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AP Biology For Dummies

From AP Biology For Dummies by Peter Mikulecky, Michelle Rose Gilman, Brian Peterson

The fact that you're even considering taking the AP Biology exam means you're smart, hard-working, and ambitious. The test doesn't have to be stressful if you remember some key facts about atoms, molecules, biochemistry, cells and cell cycles, and plants and animals.

Atoms, Molecules, and Biochemistry to Know for the AP Biology Exam

You'll find taking the AP Biology test much less stressful if you know some key concepts that will be on the exam. Here are some important concepts to remember about atoms, molecules, and biochemistry:

  • Water is highly polar. Water's properties give it a large heat capacity and high surface tension and cause it to drive the formation of phospholipid membranes.

  • Proteins are built from amino acids. Nucleic acids are built from nucleotides. Polysaccharides are built from monosaccharide sugars.

  • Enzymes are biological catalysts. They speed up chemical reactions without altering the reactants or products and without being consumed in the reactions.

  • pH = –log[H+]

  • DNA acts as a template for RNA during transcription. RNA acts as a template for protein during translation.

Cells and Cell Cycles to Study for the AP Biology Exam

As you're studying for the AP Biology exam, keep these facts about cells and cell cycles close at hand and review them often. You never know, you may end up memorizing them all, which will help you ace the test!

  • Prokaryotes lack membrane-bound organelles, are single-celled, and usually have cell walls. Eukaryotes have membrane-bound organelles, can be single- or multicellular, and have cell walls only in special cases like plants and fungi.

  • Cell membranes are selectively permeable. Transport across membranes can be passive (diffusion) or active (requires an input of energy).

  • Chloroplasts perform photosynthesis: Light (energy) + 6 H2O + 6 CO2 → C6H12O6 + 6 O2

  • Mitochondria perform cellular respiration: C6H12O6 + 6 O2 → 6 H2O + 6 CO2 + energy

  • Aerobic respiration yields 36 ATPs per molecule of glucose. Anaerobic respiration yields 2 ATPs per molecule of glucose.

  • Interphase consists of G1, S, and G2 phases (growth 1, synthesis, and growth 2). M phase consists of mitosis (prophase, metaphase, anaphase, and telophase) and cytokinesis. Mitosis results in the division of a parent cell into two genetically identical daughter cells.

  • Meiosis consists of meiosis I and meiosis II. Crossing over occurs during prophase I. Independent assortment occurs during metaphase I. During meiosis I, cells move from diploid to haploid states. Meiosis results in the division of a single parent cell into four haploid cells that will become gametes.

Plant and Animal Facts to Remember for the AP Biology Exam

The following list contains some of the more challenging info on plants and animals that you might encounter on the AP Biology Exam. Study this list as long as you need to — if you remember this information during the test, you'll do just fine.

  • Vascular plants have roots, shoots and stems, each of which arises from dermal, vascular, and ground tissues. Apical meristems elongate root and stem tips. Lateral meristems thicken existing roots and stems.

  • Xylem conducts water and dissolved nutrients from roots upward. Phloem conducts dissolved sugars from sugar sources to sugar sinks.

  • Phototropism is growth toward light. Gravitropism is upward growth. Thigmotropism is growth in response to contact. Photoperiodism is growth is response to periodic changes in light.

  • Gymnosperm plants are either male or female. Angiosperm plants produce flowers that contain both male and female reproductive parts.

  • Oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange between circulatory systems and respiratory systems. These dissolved gases diffuse down concentration gradients between cells and capillaries, and between capillaries and alveoli.

  • Nerves conduct electrical signals to allow for rapid communication between specific sites. Hormones move through body fluids to allow for slower, more distributed communication.

  • Skeletal muscles contract to create movement about skeletal joints. Cardiac muscle contracts to force blood through vessels. Smooth muscle contracts slowly and for longer periods. Skeletal and cardiac muscles are striated because they contain sarcomeres.

  • Mechanical digestion occurs by chewing and by churning of the stomach. Chemical digestion occurs via enzymes, stomach acid, and bile, especially in the duodenum. The small intestine absorbs many digested nutrients though vili. The large intestine absorbs water.

  • Nonspecific immunity initially fights off infection and buys time for the onset of specific immunity. Specific immunity includes humoral and cell-mediated immunity. Humoral immunity involves the production of antibodies and is organized by
    B-lymphocytes. Cell-mediated immunity is carried out by T-lymphocytes.

  • Zygotes develop into blastulas, which develop into gastrulas. Gastrulas give rise to endoderm, mesoderm, and ectoderm layers. Further development is spurred by induction.

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