth Systems and Resources
  • Unit 5: Land and Water Use
  • Unit 6: Energy Resources and Consumption
  • Unit 7: Atmospheric Pollution
  • Unit 8: Aquatic and Terrestrial Pollution
  • Unit 9: Global Change

AP Environmental Science Sections & Question Types

The AP Environmental Science exam takes 2 hours and 40 minutes to complete and is composed of two sections: a multiple-choice and a free response section.



Number of Questions

% of Exam Score

Section 1, Multiple-Choice

1 hour 30 minutes

80 multiple choice questions


Section 2, Free Response

1 hour 10 minutes

3 free response questions



The AP Environmental Science multiple choice questions are made up of two types: individual, single questions and sets of questions based on diagrams or data representations (i.e. charts, tables, graphs, etc.). For this section, the College Board will expect you to do these seven skills:

  • Explain environmental concepts, processes, and models
  • Analyze visual representations
  • Analyze text sources
  • Analyze research studies
  • Analyze and interpret data
  • Use math in solving problems
  • Propose and justify solutions to environmental problems

Free Response

The free response section for the exam includes three types of questions. Question 1 will have you design an investigation. Questions 2 and 3 will require you to analyze and propose a solution for an environmental problem, but only one will require you to do calculations. Similar to the multiple choice section, this section will also test those seven skills.

For a comprehensive content review, check out our book, AP Environmental Science Prep

How to Interpret AP Environmental Science Scores

AP scores are reported from 1 to 5. Here’s how students scored on AP Environmental Science exam in May 2020:

AP Environmental Science Score


Percentage of Test Takers


Extremely qualified



Well qualified






Possibly qualified



No recommendation


Source: College Board

How can I prepare?

AP classes are great, but for many students they’re not enough! For a thorough review of AP Environmental Science content and strategy, pick the AP prep option that works best for your goals and learning style. 

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