Examining and using released exams in an AP® Science class is important to help students be exposed to the types of rigorous questions found on the AP® Exam.
What Released Exams are Available in APES?
There are several released exams for AP® Environmental. We do not have as many released exams as other subjects (which is a big bummer), but we do have a few.
The 1998 Exam is the only one found legally online. But it is so old (first year the APES exam was given) that most teachers don’t use as the questions have changed quite a bit and its way too easy.
The 2003 Exam is available for purchase from the College Board. It is considered an “easier” multiple choice exam. You may be able to get a copy from another teacher at your school.
The 2008 Exam is also available for purchase from the College Board. Many of us long-timers remember ordering these exams when they were released and getting the copy in the mail. Its considered a “medium” exam in terms of rigor.
The Practice Exam was released in 2008 also, but it can only be found for free on your AP® Audit account when you sign into the college board. This is considered the “hardest” of the released exams.
Two more newer exams are available on your AP® Audit account also. These are harder for students to find (hence the omission of the year) and many APES teachers use as secure exams. We AP® teachers are also likely to harass the illegal posting online and also report them to the College Board. They are considered “medium-hard” exams.
The most recent exam on the audit site is (according to reports by students) the one that most looks like the MC exam for the past 3 years. It has a lot of reading, graph and data interpretation questions. It takes kids longer to get through due to the reading involved. It is also considered fairly secure as many APES teachers report teachers who illegally post.
On that note, do not upload any released exams to your own website! Even if you think its password protected or kids need a link, search engines find a way. And, once its posted, its sometimes cached (stored on a server) by Google so it stays available even if you then take it down. When you gained access to these exams, the College Board made you click that you would NOT upload to the web and would use in class only.
How to use Released APES Exams
Teachers use released exams in many ways.
- To add questions to unit or chapter exams that have AP® rigor. Teachers will cut and paste questions into their own exams as practice for kids. I do this with the most recent exam as I want kids to get used to the “newer” style of question throughout the school year. My exams have mostly questions from various test banks along with about 3-5 questions from the newest exam.
- As diagnostic exams before the AP® Exam. I give several of the released exams as practice starting about 4 weeks before the AP® exam. We only do the multiple choice and they self- grade. Afterwards, they fill out a diagnostic sheet to determine how close they are to the score they want on the AP® Exam.
- As a final exam. This is why its so important to never upload to the web. Students are crafty and if they get wind of the exam you are using for your final exam, they will search for it and memorize it. I give my final exam MC the week before the AP® Exam and often choose one of the released (or a combo) exams.
- As pre-tests. Some schools require teachers to give pre-tests at the start of the course.