AP Environmental Science: Key Concepts and Resources

Advanced Placement (AP) Environmental Science is a challenging and rewarding course that explores the complex interactions between humans and the environment. This subject covers a wide range of topics, from ecology and conservation to pollution and sustainability. In this article, we will outline some key concepts in AP Environmental Science and provide you with valuable resources to help you excel in this course and prepare for the AP exam.

 Key Concepts in AP Environmental Science

AP Environmental Science covers a vast array of topics that are crucial for understanding the environmental challenges we face. Here are some key concepts and topics you'll encounter in the course:

 1. Ecology and Ecosystems

- Ecosystem Structure: Understand the components of an ecosystem, including producers, consumers, and decomposers.

- Biotic and Abiotic Factors: Explore the interactions between living (biotic) and non-living (abiotic) factors in ecosystems.

- Ecological Succession: Learn about the changes in ecological communities over time and the role of pioneer species.

 2. Populations and Human Demographics

- Population Growth: Study factors that influence population size, such as birth rates, death rates, and immigration.

- Carrying Capacity: Understand the concept of carrying capacity and how it affects population dynamics.

- Human Population Trends: Analyze demographic trends, including urbanization and the impact of population growth on the environment.

 3. Environmental Policy and Sustainability

- Sustainable Resource Use: Explore the principles of sustainable development and resource management.

- Environmental Laws and Regulations: Learn about key environmental laws and their impact on conservation and pollution control.

- Environmental Ethics: Consider the ethical dimensions of environmental issues, including the rights of future generations.

 4. Biodiversity and Conservation

- Biodiversity Hotspots: Identify regions with high levels of biodiversity and the importance of conserving these areas.

- Threats to Biodiversity: Examine the major threats to biodiversity, including habitat loss, overexploitation, and invasive species.

- Conservation Strategies: Learn about various strategies to conserve and protect biodiversity, such as protected areas and habitat restoration.

 5. Pollution and Environmental Health

- Types of Pollution: Understand various types of pollution, including air pollution, water pollution, and soil contamination.

- Health Impacts: Investigate the health effects of environmental pollution on human populations.

- Waste Management: Explore strategies for managing and reducing waste, including recycling and waste disposal.

 Resources for AP Environmental Science

To succeed in AP Environmental Science, it's important to have access to quality resources for study and practice. Here are some valuable resources to aid in your preparation:

 1. Textbooks:

- "Environmental Science for AP" by Andrew Friedland and Rick Relyea: This is a comprehensive textbook designed specifically for the AP Environmental Science course.

- "Environmental Science: A Global Concern" by William P. Cunningham and Barbara Woodworth Saigo: An in-depth textbook that covers a wide range of environmental topics.

 2. Online Courses and Lectures:

- Websites like Coursera and edX offer free and paid courses on environmental science and related topics.

- Yale University offers a free online course titled "The Science of Well-Being," which covers happiness and well-being, a subject closely related to environmental science.

 3. Practice Exams and Study Guides:

- The College Board's official AP Environmental Science page provides sample questions and free-response questions from previous exams.

- "Barron's AP Environmental Science" by Gary Thorpe is a helpful study guide that includes practice tests and a review of key concepts.

 4. Environmental Organizations:

- Websites of organizations such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) provide valuable information on environmental issues and conservation efforts.

- National Geographic offers resources on environmental topics and sustainability.

 5. Mobile Apps:

- Apps like "AP Environmental Science Prep" and "Quizlet" offer flashcards and practice questions to help you review key concepts.

 6. YouTube Channels:

- Channels like "Bozeman Science" and "CrashCourse" provide educational videos on various topics in environmental science.

- You can also find documentaries and TED talks related to environmental issues on YouTube.

 7. Environmental Magazines and Journals:

- Reading publications like "National Geographic," "Scientific American," and "Environmental Science & Technology" can provide insights into current environmental research and issues.

 Study Strategies for AP Environmental Science

To excel in AP Environmental Science, consider the following study strategies:

1. Create a Study Schedule: 

Develop a study schedule that allocates time to cover each topic in the course. Consistent study habits are essential.

2. Practice with Past Exams: 

Take practice exams and free-response questions to get a feel for the types of questions that may appear on the AP exam.

3. Use Flashcards: 

Create flashcards to help you memorize key terms and concepts. This can be particularly useful for definitions and scientific vocabulary.

4. Join or Form Study Groups: 

Collaborating with peers can help you review and discuss course material, reinforcing your understanding.

5. Stay Informed: 

Keep up with current environmental news and issues. Understanding the real-world implications of the topics you're studying can make the material more engaging.

6. Seek Guidance: 

Don't hesitate to ask your teacher or a tutor for help with challenging concepts or questions.

7. Practice Writing: 

The free-response questions on the AP exam require well-structured and concise responses. Practice your writing skills to effectively convey your knowledge.


AP Environmental Science is a multidisciplinary course that delves into critical environmental topics. With a strong foundation in key concepts and access to quality resources, you can excel in the course and perform well on the AP exam. Remember to practice, engage with the material, and stay up-to-date with environmental news and issues. Your understanding of environmental science can have a lasting impact on your academic and personal perspective on the environment and sustainability. Good luck with your studies!