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  • Feb 16, 2021

AP Biology Past FRQs by Topic

Updated: Nov 19, 2022

ap bio frq test

**Updated on 11/19/22 to include the 2020-2022 exams!**

If you are looking for past AP Biology free-response questions (FRQs) that are organized by topic, then you have come to the right place. In this post, we have linked every freely available past FRQ there is and organized it into the following major topics of AP Biology :


Metabolism & Energetics

Plants (note that this topic will not be tested on the official AP Biology exam this year in 2021, although some questions about plants also cover concepts that will be tested)

Physiology (note that this topic will not be tested on the official AP Biology exam this year in 2021, although many questions about physiology could also cover concepts that will be tested)

Need more AP-style practice problems?

Intensively doing and reviewing practice questions is usually much more effective than spending hours studying with notes or the teacher's slides. If you are looking for more College Board-style problems, check out our AP Bio Practice Portal which is an easy-to-use database of 300+ AP-style MCQ and FRQ practice questions. Students love the Practice Portal because it includes answers and explanations for every problem, tracks progress, saves time from Googling practice problems.

Try the Practice Portal >

How to Make the Most of Past FRQs from College Board

As noted above, the diversity of organisms, plants, and physiology will not be on the 2021 AP Biology exam. However, the exam could include questions about topics or hypothetical situations that are related to those topics. One great example is cell communication, which is used in multiple systems inside our bodies. Let’s say an FRQ was to appear about the immune system and how the immune cells communicate. That would be fair game as long as the question focuses on the cell signaling part, not the details of the immune system. If the question requires some background knowledge about the immune system, it will be provided.

If you want to do a whole practice FRQ set just like the ones on the real exam (which we highly recommend), all the freely available past FRQs by year are available here on the College Board website. Tip: time yourself and take the practice FRQ set in an environment that mimics how you imagine your actual testing environment to be.

If you would like to focus on a particular topic, then the section coming up is for you. Some FRQs will show up under multiple topics because they truly do test students’ understanding of multiple different topics.

Tip : Whether you are doing individual free-response questions or doing a full problem set in one go, it is extremely important and effective to do test corrections! Don’t only consult the scoring guidelines and model responses when you have no clue how to answer a question. You should be checking them for all the FRQs you do. When you find a difference between your answer and the scoring guidelines, it is important that you pause and analyze why your response is incorrect. Take the time to understand your mistakes and see how your answer could have been better. This will help you boost your scores the most efficiently.



Basic and organic chemistry concepts do not come up often on the FRQs (but of course, it’s better to be prepared). The properties of water and macromolecules come up occasionally.

2017 #7 and 8

Includes cell structure and function, cell transport and the proteins involved.

2019 #3 and 8

2018 #2, 6, and 8

2006 #1, 3, and 4

2001 #1 and 4

Metabolism & Energetics:

This topic includes enzymes, cellular respiration, and photosynthesis.

2021 #3 (cell respiration)

2019 #3 (cell respiration)

2018 #2 (cell respiration)

2017 #7 (cell respiration)

2017 #5 (photosynthesis)

2015 #2 (cell respiration)

2013 #2 (photosynthesis) and 4 (cell respiration & photosynthesis)

2012 #2 (cell respiration) and 4 (cell respiration & photosynthesis)

2010 #2 (enzymes)

2007 #3 (photosynthesis)

2006 #4 (photosynthesis)

2005 #1 (cell respiration & photosynthesis)

2004 #3 (photosynthesis)

Cell cycle & cell signaling:

This topic has shown up more frequently and in more difficult FRQs in recent years, especially cell communication. The trend will most likely continue.

2021 #1 (cell communication)

2019 #4 (cell communication)

2018 #8 (cell communication)

2017 #8 (cell communication)

2016 # 7 (cell division)

2015 # 4 (cell division)

2015 #5 and 7 (cell communication)

2013 #8 (cell communication)

2011 #1B (cell division)

2010 #1 (cell communication)

2006 #1B (cell division)

2004 #1 (cell division)

Genetics, Gene Expression and Regulation

This section includes the classic Mendelian genetics, with Punnett squares, crosses, and Mendel’s laws. It also includes DNA replication, protein synthesis, and gene expression regulation for both eukaryotes and prokaryotes.

2021 #6 (gene expression)

2021 #2 (heredity + pedigrees)

2020 #1 parts a-b

2019 #1 and 3

2018 #1, 4, and 7

2016 #4 and 7

2020 #1 parts f-j

2015 #3 and 6

2014 #2 and 4


2015 #2 (nervous system)

2014 #2 (immune system) and 6 (musculoskeletal system) and 7

2017 #2 and 3

2011 #2 and 4

2017 #2, 4, and 7b

2016 #3 and 5

2014 #3 and 4

Experimental design:

This is an additional section that isn’t focused on any particular topic or has significant data analysis involved. While most FRQs do pertain to a specific topic(s), some are simply there to test your knowledge of experimental design and understanding of statistical concepts such as performing Chi-Square tests and interpreting error bars on graphs. These types of questions have become more and more common on the AP exam, so it is important to feel comfortable and confident with them.

2020 #1 parts c-e

2016 #2 , 6 and 8

2014 #1 and 5

2013 #1 and 7

Hope these organized FRQs saved you some time so you can focus more on actually doing them and practicing! You can easily share this post with friends who may find it helpful as well.


AP® Biology

Ap® biology practice tests.

AP® Biology practice test

If you’re looking for a comprehensive list of the best AP® Biology practice tests, we’ve put them together here. In this post, we’ll outline background about the course and go over practice tests for AP® Biology that you can start using for your test prep efforts towards earning a 5.

Whether you’re reviewing Unit 1 or Unit 8, there’s a set of AP® Biology practice questions for you.

The exam features 60 multiple choice questions that make up 50% of your score, and 6 free response questions that comprise of the other half of your score.

AP® Biology aims to strengthen students’ abilities to demonstrate inquiry-based learning of essential concepts, and to use these skills to develop reasoning skills for science practices.

In case you’re looking for other free AP® Biology resources, check out our blog section for review articles, score calculators, and more .

What We Review

The 6 Science Practices AP® Biology Promotes

The Big Ideas of AP® Biology

There are four big ideas in the course:

Being intentional in your studying is crucial. Here, we’ve broken down our AP® Biology prep course into their individual units so that you can identify which parts of the test are a greater percentage of the exam, and start targeting your practice.

If you’ve never used Albert, click into Units 2, 4, and 7 to try our free AP® Biology multiple choice practice questions.

Unit 1: Chemistry of Life

Unit 2: Cell Structure and Function

Unit 3: Cellular Energetics

Unit 4: Cell Communication and Cell Cycle

Unit 5: Heredity

Unit 6: Gene Expression and Regulation

Unit 7: Natural Selection

Unit 8: Ecology

AP® Biology Investigative Labs

Return to the Table of Contents

AP® Biology multiple choice practice

AP® Biology Practice Tests Sorted by Big Ideas & Enduring Understandings

One of the best parts about using Albert for your AP® Biology review is that each practice question is tied directly back to the College Board standard, enduring understanding, or essential knowledge that’s being evaluated.

We’ve gone ahead and filtered down our AP® Bio multiple choice practice questions to help you get a head start:

Big Idea 1: Evolution

Big Idea 2: Energetics

Big Idea 3: Information Storage and Transmission

Big Idea 4: Systems Interactions

AP® Biology Unit Assessments

We’ve compiled unit assessments for some of the most important topics covered in AP® Bio. Use these after you’ve completed your targeted practice above.

Note: You’ll need an Albert subscription to access these tests. 

AP® Biology Full-Length Practice Tests

After you complete your unit specific review, use these full-length AP® Biology exams to simulate the real test. Give yourself 180 minutes to complete these.

AP® Biology practice exams

Previous AP® Biology Free Response Questions & Answers

The College Board provides a comprehensive database of the past years’ AP® Biology free response questions and answers. Here are some of the FRQs from recent years:

Helpful AP® Biology FRQ Videos

We’ve made two in-depth AP® Bio free response videos to help you get started in your studying:

Need help preparing for your AP® Biology exam?

AP® Biology practice questions

Albert has hundreds of AP® Biology practice questions, free response, and full-length practice tests to try out.

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AP Biology Practice Exams

We have links to all of the best online AP Biology practice exams. These resources will provide thousands of challenging practice questions to work through. Choose from the listing below to get started with your test prep right now!

AP Biology Practice Test

Varsity tutors, biology (mader) 8th edition, ap biology math review, official practice test, college board 1999 exam, albert ap biology practice, biology (mader) 10th edition.

AP Biology | Practice Exams | Free Response | Notes | Videos |  Study Guides


Choose Your Test

Sat / act prep online guides and tips, every ap biology practice test available: free and official.

Advanced Placement (AP)


Practice tests can help you get familiar with the structure of the AP Biology exam and feel more comfortable with the types of questions you'll be expected to answer on test day. Studying with practice tests can also give you insight into the specific struggles you might have with the material as presented on the AP test. You can then focus your studying appropriately to tackle these problems.

In this article, I'll list all the practice tests for AP Biology that you can find online and give you a few tips on how to use them effectively as study aids for both the AP test and any in-class tests you have throughout the school year.

Official AP Biology Practice Exams

Official practice tests provide the best preparation for the AP test. You can be sure that the questions are accurate representations of what you'll see on the final exam.

Unfortunately, I could only find one official practice test for the new version of the AP Biology test since the format and content changed so recently (2012). However, this practice test also has other information that makes it more helpful. It tells you how to calculate your score and includes detailed answer explanations for each question at the end.

Official Practice Test #1

Don't start your practice with this test. It's the most accurate preparation you'll have for the real AP test, so you should save it for towards the end of your second semester when you feel confident that you've mastered the material. It's better to begin studying with the unofficial tests in the next section as a warm-up!

You can also access official free-response questions from 2013, 2014, and 2015 on the College Board website.

Free Response Questions

The free-response section of the AP Biology test is usually considered to be the most difficult part, so it's good to have a little extra practice with these even if you're not answering them in the context of a full practice test.

In addition to these resources, all AP teachers have access to a bunch of free official practice AP tests online. You can ask your teacher if he or she will print a couple out for you to use in your studying.


Unofficial AP Biology Practice Exams

There are many unofficial AP Biology practice tests out there that you can use to help review the material. There's nothing wrong with using these tests to get more practice, but try not to rely on them exclusively because they are not always totally accurate representations of the real AP Biology exam. Some are aligned with the format of the pre-2012 exam, and some are just multiple-choice tests of varying lengths with no free response questions.

Because the AP Biology exam has been revised, you'll get a more accurate estimate of how well you're doing if you use recent practice tests that are aligned with the new test's format. Before 2012, the AP Biology test had 100 multiple-choice questions and four free-response questions rather than the current 63 multiple-choice questions, six grid-in questions, six short free-response questions, and two long free-response questions. The old test was also more memorization-based.

On the current AP Biology exam, you'll have to answer a lot of questions that involve analyzing experimental data using your background knowledge of biology. You won't see questions that just ask you to do something like identify parts of a process in a diagram.

A couple of these unofficial tests do have the same format as the current exam, including the Barron's practice test and all the tests in the "subscription needed" section. You should save these for later on in your second semester when you want to get a more accurate assessment of your readiness for the final exam (and then follow them up with the official practice test in the previous section if you feel confident that you've fixed your problem areas!).

Free AP Biology Practice Tests

Barron's Practice Test

My Max Score Practice Test

Varsity Tutors Diagnostic Tests

Kaplan Practice Tests

Learning Express 120-Question and 100-Question Practice Tests

Subscription Needed

Shmoop Practice Tests (free trial available, $24.68 a month for subscription)

BenchPrep Practice Tests (with subscription that costs $30 a month)

Practice Tests in Review Books


How to Use AP Biology Practice Tests

This section is full of all the advice you need to follow to use AP Biology practice tests effectively during both your first and second semesters in the class.

First Semester: Using Practice Tests for Your Class

Although it might not make sense to take full practice tests yet, you can still use the materials in this article as resources for your studying. Look for free-response questions that relate to what you've learned so far so that you can start to get familiar with their format and expectations.

There are also plenty of sites that have quizzes that touch on specific units in the AP Biology curriculum. These include Learnerator , Varsity Tutors (which I mention above for diagnostic tests, but they also have subject-by-subject quizzes), and Quizlet . These won't be official questions, but they will help prepare you for in-class assessments and serve as a solid introduction to the types of questions you might be asked on the AP test. You should also check out my complete AP Biology review guide for more advice on how you can use online resources to study specific units of the course.

Second Semester: Preparing for the AP Test

By this time, you should be familiar with most of the material that you'll see on the test. This means you can start using full practice tests to judge how you'll score on the AP test and where your weaknesses lie. Remember to time yourself accurately when you take practice tests! Each time you take and score a practice test, you should also do an evaluation of your mistakes that will inform your studying going forward. Mistakes come in a few different forms, and things can be even more complex on the AP Biology test because there are technically four types of questions.

Focus on the multiple-choice section first, including the grid-ins. Notice whether your mistakes tend to happen on straightforward questions where you just didn't have the content knowledge or on questions that require deeper analysis. Were there specific content areas where you missed a significant number of questions? Keep track of this so that you can go back into your notes and review the appropriate unit(s). These are easy mistakes to fix.

Did you have trouble interpreting and analyzing scenarios on the test even though you knew the background information? The remedy for this is more practice. There are many sites with AP Bio practice questions available. This book of practice questions is also useful because the questions faithfully replicate the new design of the test.

It's possible that your problem lies outside the specifics of the questions and more in the format of the test. Did you run out of time? Make a ton of careless mistakes? The solution to this is greater awareness of your pacing and more practice questions.


Grid-ins are weird, so you may have had trouble on them if you're not big on the math aspect of biology. Try to find similar problems in your textbook, review book, or online so that you can practice your skills. The more math-oriented biology questions you do over time, the more likely it is that the questions on the test will be aligned with what you've already seen.

After taking your multiple-choice mistakes into account, you can move onto the free response section. Notice which questions gave you the most trouble and why. Did you forget the information you needed, or were you confused about what the question was asking or how to analyze a diagram? Take these findings and apply them to your future practice!

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Essential AP Biology Practice Testing Tips

Follow these four tips to be sure to get the most out of your AP Biology practice tests.

#1: Replicate Realistic Test Conditions

It's always important to be faithful to the rules of the real test when you take practice tests so that your scores accurately reflect your potential. That means an hour and thirty minutes for each section. This is the only way to judge whether time is going to be an issue for you. You should also print out the test so that you take it in the right format. Have a calculator on hand as well. If you're really dedicated, you can even have someone serve as your mock proctor.

#2: Don't Panic if You're Not Familiar With Scenarios You See on the Test

Even if you've gone over every in-class lab that you had to do for AP Biology, you will still run into examples you haven't seen before. It's important not to psych yourself out when this happens. Focus on the diagrams and what you can learn from them, and see if you can think of a related experiment that will clue you into what they mean. Use your common sense; many questions will depend more heavily on your ability to analyze the situation at hand than on your memorization talent.

#3: Give Yourself Plenty of Time for the Grid-Ins

The so-called multiple-choice section also includes six grid-in questions. These questions are at the end of the section, and they will probably take you longer to solve than most multiple-choice questions. Try not to spend more than a minute on each multiple-choice question. If you find that you're taking too much time, you should move on and come back to it later!

#4: Spend 5-10 Minutes Reading the Free-Response Questions Before You Start Writing

It's a smart idea to start with the free-response questions that you know you can answer quickly and accurately. Leading with these questions will boost your confidence and help you avoid problems with time. Use the short reading period to look over all eight free-response questions and see which ones will be easiest for you to tackle.


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You should take plenty of practice tests as part of your studying for AP Biology. You can't expect pure memorization to save you on questions that ask you to analyze scenarios you've never seen before. Practice questions are the key to improvement!

You can use a mixture of official and unofficial tests to practice. Just be wary of major differences in your scores from test to test so that you can accurately assess your readiness for the final. You can even use these tests throughout the year to practice for specific units of the course. If you do enough serious practice, the real AP test will be a piece of cake (well, maybe not, but it will be much less traumatizing).

What's Next?

Check out my detailed guide to the AP Biology Exam for more information about what's on this test and how you can prepare for it.

Are you taking both AP tests and SAT Subject Tests? Find out which kind of test is more important and what the major differences are between the two.

Many students take AP classes in the hopes of earning credit for college coursework in high school. Learn more about how AP credit works in college.

Samantha is a blog content writer for PrepScholar. Her goal is to help students adopt a less stressful view of standardized testing and other academic challenges through her articles. Samantha is also passionate about art and graduated with honors from Dartmouth College as a Studio Art major in 2014. In high school, she earned a 2400 on the SAT, 5's on all seven of her AP tests, and was named a National Merit Scholar.

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About the Exam

Exam Overview The AP Biology Exam will test your understanding of the biological concepts covered in the course units, as well as your ability to utilize the scientific method and analyze data. You are allowed to use a four-function calculator (with square root), scientific, or graphing functions throughout exam.

Wed, May 10, 2023, 12 PM Local

AP Biology Exam

This is the regularly scheduled date for the AP Biology Exam.

Exam Components

Section i: multiple choice.

60 questions 1hr 30mins 50% of Score

The multiple-choice section includes individual, single questions as well as sets of questions that refer to the same diagram or data presentation.

Questions will test your ability to:

Section II: Free Response

6 questions 1hr 30mins 50% of Score

The free-response section includes two long questions   and four short questions.

Exam Essentials

Exam-day policies, exam accommodations, calculator policy, exam preparation.

AP Classroom Resources

Once you join your AP class section online, you’ll be able to access AP Daily videos, any assignments from your teacher, and your assignment results in AP Classroom. Sign in to access them.

AP Biology Free-Response Questions and Scoring Information

Go to the Exam Questions and Scoring Information section on AP Central to review the released free-response questions and scoring information.

AP Biology Equations and Formulas Sheet

You are allowed to use this resource on the AP Biology Exam. It is also available in Appendix A of the CED.

AP Biology Past Exam Free-Response Questions and Scoring Information

Go to AP Central to review free-response questions and scoring information from past exams.

AP Biology Course and Exam Description

This is the core document for the course. It clearly lays out the course content and describes the exam and AP Program in general.

Services for Students with Disabilities

Students with documented disabilities may be eligible for accommodations for the through-course assessment and the end-of-course exam. If you’re using assistive technology and need help accessing the PDFs in this section in another format, contact Services for Students with Disabilities at 212-713-8333 or by email at [email protected] For information about taking AP Exams—or other College Board assessments—with accommodations, visit our Services for Students with Disabilities website.

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ap bio frq test

AP Biology: How to Approach Free-Response Questions

For Section II, the AP Biology free-response section, you’ll have 80 minutes (after the reading period) to answer six questions. You will likely spend more time on each of the two long free-response questions than on each of the four short-response questions. A fair balance is 22 minutes per long free-response question and 9 minutes per short free-response question. Take the time to make your answers as precise and detailed as possible while managing the allotted time.

Important Distinctions on the AP Biology Exam

Each free-response question will, of course, be about a distinct topic. However, this is not the only way in which these questions differ from one another. Each question will also need a certain kind of answer, depending on the type of question it is. Part of answering each question correctly is understanding what general type of answer is required. There are five important signal words that indicate the rough shape of the answer you should provide:

Each of these words indicates that a specific sort of response is required; none of them mean the same thing. Questions that ask you to describe , discuss , or explain are testing your comprehension of a topic. A description is a detailed verbal picture of something; a description question is generally asking for “just the facts.” This is not the place for opinions or speculation. Instead, you want to create a precise picture of something’s features and qualities. A description question might, for example, ask you to describe the results you would expect from an experiment. A good answer here will provide a rich, detailed account of the results you anticipate.

A question that asks you to discuss a topic is asking you for something broader than a mere description. A discussion is more like a conversation about ideas, and— depending on the topic—this may be an appropriate place to talk about tension between competing theories and views. For example, a discussion question might ask you to discuss which of several theories offers the best explanation for a set of results. A good answer here would go into detail about why one theory does a better job of explaining the results, and it would talk about why the other theories cannot cope with the results as thoroughly.

A question that asks you to explain something is asking you to take something complicated or unclear and present it in simpler terms. For example, an explanation question might ask you to explain why an experiment is likely to produce a certain set of results, or how one might measure a certain sort of experimental result. A simple description of an experimental setup would not be an adequate answer to the latter question. Instead, you would need to describe that setup and talk about why it would be an effective method of measuring the result.


Questions that ask you to compare or contrast are asking you to analyze a topic in relation to something else. A question about comparison needs an answer that is focused on similarities between the two things. A question that focuses on contrast needs an answer emphasizing differences and distinctions.

Three Points to Remember about the AP Biology Free-Response Questions

1. most questions are stuffed with smaller questions..

You usually won’t get one broad question like, “Are penguins really happy?” Instead, you’ll get an initial setup followed by questions labeled (a), (b), (c), and so on. Expect to spend a paragraph writing about each lettered question.

2. Writing Smart Things Earns You Points.

For each subquestion on a free-response question, points are given for saying the right thing. The more points you score, the better off you are on that question. Going into the details about how points are scored would make your head spin, but in general, the AP Biology people have a rubric, which acts as a blueprint for what a good answer should look like. Every subsection of a question has

two to five key ideas attached to it. If you write about one of those ideas, you earn yourself a point. There’s a limit to how many points you can earn on a single subquestion, and there are other strange regulations, but it boils down to this: Writing smart things about each question will earn you points toward that question.

So don’t be terse or in a hurry. You have about 10 minutes to answer each free-response question. Use the time to be as precise as you can be for each subquestion. Part of being precise is presenting your answer in complete sentences. Do not simply make lists or outlines. Sometimes doing well on one subquestion will earn you enough points to cover up for another subquestion you’re not as strong on. When all the points are tallied for that free-response question, you come out strong on total points, even though you didn’t ace every single subquestion.

3. Mimic the Data Questions.

Data often describe an experiment and provide a graph or table to present the information in visual form. On at least one free-response question, you will be asked about an experiment in some form or another. To score points on this question, you must describe the experiment well and perhaps present the information in visual form.

So, look over the sample Data Questions you see in this book and on the actual test, because you can use knowledge of this format when tackling the free-response questions. In a way, this is just another aspect of the good science idea. The AP Biology test wants to show you what good science looks like on the Data Questions. You can then use that information when crafting your free-response answers.

Beyond these points, there’s a bit of a risk in the free-response section because there are only eight questions. If you get a question on a subject you’re weak in, things might look grim. Still, take heart. Quite often, you’ll earn some points on every question because there will be some subquestions or segments that you are familiar with.

Remember, the goal is not perfection. If you can ace four of the questions and slug your way to partial credit on the other four, you will put yourself in a position to get a good score on the entire test. That’s the Big Picture, so don’t lose sight of it just because you don’t know the answer to one subquestion.


Don’t forget—you only receive points for relevant correct information; you receive no points for incorrect information or for restating the question, which also eats up valuable time!

10 Ways to Maximize Your FRQ Score

Be sure to use all the strategies discussed in this chapter when taking the practice exams. Trying out the strategies there will get you comfortable with them, and you should be able to put them to good use on the real exam.

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AP Biology Final Exam Review

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Where did single-celled organisms come from?

Balance the following equation:

A l + C l X 2 → A l C l X 3 \ce{Al + Cl2 -> AlCl3} Al + Cl X 2 ​ ​ AlCl X 3 ​

MAO and COMT are enzymes that break down _____________ at certain ANS synapses.

The pipe assembly is mounted vertically. Calculate the pressure at A A A if the velocity of the water ejected from B B B is 0.75   m / s 0.75 \mathrm{~m} / \mathrm{s} 0.75   m / s .

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  1. How to Answer AP® Biology Free Response Questions

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  2. The Best AP® Biology Review Guide for 2021

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    For Section II, the AP Biology free-response section, you'll have 80 minutes (after the reading period) to answer six questions. You will likely spend more time on each of the two long free-response questions than on each of the four short-response questions. A fair balance is 22 minutes per long free-response question and 9 minutes per short ...

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