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Tips for Tackling the Biology Subject Test


(1)         The test is 60 minutes, 80 questions and is scored on a 200-800 point scale.  You receive plus one point for a correct answer, zero points for a blank, and minus ¼ a point for each incorrect answer.

(2)         The Biology Subject Test covers cell and molecular biology, ecology, classical genetics, organismal biology, and evolution and diversity.

(3)         Those who have taken, or are currently enrolled in AP Biology, will be well prepared for the exam.  An advanced honors biology class will also provide adequate preparation.

(4)         The test covers EVERYTHING!  You don’t need to have every detail memorized but you must be prepared for every category of material.

(5)         Begin preparing at least 4-5 weeks in advance of the exam to avoid last minute cramming.  Because biology is very memorization based, you don’t want to be overwhelmed right before the exam.

(6)         No calculators are permitted.  Any calculations, for example pH or Hardy-Weinburg calculations, will require simple math that does not require a calculator.

(7)         You have a choice between taking the ecology or the molecular test.  The first 60 questions are the same for both tests and the last 20 questions are specified to either ecology or molecular material and cover more details and specifics.

(8)         The ecology test in general tends to be slightly easier than the molecular test.  I find most of my students prefer the ecology test and feel it is easier to learn the material.

(9)         There are two types of questions:  classification questions and five-choice questions.  Classification questions will provide choices A through E, and the questions themselves will be statements that you classify into one of the five categories, A through E.  The classification options may be used more than once and each does not have to be used. The five-choice questions are standard multiple-choice questions.

(10)         Specific information on test dates and details of subject tests is available on the College Board website.

(11)     The bottom line is you must feel comfortable with all aspects of general biology at the high school level and be willing to put in some time for test prep.


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