What Are Some Examples of Free-Response Questions From the AP Environmental Science Exam?


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There are four free-response questions on each AP Environmental Science Exam. One question is based on a data set, one question is based on documents and two questions focus on synthesis and evaluation.

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A sample document-based question requires test takers to analyze a newspaper article about a proposed nuclear power plant. There are parts to the question, such as: "State whether you agree or disagree with remarks for the article" and "Identify the most likely pollution threat that the power plant will pose to the area."

A sample data set question gives information about a town's water treatment capacity, and requires test takers to analyze this information in regards to a recent storm. Elements of this question include: "Calculate the volume of water that runs off a certain parking lot after a 5 centimeter rainfall" and "Describe two ways the town can reduce the volume of storm water runoff."

A sample synthesis and evaluation question focuses on plate tectonics. This question has elements such as: "Describe what happens when two tectonic plates collide along a subduction zone" and "Explain how a tsunami is generated along a subduction zone."

Another sample synthesis and evaluation question focuses on biogeochemical cycles. Parts of this question include: "Describe a biological process by which carbon is removed from the atmosphere and converted to organic molecules" and "Discuss two human activities that increase the concentration of carbon in the atmosphere."

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