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2008 AP Biology College Comparability Study. What is a Comparability Study?. AP college comparability studies are conducted periodically. An AP Biology study was conducted in 2007-2008. During a college comparability study, a portion of an AP Exam is administered to college students.

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2008 ap biology college comparability study l.jpg

2008 AP Biology College Comparability Study


What is a comparability study l.jpg
What is a Comparability Study?

  • AP college comparability studies are conducted periodically.

  • An AP Biology study was conducted in 2007-2008.

  • During a college comparability study, a portion of an AP Exam is administered to college students.

  • The results of a college comparability study are considered when setting AP grades.

  • The study ensures that AP standards are comparable to or higher than the grading standards that are applied by college instructors when evaluating the performance of their own students in corresponding college courses.


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AP Biology College Comparability StudyExam Format

  • Two exams

    • Molecular/Cellular

    • Organismal/Ecological

  • Each exam consists of:

    • 25 multiple-choice questions

    • 1 free-response question

  • All items from previously administered exam


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AP Biology College Comparability Study Sample Size

  • 19 colleges/universities

  • 890 exam booklets

    • 640 Molecular/Cellular

    • 250 Organismal/Ecological


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Ball State University

Penn State University

Boston University

Rutgers University–Camden

California Polytechnic State University

Temple University

Case Western Reserve University

The College of New Jersey

Davidson College

The George Washington University

Florida International University

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Indiana University–Purdue University

University of Colorado at Boulder

Loyola University Chicago

University of Houston

University of the Pacific

Oklahoma State University

Whitman College

AP Biology College Comparability Study Participating Institutions


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College Comparability StudyAdministration Procedures

  • Instructors at each participating institution:

    • Administer the exam

    • Assign exam grades using their own standards

    • Report course and exam grades

    • Complete instructor’s questionnaire

      • student background

      • motivation of students

      • weight given to exam

      • alignment of exam content to college course taught


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College Comparability StudyScoring Procedures

  • Grades submitted by instructors

    • Exam grade

    • Projected course grade

  • Essay scores assigned by AP Readers with rubrics established during original reading

  • Exams assigned composite scores to compare to original AP population


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College Comparability StudyGrade Setting Process

  • Equate college scores to same scale as full AP exam

  • Calculate average college scores by exam grade for each college (ignore all F’s)

  • The minimum exam score for each AP grade is compared to the average exam score of college students earning corresponding letter grade

  • Find equivalent scores for 2008 test population



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AP Biology College Comparability Study Results (150-point scale)

* Cases of college students to whom professors assigned an F for

 either the exam or the course were removed from the analysis.


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Factors that Affect the Location scale)of Grade Boundaries

  • Equating

  • Comparability study data

  • Judgment of Chief Reader


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AP Biology: scale)Percentage of Students EarningEach AP Grade


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Effect of Comp Study on Distribution scale)

* >95% of the scores available


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