The College Board's series of SAT II exams allows students to choose subjects of specialty to demonstrate competency for submission with their college application. Twenty tests comprise the SAT II program, and two are offered in the subject of biology -- biology ecological and biology molecular. Preparation focuses on the overall subject of each exam and other subtopics in biology.
Understanding the Formats
Both forms of the biology exam cover topics of ecological and molecular biology, with each test including 20 additional questions on the area of specialty. The test includes a total of 80 questions, 60 that are common to both exams and 20 that focus on either ecology or molecular biology. Skills necessary for both exams include knowledge of fundamental concepts, application and interpretation. Additionally, students should be able to use algebra to solve word problems and interpret data in graphs and tables. The College Board suggests that students have an academic background that includes a biology course, an algebra course and lab experience.
Using Math on the Exams
Students should be comfortable performing numerical calculations and using principles of basic algebra to solve problems in conjunction with knowledge of biological principles. For example, students may calculate the rise in temperature over a period of time given data on a graph. Additionally, familiarity with the metric system and ability to perform computations without aid of a calculator are also needed for success on the exam.
Biology Ecology Exam
The two major sections of the biology ecology exam are organismal biology and ecology. Students should have knowledge of both plant and animal organisms and animal behavior to succeed in the organismal biology subtopic. Ecology covers topics in energy, nutrient cycles, ecosystems, biomes and biodiversity. On the ecology version of the exam, the organismal biology portion comprises 25 percent of the questions while the ecology questions comprise 23 percent.
Biology Molecular Exam
Cellular and molecular biology is the largest topic on the molecular exam with 27 percent of the questions in this category. Students should have a deep understanding of cellular and molecular biology, including cell structure, mitosis, photosynthesis, cellular respiration, enzymes, biosynthesis and biological chemistry. Similar to the ecology exam, organismal biology makes up 25 percent of the questions on the molecular exam.
Other Exam Topics
Students should also prepare for the smaller subtopics of the biology subject exams. Questions focused on genetics, evolution and diversity are featured on both the ecology and molecular exams. Students should be prepared to identify and synthesize information about genetics including meiosis, inheritance patterns and molecular and population genetics. Topics in evolution and diversity include origin of life, natural selection and classification of species.
Based in Los Angeles, Jana Sosnowski holds Master of Science in educational psychology and instructional technology, She has spent the past 11 years in education, primarily in the secondary classroom teaching English and journalism. Sosnowski has also worked as a curriculum writer for a math remediation program. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in print journalism from the University of Southern California.