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Below is a list of sample essay questions based on each chapter of The Guide. Each essay question is rated on its level of difficulty. Honors level questions are designed for students who are taking or have completed their first year of biology. AP level questions are designed for students who are taking or have completed Advanced Placement biology.
Teachers, you are free to use these essays in your classroom. If you have some thought-provoking essay questions that you would like to share with your fellow teachers, please post them on the Teachers' Forum Message Board.
1. Honors. Discuss the history of the discovery of cells. Include in your essay the cell theory and the scientists whose work contributed to it.
2. Honors. Choose one animate (living) object and one inanimate (not living) object and for each explain how it satisfies or does not satisfy the conditions for life. Give concrete examples.
Conditions for life:
1. Honors. Homeostasis is the process by which organisms keep their internal environment the same. For instance, sweating is one such process that keeps the temperature of our bodies at a constant 98.6 degrees Farenheit. Based on your knowledge of enzymes, why is it important that living organisms maintain "homeostasis"?
2. Honors. Using your knowledge of chemical reactions, explain how acids can neutralize the effects of bases and vice versa. How is this similar to dehydration synthesis? Give examples.
3. Honors. While preparing a lab I've just placed a single drop of red food coloring at one end of a beaker of water. Explain why in a few moments all of the water will appear red. Use the terms diffusion, concentration, and gradient in your essay.
4. AP. Explain the differences between a covalent bond and an ionic bond, and give an example of each.
5. AP. Explain why an enzyme is a catalyst of a reaction and not just a reactant. Select two types of chemicals that affect enzyme activity and explain how they do this. (Do not be as vague as acids and bases.)
1. Honors. In what circumstances is it necessary for cells to pump water out with a contractile vacuole? Why, in these circumstances, aren't diffusion and passive transport able to accomplish this on their own?
2. Honors. Select four organelles from the list below and for each discuss it's structure and function.
3. Honors. Explain how contractile vacuoles and peroxisomes help an organism live in dangerous environments.
4. Honors. Let's look at a very simple example of cell life. Explain one way a cell moves to food, two ways the food enters the cell, and one way the food is digested.
5. AP. Explain the differences between diffusion, passive transport, and active transport.
6. AP. Scientists have discovered that mitochondria have their own DNA. What impact does this have on cytology?
1. AP. A) Identify the catalysts, reactants, and products in both glycolysis and fermentation. B) Explain the process of the electron transport chain. C) Why is glycolysis performed in all organisms but the Krebs cycle only in aerobes and the Calvin cycle only in autotrophs?
2. AP. Explain the full process of photosynthesis in plants from glycolysis to the Calvin cycle. Include in your essay all of the major chemicals involved.
3. AP. Compare (but do not contrast) respiration in aerobes with photosynthesis on the molecular level.
1. Honors. Outline the entire process of cell reproduction including the cell cycle and mitosis.
2. Honors. Using your knowledge of the cell cycle and mitosis, try to explain why prokaryotes generally reproduce more often than eukaryotes.
3. Honors. Explain the role of the centromeres in mitosis.
1. Honors. Explain the findings of Erwin Chargaff and their implications in deducing the structure of DNA.
2. Honors. What are the differences between a point mutation and a frame shift?
3. AP. The experiments of Griffith and Avery were instrumental in concluding that DNA carries the genetic information in cells. Describe their experiments and explain how they came to the conclusions that they did.
4. AP. What were the three models of DNA replication and how do they work? Which model was finally accepted? What are the functions of the three main enzymes involved?
5. AP. Let's say hypothetically a certain small enzyme is needed to extracellularly digest food. The order of the bases on the DNA mollecule is (5') ACCAAATCGTTC (3'). What is the order of amino acids in the protein? Explain from start to finish the process by which this protein is created and exported.
1. Honors. What are the differences between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells? Select two types of unicellular organisms, one prokaryotic and one eukaryotic, and for each explain its method of nutrition and describe one of its unique features.
2. AP. Explain the primary means of locomotion and methods of nutrition for the euglena, the amoeba, and the paramecia. [an error occurred while processing this directive]