Are you preparing for the Environmental Science AP exam? One of the best ways to study for the test and figure out how well you're doing is to take practice tests. Practice tests let you see what kinds of questions you'll be asked on the exam and also help you figure out which subjects or types of questions you struggle with and need to review more. Finding practice tests can be time-consuming, and, unfortunately, not all AP practice tests are created equally when it comes to available materials.
But we're here to help. In this guide, I'll provide links to all AP Environmental Science practice tests that are currently available, point out which are the highest quality, and explain how you should be using them in your prep.
2021 AP Test Changes Due to COVID-19
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, AP tests will now be held over three different sessions between May and June. Your test dates, and whether or not your tests will be online or on paper, will depend on your school. To learn more about how all of this is going to work and get the latest information on test dates, AP online review, and what these changes means for you, be sure to check out our 2021 AP COVID-19 FAQ article.
Official AP Environmental Science Practice Exams
Official practice materials (that is, those developed by the College Board) are the best to use when preparing for an AP exam. Because the practice materials are created by the same organization that designs the real AP test, you can be sure that they'll accurately represent the test and give you the best idea of what it will cover.
Unfortunately, the College Board doesn't often like to release a ton of practice material, particularly multiple-choice questions (because they tend to reuse these for multiple exams); however, there are still official review materials you can use, which I've separated into four categories:
- Complete AP Environmental Science Practice Exams
- AP Environmental Science Multiple-Choice Questions
- AP Environmental Science Free-Response Questions
- AP Classroom
Complete AP Environmental Science Practice Exams
The College Board has released just three complete AP Environmental Science practice exams, only one of which is available for free online:
- 2008 AP Enviro Practice Exam ($30 at the College Board store)
- 2003 AP Enviro Practice Exam (currently unavailable; was $30 at the College Board store)
- 1998 AP Enviro Practice Exam (free PDF)
Each test comes with multiple-choice answers and scoring guidelines for the free-response section.
The 2008 exam is the most recent one, but since the AP Enviro exam and course were significantly updated in 2020, it won't align as well with the current exam format. (You can learn more about the new APES content and test structure in our expert guide.)
The free 1998 test, on the other hand, is even older but still useful and will give you a great idea of what kind of content the real exam will test you on.
With any AP Environmental Science practice exam from before 2020, here's what you must do to make the test as relevant and as helpful as possible:
- Answer 80 multiple-choice questions (not 100) in 90 minutes
- Understand that multiple-choice questions now only have four answer choices (not five)
- Answer three free-response questions (not four) in 70 minutes (not 90 minutes)
- Know that you may use a graphing calculator as needed throughout the exam
You should also make sure to use the current scoring guidelines to grade your practice responses.
AP Environmental Science Multiple-Choice Questions
Besides the practice tests above, the only places you can find official multiple-choice questions for AP Environmental Science are the Course and Exam Descriptions (CED) for the class.
There are two CEDs available for AP Environmental Science:
- 2019-20 AP Enviro Course and Exam Description: Fully updated for new APES exam. Contains 15 multiple-choice questions and two free-response questions, with answers.
- 2013-14 AP Enviro Course and Exam Description: Old format of AP test. Contains 17 multiple-choice questions and four free-response questions, with answers.
Obviously, you'll want to prioritize the 2019-20 CED, since these questions will reflect more accurately what you'll see on the new format of the APES exam. Once you've used up all those questions, you can dig into the 2013-14 CED for extra practice.
AP Environmental Science Free-Response Questions
There are tons of official AP Environmental Science free-response questions available for you to study and practice with. The College Board has released previous free-response questions from 1999 all the way up to 2019 (the 2020 FRQ are only available to AP teachers):
Nearly all questions include scoring guidelines and sample responses to help give you a clear idea of what graders were looking for.
Note that while free-response questions have changed slightly for the 2020 APES test, these old ones can still help you out by giving you chances to practice writing quickly on relevant topics.
Just make sure to score your responses using the current scoring guidelines.
AP Classroom is a new digital tool designed by the College Board that allows your AP teacher to assign homework and practice questions through an online portal. If your APES teacher is using this, they can give you additional practice AP Enviro questions to help you in your prep.
Possible Other Source: Your AP Teacher
Your AP Environmental Science teacher might also have access to some additional official practice questions that you can use. Teachers are sometimes able to buy official practice questions (which students don't have access to) from the College Board.
Your teacher might have chosen not to do this, or they might be saving those AP Enviro questions for class exams. But if you're looking for more official practice materials, you might want to take a chance and ask them.
Official practice tests won't come with a seal, but you can be sure they're the highest-quality practice materials out there.
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Free Unofficial AP Environmental Science Practice Tests
You have to be a bit wary when using unofficial practice materials because some of them don't do a very good job of replicating what topics the AP test covers or how they word their questions; however, there are many that can still be very helpful.
For each of the AP resources below, I'll explain what material it includes and how closely it matches the real AP Environmental Science exam.
Varsity Tutors has one complete AP Enviro multiple-choice section (100 questions, though note that the current format only has 80 questions and four answer choices per question). The practice test is timed and automatically graded for you.
While it doesn't include any free-response questions, the multiple-choice questions are similar to those you'll see on the AP exam in terms of content. You can combine these questions with a set of official free-response questions and make a complete APES practice test.
If you'd like to practice a specific topic, Varsity Tutors also offers dozens of practice quizzes of varying difficulty for AP Environmental Science; however, the topics are broken down into such specific categories that many quizzes have only one to two questions, which can make it tedious to move from one very short quiz to the next.
The AP quizzes can be helpful for more focused studying, but, in general, the full diagnostic test is the best resource to use from this site.
This website includes 20-question quizzes for each of the 25 chapters of the Environmental Science textbook chapters. To select a quiz, choose a chapter from the left-hand side of the page and then click "Practice Quiz" on the new page.
These quizzes are fairly surface-level, but they can help you study specific topics or prepare for in-class exams, even if you don't use Environmental Science as your class textbook. One frustrating point, however, is that you must click on each chapter individually in order to see what areas it covers if you're looking to study a particular topic.
This is a very quick, 11-question multiple-choice quiz. This is quite a short quiz and, strangely, it gives definitions for some keywords you should already know, but it might be helpful if you want a quick study session for AP Enviro.
This site provides seven AP Environmental Science practice quizzes, one for each (old) topic on the exam. Each quiz has between 19 and 29 multiple-choice questions, and each question has five possible answer choices (so they're all in the old format). Questions are a bit basic, but you might find these quizzes useful for cementing what you've already learned in class.
These next AP Enviro practice test resources will cost you a bit of money.
Paid Unofficial AP Environmental Science Practice Tests
Generally speaking, paid unofficial AP resources are higher quality than free unofficial ones because test-prep companies will usually put much more of an effort into the quality of products they can actually make money off of.
If you're willing to spend some cash, these unofficial, paid AP Environmental Science practice test resources are strong contenders to consider.
By paying Shmoop's $14.99 monthly subscription fee, you'll get access to four full-length AP Environmental Science exams (including a diagnostic test) and tons of test-taking tips and drills. You'll also get clear answer explanations to help you figure out where you went wrong.
Albert.io has multiple-choice quizzes for each of the nine units on the new AP Enviro test. The quizzes are categorized by difficulty, are not timed, and will immediately let you know if you have answered correctly.
While some of the questions are free, you can get hundreds more practice questions for APES by buying the entire course for $79.
As a whole, I found these AP Environmental Science questions to be a bit more basic than actual AP questions. They focused primarily on definitions and basic facts and didn't emphasize making connections between different topics as much as the real exam does.
AP Environmental Science Review Books
Another place to find practice tests is AP Environmental Science review books. Most review books contain at least one to two full-length practice tests you can use in your studying. Naturally, these tests can vary in terms of quality. In general, though, books by The Princeton Review and Barron's are pretty safe bets when it comes to quality.
Before you buy an AP Enviro review book, make sure to read reviews or ask students who have previously used the book about how well they felt it prepared them for the AP exam.
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How to Use AP Environmental Science Practice Tests
Now that you know where to find AP Enviro practice tests, how should you use them in your studying? Taking random tests haphazardly won't improve your score much, if at all, so follow these guidelines to know which practice materials you should use, and when.
In the first semester, you're still learning most of the content you'll need to know for the exam, so taking a full-length practice exam won't be very helpful, as your score will likely be low due to the fact that your class has yet to cover certain topics.
During this semester, focus on taking official free-response questions (you can look through them to find ones that focus on information you've already covered) and unofficial quizzes that focus on specific content areas (the Environmental Science and Albert quizzes are great places to start).
Be sure to start your studying early (by the middle of your first semester) and regularly review throughout the year. Doing regular review will help you stay on top of the material, be prepared for class exams, and make reviewing for the final AP test much less overwhelming in the spring.
You might also want to consider buying an AP Enviro review book this semester; many of them have practice questions after each chapter so you can see how well you've learned the material.
Second semester is when you should begin really focusing on preparing for the APES exam. At this point, you should have learned the majority of information you need to know for the exam, so you can begin taking full-length practice tests.
I recommended taking the Varsity Tutors practice test with three official free-response questions. Take this test under realistic testing conditions (timed and in a quiet room). After you've completed it, review how well you did (be sure to use the official scoring guidelines when grading your free-response answers).
Your score on this practice test will help you know how well you're doing and how much studying you need to do in order to meet your target score. If you're close to the score you want, you might only need to do light review, but if you're 2 or more points away, you'll likely have to put in some significant time to meet your goal.
After taking and scoring your first full-length practice test, look to see where you got questions wrong. The primary reason for taking practice tests is to find where your weaknesses are and then improve in those areas.
Don't just immediately move on to your next practice test; spend time strengthening areas you need to improve. Perhaps you need to learn how to complete your essays faster, or you realized that you really don't know anything about the nitrogen cycle. Get these gaps taken care of before you take another practice test; otherwise, you won't see your scores improve.
After you feel you've reviewed sufficiently, take another practice exam, ideally the official released practice exam from 1998 (or 2008, if you decided to buy it).
Here's a brief recap of the process you should be following:
- Take and score your first practice exam (4 hours)
- Evaluate your mistakes (1.5 hours)
- Improve your weak areas by doing focused content study and practice problems (2.5 hours)
- Take and score a second practice exam (4 hours)
Repeat the steps above as often as you need to in order to make sure you've eliminated all your weaknesses for the AP Environmental Science exam and are ready for test day.
Conclusion: How AP Enviro Practice Tests Can Help You
AP Environmental Science currently has the third-lowest pass rate of any AP exam. If you want to beat the odds, taking full practice tests is one of the best ways to improve your chances of earning a high score. While official practice materials will give you the most accurate idea of what to expect on the real AP exam, there are many high-quality, unofficial practice tests out there, too.
During your first semester in your AP Enviro class, try to use practice tests to get yourself familiar with the free-response questions and solidify your knowledge of specific topic areas. Second semester is when you can begin taking full-length practice exams to get an idea of how well you're doing and where you need to improve before test day.
The free-response section is typically the hardest part of the AP Enviro exam. Check out this guide to learn more about what it covers and how to get a high score on it.
Need help starting or continuing your review for AP Enviro? Our complete guide to reviewing for the AP Environmental Science exam will walk you through each step you need to follow.
Wondering which other AP classes you should be taking? Learn how to plan out your future AP classes by reading this guide.
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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.