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SAT Biology E/M Subject Test Information

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SAT Biology E/M Subject Tests Introduction

So, you're a big fan of science are you now? If you're considering taking the SAT Biology Ecological Subject Test or Biology Molecular Subject Test, then you better be good at Science in a big way! Read below for the ins and outs of the stuff you'll need to know for these tests.

Note: The SAT Biology E or SAT Biology M Subject Test are two separate tests. You cannot take them both on the same day and although much of the content overlaps, some of it doesn't. These tests are also not part of the SAT Reasoning Test, the popular college admissions exam. They are two of the many SAT Subject Tests, exams designed to showcase your particular talents in all sorts of fields.

SAT Biology E/M Subject Tests Basics

Before you register for this test, here are the basics about the manner in which you'll be tested.

  • 60 minutes
  • 80 multiple-choice questions
  • 200-800 points possible
  • 60 of the 80 questions will overlap leaving 20 questions that are individualized for each test.

SAT Biology E/M Subject Tests Content

Since 60 of the 80 questions will overlap, you're going to want to know what those questions will be asking you, huh? I thought so! Here is the content breakdown for both the Biology E and Biology M Subject Tests:

Cellular and Molecular Biology: Cell structure and organization, mitosis, photosynthesis, cellular respiration, enzymes, biosynthesis, biological chemistry

  • Biology E: 12 questions
  • Biology M: Approximately 21- 22 questions

Ecology: Energy flow, nutrient cycles, populations, communities, ecosystems, biomes, conservation biology, biodiversity, effects of human intervention

  • Biology E: Approximately 18-19 questions
  • Biology M: Approximately 10-11 questions

Genetics: Meiosis, Mendelian genetics, inheritance patterns, molecular genetics, population genetics

  • Biology E: 12 questions
  • Biology M: 16 questions

Organismal Biology: Structure, function, and development of organisms (with emphasis on plants and animals), animal behavior

  • Biology E: 20 questions
  • Biology M: 20 questions

Evolution and Diversity: Origin of life, evidence of evolution, patterns of evolution, natural selection, speciation, classification and diversity of organisms

  • Biology E: Approximately 17-18 questions
  • Biology M: 12 questions

SAT Biology E/M Subject Test Skills

Before you take out your Biology textbook and cram everything in there into your brain, let's take a second to figure out how you'll be tested. Yes, there are differences in types of questions. Some will test your basic recollection of knowledge, whereas others will require you to use a bit more of your brain. Let's take a look.

  • Recall of Facts: 24 Questions. Here, you'll be tested on whether or not you remember a definition, can identify a term, or can otherwise shell out important biological information.
  • Application of Material: 28 Questions. This is where things get tougher. Can you apply the knowledge you've learned to solve biological problems? Can you apply the concepts of ratios and proportions to solve basic word problems without the use of your calculator?
  • Interpretation of Material: 28 Questions. This skill is the toughest of the three. Here, you'll need to be able to draw conclusions based on material presented. Sure, you'll need to know the basic facts beforehand in order to make the inferences, but this skill requires you to use more brain power. You'll need to organize and interpret results from your observations to make inferences from data which is presented in graphs, charts or tables.

Why Take the SAT Biology E/M Subject Tests?

Showcasing your scientific knowledge is key, especially if you're aiming to get into a science-related field in undergrad like Pre-med, Biology, Veterinary medicine, Pharmacology, etc. In some cases, you'll actually be required to take either Biology E or Biology M, so you won't get the choice if you want to get in. Even if your school doesn't require it, it's a good idea to just go ahead and take one if you're planning on a science-related field! If you decide to apply elsewhere and it is a requirement at your new choice, you'll already have it covered.

Which Test Should You Take?

If you feel more comfortable being tested about biological communities, populations and energy flow, then take the Biology E Subject Test. If your more comfortable being tested on biochemistry, cellular structure and processes, then take Biology M. Simple as that.

How to Prepare for the SAT Biology E/M Subject Tests

Practice, practice, practice. Half the battle in taking a Subject Test (or any other standardized test for that matter) is getting a feel for the way questions are presented to you. So, use the Online Practice Questions provided by The College Board to get started, and then make sure you brush up on any content you're lacking. Seek out help from your Science teachers in high school – they should be able to point you to the correct textbooks that will help you prepare. Or, as always, you can gain some knowledge from test prep companies like The Princeton Review or Kaplan.

Sample SAT Biology E Question

Which of the following individuals is most fit in evolutionary terms?

(A) A child who does not become infected with any of the usual childhood diseases, such as measles or chicken pox
(B) A woman of 40 with seven adult offspring
(C) A woman of 80 who has one adult offspring
(D) A 100-year old man with no offspring
(E) A childless man who can run a mile in less than five minutes

Answer: Choice (B) is correct. In evolutionary terms, fitness refers to an organism’s ability to leave offspring in the next generation that survive to pass on genetic traits. The woman of 40 with seven adult offspring has left the most surviving offspring and is the most fit evolutionarily.

Sample SAT Biology M Question

Which of the following most accurately reveals common ancestry among many different species of organisms?

(A) The amino acid sequence of their cytochrome C
(B) Their ability to synthesize hemoglobin
(C) The percentage of their body weight that is fat
(D) The percentage of their body surface that is used in gas exchange
(E) The mechanism of their mode of locomotion

Answer: Choice (A) is correct. To assess common ancestry among organisms, differences or similarities in homologous structures are studied. Differences in homologous structures reflect the accumulation of mutations over time. The only choice listed that represents a comparison of a homologous structure is choice (A): Cytochrome C is a protein that can be studied, and its amino acid sequences compared. The fewer differences in the amino acid sequence, the closer the relationship.

Good Luck!

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