These are tidbits of important information and some common student errors that many students make on the AP Environmental Science exam.
Make sure you are studying your notes, textbook and/or a review book. Some favorite review books are: A Cartoon Guide to the Environment and ASAP and
Five Steps to a Five. But many others are good as well (Barrons, and ones by textbook publishers).
Advice for the APES exam
- Answer the EXACT question on an FRQ with a direct answer. For example, do not write about solar panels when asked to describe a method of energy conservation. Solar does not actually reduce energy use–just makes it less harmful.
- Always finish an answer. Example: A harmful effect of burning petroleum is that it releases NOx —which causes asthma. (don’t forget the last part to complete the answer!)
- Cancer is usually not the answer. Most things we learn in APES cause other problems such as asthma, brain damage, obesity etc.
- Most heavily tested topics are energy, air pollution, water pollution, and ecosystems (biogeochemical cycles and productivity). Review those especially.
- Fertilizers and pesticides are NOT the same. Fertilizers have NPK for plant growth. Pesticides kill bugs. Know problems of each.
- An ecological/ecosystem “cost” is NOT about money, it’s about a problem in an ecosystem. A question about $ will have the word “economic”.
- Always literally write “money or jobs or tourism” for an economic question on an FRQ.
- Stratospheric ozone thinning (hole) and global warming are NOT related. The ozone hole does NOT cause global warming.
- Effluent: something that’s released. Example: water at the end of wastewater treatment.
- CO2 is NOT a traditional air pollutant, it’s a greenhouse gas that causes global warming (be sure to add the last 4 words in an FRQ to get the point)
- For air pollution questions, all pollutants except lead cause “respiratory problems such as asthma”.
- Review experimental design: dependent & independent variables, control, constants, 3+ test units or sample size, hypothesis with “increasing/decreasing” in it.
- Population of the World is 7.3 billion. Population of the US is 323 million. Know these numbers for math problems.
- Be specific: Name a specific disease for health problem. Name a type of habitat destruction (deforestation, building roads). Name a gas.
- Use the words “money” or “jobs” for economic questions.
- Government incentives to solve environmental problems: subsidies, tax credit/rebates, cap n trade.
- Eutrophication: excess nutrients (N,P) from fertilizer, manure or urban sewage are washed by rain into rivers which flow to the ocean. These nutrients cause an algal/phytoplankton bloom which block sun, then die and are decomposed by bacteria who use all the oxygen–>hypoxia and fish death.
- When talking about change in an ecosystem, use “increasing” or “decreasing”. Ex: Invasive species cause native species population to decrease.
- Review the biogeochemical cycles. One or more will be on your exam.
- An ecosystem service is defined as something nature provides humans for survival or economic benefit. NOT something nature gives itself.
- Don’t ecobabble. If you don’t know an answer, talking about saving the planet or how much you love animals will not give you any points and will annoy the reader.
- #1 way to control population growth is to provide education (literacy) for girls. Girls marry later, and have less children. Lowers poverty
- Try the Rule of 70 (70/r) for difficult math problems on the MC section. r is growth rate.
- Food chains always begin with a producer. Arrows point the direction of energy flow (toward the predator).
- Anthropogenic=human made. Mitigate=fix. Degredation=decline in quality. Synthetic=not natural.
- Positive feedback loops are bad, Negative feedback loops are good.
- On FRQs: Describe: Add more info. Explain: Write down the steps of a process (ex:eutrophication). Discuss: 2 part answer–add “because” or “which leads to”
- Solutions on FRQs MUST be realistic! Banning all cars is not a realistic solution to air pollution.
- Add a specific term whenever you can. Say “groundwater” or “surface water instead of just water pollution. Name a specific pollutant (such as PM) instead of just air pollution.
- Get a good night’s sleep Sunday night. Eat a healthy breakfast. You will do great!!!
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