How Do I Self-Study AP Environmental Science?

5 min readoctober 20, 2021

Thomasina Lester

Thomasina Lester

AP Environmental Science ♻️

252 resources
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Hey 🌊👋 ! Want to take AP Environmental Science, but your school doesn't offer it, or you're homeschooling? Consider self-studying! You can create a customized experience and take the AP exam at the end of the year.

Looking for the opportunity to take AP Environmental Science? Turn to self-studying! Image Courtesy of mountpolley on Pixabay.

⚖️ Weighing the Pros and Cons of Self-Studying

✅ Pros

  • Can take AP exam if you're homeschooled or if AP class isn't available at your school.
  • Can earn college credit.
  • Can find your own pace and make the experience unique.
  • Can learn content that personally interests you.
  • Can gain knowledge and skills in a subject that is especially relevant to the world.

❌ Cons

  1. Might be difficult to create your own course structure and follow it, especially if you have a busy schedule.
  2. Might be difficult to find someone familiar with the subject and its rubrics to provide feedback.
  3. Might be difficult to replicate labs at home.
  4. Might not be worth self-studying, depending on your future plans.

📜 The College Board's Course and Exam Description (CED)

The College Board's CED is the core document used by teachers to structure their own classes, but it can be overwhelming on page 1 of 243. As a student, you might also have trouble understanding the technical language used in the CED. However, don't let that discourage you!
If you have the time toward the beginning of the self-studying process, browse through the CED, and find the sections that will help you the most. Alternatively, you could use the CED to ensure that you covered all of the required content.

Unit Weighting and Exam Percentages

🙌 Helpful Sections

Course at a Glance: pg. 20–23
This provides an overview of each unit and its topics. Reference this chart to plan your next steps.
Exam Overview: pg. 223–227
This section breaks down every part of the exam, so take time to thoroughly understand all of the information.

📅 Creating an Effective Study Schedule

If you're self-studying, you need to create a study schedule. This study schedule will look different for every student, but make sure that you define a clear and realistic structure that includes all of the information you'll need for convenience.
If you take the time to create a high-quality study schedule before you begin self-studying, you can save a lot of time in the long run. You'll minimize the confusion and feel less overwhelmed!
The CED will be very helpful during this step of self-studying! You can determine how long you should focus on certain concepts and build a sense of familiarity with the course. Remember to account for your classes and activities, breaks, and review time before the exam. Find what works for you and make the study schedule your own!
Check out the AP Environmental Science Exam Guide we have for you!

🔎 Finding the Best Resources

📚 Textbooks and Prep Books

📝Read: AP Environmental Science - Best Textbooks and Prep Books
To have a comprehensive and structured source of content, look into textbooks and prep books. Textbooks can be incredibly expensive but are a good option if you can find one for a fair price or if your school can provide one. Look into prep books as they are more affordable and cover the most important information of the course.
Explore Fiveable's study guides if you're a fan of written content! Our study guides are easy to read and follow the CED.
Here are a few of the most popular prep books:
  • The Princeton Review: Cracking the AP Environmental Science Exam
  • Barron's AP Environmental Science
  • 5 Steps to a 5: AP Environmental Science
  • Crash Course for AP Environmental Science (REA)

📺 Videos

Videos are a great alternative to lectures or explanations provided by a teacher! Youtube is the best website to visit for these resources, but you'll need to find the ones that work for you.
Fiveable offers live streams that are perfect for self-studiers! Tune in to learn something new or review a certain topic. Check the calendar for upcoming events!
Here are a few student favorites to get you started:

📘 Practice Exams

Take advantage of the free-response questions that the College Board releases every year! They come with sample responses and scoring guidelines, which makes it easier to understand what exam readers identify in your work.
The best way to use the released free-response questions is to answer them yourself! Consistent practice makes perfect. Respond to the problems in testing conditions (timed with no resources) and use the scoring guidelines to reflect on your work.

💯 Getting Feedback

One of the most important parts of any AP course is the ability to gain feedback from other students and teachers. While the term "self-studying" implies working alone, you should definitely communicate and collaborate with others!
Because APES is a fairly specialized course, you might struggle to find teachers available and willing to provide feedback. Ask around, and you might be able to find a physical science or biology teacher who can help.
If you don't have access to teachers in your area who can assist you in self-studying, look to the internet! Fiveable has an amazing community of students and teachers who are ready to help you. Reddit is also a great place to find fellow students; check out subreddits like r/APStudents.

📝 Taking the Exam

Make sure that you know the process to register and take the exam at the end of the school year. Contact the AP coordinator at your school to discuss the exam details, including ordering the exam and determining the exam location. If you're homeschooling, you should contact schools in your area for more information about their exam policies. Start this search early in the school year to ensure that you meet any deadlines.

🔑 Final Words of Encouragement

Leaping to self-study for an AP exam is an accomplishment in and of itself! You have already shown that you have a special amount of drive and dedication. Continue to challenge yourself throughout the year and find a community of fellow students (hint: Fiveable 👀) to help you along the way. Remember that you are capable of success! Good luck!
Browse Study Guides By Unit
🏜Unit 1 – The Living World: Ecosystems
🐠Unit 2 – The Living World: Biodiversity
👪Unit 3 – Populations
🌏Unit 4 – Earth Systems & Resources
🏖Unit 5 – Land & Water Use
⚡️Unit 6 – Energy Resources & Consumption
💨Unit 7 – Atmospheric Pollution
♻️Unit 8 – Aquatic & Terrestrial Pollution
🔥Unit 9 – Global Change
🧐Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs)
✍️Free Response Questions (FRQs)
📆Big Reviews: Finals & Exam Prep

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