SAT Biology E/M Subject Test

Part I Orientation

Chapter 2 The Exam Format, Question Types, and Strategies

THE FORMAT

The SAT Biology E/M Subject Test consists of a total of 100 questions: a common core of 60 questions followed by 20 questions in each of the two specialty sections. Everyone who takes this exam has to answer the 60 core questions, but you get to choose the specialty section you feel more comfortable with: Ecology or Molecular Biology. Altogether, then, you answer only 80 of the 100 questions: the 60 core questions and the 20 questions from your chosen specialty group. You have 60 minutes to complete these questions. Detailed instructions for choosing your specialty section will be given to you on the day of the exam.

THE QUESTION TYPES

There are three types of questions that are used in the SAT Biology E/M Subject Test:

•   Classification questions

•   Five-choice questions

•   Laboratory five-choice questions

Classification Questions

This type of question is sort of like a little “matching test.” A list of five words or phrases is set up, lettered A through E, or a diagram is shown with labels A through E. For each list or diagram you get three or four questions, with question numbers next to them. But the questions aren’t really questions, they’re phrases—half-sentences. Your job is to match the phrase in the question with the word or phrase that appears in the list A through E, or on the diagram A through E. Here’s
an example:

Directions: Each set of lettered choices below refers to the numbered statements immediately following it. Select the one lettered choice that best fits each statement and then fill in the corresponding oval on the answer sheet. A choice may be used once, more than once, or not at all in each set.

Questions 1-3

(A)  Thyroid

(B)  Adrenal cortex

(C)  Pancreas

(D)  Ovaries

(E)  Parathyroid

  1. Secretes glucagon

  2. Regulates metabolism

  3. Structure producing female gametes

The answers are CA, and D. But don’t worry about the answers right now. We just want you to know how this type of question looks. You’ll probably get about four of these little “matching tests”—about 16 classification questions in all—when you take the SAT Biology E/M Subject Test.

Five-Choice Questions

There are five different types of five-choice questions. The first type really is ordinary-looking. Here are a couple of examples:

Directions: Each of the questions or incomplete statements below is followed by five suggested answers or completions. Select the one that is BEST in each case, and then fill in the corresponding oval on the answer sheet.

      Which of the following terms describes the process by which the plasma membrane moves substances inward, against a concentration gradient?

(A)  Facilitated diffusion

(B)  Active transport

(C)  Osmosis

(D)  Simple diffusion

(E)  Autotrophism

      The endocrine organ that secretes antidiuretic hormone is the

(A)  adrenal cortex

(B)  pancreas

(C)  posterior pituitary gland

(D)  kidney

(E)  liver

The correct answers are B and C, but it doesn’t matter right now whether you know that. (You will know, after you’ve finished studying this book.) Again, we just want you to know what this type of question looks like.

The second type of five-choice question is a twist on the first type, called a LEAST/EXCEPT/NOT question. This is a basic multiple-choice question, except that in this case you’re looking for the wrong answer—the one that doesn’t fit the statement given in the question. Here’s an example:

      All of the following are functions of the liver EXCEPT

(A)  producing bile

(B)  storing glycogen

(C)  making blood proteins

(D)  secreting insulin

(E)  storing vitamins

In this question, the wrong statement (and therefore the correct answer choice) is D. The liver does everything listed except secrete insulin; that’s a function of the pancreas. (You’ll know that, of course, after you read Chapter 11.)

The third type of five-choice question is a I, II, III question, such as the following:

      Which of the following nitrogenous bases are found in DNA?

  I Thymine

 II Cytosine

III Uracil

(A)  I only

(B)  II only

(C)  I and II only

(D)  I and III only

(E)  I, II, and III

The correct answer here is C, but again, don’t worry about that now.

The fourth type of five-choice question presents a numbered diagram with two or three questions following it:

  Questions 25-26 below refer to the following diagram.

25. Which structure contains female monoploid nuclei?

(A)  1

(B)  2

(C)  3

(D)  4

(E)  5

26. Pollen grains are produced by

(A)  1

(B)  3

(C)  4

(D)  5

(E)  6

The answers for the above questions are D and A. The core exam will present you with about 10 to 12 of these five-choice questions, and each of the specialty sections may have another four to six.

Laboratory Five-Choice Questions

These questions are designed to see if you can think logically about biological
experiments. First you’re told about an experiment. You are usually shown a figure, graph, or data table that goes along with it. Then you’re asked two to four five-choice questions about the experiment. The questions can be in any of the three formats already discussed. Here’s an example:

Questions 30-31 refer to an experiment in which the process of evolution is studied by working with anaerobic bacteria.

A small colony of bacteria is placed on Plate 1, which contains a suitable culture medium. After 10 days, approximately half the bacteria are removed from Plate 1 and transferred to Plate 2, which contains both a suitable culture medium and a potent antibiotic related to penicillin.

30. Over the course of time, both Plates 1 and 2 should show an increase in the concentration of

(A)  ADP

(B)  carbon monoxide

(C)  lactic acid

(D)  Krebs cycle enzymes

(E)  oxygen

31. Which of the following graphs of time versus population is most likely to describe the growth of the colony after inoculating Plate 1 ?

(A)

(B)

(C)

(D)

(E)

The answers for the previous questions are C and E. The questions associated with experiments require that you be able to (1) read a graph or data table, and/or (2) exercise a little logic with the biology you know.

The core exam has about 25 to 30 laboratory five-choice questions (about five or six different experiment descriptions) and the specialty sections each have about 14 to 16 of these questions (about three or four different experiment descriptions).

THE STRATEGIES

Strategy 1: Study the Right Stuff in the Right Way

Biology is a vast subject. In other words, there is a LOT that could potentially end up on the SAT Biology E/M Subject Test—like everything that’s in your biology textbook and more. So should you sit down and read your textbook cover to cover and memorize all of it? NO!

We’ve mentioned this before—your textbook goes into a lot of detail that will not be present on the SAT Biology E/M Subject Test. Memorizing it would be a waste of time.

At The Princeton Review, we’ve studied the SAT Biology E/M Subject Test, and we know the subjects that are most likely to appear on it. In this book, we’ve taken these topics and explained them in a way that is easy to understand and remember, and we’ve provided you with summaries of the most important points. Many of the little details that will not be tested are left out. This way you can get the big picture and understand the general concepts, without bogging down your mind with little details. You’ll be clear-headed and confident; that’s what will help you raise your score, and that’s what we provide.

You’re probably wondering: “What are the subjects that are likely to appear on the SAT Biology E/M Subject Test?” We’ll be glad to list these subjects for you here and now:

•   Cellular and Molecular Biology, including
Percent of the test = 12% (if taking Biology M, 37%)

•   Biological chemistry

•   Cell structure and organization

•   Enzymes

•   Cellular respiration

•   Mitosis

•   DNA structure and function, including replication

•   RNA structure and function, including protein translation

•   Classical Genetics, including
Percent of the test = 10%

•   Meiosis

•   Mendelian genetics

•   Inheritance patterns

•   Pedigrees

•   Evolution and Diversity, including
Percent of the test = 11%

•   The origin of life

•   Mechanics of evolution

•   Natural selection

•   Patterns of evolution

•   Speciation

•   Classification and diversity of the three domain system (Archaea, Bacteria, and Eukarya)

•   Organismal Biology, including
Percent of the test = 30%

•   The structure and function of animals (nervous system, endocrine system, circulatory system, blood typing, respiratory system, digestive system, urinary system, skeletal system, muscular system, skin, reproduction, and development)

•   The structure and function of plants (tissues, photosynthesis, transport, and reproduction)

•   Behavior and learning in animals

•   Symbiotic relationships

•   The structure and function of microorganisms (fungi, bacteria, and viruses)

•   Ecology, including
Percent of the test = 12% (if taking Biology E, 37%)

•   Population growth

•   Community interactions

•   Food and energy pyramids

•   Succession

•   Ecosystems

•   Nutrient cycles

•   Biomes

As you look at the list, you’re probably thinking two things: first—“Wow, that’s a lot”; and second—“That looks like a list of ordinary biology textbook topics.” Well, yes, and … yes! We agree with you on both counts.

But Here’s the Deal

Even though it seems like a lot of material, the test writers cannot possibly cover every single topic that’s on that list. More specifically, they cannot cover every topic on that list in great detail. That’s good news for you, because it means you don’t need an in-depth, detailed understanding of every topic. You just need to know the basic concepts: the “big picture.” You’re free to study concepts without cramming details.

And that’s good news for us, too, because it means that the way we teach you these topics is NOT the way an ordinary biology textbook would teach them. We’re free to summarize and elaborate on the major points without hashing through all the details. It’s good news all around.

Strategy 2: Practice the Right Stuff at the Right Time

Chapters 3 through 15 of this book teach you the biology you need to know for the SAT Biology E/M Subject Test and include interactive questions all along the way so you can immediately take the knowledge you’ve gained and practice it. Chapters 16 through 19 provide two full-length practice SAT Biology E/M Subject Tests along with annotated solutions to help you figure out your mistakes and remind you of the strategies you should be using to tackle the questions.

Strategy 3: Easy Stuff First

All the questions on the SAT Biology E/M Subject Test—easy and hard—carry the same credit. The ETS scoring machines don’t know the difference between an easy question and a hard question, so answering a hard question correctly doesn’t do you one more bit of good than answering an easy question. Therefore, it makes sense not to waste time on the harder questions when you could be answering easy ones.

Start at the beginning of a section and answer as many questions as you can, skipping the ones you find more difficult. When you reach the end of that section, go to the next section and do the same. Once you’ve answered all the relatively easy questions in all the sections, go back to each section and start answering the harder ones (although after reading this book, hopefully you won’t find too many of them very hard). Don’t attack the test in the order of its numbered questions, but in the order of its difficulty.

Important: Make sure when you skip questions that you fill in the correct number oval on your answer sheet! We don’t want you to lose your hard-earned points because you made a simple numbering error on your answer sheet. Circle the question in your test booklet so you’ll be able to find it easily when you go back, and double-check it against your answer sheet.

Strategy 4: Take a Guess, but Guess Smart

You probably know that you get 1 point for each correct answer and lose 1/4 point for each incorrect answer. The ETS says that this is to keep random guessing from increasing your score. It does, and this is why. Each question has five possible answers. If you were to guess randomly, you’d pick the right answer one out of five times. If you guessed randomly on five different questions, you’d answer one correctly and four incorrectly. You’d get 1 point for your correct answer, and lose 1/4 point for each incorrect answer. Because you answered four questions incorrectly, you’d lose one full point. The point you gained by your random correct answer is lost by your random incorrect answers.

However, if you can eliminate some wrong answer choices, guessing from the remaining choices will definitely help you raise your score. Let’s say you were able to eliminate two of the five possible choices as wrong. You’d have three remaining choices to guess from and would guess correctly one out of three times. Let’s say you did this on six different questions. By eliminating two wrong answer choices from each question and guessing from the rest, you’d answer two of the six questions correctly and four incorrectly. You’d gain 2 points for your correct answers and lose 1 point (1/4 times 4) for your incorrect answers; in other words, you gain 1 net point!

What if you were able to eliminate three of the five possible choices? You’d have a fifty-fifty chance of getting the correct answer. If you were able to do this on four questions, you’d answer two of them correctly and two of them incorrectly. You’d get 2 points for your correct answers and lose 1/2 point (1/4 times 2) for your incorrect answers, a net gain of 1–1/2 points!

Chapters 3 through 15 of this book teach you the biology you will need to help you eliminate wrong answer choices. By “guessing smart” in this way, you will definitely raise your score.

What If I Can’t Eliminate Any Wrong Answer Choices?

If you can’t cross off any answer choices as wrong and really have no idea what you’re doing, leave the question blank. You can leave a number of questions blank and still do well. For instance, omitting about one-third of the questions (that’s a raw score of around 55–60) will still get you a score around 600.

And Keep This in Mind

Because the amount of material that could potentially be tested is large, occasionally a question comes up on the exam that was unexpected and therefore might not be covered in this book (although it’s rather unlikely, because we do cover a LOT). Don’t be nervous! If you come across a question that you were completely not expecting and truly have no idea what the answer is, just leave it blank. As we said above, you can leave a number of questions blank and still do well. We just want to let you know of this possibility, so you don’t get stressed and blow the test because of one or two unexpected questions.

Strategy 5: Choosing the “Wrong” Answer—LEAST/EXCEPT/NOT Questions

This type of question can easily confuse you because you’re being asked to choose the incorrect statement, or the “wrong answer.” In other words, every answer choice is true except for one; that’s the one you have to pick out.

Actually picking the incorrect statement isn’t the hard part. The hard part is remembering that you have to pick the incorrect statement. Often you’re so used to picking a true statement for an answer that it becomes very easy to grab the first correct statement you see (more on that later). A good way to remember that you’re being asked to choose the exception is to circle the word “LEAST,” “EXCEPT,” or “NOT” and then draw a vertical line down through the answer choices. This makes a nice visual cue that you should be searching for the answer choice that doesn’t fit the question. Here’s an example:

The correct choice here, by the way, is B (choice B is wrong as far as taiga is concerned). Choices A, C, D, and E are all true of the biome known as taiga, but B is true of the biome known as tundra.

Strategy 6: I, II, III—You’re Out!

As we said before, some of the questions will look like this:

      Which of the following is (are)…?

  I blah, blah, blah…

 II blah, blah, blah…

III blah, blah, blah…

(A)  I only

(B)  II only

(C)  I and II only

(D)  I and III only

(E)  I, II, and III

When you see questions like these, think logically about throwing out wrong
answer choices, even if you don’t know the right one. Here’s how you do that: Forget biology for a minute and look at the question on the following page.

      Among the following, which is (are) ordinarily served as a dessert?

  I Fish filet

 II Pastry

III College ice

(A)  I only

(B)  II only

(C)  I and II only

(D)  II and III only

(E)  I, II, and III

Never heard of “college ice”? It doesn’t matter. You can still use strategy to raise your score. You know that fish (option I) isn’t a dessert. Eliminate all answers that mention it. A, C, and E are gone, which means that you’re left with just B and D. You’ve got a fifty-fifty chance of guessing correctly. (Just for your information, “college ice” is an old term for “ice cream sundae,” so the correct answer is D.) Do that with ten questions and you’ll get about five of them right.

Let’s try it with the DNA question we presented earlier:

      Which of the following nitrogenous bases are found in DNA?

  I Thymine

 II Cytosine

III Uracil

(A)  I only

(B)  II only

(C)  I and II only

(D)  I and III only

(E)  I, II, and III

Let’s say you know for sure that thymine (option I) and cytosine (option II) are in DNA, but you’re unsure of uracil (option III). You can eliminate choices that do not contain both options I and II. That means you eliminate choices A, B, and D. Again, you’re left with a fifty-fifty chance. What if you were sure that uracil wasn’t in DNA, but didn’t know about the others? You could eliminate choices that contain option III—in this case, choices D and E. Not as good as a fifty-fifty chance, but still better than one out of five. (The correct answer here is C.) When it comes to the I, II, III type of question, use this strategy. It’s a real score-raiser.

Strategy 7: Avoid the Camouflage Trap

When you learn something, whether it’s biology or anything else, you usually learn it with certain words in mind. For instance, perhaps you think of an “ovum” as a “haploid gamete produced by an ovary.” Okay, that’s fine. But suppose you’re totally attached to those particular words. Think what would happen if you get a question like this:

      Which of the following correctly describe(s) an ovum?

  I It secretes luteinizing hormone.

 II It is made by a gonad.

III It is a monoploid cell.

(A)  I only

(B)  II only

(C)  I and II only

(D)  II and III only

(E)  I, II, and III

You know what an ovum is, but this question doesn’t describe it in a way that’s familiar to you. You know your biology but might not know to answer this question with D. Why? Because you fell into the camouflage trap.

Don’t expect the test writers to use your words. You might express an idea in one way, and they might express it in another. Keep the concepts you know in your mind, and don’t get too attached to the words you usually use to express them. In the example above,


monoploid    is camouflage for haploid

and

gonad             is camouflage for ovary


Let’s take another look at the question. First of all, you know that gametes do not secrete hormones (and if you don’t now, you will after reading Chapter 11). Already you can eliminate choices A, C, and E, because option I is false. Take a look at choices B and D. Both of them contain option II; therefore, option II must be true. Don’t even bother looking at it; go straight to option III. You know that haploid cells have only a single set of chromosomes (again, if you don’t know now, you will later), and you should know that mono is a prefix that means “one.” So it’s a good bet that “monoploid” refers to a cell with only a single set of chromosomes—essentially the same meaning as “haploid.” You can choose D with confidence.

You Can Avoid the Camouflage Trap

To avoid this trap, keep some simple rules in mind:

1.   Don’t take the test with blinders on your brain. Remember, there’s more than one way to say the same thing.

2.   Don’t become unglued just because the right answer to a question doesn’t leap out at you, even if it’s something you’ve studied and memorized.

3.   Relax. Realize that the right answer is probably camouflaged by words that are different from the ones you have in mind. Eliminate as many wrong answer choices as you can, and think logically and calmly about your remaining choices. You may find then that the right answer doesleap out at you.

Strategy 8: Avoid the Temptation Trap—Predict an Answer

Suppose we gave this question to a seven-year-old child:

      Which of the following best characterizes a simple carbohydrate?

(A)  It is metabolized without enzymes.

(B)  It serves as an organic catalyst.

(C)  George Washington was the first U.S. president.

(D)  It is the product of multiple peptide bonding.

(E)  It is a molecule containing only carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen in a ratio of 1:2:1, respectively.

The child won’t know what any of this means but probably will know that George Washington was the first U.S. president. So, not knowing what else to do, this is the answer that the child will choose; it’s something known, so it seems right. (The right answer happens to be E. You’ll learn about carbohydrates in the next chapter.) The problem is that even though choice C is true, it fails to answer the question.

What’s That Got to Do with Me and This Test?

Plenty. When you take the test, there will be a lot of things that you’ll know and some things that you won’t. When you get a tough question and you think you’re lost, you might look for a familiar face and grab at an answer that makes a statement you’ve heard before, even if that statement doesn’t answer the question.

Let’s suppose you know all about the human heart and circulatory system. You know that

•   most arteries carry oxygen-rich blood

•   most veins carry oxygen-poor blood

•   the pulmonary artery carries oxygen-poor blood from the right side of the heart to the lungs

•   the pulmonary veins carry oxygen-rich blood from the lungs to the left side of the heart

(As usual, if you don’t know these facts now, don’t worry—you will.)

Now suppose you got this question on test day:

       A sample of blood is taken from an unknown site in a human patient. The blood shows an oxygen content equivalent roughly to that of the venous and not the arterial circulation. Among the following, which statement best applies to the blood that was drawn?

(A)  It was drawn from the pulmonary vein and is rich in oxygen.

(B)  It was drawn from an alveolus and is rich in oxygen.

(C)  It was drawn from large branches of the pulmonary artery.

(D)  It was drawn from the superior vena cava and will enter the heart at the left ventricle.

(E)  It was drawn from the left ventricle and will leave the heart via the aorta.

If the question seems too hard to figure out or the right answer doesn’t leap out at you, you might decide to pick choice E because it rings true. Blood that leaves the left ventricle does enter the aorta. So E sounds right, but E is wrong because it doesn’t answer the question.

When you find yourself running toward an answer just because it makes a familiar statement, stop and think. Is the question long and confusing? Are you jumping for the first right-sounding statement you see? Are you actually trying to answer the question without knowing what the question is?

If the answers are yes, then you’re probably not really finding the question hard, and you probably do know what the answer is. You just don’t know what the question is. So what do you do? You swallow hard, you grit your teeth, and you get to know the question. Take it apart piece by piece and figure out what it’s asking. Predict an answer, and eliminate choices that contradict your predicted answer. Let’s look again at the blood question, piece by piece.

A sample of blood is taken from an unknown site in a human patient.

•   We may be asked to determine where the sample was taken from.

The blood shows an oxygen content equivalent roughly to that of the venous and not the arterial circulation.

•   So that means that the blood is relatively oxygen-poor.

Among the following, which statement best applies to the blood that was drawn?

Well, we know that it’s oxygen-poor. So BEFORE looking at the answer choices, let’s see if we can come up with some possible locations for oxygen-poor blood. We know that most veins carry oxygen-poor blood, so veins are probably a good choice. We know that the right side of the heart contains oxygen-poor blood on its way to the lungs, and we know that the pulmonary artery delivers that oxygen-poor blood to the lungs. Keeping this in mind, let’s look at the answer choices:

(A) It was drawn from the pulmonary vein and is rich in oxygen.

•   This can be eliminated because it discusses oxygen-rich blood.

(B) It was drawn from an alveolus and is rich in oxygen.

•   This can be eliminated for the same reason as choice A—it discusses oxygen-rich blood.

(C) It was drawn from large branches of the pulmonary artery.

•   Hmm. This is a possibility, because we know that the pulmonary artery carries oxygen-poor blood. Let’s look at the other choices to make sure that there isn’t a better one.

(D) It was drawn from the superior vena cava and will enter the heart at the left ventricle.

•   Okay, this choice is false because we know that blood from the superior vena cava enters the heart at the right ventricle, so eliminate it.

(E) It was drawn from the left ventricle and will leave the heart via the aorta.

•   This statement is true, but is this one of our predicted locations for oxygen-poor blood? No. The left side of the heart carries blood rich in oxygen. Eliminate it.

That leaves us with choice C, the correct answer, and you knew that, but you might have chosen something else. Why? Because of the temptation trap. The question and answer choices seemed confusing at first, and choice E seemed safe because it’s a true statement. But even a true statement can be wrong if it doesn’t answer the question.

You Can Avoid the Temptation Trap

To avoid this trap, keep these simple rules in mind:

1.   Don’t pick an answer choice before you know what the question is asking.

2.   Relax. Take the question apart piece by piece.

3.   Predict an answer.

4.   Go through the answer choices systematically, eliminating those that are false or don’t answer the question.

Another Thing to Remember

You may have noticed already that some of the questions on the SAT Biology E/M Subject Test require you to take two or more items of knowledge and put them together to come up with an answer. The last question we considered was like that. You had to know that venous circulation is relatively oxygen-poor compared to arterial circulation, and you had to know that the right side of the heart and the pulmonary artery carry oxygen-poor blood to the lungs. You also had to know a little bit about heart anatomy. It was almost like having three questions in one.

Following the rules for avoiding the temptation trap will help you sort out the separate bits of knowledge you need to correctly answer the question. By taking the question a piece at a time, you can organize your thoughts better to predict an answer. Let’s try it on this next question:

      An experimenter subjects a facultative anaerobic bacterium to oxygen-rich conditions between times 1 and 2 and then to oxygen-poor conditions between times 2 and 3. Which of the following changes will most likely take place between the two time periods?

(A)  Oxygen consumption will increase.

(B)  ATP production will cease.

(C)  Carbon dioxide production will increase and ATP production will increase.

(D)  Carbon dioxide production will increase and lactic acid production will decrease.

(E)  ATP production will decrease and lactic acid production will increase.

Take the question apart, piece by piece:

An experimenter subjects a facultative anaerobic bacterium

•   This bacterium can survive in both oxygen-rich and oxygen-poor conditions (this information is in Chapter 10). Oxygen-rich means Krebs cycle, more ATP, and carbon dioxide as waste. Oxygen-poor means fermentation, less ATP, and lactic acid as waste.

to oxygen-rich conditions … and then to oxygen-poor conditions

•   Aha! So the bacteria will have to switch from the Krebs cycle to fermentation to survive.

Which of the following changes will most likely take place

•   Before looking at the answer choices, you should predict: ATP will decrease, and lactic acid will increase.

Now let’s look at the choices:

(A) Oxygen consumption will increase.

•   This is not possible, because oxygen availability is going down.

(B) ATP production will cease.

•   No, it will just decrease.

(C) Carbon dioxide production will increase and ATP production will increase.

•   We predicted that ATP would decrease, not increase. (Note that the first part of this statement is false, too. Carbon dioxide production will decrease, not increase. But remember, if part of an answer is false, the whole thing is false. You don’t need to waste time thinking about the other part.)

(D) Carbon dioxide production will increase and lactic acid production will decrease.

•   We predicted that lactic acid production will increase, not decrease. (Same rule as above for the first part of this statement.)

(E) ATP production will decrease and lactic acid production will increase.

•   Here, finally, is our predicted answer. E is, in fact, the correct answer choice.

STRATEGY SUMMARY

Let’s do a quick review of the eight strategies we’ve talked about:

•   Strategy 1: Study the Right Stuff in the Right Way
You’ve already begun this strategy—you bought this book.

•   Strategy 2: Practice the Right Stuff at the Right Time
Quiz yourself as you move along through the material, not in one lump at the end of a chapter. Use the full-length practice SAT Biology E/M Subject Tests as a final check of your knowledge.

•   Strategy 3: Easy Stuff First
Attack the test in the order of its difficulty, doing the easy questions first and skipping the harder ones until later. Make sure to keep this straight on your answer sheet.

•   Strategy 4: Take a Guess, but Guess Smart
Eliminate wrong answer choices to increase your probability of choosing the correct answer. Only omit questions for which you cannot eliminate any answer choices.

•   Strategy 5: Choosing the “Wrong” Answer—LEAST/EXCEPT/NOT Questions
Circle the word “LEAST,” “EXCEPT,” or “NOT” and draw a vertical line through the answer choices. This makes the question stand out so you can remember to choose the statement that does not fit the question.

•   Strategy 6: I, II, III—You’re Out!
On I, II, III questions, eliminate answer choices as you decide whether the options are true or false. For example, if you’ve decided that option I is false, eliminate all answer choices containing option I. If you’ve decided that option II is true, eliminate all answer choices that do notcontain option II.

•   Strategy 7: Avoid the Camouflage Trap
Remember that there’s more than one way to say something. If a correct answer isn’t immediately apparent, calmly look for words that mean the same thing as the words you’ve memorized.

•   Strategy 8: Avoid the Temptation Trap—Predict an Answer
Don’t choose an answer before you’re sure of the question. Just because a statement is true doesn’t mean it’s the right answer. Break down difficult questions piece by piece and predict an answer. Then eliminate choices that conflict with your predicted answer.

Special Tips for Laboratory Five-Choice Questions

There are, unfortunately, hundreds and hundreds of potential experiments that could show up on the SAT Biology E/M Subject Test. It would be impossible to list or describe them all. Often the questions for these experiments deal with your ability to evaluate situations, draw conclusions, identify problems, suggest hypotheses, and interpret data. There are, however, some common threads in many of the experiments described on the exam.

1.   The Control: You should be clear on what a control is and should be able to pick it out from the group of plants, or mosquitoes, or fish, or humans, or cells, or whatever is described in the experiment. The control, or control group, is treated exactly the same as all other groupsexcept for the one variable the experiment is designed to test. For example, let’s say that an experiment involves testing plants to see if they need nitrogen to grow. One plant, the experimental plant, would be placed in the sun, watered daily, and given a nitrogen-based fertilizer. The other plant, the control, would be placed in the sun, watered daily, and not given the fertilizer. Then the growth of the two plants would be compared to see if nitrogen had an effect.

2.   Graphs and Data Tables: The experiments almost always contain a graph or data table. You should be able to convert information in a data table into graph form. You should recognize that a steeply sloping line indicates something that is changing rapidly, whereas a gradual slope or a horizontal line indicates a slow change or no change at all. Finally, you should be able to retrieve data from the graph or table.

3.   Calculations: You do need to be familiar with common algebraic concepts, such as proportions and ratios, and be able to apply them to the data interpretation questions that show up in the laboratory questions. There is nothing more complicated than simple multiplication or division, so you will not need a calculator.

A Word About Scoring

An overview of the scoring system is provided at the end of each practice test in this book. Please turn to this page to this page or this page to this page for more details.

LET’s GET GOING ALREADY!

Now that we’ve discussed basic strategy, we’ll move on to the material! In Chapters 3 through 14, we’ll review the biology that is likely to show up on the SAT Biology E/M Subject Test. In addition, each chapter includes Quick Quizzes on key concepts. Answers to those quizzes are provided in Chapter 15. So turn the page and let’s get started!