AP Class Reviews

Biology taught by Lauren Gross

by Students and Parents

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Awesome course posted by Khai-Hoan Ho on July 10 2012 at 16:17:52

This was my first AP class. The course prepared me completely for the test; I had to work at least an hour reading and reviewing the assigned chapters, another hour looking over the chapter questions, and about 30 minutes to an hour using extra study resources. Lab days generally required at least 4-5 hours. The labs themselves were extremely helpful, along with the information that Dr. Kanner provided. I would also recommend setting up a study group with other students; ours was extremely fruitful. I think that anyone who is willing to spend a lot of time on study and who can communicate well will succeed in the class. 

Wonderful class!!! posted by Katie Dunphy on June 29 2012 at 20:40:41

I certainly did!!  It would be hard to find another course, either in public school or online, that prepares you as well as this one did.  Although I don’t have my AP exam results yet, I feel certain that I did well.

Boy, that’s a tough question.  It really varied.  I put in between 3 and 6 hours per day, more toward the end of the review period.  Unlike many other students I actually found that lab days took less time than other days.  Review days were the most time-consuming.

The AQ’s helped a TON.  I also liked the FlyLab and the CardioLab a lot.  My favorite units were numbers 3, 4, and 8.  The most difficult, in my opinion, were Unit 3 (lots of new, intricate concepts) and Unit 5 (lots of memorization)

It definitely did!  Like one of the other reviewers, I thought biology was merely memorizing the components of the digestive system, or learning about the purpose of photosynthesis.  In reality, biology is an amazing science involving almost everything around you.  Now I can open up the Washington Post and actually understand an article on the science behind new cancer treatments, or estimate how much of a seed’s energy eventually reaches a hawk. 

Yes!  Toward the end Dr. Kanner placed us in study groups which met through Skype.  Those allowed us to ask questions and give answers, important aspects of the review portion of the course. 

To thrive in this class, you need to be truly interested in biology, have a high level of reading comprehension, be efficient with your time, know how and when to ask for help, and, most of all, be willing to work EXTREMELY hard. 

The last attribute is the most important—if you just want an easy AP to add to your transcript, this class is NOT for you.  Your pursuit of biology will be frustrating, exhausting and difficult, but it has rewards greater than I could have imagined.  I can’t wait to take another, similar, class—genetics, perhaps?  Dr. Kanner is a fabulous teacher.  She’s understanding and encouraging when the work gets difficult, and you can tell that she truly cares about her students. 

Good luck!  

One. Amazing. Class. Period. posted by Loren Chue on June 04 2012 at 05:12:16

Hi Prospective AP Bio Student:

Having just taken my SAT II Bio test yesterday, I feel my remaining school days have been drained of much activity that originally sprouted from my time spent in delving into the deeper reaches of biology. In other words, I miss studying biology!

This course definitely primed me for the AP exam for several reasons as follows:

1. Dr. Kanner is a very encouraging, organized, and helpful teacher. Her daily messages and WWWBoard notes condensed the vast amount of material into concept-coralling bullet points. She answered the often numerous questions thrown at her (either by email or on the WWWBoard) quite expeditiously and cheerfully. 

2. The SQs (Study Questions, done every day) pointed out "holes" I needed to work on, made me think outside of the box to answer critical, multiple-concept-tying questions, helped me learn the choices that were true/false (for EXCEPT questions), and solidified concepts I already knew.

Up to 20 questions (especially as test day leaps closer) can be done each day, but usually Dr. Kanner puts 8 on normal days. This acquires 4-10 points, so each questions is worth 1/2 point. 

3. The Assigned Questions (from Dr. K's chapter tests) and practice FRQs (from old AP tests) helped me explain concepts and definitions in the right terminology and made me elucidate them so others would readily understand what I was explaining. Furthermore, they solidified concepts and sometimes even allowed me to view the concepts I knew in a whole different angle. The FRQs pushed me to write a concise, yet well-written essay in less than 25 minutes. 

4. Now for the Chapter Tests. Each week, I spent about 2-3 hours a day studying bio, and on test days, even more. Since this rigorous class covers ALL of the 56 chapters (yes, 56!), one MUST pace oneself and stay ahead of the schedule to grasp the multifarious concepts presented in each chapter or set of chapters. Each week presents two to three new, sometimes almost exhaustingly-long, chapters (especially when one gets down to cellular respiration, photosynthesis, and animal form and function). However, the amount of knowledge gained is indispensible and extremely rewarding, especially after the AP exam. Dr. Kanner's chapter tests are thought-provoking and often combine different concepts together to answer thinking questions. Others are extremely-detailed factual questions, say for instance, "Which MHC molecule (class I or II) binds with the helper T cell?"

5. As the AP exam inches closer and closer, Dr. Kanner will provide past AP Bio exams for students to do. If one is prepared well and has studied hard, he or she will excitedly try these exams.

6. Dr. Kanner emphasized class interaction on the WWWBoard and in study groups. These allowed each one of us to ask and answer questions. If fellow students could not answer a classmate's questions, Dr. Kanner would readily step in to answer. Many times, I woke up excited to answer my classmate's questions, for I knew this would strengthen my knowledge and teach me new things as well. As one of my former teachers mentioned, to teach others is to learn as well. In study groups, each student (we discussed on Skype) was given opportunity to voice out his or her questions and take turns answering fellow student's questions. By explaining questions and concepts orally, I found they stuck in my cerebral cortex more strongly than when I typed or wrote explanations down. 

Every day, I found my fingers itching to flip open my tome of a biology textbook and begin reviewing or reading new material. This excellent course greatly enhanced my interest in biology and strengthens my aspiration to become a medical physician. I pretty much enjoyed everything this course had to offer. 

However, although it does require extensive memorization, biology is not just a subject filled with rote memorization. Memorization coupled with a grounded understanding of concepts will help one excel in this course. Understanding of the material is sometimes even more important than rote memorization because the AP exam will throw questions at you that require you to tie a myriad of concepts together and choose relevant ones to answer cumulative questions. Besides, understanding concepts will ground the basics and allow for a steady buildup of harder material in subsequent chapters. 

In general, a student who is willing to stay two bounds ahead of the schedule and will put his or her heart into mastering the vast amount of material in AP Bio will sail pretty smoothly through this course. Being an active participant in this class definitely garners extra credit points to boost grades and consolidate the learning process.

After this course, I view the world around me with new eyes. I see a plant and try to figure out its composition, structure, or type; or I scrutinize an animal and try to classify it; or start naming zones as soon as I see a lake; the list goes on and on. Some days I wake up ready to do SQs, but then sink back into the warm recesses of my comforter dejectedly reminding myself the course is over. 


So, my fellow students, what are you waiting for?

Sign up for a whirlwind of learning and an exhilarating adventure that perlustrates the very crooks and crannies of AP Biology. :)

posted by Loren on June 04 2012 at 03:50:41

Fantastic but challenging posted by Riley Price on May 23 2012 at 16:58:24

I would highly recommend this course to any student who has an interest in the subject, and is willing to invest a substantial amount of time in learning and reviewing the material. There are a few things that any student who wants to take this excellent class should know.


1- This class is rigorous. I felt very well prepared for the exam by the end of this course, and really learned a lot throughout the year. We covered many aspects of biology, from the very small (cells, genomes) to the not-so-small (ecosystems). The weekly chapter tests were more challenging than many of the questions on the AP exam. The extensive preparation for the labs, Dr. Kanner's study guides, and the discussions on the message board all allowed for in-depth study of the course material. This was definitely time consuming. I put, on average, more than 12 hours per week into this course. This class also requires participants to keep up with the schedule. Falling behind – at all – makes it very hard to catch up. Being able to effectively manage time is a must for any student in this class.


2- This class requires interaction with the other students and with the teacher. This class requires a daily investment of around 2 hours, counting the reading assignments and the tasks on the website. Dr. Kanner is very knowledgeable, helpful, and quick to respond to questions. There are several assignments that involve working with other students. Participation in the forum and on the website is required. Promptly responding to emails is also a necessity.


3- This class is great! Assuming you're able to manage your time and communicate effectively, this is a really great course. The subject is really interesting, and this was a marvelous way to cover it. I really learned a lot in preparation for the exam. The labs (which I was initially worried about, since this is an online class) were both fun and engaging. This was certainly the most enjoyable course that I took this year.


This class is categorically intended for a dedicated student. That said, if you have any interest in biology at all, you should find this class to be a really enjoyable opportunity to learn a lot about the subject. Dr. Kanner is an absolutely stupendous teacher who really prepared me (and, I think, the rest of the class) for the AP Biology exam.   

Four reasons this AP Biology class is outstanding posted by Emma Fowler on May 17 2012 at 02:55:40

I heartily recommend this course to anyone willing to put their back to the wheel and work HARD!  Here is why...

1) This course will win you over to Biology

It is often said that science is rooted in conversation. Dr. Kanner is a supportive, enthusiastic, and organized teacher. She emphasized communication throughout the year, and this made all the difference. Through Dr. K and my classmates' communication, it became a joy to open my textbook every morning.   I have been thrilled on countless occasions to realize how much I internalized from this course.  The logic of the scientific method, discovery of biological principles, and the visualization of life's intricate clockwork have all deepened my interest in biology.

2)…teach you to ask questions and give answers,

In this class, you will set sail as an explorer on a boundless sea of knowledge, but, you will not be alone.  Despite the time-demands of the course, there was continuous interaction between fellow students, on the class message board, and during weekly study groups.  Together, we challenged our understanding of complex concepts, asked questions, and shared our answers.  This was one of the most stimulating elements of the course; our chance to transcend geographical boundaries and meet and think on common ground.  Outside the book, many of us gained an understanding of genetics, evolution and climate change from new and different perspectives.

3)…manage your time effectively,

This course requires personal discipline and organization. Even if you are a perfectionist with time-consuming propensities, you will learn to balance your available time between your personal study goals, weekly class assignments, laboratory exercises, and engagements with study groups.  All work is assigned on a rotating schedule. This provides flexibility, but all the same, punctual work habits and strong study skills are essential for success in this course - as they are in college. 

4) and, it will prepare you excellently for the AP exam.

No matter how daunted you feel by the breadth and depth of AP biology, you will have mastered it by May.  This course was well balanced, perfectly scheduled and a notch above the actual AP exam.  We were constantly putting our knowledge to use with weekly quizzes, assigned question exercises and virtual labs.  In the second semester, we learned to integrate our knowledge of biological principles and our skills in a timed essay setting.  These essays were invaluable skill-building opportunities that desensitized us to the conditions we encountered on the actual AP.  As well as gifting you with enough confidence to succeed on the AP exam, this course will introduce you to an invaluable understanding of and curiosity about the biology in the world around you.

Excellent Preparation for the AP Exam and Exposure the College-Level Biology posted by Jonathan Williams on May 16 2012 at 23:26:36

Did you feel the course prepared you for the AP exam?

After all the preparation through the school year, I felt very prepared for my AP exams.  The frequent multiple choice quizzes we took in class throughout the year were often harder than those on the actual AP exam, so I could answer the questions on the exam much more easily and quickly.  Also, the frequent practice of timed essays in the second semester taught us how to bring information to mind and communicate it effectively within time limits.  The final review we did of all chapters and labs in the last month of class was very helpful in bringing all key concepts back to the front of my mind, making the multiple choice portion very straightforward and the free response questions very manageable. 

How many hours of work per day or per week did you generally put into the course?

Required time investment varied from week to week depending on how many chapters we were assigned or whether we were working on a lab.  I would generally invest between 14-18 hours a week on biology.

Did the course enhance your interest in the subject?

I took high school biology in my freshman year and I began this year (my junior year) with some interest in biology based on my previous experience with it.  However, since I had just taken chemistry in my sophomore year, I favored chemistry over biology at the beginning of this year.  As this year progressed, though, I began to really enjoy learning biology on a much more in depth, fascinating way than ever before.  Instead of my interest in biology decreasing due to the increased challenge of the course, my interest grew as I began to see biology from a new perspective. 

Did you find your communications with other students to be interesting or valuable?

Interaction with other students become particularly important during the second semester.  We began using the course message board to ask and answer each other's questions about the chapters and labs, which cleared up confusion when you asked a question and helped reinforce concepts in your mind if you answered one.

In the last month before the exam, Dr. Kanner had us form study groups for the final review for the exam.  This enabled us to discuss questions, key concepts, and essay prompts from past exams as a group, which helped answer some of my questions and review tougher concepts in preparation for the test. 

What sort of student would do well in this course? Would you recommend this course to other students?

I think the more you enjoy biology already, the more manageable you will find this course.  I began this course with a serious question as to whether I would be able to handle the rigors of the class schedule and hours of study required to succeed.  Ultimately, though, the course compelled me to step up in my commitment, responsibility, and organization to tackle the challenges that came with it.  If you begin with the understanding that you will be challenged this year but still remember that you can face these challenges with good organization and commitment to studying concepts until you master them, you will no doubt succeed in this course and on the AP exam.  

The Best Online Biology Course posted by Richard Easterling on May 16 2012 at 15:34:30

Did you feel the course prepared you for the AP exam?

I did, very much so. This course did an excellent job of preparing me for the exam. Dr. Kanner is an outstanding teacher and I found her methods highly successful.

How many hours of work per day or per week did you generally put into the course?

I spent about two hours a day working on Biology. In a five day work week that translates to ten hours a week. This was a class that required DAILY work. It would have been impossible to cram this subject at the last minute.


Are there any particularly favorite assignments that you found especially valuable?


I found the Animal Behavior lab to be especially enjoyable. It was fascinating to see how the Pill Bugs reacted to different environments.


 Did the course enhance your interest in the subject?


I was already highly interested in the subject before I took it online. However, the course did serve to enhance it and now I am seriously considering a career in medicine.


Did you find your communications with other students to be interesting or valuable?

I found the study group I attended to be most helpful. Without it I doubt I could have done as well on the exam.


I would recommend this class to any student who has an interest in biology, provided they are more than willing to work very hard. This class is only for those who will put in the time, effort, and willpower necessary to achieve good grades. A note of encouragement; good grades in this class earned honestly will almost certainly mean a five on the AP Exam.

Definitely a Challenge! posted by Madison Dressler on May 16 2012 at 14:03:15

Did you feel the course prepared you for the AP exam?

Without a doubt, yes! I was confident when I took the exam knowing that I learned the material and tried my best. The exam was actually much, much easier than Dr. K's chapter tests and even fun because I was able to see how much I had learned over the course of the year. 

How many hours of work per day did you generally put into the course?

When I sent in my Biology application at the beginning of the year, Dr. K emailed me back saying how much of a challenge this course would be. From the time requirements to the difficulty of the material that we would cover, it would not be comparable to any other science course I had previously taken. I could not be more thankful for that email! I still signed up for the class  but began it knowing how hard it would be. I put between 3 and 4 hours a day into Biology, and around 6 hours total each week-end. We would cover between 2 and 3 chapters a week (the chapters are generally 20 pages long, but some are shorter and some are longer) along with labs. The course does get easier after the first semester though! 

Are there any particularly favorite assignments that you found especially valuable?

I absolutely loved the labs. It took getting used to doing them online, but I enjoyed wrestling witht he material to answer the questions she asked. The Fly genetics lab was probably my favorite! 

Did this course enhance you interest in the subject?

YES!! I absolutely loved this course. Although it was the hardest course that I had taken, it was also the most rewarding. I want to become a doctor and this course showed me how much I loved to learn. I saw so much evidence of God's hand in creation as I studied the textbook :-) 

What sort of student would do well in this course? 

This course is definitely not for a student looking for an easy year of highschool. It takes dedication, discipline, and a whole lot of perseverance. My test scores were low ( a lot of B's and even a D or two). It seemed discouraging at times, but Dr. K is so, so good about sending encouraging emails right when you need it, reminding you that you CAN do it. It takes discipline because if you fall behind there is no catching up. Because of the sheer amount of material covered each day, you have to stay on track! And, although Dr. K has assignments, you are responsible for making sure that you learn the material! You must learn it well the first time through as well, because there is no way you can relearn that whole book during the month review before the exam. Think hard before you sign up for this class... it is a challenge, but I recommned it to anyone who wants to spend a year immersed in Biology. I LOVED it (and am even a little sad now that it is over). 

A sidenote about the teacher.... she is WONDERFUL! She always emailed back promptly (oftentimes within the hour) with detailed answers to all of my questions (regardless of how silly they were) You must communicate with her though! Follow her lead, study hard, and you will be completely prepared for the exam! 

Think before you sign up! posted by Sarah Hempton on May 15 2012 at 15:52:07

Before I begin answering the questions, I would like to preface this and note that Dr. K is a wonderful wonderful teacher.  She has really been pushing me along all this year, and I am so grateful!  


Did you feel the course prepared you for the AP exam?


Absolutely!  I actually found the exam EASY after Dr. K's tests!  The essay questions were a little more difficult, but the class went over everything.

Keep in mind that the exam will be changing next year, so if you do decide to take this class, be prepared to learn EVERYTHING in biology.  We did the same this year, but it is a TON of work.


How many hours of work per day or per week did you generally put into the course?


Most of the students probably put in 3-4 hours per day.  If you have a background in biology and you pick up science easily, you can probably put that much into it and still come out well.  However, I put about 6+ hours per day into this class.  As you can probably imagine, my other subjects fell a bit, and I will be doing math all through the summer.  This particular learning type didn't work as well for me as it did for most, and even with all that work, I am expecting to get a 4, or possibly scrape into a 5.  The entire class is based to visual learners, hands down.  If you were to take this class, you MUST like reading, because we read over 1,000 pages in our textbook!  


Are there any particularly favorite assignments that you found valuable?


I have always, and will always, like the labs.  I would say that maybe 20% of the AP Exam this year was based on knowledge from the labs, but I think they are fun and much more interesting than reading in a textbook!  We did most of the labs online, and then Dr. K provided a question form that was graded.  While the labs themselves were fun, the questions definitely helped me to actually think about what processes were going on.


Did the course enhance your interest in the subject?


This may be the wrong time to ask this question, as I JUST finished the class (and I still have the SAT II exam to go!).  From October until April, I HATED biology.  I had liked it before, and this class actually turned my interest.  I hated the reading, I hated the tests, everything.  Truthfully now though, I think I was only just stressing out.  I am now looking back and moving forwards and finding biology an interesting subject - just one I will not be pursuing.  


Did you find your communications with other students to be interesting or valuable?


At the beginning of the year, Madison and I had a small arrangement where we would type our notes to eachother, and then ask questions if we had any.  Needless to say, this didn't work out very well, and we stopped doing it after a few weeks.

Around January, I did a project with Richard that was I really enjoyed.  We worked together on it, and while I can't say I learned more from working with him, it was a nice change of pace from the monotonous reading.  

After we finished reading the book, Dr. K organized us into study groups.  I was put in a study group with Khai, Loren, Janna, and Mariam, and Emma sometimes joined us.  This study group helped me more than anything else in the class!  We had active discussions about the concepts, and Khai was extremely good at getting others to participate.  I wish we had done this earlier in the year, as I need discussion to help me retain the knowledge.  If you can, I would recommend that you meet with a group of 3 or more people once a week throughout the class, it will really help.


What sort of student would do well in this course?  Would you recommend this course to other students (if they are willing to work hard!)?


You must be able to read complicated biology chapters at a very quick rate - and retain the information.  If you are a visual learner, this class will work well for you!  If you are an audio learner, but would still like to take this class, I found that reading the material out loud as well as working with a study group helped.  It is a very challenging class, do not underestimate it!  However, you learn so much.  Dr. K is really so wonderful in accomodating any student!  If you have hours per day to put into this class, it is an incredible experience that you will never forget.  If you don't like biology in the first place, or if you have any doubts about not being prepared enough, I would recommend you talk to Dr. K and express your concerns.  She will be able to determine if you are ready.  Just be prepared to work HARD!


One extra thing to note for students next year:  DO NOT worry about your grades and/or test scores!  I was freaking out about 70%'s and 80%'s on my exams, but honestly, the class is VERY hard.  Learn from the questions you get wrong, but don't worry about them.  The only score that truly matters is your AP exam score, so work more on learning the material than on getting good test scores.


Overall, I do not regret taking AP biology.  I learned so much, met some incredible people, and I hope my scores will reflect my hard work!  Thank you Dr. K for all the help, and thank you to everyone I worked with over the year (Richard, Madison, Khai, Mariam, Loren, and Janna!)!  I wish the students next year luck, and good exam scores!


Thank you,

Sarah Hempton

PA Homeschoolers AP Bio Class--Terrific Experience posted by Jesse McNicoll on May 15 2012 at 14:02:37

If you are hoping to learn and understand Biology, to do well on a standardized AP test, and just have a great, organized class experience, this course is for you.  The course prepares you for the exam incredibly well--compared to the complete thoroughness of Dr. Kanner's teaching plan, the AP exam will almost seem easy.  But, understanding that it is a lot of information, Dr. Kanner does an excellent job in helping you understand and process all of it. Any student who is willing to work hard (getting the full benefit out of this course probably requires at least 2 and 1/2 hours of concentrated study per school day, and additional hours on a lab day) and communicate frequently with the teacher will do very well in this class and likely get a 5 on the AP exam. 

Wow. posted by Matthew Kilgore on June 01 2011 at 23:27:39

Prospective Student,

Because you are reading this, you must be considering Dr. Kanner's AP Bio class.  Let me summarize in one sentence:


Excellent--I've got your attention!  Now I can elaborate:

Are you still reading?  Great!  I must now give one final note about AP Bio: it is VERY time consuming.  To make this clear, we read over 1200 pages of textbook.  As you can guess, I thought it was worth it!
I wish you luck, student!

Excellent class! posted by Aimee Owens on May 24 2011 at 18:54:27

Did you feel the course prepared you for the AP exam?

By the end of this class, I felt thoroughly prepared and (almost) eager to take the exam. The practice tests and essays, and Dr. Kanner’s help and feedback throughout the year prepared me for and gave me confidence on the day of the exam.

How many hours of work per day or per week did you generally put into the course?

I spent at least 3-4 hours a day reading and studying the chapters. Lab days took around 5 hours. I spent around 4 hours a day reviewing and studying during the month before the exam.

Did the course enhance your interest in the subject?

Yes! I have realized that biology is an incredibly accessible subject. Like Theresa, I automatically use biology that I leaned this year to classify, examine animals, and understand how things work every day. I’ve also learned that biology can be used in many diverse fields: it can be used to save ecosystems or eradicate a disease, to look for life on other planets or to save someone’s life here on Earth.

What sort of student would do well in this course? Would you recommend this course to other students (if they are willing to work hard!)?

To do well in this course, you need to be dedicated and responsible. It takes hours every day to read, understand and memorize the definitions, processes, etc. However, if you are willing to devote your time and energy to learning the material, this course is wonderful! It is extremely well set-up and run, and Dr. Kanner was an excellent teacher. She was very kind and very dedicated to helping us prepare to the best of our abilities. Our questions were always answered quickly, clearly, and helpfully. I would recommend this course with the highest praises.


Good class! posted by Theresa Marlin on May 18 2011 at 01:34:41

I will say first off that math has always been my strongest subject. When my mom and I decided I should take AP Bio, the prospect of a science not entirely math oriented was not a good one to me. Regardless of the fact, of the AP sciences, it seemed the best choice, so off I went.


The class was awesome.


It was a lot of work. Like a LOT A LOT. You spend hours a day reading text, studying for tests, doing simulated labs, etc. However the course was completely worth it, it definitely prepared me for the test.

If you're wondering what Dr. Kanner is like as a teacher (since I think this is the first review from one of her students) she's really great. She writes back to your desperate pleas for help emails very quickly and if she is not around, she will always say so ahead of time.

The class is not overly interactive (compared to some) but you are still interacting with your peers on study material.

You definitely want to buy study/prep books to supplement the course- the text is very comprehensive and you will not be able to review the entire thing in the small time you have to review. Getting prep books enables you to go over the basics again that are most likely to be on the test.


I guess in ending this review, I want to say something about biology itself. It's one of the few AP's that can actually be instantly applied. The only other AP's I had taken were CS and USH, and while both of those were highly valuable, they don't apply directly to the world around you. Literally, as you read your text, you can look out your window and see a living example of it. As soon as you study material enough, you will see it/be looking everywhere for it. On long days of studying, I would take a break and walk outside, and find myself identifying leaves as monocots and dicots- or watching my dog and realizing that we had inadvertently classically conditioned her. The night before the AP exam (mother's day) we went to a chinese buffet, and I found myself dissecting a shrimp and looking at its different parts. Literally everything around you can relate to biology.



Review of AP Bio posted by Julia Wenger on May 14 2010 at 10:24:45

My Experience with AP Biology posted by Dane Keil on May 12 2010 at 14:42:53

Yes, though the exam was by far the hardest one that I've ever taken.

I put at least ten, but probably more, hours into the course.

I liked the chapters about animal behavior and genetics best.

It did teach me a lot of interesting things about biology that I didn't know before.

I thought that our study nights helped to cement the material in my head.

Someone who has a a passion for the subject and a willingness to work hard would enjoy this course immensely.

A note to prospective students: This course is amazing! posted by Elizabeth Deatrick on June 10 2007 at 16:13:18

What can I say? This was the best course I took all year. In fact, this may be one of the best courses Iíve taken in my entire LIFE. Dr. Gross is very helpful, understanding, and responsive to her studentsí needs. I felt very prepared for the exam when that fateful day came, and I feel that I did pretty well. While I donít yet have my score on the AP test, I took the SAT II Biology E before AP Bio was even over, and I got an 800. Thatís a pretty good indication of how great this course is.

This course is a lot of work. I cannot stress it enough: I was regularly spending three to four hours a day on Bioómuch more on Lab days and less on testing days. Good organizing skills are essential: at the beginning of the course, I spent 15 to 20 hours a week, which gradually fell as I got organized and learned better study skills, which Dr. Gross helped me do.

As I stated before, the labs are very fun, even if they are virtual. I especially enjoyed the fruit fly lab, in which you cross various strains of Drosophila. I wanted to do this lab in the real world, with real flies, and Dr. Gross actually walked me through it, even though sheís halfway across the U.S. from me, sending me e-mails with instructions advice, and asking for progress reports. Thatís how responsive and encouraging she is: she listens to what students want to do, then helps them with it. Sheís amazing. Another example: Dr. Gross, in response to a number of students asking for a regular ďclass time,Ē has set up a virtual IM classroom. Itís purely voluntary to attend, and itís on review days. Dr. Gross answers questions and goes over difficult concepts. Even if you donít have any questions, itís nice to see what others are having trouble with, so that you can watch out for it yourself.

Iíve loved biology since infancy, but this course helped me to focus in on what I really liked. I discovered the field of behavioral ecology, and found that I wasnít interested in organic chemistry or molecular biology very much. It helped me to find out cool stuff about things I didnít know existed (ever heard of the Krebs cycle?) and sink me even more deeply into a field that I love.

Students who love biology will revel in this course, as will those who have a good background in biological concepts. This does not mean it is easy: it is very difficult. You will spend hours learning stuff that may not even appear on the AP exam, and days memorizing cycles and processes that your science-inclined parents have never even heard of. The bottom line is this: you must be self-motivated, diligent, undaunted, and stubborn. If you donít get something, you must work until you get it. A love of biology helps too, as does parents who have experience in the sciences who can take a moment to help you understand something. If you have taken Chemistry before, that will help you a lot, although I managed to squeeze through with only a middle-school Chemistry course. Good math skills will help you too. Itís all worth it, however, and I highly recommend this course. Hooray for Dr. Gross!

From a Former Student posted by Melissa Ciandella on June 01 2007 at 24:05:35

Dear Prospective Biology Student,

So you're considering registering, or possibly have already registered, for Dr. Gross's biology class. Good choice! This class has been really worth my while this past year, and I'm sure that you'll think the same if you take it. Dr. Gross really prepares her students for every aspect of the AP exam. Her organized schedule gets you through the (sometimes very tough) textbook, with several weeks to spare for review. She also assigns timed essays (usually once a week) so that you can practice on the type of assignment that will be on the actual test. These really helped me, as that's the section that I had the most trouble with at the beginning of the year. Her tests also, really test your knowledge on every detail of whatever chapter you've just read. The class as a whole prepares you so well that if you do well in her class, that pretty much guarantees you a five on the exam (the highest score)!

A note of advice though, don't fall behind in the schedule! The assignments are very manageable, as long as you stay on top of them. You absolutely need to set aside enough time each day to adequately read each chapter, go over the review material, or whatever else is assigned for that day. The work usually took me about 2-3 hours; sometimes less, sometimes more. If you put it off, it just gets added on to the next days' workload, making it even harder to catch up. Also, many of the assignments (such as the tests) are due on the same day that they are assigned. If you're not caught up by that point, you've got a big problem on your hands! On the brighter side, if you avoid this (sadly inadequate) habit, you'll have no problem getting it all done.

Also, a word about the tests. Don't get discouraged if your scores on them are lower than you're used to receiving in your other classes. The tests ARE hard, but they prepare you really well for the AP exam. Once you've been taking Dr. Gross's tests all year, the multiple choice section on the exam will be a piece of cake. You may be frustrated as you're taking them in class, but believe me, it will pay off later on.

With that said, I heartily recommend this class to anyone with a deep interest in biology, and a willingness to work hard. I'm sure that you'll find it very rewarding; and when May rolls around, you'll be prepared and ready for the big exam!

Best wishes!


Got Dr. Gross? posted by Peter Cahill on May 21 2007 at 13:10:09

Dear Prospective Student of AP Biology with Dr. Lauren Gross,

The following article is an excerpt of mine from the high-school publication The Excelsior: ďDr. Gross is an absolutely excellent teacher. Every weekday she posts a daily message on the class website to remind her students of what our assignments are. These messages also include pertinent information to make her studentsí grasp of biology easier and more complete. She also hosts a study session before each test where she helps her students understand the subject material better by communicating with them in ďlive time.Ē The course material is also very thorough. This course requires about 1-2 hours per day of work, depending on oneís ability to work quickly and well. Laboratory days (only 12 the entire year) do take 2-3 hours and must be completed carefully. Student interaction on the WWW Board is relatively infrequent, but the assigned questions and study sessions allow students to greatly benefit from the knowledge and research of their classmates. One problem with this class is the amount of not-very-useful material about evolution (whether one agrees with it or not) that must be covered for the AP exam. Notwithstanding, this is a truly excellent class!Ē I do feel that this class is a truly excellent selection for your future studies and I hope you will consider taking this stellar course.


~Peter Cahill

AP Bio posted by Angelia Lia Campbell on May 18 2007 at 14:13:17

I find it hard to envision a class that could better prepare me for the AP Biology exam, and yet remain so fascinating and engaging. Dr. Gross is an amazingly dedicated teacher, and the detail and depth of her advice and answers make up for the (oftentimes quite difficult) detail and depth of the material to be learned. Cautionary note: to do well, dedication and hard work is clearly necessary from the student as well. Myself, I found that I averaged 2-3 hours per day working on Biology.

Regardless of how I actually did on the AP Biology exam, I feel that I gained a great deal of enthusiasm as well as knowledge about Biology through this class.

Colin's Review posted by Colin Price on May 16 2007 at 22:16:06

Yes this course prepared me very well for the AP exam.

I spent an average of 3-4 hours a day and over 25 hours a week.

I think the essays really helped me master the material. It made the transition from fact learning to concept learning. Although tough, they helped me the most, I believe.

I have to say, this course was not as much fun because I am a very big fan of dissections. It did enhance my interest in the subject however.

Communication with the other students was very valuable. I especially liked the IM study group and the minutes that were posted each week. These helped me study for tests.

I think any student who is willing to work extremely hard would do well in this course. Success in this course will take sacrifice of time and a tremendous amount of effort. I've never studied harder for a test and received such a low score. A student for this class needs a "never give up" attitude! This class also taught me perseverance.

I would recommend this class only to someone who is (of course willing to work hard) extremely interested in Biology. In order to succeed in this class, one has to devote many many hours to study and memorization and reading. If you are not interested in the subject material, you will have a harder time succeeding.

To all prospective AP Bio students, take this course! posted by Phoebe Young on May 15 2007 at 22:54:52

Dear future AP Bio student,

This is an excellent course with a wonderful and enthusiastic teacher. There's a lot of work, but you will enjoy it! Our teacher, Dr. Gross, puts a good amount of effort into the course, answers questions immediately, and generally does everything she can to help you.

As a homeschooler, I can have a hard time keeping a schedule and finishing the material in time for an exam like the AP. You won't have that problem with this class. Dr. Gross covers the whole book with a strict (but do-able) schedule that will get you ready for the AP. If you're like me, you'll be wondering what assignments you'll be getting. Well, typically in each 5-7 day cycle, we had 2-3 reading days (one chapter a day), 1-2 review days, 1 test day, and 1 day with a writing assignment (either on a test question or free response prompt.) I usually read the chapters over the reading and review days, taking about 5 hours a chapter.

I found the writing assigments to be particularly valuable. On the first half of the course, our writing assignment was to explain the answers to 1-2 questions from the test. This excercise really helped me understand the material and be able to think through multiple choice questions. In the second half of the course, we switched to writing essays. This was good practice, and Dr. Gross' grading was clear and helpful. I also reviewed old material with a classmate weekly.

In order to do well in this course, it's important to keep with the schedule. Don't fall behind! The schedule is tough, but if you do all the assignments, and work hard, this course has you set up to succeed. Your teacher will also give you plenty of help and encouragement. At the end of the year, Dr. Gross gives you a review period before the AP exam in May, and she helps you plan out your review so this doesn't go to waste. Having followed her organized schedule and your personalized, neat review plan, you'll be set! You'll be both confident and ready for the AP.

In short, this is a great class with a great teacher! And don't forget--as you read the material and try to keep your brain up to the pace, enjoy as you learn!

Have fun, Phoebe

Changed my life posted by Naomi Weston on May 15 2007 at 15:46:45

Biology has been amazing for me this year. I havenít ever had much of an interest in itÖ Iím more of a chemistry personÖ but this class has enhanced my interest in it- in fact, I did my research paper on the Human Genome Project, just because it was so interesting reading about it this year!

This class has changed my view of school. Iíve learned so much not just about Biology, but also about managing my time and learning effectively. Iíd never had to read an entire chapter in a day before, and at first it was really hard, but I found that writing out a schedule every night for the next day really helped me to get things done. I also learned how to really take in and remember everything as I read. I spent about hmmmÖ. 12-18 hours per week on this course. Yeah.

Dr Gross is the best teacher Iíve ever had. Sheís very involved with all her students- answering our questions quickly by email, giving us overviews of chapters before we read them, encouraging us to ask more questions, and even studying with us before tests. I really enjoyed the IM study groups that we would have before tests- everyone communicating together was just great for getting all sorts of questions out, and Dr Gross answered all of them right there (and if she couldnít, she would at least give us a link to where we could read up on it later). I would definitely recommend this course to anyone who has an interest in the field of Biology!

oh and PS: I am really glad that I took this course BEFORE I went to college, so I could learn how to manage my time. I feel confident about going to university now-thanks a lot to this course, which pressured and forced me into working out schedules to get everything done.

One more thing ... posted by Leah Loke on July 29 2006 at 14:29:15

As this is an AP course, some of you may be thinking: okay, so Dr. Gross is a really wonderful teacher and all, but can an on-line course really prepare students adequately for the AP exam? In addition to their year-long study of the material, in the days before the exam, Dr. Gross sends the students all kinds of reminders, helps, tips, plans of attack, etc. including: "You MUST NOT study the day before the test. Instead, you need to do something fun. Preferably something mindless and physical. You already have absorbed all that can possibly help you. Now you need to give your mind a rest". She talks them through each section of the exam, with hints of what to do first, how to pace themselves, and how to make the best use of their time. When the day came, my daughter felt totally ready to take on the exam. We know students who have taken AP Bio at their schools, and I would even venture to say that my daughter was better prepared than most (if not all) regularly-schooled students.

An Amazing Teacher, and An Outstanding Class! posted by Leah Loke on July 28 2006 at 23:06:15

Our daughter took Dr. Gross's class as a junior, and we cannot say enough excellent things about Dr. Gross and her class. Yes, the workload is brutal (sorry!) because of the amount of information the students have to plow through and understand. But Dr. Gross makes it very enjoyable for the students, and she responds quickly to students' questions. Her copious comments to each student's work let the students know that she reads every word that they took the time to write. Her comments give her students a huge pat on the back when they have made a particularly salient point, and she also offers thoughtful suggestions for improvement where that is needed. One more thing about Dr. Gross -- while the rest of the world is sleeping sounding, she is up grading her students' work or writing her Daily Message to them. My daughter really appreciated the DMs, which are a sort of lecture, to help the students through that day's assignment. And because Dr. Gross works in the dark of the night, the DM is always ready on the class website when it is time for AP Bio at your house.

posted by Natalie Webb on May 31 2006 at 14:28:29

I heartily recommend this course to anyone and everyone who loves learning and is ready to work hard. I am a musician and love the liberal arts, but after taking Dr. Grossí AP Biology class, I do believe Iím bound for a major in the sciences! Dr. Gross makes the class fun and understandable, yet challenging. She is quick to respond to any questions and her explanations are always very helpful. I spent hours every day on AP Biology and loved every minute of it! Aside from the fascinating information, this class also teaches excellent study skills as one plows through the very detailed text. My older brother, who is attending one of the worldís top science schools, says that Dr. Grossí class was the one that prepared him for college. I personally feel well prepared for anything after Dr. Grossí AP Biology! Going into the AP test, I felt confident with the knowledge base I had acquired, and Dr. Grossí tests and essays throughout the year made me very comfortable with the structure, timing, and difficulty of the test (the test was much easier than anything in the course). At the end of the multiple choice section, I had time to recheck my answers three times. Whether you like biology or not, this course teaches essential study and test-taking skills, and, in all likelihood, youíll fall in love with biology along the way!

Biology class review, Kirstin Rissing May 18 2004 at 19:12:05

Hi! I just finished this year of AP biology and took the AP Exam last week...I've got to say that there is a lot of regret about having finished the course!!! It was absolutely fabulous. Grant it, I had to work a ton more than any of my friends did in any of their classes, at least here, but that was my choice and I couldn't be happier with it! Perhaps there is over-testing, but that helped me finish the AP exam with a little time to check over questions. The essays during the year were generally hard for me, but I felt pretty confident on the test as Dr. Gross gave very helpful comments on my essays. She also commented on everybodyís essays, which meant I could look over those who had done better and learn from them! :-) Personally, I loved the genetic labs and they helped explain what we had been reading. I wouldn't say the course "enhanced" my interest, but it makes me want to take a lot more biology classes!!! I'm thrilled about the entire subject now so, ah well, I guess you could say enhanced.... I had a few study groups before the exam. I also got to learn some about the other students. I think any student who is dedicated to the course and tries to have some fun with biology would do great! Depending on the week and especially with labs or essays, I probably put in 12 hours. For any students taking this class, I have one HUGE warning: You might get on your friendsí nerves asking them questions about glycolysis or Krebs cycle or what temperature a wolf's foot is if the temperature is minus thirty degrees centigrade. Well, if you do take this course, you will most probably enjoy it. It is definitely fun. I also know a ton more than I ever thought I would in all areas of biology. Dr. Gross, especially, was very enthusiastic about the subject and did a great job! :-)

I would highly recommend this course!!! by Sarah Arvaneh, May 16 2005 at 20:02:01

I would highly recommend this course!!! by Sarah Arvaneh, May 16 2005 at 20:11:04

I would highly recommend this course for any student who is willing to work hard. I felt that in the end, it was well worth all the time and effort into it. I have a brain filled with the knowledge of animals, plants, and many other beautiful creations and I can possibly get college credit for it if I did well on the exam! Two benefits for the price of one! Personally, I spent between 2-6 hours a day on the class depending on what we had to do; although, sometimes I think I spent even more time. I felt that I was well-prepared for the AP exam and think that Dr. Gross did an excellent job teaching us and answering any questions we had, quite promptly too. When I took the exam, the kids I took it with were shocked at how much work I did and even that I finished the whole textbook! (They only finished the first 25 chapters.) I greatly enjoyed the course and would highly recommend it to any student that has a passion for Biology! Personally, I was actually kind of sad to finish the course, because I had found it so interesting!!!

Great Class by Joann Boston, May 30 2005 at 08:00:47

This course was probably my favorite all year. While I had to work really hard (about 2-3 hours per day, sometimes more), I'd say it was well worth it. The material was really interesting, and I feel that I learned a lot. When it came time for the AP exam, I found that almost all the information I needed was right there. It definitely prepared me well.

In addition to teaching me so much, this class completely enhanced my interest. Even chapters which I didn't like so much offered some pretty cool facts. I was able to understand more in certain magazine articles about health, or figure out why the tree outside my window was releasing the type of seed pods that it did (light, floating things - must be dispersed by air currents, right? :-)).

It was very hard work, and you do need some discipline to get everything done each day. In fact, I almost learned more about my study habits than the biology! But the payback is great, and I highly recommend this course.

Excellent Bio Class! by Eric Hanson, June 01 2005 at 08:33:19

Really great course! Not only did I feel well prepared for the AP exam by the time I was done, but I also had fun along the way. Dr. Gross is an excellent teacher who makes taking what might be a overwhelming course a fun experience. I really did learn a lot; I never thought the scope of biology was this large before this course. Definitely worth taking if you're a student who wants to do well on the exam or if you have a passion for understanding the natural world from the most basic levels to the most complex.

AP Biology is an awesome class!!! by Debbie Beihl, July 18 2005 at 14:18:11

Did you feel the course prepared you for the AP exam?

Yes, the course did an excellent job preparing me for the AP exam.

How many hours of work per day or per week did you generally put into the course?

Of course, this varied quite a bit. But, on the average, I probably spent about 3-6 hours a day on the class (sometimes it was more and sometimes it was less). I am the type of student that does all the extra credit work....so, that takes longer! ;-)

Are there any particularly favorite assignments that you found especially valuable?

I found reviewing to be very valuable.

Did the course enhance your interest in the subject?

Definitely. I am considering a career in medicine now (before I wasn't really). It especially increased my interest in medical research.

Did you find your communications with other students to be interesting or valuable?

Yes, it was interesting.

What sort of student would do well in this course? Would you recommend this course to other students (if they are willing to work hard!)?

A student that has at least 2-4 hours a day to spend on AP Biology would likely do well in this course. They also must have an interest in biology and in learning. I would highly recommend this course to other students if they are willing to work very hard. It is a rewarding class and Dr. Gross is an excellent teacher! She always answered my questions quickly.