It can be a challenge to study for any AP test, AP Environmental Science included. Because this class covers so many different areas, including science, law, and current events, it can be tough to keep your notes straight. Whether you’re missing some notes or you want them organized more clearly, this guide is for you.
I’ve put together a list of links to AP Environmental Science notes and vocabulary that you can easily browse through to supplement your studying. I’ll also go over how to use these notes and end with tips to help make your studying more effective.
How to Use These AP Environmental Science Notes
The notes can be used for targeting studying throughout the course as well as your end of the year review for the AP exam. The notes don’t cover every topic on the AP Environmental Science Exam (particularly the Global Change section), so don’t rely on them exclusively for your studying. Supplement these notes with your notes from class, your textbook, and any review books you purchase.
Using these notes gives you an organized way to sort through the material covered by the AP Environmental Science exam, and the vocabulary links can help you easily learn how well you know different terms and concepts commonly tested on the exam.
While studying for the AP exam, you should also be regularly taking practice tests. Passive studying isn’t enough to earn a high score on the AP test; you want to make sure you’re actively engaging with the material and regularly checking your progress. We have an entire guide on practice test materials that you can use to choose the practice quiz or test you want to take.
Early on in the year, you can use these notes in conjunction with practice tests by studying a certain topic or topics, then taking a practice quiz on that same topic to see how well you understood and retained the information from the notes.
Later in the year, after taking complete practice tests, you can review the questions you missed to see which topics are your weakest, then find those topics in these notes and prioritize them in your studying.
The AP Environmental Science Notes
The notes are organized by the seven major topics the course covers. Within each major topic are more specific areas of focus. The notes below come from CourseNotes and give detailed outlines on their topic of focus. There’s no images or fancy formatting to increase the visual appeal of the notes, but they do a good job of covering the topic in-depth and separating the outline into different groups so you can quickly see which areas are covered.
The vocabulary links also come from CourseNotes. They are organized by chapter from the 13th edition of the Living in the Environment textbook which is why they are slightly out of order when sorted by the seven major topics, as they are below.
The vocabulary notes give brief definitions for each of the major keywords you need to know for AP Environmental Science.
1. Earth Systems and Resources
2. The Living World
4. Land and Water Use
5. Energy Resources and Consumption
7. Global Change
AP Environmental Science FormulasThese short guides (also fromCourseNotes) include many of the common formulas you’ll use and need to understand for AP Environmental Science.
- Acid Rain
- Air Pollution Control and Prevention
- Air Pollution Formulas
- Ozone Formation and Destruction
- Photochemical Smog
- The Carbon Cycle
- The Nitrogen Cycle
These notes don’t fit into the seven major topics of the class, but they can also be useful for your studying.
The Environmental Laws notes also come from CourseNotes, and they give a brief overview of each of the most important environmental laws that have been passed in the United States.
The Complete Course Overview is from Scribd, and it gives a summary of the entire AP Environmental Science course, organized by the seven major topics. It’s a lot of information to take in all at once, but if you’d like a document that touches on all the topics you need to know for the exam, this can be a very helpful resource.
AP Environmental Science Study Strategies
As I mentioned above, flipping passively through your notes isn’t enough to get a high score on the AP Environmental Science exam. Follow these study tips to help you get the most out of your review.
Tip 1: Think About How Topics Are Related
Knowing each topic in isolation won’t help you much on the AP Environmental Science exam. Even if you know every single fact about the water cycle, if you can’t explain how it relates to other earth processes, how it affects and is affected by humans, how it has been affected by climate change, and other connections, then you’ll miss a majority of questions on the exam.
AP Environmental Science is a very interdisciplinary class, and one of the foundational themes of the class is that the Earth is an interconnected system. Many questions will ask you to make connections between multiple topics, so practice doing this when you’re reviewing your notes.
If you’re studying the atmosphere, for example, think about how the atmosphere affects animal and plant life on earth, how it affects other earth cycles, how it affects human populations, what the causes and effects of air pollution are, how the atmosphere is influencing and being influenced by climate change, and the changes humans can make, related to the atmosphere, to increase sustainability.
Tip 2: Don't Forget About Calculations
On both the multiple-choice and free-response sections of the exam, you’ll be asked to complete calculations, and these will have to be done by hand since you aren’t allowed a calculator for any part of the test. These calculations aren’t overly difficult (they’re mostly solving equations), but if you’re rusty on solving math problems by hand, you’ll want to practice this skill.
Struggling or taking a long time to solve these calculation questions can easily eat into your time for other questions and prevent you from finishing the test.
In order to prevent that, make sure you practice data set free-response questions and multiple-choice questions that require calculations. Looking through the Science Formulas notes above will also help you become more familiar with the calculations you may be asked to do on the exam.
Tip 3: Know Major Environmental Events
AP Environmental Science isn’t strictly a science class; it also includes recent and current events as well as some law, among other topics. Unlike the other AP science courses, you can’t just know the scientific aspects of environmental science; you also need to know about major environmental events.
Studying the notes on Major Environmental Laws will help, and also use your notes from class to review other non-law environmental events. It can also be very helpful to keep up on the news and know what the current major environmental issues are.
Having a set of organized notes can help you manage your AP Environmental Science studying much more easily and quickly access notes on topics you want to review. These notes cover topics from each of the course’s seven major topics, as well as vocabulary, relevant formulas, and major environmental laws.
When reviewing your notes, be sure to keep these three tips in mind:
- Think about how topics are related
- Don't forget about calculations
- Know major environmental events
Now that you have your AP Enviro notes, how should you use them in your review? Check out this guide to see a step-by-step review plan for AP Environmental Science.
Want some more practice tests and quizzes to enhance your studying? You've got it! We have a ton of practice resources for you to use to study for the AP Enviro exam, and, in the guide, we tell you what each resource is best for.
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Christine graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Environmental Biology and Geography and received her Master's from Duke University. In high school she scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and was named a National Merit Finalist. She has taught English and biology in several countries.