SAT II: Biology E/M 2000


With three full-length practice tests and quizzes in every chapter, this guide will help students achieve a higher score on the SAT II biology test. Charts & diagrams.
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With three full-length practice tests and quizzes in every chapter, this guide will help students achieve a higher score on the SAT II biology test. Charts & diagrams.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684865171
  • Publisher: Kaplan Publishing
  • Publication date: 10/1/1999
  • Series: Kaplan SAT II: Biology E/M Ser.
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 8.37 (w) x 10.87 (h) x 1.00 (d)

First Chapter

Chapter Two Getting Ready for the SAT II: Biology E/M Test

Now that you know the basics about the SAT II: Subject Tests, it's time to focus on the Biology E/M test. What's on it? How is it scored? After reading this chapter, you'll know just what to expect on Test Day.

Test Content

Skills Tested
Three basic skills are tested on the SAT II: Biology E/M exam. First of all, the ability to recall knowledge will test your ability to remember specific facts, your mastery of terminology, and your comfort with straightforward knowledge.

The second skill tested is your ability to apply your biology knowledge to unfamiliar situations. These questions will test how well you understand concepts and your ability to reformulate information in a variety of ways. In other words, you will be required to express a given piece of information in different forms; you may be asked to compare graphical data to written data, for example. These questions will also test how well you can solve problems, particularly those dealing with mathematical relationships.

The third question type explores your proficiency at synthesizing biological information. These questions will require you to make inferences and deductions from qualitative and quantitative data, such as data you might accumulate doing an experiment in the laboratory, and to then integrate that data to form conclusions. The data may be in paragraph form, like those word problems you hated in fourth grade, or it may be in graph or chart form. These questions will also examine your ability to recognize unstated assumptions -- you will need to be prepared to think about what is implied in the setup of the experiment or the question stem.

The Biology E/M Test has a total of 80 multiple-choice questions that you are given one hour to answer: 60 "common core" questions and 20 ecological or molecular questions. The purpose of this exam is to evaluate students' mastery of basic biological principle. The E/M Test places particular emphasis on the fields of ecology and molecular biology.

You will answer either the "E" (ecological) or the "M" (molecular) section of the exam on Test Day. When this big day rolls around, you will be given the opportunity to indicate whether you want to take the Biology-E or the Biology-M option; you may not take both on the same day.

Both of these options also assume a solid understanding of evolution and diversity. The ecological section may draw from the field of classical genetics, and you will probably find questions on molecular and bacterial genetics in the molecular section of the exam.

As you can see, the SAT II: Biology E/M Test covers a broad range of topics. It requires you to think about those topics in ways that you may not have done before. As a result, it is likely that some of the questions on your subject test will explore topics that you did not cover in your biology class. If this is the case, do not be alarmed; there is so much to biology that you cannot possibly cover everything in a year, although it may seem like you've learned the entire field at the time. If you encounter this problem while you are taking the diagnostic test, plan to spend a little extra time on the chapters that cover your area(s) of weakness, so that on Test Day you are completely familiar with these topics.

While preparing for this exam, you should also make sure that you understand common algebraic concepts such as ratios and proportions and, more importantly, that you are able to apply these concepts to the word problems and data interpretation questions you will surely see on Test Day. You will not be allowed to use a calculator on this exam, but don't worry; the math should be nothing more complicated than simple calculations involving multiplication or division.

Test Strategy
First of all, you are obviously going to want to make sure that you are very familiar with either the ecology or the molecular biology covered on the exam, depending upon which option you select. And whether you select the Biology-E or the Biology-M section on Test Day, don't neglect classical genetics and evolution and diversity in your studies. These topics are likely to crop up in both of these sections.

The Biology E/M test stresses problem solving skills. You can prep yourself for this, by honing your mathematical skills and by getting as much experience as you can in the laboratory. The E/M Test will ask you to use simple algebraic concepts, and it assumes that you are comfortable with the metric system. It will also present a great deal of experimental data for you to synthesize, so the more familiarity you have with experimental situations, the better.

This book can help you both to decide whether you should choose the E-option or the M-option on your SAT II: Biology exam and to prepare appropriately for the option you've chosen. The first Biology E/M practice test in this book, Practice Test One, is a diagnostic test. After you take this test, read through the instructions on how to score it that follow the answer key. These instructions identify which questions on the test are ecological and which are molecular in orientation. If you perform well on the ecological questions on the diagnostic test, it might be a good idea for you to select the Biology-E. Likewise, a good performance on the molecular questions should indicate that molecular biology might be your area of strength. If you've already decided which option to take, your score on the diagnostic test will help you to identify the areas that you need to brush up on. You can further hone your knowledge of ecology by taking a crack at Practice Test Two (a Biology-E test), while Practice Test Three will help you to prepare for the Biology-M test.

Scoring Information

The Biology E/M Test is scored in a range from 200-800, just like a section of the SAT I exam. Your raw score is calculated by subtracting 1/4 of the number of questions you got wrong from the number of questions you got right. For example, if you answered 60 questions correctly and 20 incorrectly, your raw score would be:

Number correct 60.00
1/4 x Number incorrect -5.00
Raw Score 55.00

This raw score is then compared to the scores of all the other test takers to calculate a scaled score. This scaling accounts for any slight variations in difficulty between test administrations. Keep in mind that it is possible to miss a few questions and still receive a competitive score.

Question Types

You will encounter two main types of multiple choice questions on the Biology E/M exam: classification questions and five-choice completion questions. Make sure you feel comfortable with both types and their directions before test day. Don't waste time reading directions when you are being timed! We have also included a selection of sample ecology and molecular biology questions, to give you an idea of what to expect on these sections of the E/M Test.

Classification Questions
Classification questions consist of five lettered choices that are used in all of the questions that follow. Typically, the five choices will test your knowledge of ideas, organism names, graphs, or of some other type of data presentation.

Following the five choices will be three to five statements that can be functions of the choices, definitions, descriptive characteristics, or conditions that would favor the data set in question. Each of the five choices may be used more than once, so do not eliminate an answer just because you have already used it.

To familiarize yourself with this question type, read through the directions, and attempt to answer questions 1-4 below. Check your answers against the in-depth explanations that follow the question set.

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 1-4:
(A) Prophase
(B) Metaphase
(C) Anaphase
(D) Interphase
(E) Anaphase I

1. the stage during which a cell's DNA is replicated
2. the stage during which homologous pairs of chromosomes are pulled to opposite poles of a cell
3. a stage in meiosis
4. the stage during which a cell's chromosomes condense

Explanations. The questions in this group deal with mitosis, the mechanism that a cell uses to replicate itself, and meiosis, the mechanism that produces gametes. A cell will spend roughly 90 percent of its time in Interphase. This phase may be broken down into a number of different stages. During the G1 stage, the cell doubles in size, and new organelles such as mitochondria, ribosomes, the endoplasmic reticulum, and centrioles are produced. In the next stage, the S stage, all of the DNA is replicated (see question 1) so that during division, a complete copy of the genome can be distributed to both daughter Cells. Following S stage is the G2 stage, during which the cell continues to grow in size, preparing components for cell division.

During mitosis, the cell divides and distributes its DNA to its two daughter cells, such that each cell receives a complete copy of the original genome. Almost all cells, except for nerve cells and specialized muscle cells, can undergo mitosis. This process may be broken down into the following four stages:

  • Prophase. The chromosomes condense (see question 4). The centriole pairs separate and move toward opposite poles of the cell, while the spindle apparatus forms between them. The nuclear membrane dissolves and the spindle fibers enter the nucleus.
  • Metaphase. The chromosomes align at the metaphase plate and prepare to separate.
  • Anaphase. The centromeres split so that each chromatid has its own centromere, and the sister chromatids are pulled toward the opposite poles of the cell (see question 2).
  • Telophase. The spindle apparatus disappears, and new nuclear membranes are formed.

During meiosis, on the other hand, the gametocyte's chromosomes are replicated during the S phase of the cell cycle, just as in mitosis. In the first round of division, Meiosis I, the cell produces two intermediate daughter cells. In Meiosis II, the duplicated chromosomes split, resulting in four genetically distinct haploid gametes. In Anaphase I of Meiosis I, the homologous pairs of chromosomes are pulled to opposite poles of the cell. This process, called disjunction, accounts for the Mendelian law of independent assortment.

In light of all this, the correct answers for this question set are (D), (E), (E), and (A).

Five-Choice Completion Questions
These are common multiple-choice questions, and there are four types of them. The following directions apply to all four types.

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.

Type 1 Questions

These questions have a unique solution. The unique solution is often the only correct answer or the best answer. Sometimes, though, it will be the most inappropriate answer. These question types will have NOT, EXCEPT, or LEAST in capital letters somewhere in the stimulus.

Here are two examples:

Questions 5-6:

5. If the victim of an automobile accident suffered isolated damage to the cerebellum, which of the following would most likely occur?

(A) loss of voluntary muscle contraction
(B) loss of sensation in the extremities
(C) loss of muscular coordination
(D) loss of speech
(E) loss of hearing

6. Which of the following is NOT a type of genetic mutation?

(A) point
(B) silent
(C) insertion
(D) frameshift
(E) malignant

Explanations. To answer question 5, you need to know that the cerebellum is located in the hindbrain, along with the pons and the medulla. All higher brain sensory neurons and motor neurons pass through the hindbrain. The main function of the cerebellum is to coordinate movement, such as hand-eye coordination, posture, and balance. Therefore, damage to the cerebellum would most likely affect (C) muscular coordination. As for the remaining choices, the loss of voluntary muscle contraction, sensation in the extremities, speech, or hearing may be caused by damage to specific areas of the cerebrum. The cerebrum is located in the forebrain and is divided into two hemispheres, the left and the right. This organ is responsible for the coordination of most voluntary activities, sensation, and "higher functions," including speech and cognition. Sensation of the extremities may also be controlled in part by the spinal cord.

Let's move on to question 6. Point mutations occur when a single nucleotide base is substituted for another nucleotide base. A silent mutation is a point mutation that occurs in a noncoding region, or when the mutation does not change the amino acid sequence due to the degeneracy of the genetic code. Meanwhile, a frame shift mutation is either an insertion or a deletion of a number of nucleotides. These mutations have serious effects on the protein coded for, since nucleotides are read as a series of triplets. The addition or subtraction of nucleotides (except in multiples of three) will change the reading frame of the mRNA. Finally, (E), "malignant," is not a type of mutation. A mutation may lead to a cell becoming malignant (cancerous), but it does not necessarily do so, and it is the cell that is malignant, not the mutation.

Type 2 Questions

Typically, these have three to five roman numerals following each question. One or more of these roman numerals may prove to be the correct answer(s). Following these roman numerals, you will encounter five lettered choices with various combinations of the roman numerals. You must select the combination that includes all of the correct answers and excludes all of the incorrect answers. Try your hand at the sample question below.

8. Which of the following are characteristic of animal cells, but NOT bacterial cells?

I. They are eukaryotic.
II. They possess ribosomes.
III. They possess cell walls.
IV. They reproduce asexually.

(A) I only
(B) I and II only
(C) I, II, and III only
(D) II, III, and IV only
(E) none of the above

Explanation. This question requires you to know the differences between the basic animal cell, the fungal cell, and the bacterial cell. All animal (and plant) cells are eukaryotic, while all bacterial cells are prokaryotic. Bacteria have cell walls made of peptidoglycans, while animal cells do not have cell walls, and bacteria reproduce asexually via binary fission, while animal cells can replicate asexually by mitosis. Both cell types produce proteins with ribosomes, although they differ in size and composition. Therefore, the correct answer is (A).

Type 3 Questions

Organized in sets around a figure or a diagram, each question is nevertheless independent of the other questions in its set. These questions test your knowledge of morphology and function of a variety of biological structures. Typically, these questions are not as difficult as Type 4 questions, the experimental data questions. Here are three examples:

9. Which part labeled in the diagram carries the most oxygenated blood?

(A) 4
(B) 5
(C) 1 and 2
(D) 6
(E) 10

10. Where is the pacemaker of the heart?

(A) 1
(B) 2
(C) 9
(D) 10
(E) 8

11. Which sequence is the correct flow of blood through the heart?

(A) 3 --> 9 --> 10 --> 4 --> 5 --> 1 --> 2
(B) 1 --> 2 --> 5 --> 4 --> 9 --> 10 --> 6
(C) 1 --> 2 --> 4 --> 5 --> 9 --> 10 --> 6
(D) 1 --> 2 --> 3 --> 4 --> 5 --> 9 --> 10
(E) 3 --> 2 --> 1 --> 4 --> 5 --> 9 --> 10

Explanations. Let's begin with question 9. The heart is the driving force of the circulatory system. The right and left halves can be viewed as two separate pumps; the right side of the heart pumps deoxygenated blood into pulmonary circulation (toward the lungs), while the left side pumps oxygenated blood into systemic circulation (throughout the body). The two upper chambers are called atria, while the two lower chambers are called ventricles. The former are thin walled, while the latter are extremely muscular. The left ventricle is more muscular than the right ventricle because it is responsible for generating the force that propels systemic circulation, and because it pumps against high resistance. The most oxygenated blood is in the pulmonary veins. These veins return to the heart from the lungs, where the blood was oxygenated. This is the only type of vein in the body that carries oxygenated blood. In a similar fashion, the pulmonary artery carries deoxygenated blood to the lungs, and is the only artery in the body that carries deoxygenated blood. Therefore, the answer is (B).

As for question 10, an ordinary cardiac contraction originates in, and is regulated by, the sinoatrial node (SA node), which is also known as the pacemaker. This small mass of specialized tissue is located in the wall of the right atrium. It spreads impulses through both atria and ventricles, stimulating them to contract simultaneously. (A) is the answer here.

Finally, in question 11, the correct sequence of blood flow begins in the right atrium and then travels into the right ventricle. From there, the blood flows into the pulmonary arteries, and proceeds to the lungs to be oxygenated. It returns via the pulmonary veins and flows into the left atrium. From there, it flows into the left ventricle and is pumped throughout the body, starting at the aorta. The correct choice is (C).

Type 4 Questions
These are also organized in sets, but center on an experiment, chart, graph, or other experimental data presentation. These questions aim to assess how well you apply your scientific skills to unfamiliar situations. As in Type 3 questions, each question is independent of the others in its set. These questions are typically found during the latter part of the test, and are probably the most difficult ones you will encounter. They test your ability to identify a problem, evaluate experimental situations, suggest hypotheses, interpret data, make inferences and draw conclusions, check the logical consistency of hypotheses based on your observations, and select the appropriate procedure for further study. Four sample questions are presented below.

12. Based on the pedigree, what kind of trait is this?

(A) autosomal recessive
(B) sex-linked recessive
(C) autosomal dominant
(D) sex-linked dominant
(E) heterozygous

13. What is the probability that 16 and 17 will have an unaffected daughter?

(A) 50%
(B) 0%
(C) 100%
(D) 25%
(E) 75%

14. This trait is rare in females because

(A) male-specific hormones trigger the disease
(B) it is a dominant trait
(C) the gene is on the Y chromosome
(D) females must receive two faulty X chromosomes
(E) none of the above

15. What is the genotype of individual 20?

(A) XX
(B) Aa
(c) XaX
(D) AA
(E) aa

Explanations. In answer to question 12, we can establish that this is an sex-linked recessive disorder (B). Sex-linked recessives typically affect only males, while females serve as carriers. They are differentiated from autosomal dominant traits that show up in every generation, with no gender skewing. Autosomal recessives also show no gender skewing, but skip generations.

As for questions 13 and 14, the pattern of inheritance for a sex-linked recessive is somewhat complicated. Since the gene is carried on the X chromosome, and males pass the X chromosome only to their daughters, affected males cannot pass the trait to their male offspring. Affected males will pass the gene to all of their daughters. However, unless the daughter also receives the genes from her mother, she will be a phenotypically normal carrier of the trait. Since all of the daughter's male children will receive their only X chromosome from her, half of her sons will receive the recessive sex-linked allele. Thus, sex-linked recessives generally affect only males; they cannot be passed from father to son, but can be passed from father to grandson via a daughter who is a carrier, thereby skipping a generation. All of the daughters will receive a functional X chromosome from their father, so they will all be outwardly normal. However, 50 percent of the daughters will receive an affected X chromosome from their mother, so they will be carriers and run the risk of their sons having the disorder. (C) is the correct choice for question 13, and (D) for question 14.

Individual 20 is a carrier female. Since the trait in these questions is sex-linked and recessive, this female must be XaX. If you chose (C) in question 15, you were on the right track.

Sample Questions for the Ecological and Molecular Sections
The sample questions below offer insights into the biology content that is explored in these sections.

Ecological Section
The first two sets of sample questions will focus on ecology as well as evolution and diversity.

Questions 1-3:
Within a particular species, six populations are either separated by a variety of geographical barriers or are able to interbreed. The diagram below shows which populations are able to interbreed and which are isolated.

Use this information to answer questions 1-3.

1. Which of the following populations may be in Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium?

(A) 1
(B) 2
(C) 3
(D) 4
(E) 5

2. The gain or loss of alleles that will occur between populations 4 and 6 is known as

(A) gene flow
(B) genetic drift
(C) assortative mating
(D) natural selection
(E) mutation

3. Population 5 is wiped out by a flood. Only 10 percent of the population survives. This type of occurrence is known as

(A) gene flow
(B) founder effect
(C) bottleneck effect
(D) macroevolution
(E) geographical variation

Questions 4-7:
Although goldfish have an optimal water temperature, they can tolerate higher or lower water temperatures if the change in water temperature to which they are subjected is gradual rather than abrupt. Swimming speed is used in the graph below to determine the general health of the fish in a variety of different water temperatures.

4. What is the optimal temperature for maintenance of goldfish?

(A) 5°C
(B) 10°C
(C) 15°C
(D) 25°C
(E) 35°C

5. A fish that is maintained in a 5°C aquarium is placed in a 30°C aquarium. It would

(A) swim at 20 cm/sec
(B) swim at 50 cm/sec
(C) swim at 40 cm/sec
(D) be unable to adjust and suffer harm
(E) be unable to remove oxygen from the water

6. Terrestrial organisms are often subjected to abrupt changes in the external temperature of their environment. As a result,

(A) they suffer from a decrease in motility in warm weather
(B) they are selected to tolerate such changes
(C) they are able to control their external temperature
(D) they suffer serious harm when abrupt temperature changes occur
(E) they alter the morphology of their bodies

7. Goldfish and other aquatic animals generally require long periods of time to acclimatize themselves to different temperatures without suffering permanent damage. This reflects the fact that

(A) water has a high heat capacity and changes temperature slowly
(B) water is found in large bodies that maintain a constant temperature
(C) aquatic organisms cannot utilize the sun as a heat source
(D) the polar ice caps maintain the earth's water temperature
(E) salt water is generally much warmer than fresh water

Explanations. The first few questions center around the topic of population genetics. In Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium, the allele frequencies, genotypes, and phenotypes are stable from one generation to the next. In order for Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium to be maintained, the following requirements must be met. There must be a large population; there must be no net mutations; no assortative mating may occur; and no migration may take place. Also, no natural selection can occur. In question 1, population 5 is the only isolated population in which there is no possibility that net migration of genes will occur. Therefore, (E) is the answer to this question.

As for question 2, the gain or loss of alleles in a non-isolated population is known as gene flow (A). Gene flow occurs when fertile individuals migrate, or when gametes such as pollen grains are transferred. The migration between 4 and 6 makes A the correct answer. Genetic drift, meanwhile, refers to the changes in a gene pool that can be attributed to chance. Assortative mating, on the other hand, is the term assigned to the process by which individuals mate with partners who resemble themselves phenotypically, as when blister beetles select mates that are similar to themselves in size.

Examples of genetic drift include the bottleneck effect, the founder effect, gene flow, and mutations. In question 3, the bottleneck effect (C) occurs when a disaster (such as an earthquake, a flood, or a fire) reduces the size of a population in a drastic and unselective manner. The small surviving population is unlikely to be representative of the original population in terms of its genetic makeup.

Let's move on to the second question set. According to the chart, the goldfish at 25°C have the fastest swimming speed, an indication of general well-being. Of the fish described in this question set, these fish must therefore be the closest to their optimal temperature. The answer to question 4 is (D).

Fish are able to adjust to temperature changes without suffering serious harm only if these temperature changes occur gradually. For this reason, the fish in question 5 would most likely be unable to adjust to the new temperature, and would suffer harm (D).

As for question 6, terrestrial organisms live in environments that undergo abrupt changes in temperature. It is therefore logical to surmise that the environment selects for individuals who possess the capacity to tolerate rapid changes in temperature (B). Organisms that cannot tolerate such changes are unlikely to survive and reproduce on land. In aquatic environments, on the other hand, temperature changes occur slowly due to the high heat capacity of water. In contrast to terrestrial organisms, goldfish and other aquatic animals have not been selected to quickly acclimatize to temperature changes, and the answer to question 7 is (A).

Molecular/Section 8. In the diagram above in the process labeled 2, what type of bond is being formed?

(A) hydrogen
(B) peptide
(C) ionic
(D) unbreakable
(E) no bonds are being formed

9. What process is occurring at 1?

(A) elongation
(B) translocation
(C) translation
(D) transcription
(E) termination

10. Which of the following are made up of both protein and RNA?

(A) 3
(B) 4
(c) 5
(D) 3 and 6
(E) 4 and 6

11. A mutation in a gene that codes for a tRNA molecule may cause which of the following?

(A) autolysis of the cell
(B) premature ending of transcription
(C) a change in amino acid specificity for that tRNA
(D) mutated ribosomes
(E) a smaller number of free amino acids

Explanations. Questions 8-11 explore the process of protein synthesis. In question 8, the type of bond being formed is (B) a peptide bond. This covalent bond is formed when tRNA (transport RNA) brings two amino acids into close proximity with each other. The tRNA's anticodons bind to the appropriate codon, or sequence, on the mRNA.

Transcription (D) is the process occurring in question 9. In transcription, information coded in the base sequence of DNA is transcribed onto a strand of mRNA (messenger RNA). mRNA leaves the nucleus through nuclear pores. The remaining events of protein synthesis take place in the cytoplasm.

As for question 10, structure 3 (A) is the correct answer. This ribosome is composed of two subunits, which in their turn consist of proteins and RNA that bind during protein synthesis. The ribosome has three binding sites -- one for mRNA and two for tRNA. mRNA (structure 6) and tRNA (structure 4) are made up of RNA exclusively.

A mutation in a tRNA molecule may affect the anticodon, which would affect the specificity of that tRNA for its corresponding mRNA. Such a mutation may also affect the tRNA's site of amino acid attachment; this would affect the specificity of this tRNA for its amino acid. Hence the answer to question 11 is (C). Since stop codons are recognized by the ribosome and not the tRNA, a mutation in the tRNA could not result in a premature termination of translation. A premature ending of transcription (B) would be the result of a mutation in DNA, not tRNA.

Now that you've worked your way through our sample SAT II: Biology E/M questions, you should be ready to tackle our diagnostic test, Practice Test One. This test will probe your knowledge of the various biology topics covered on both versions of the SAT II: Biology E/M exam. Use it to identify areas that you have not completely mastered, and plan to review the chapters that deal with these topics particularly carefully. Good luck!

Copyright © 1999 by Kaplan Educational Centers

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2000

    Great Book For Great Scores

    I would really recommend this book. The information in it is organized in a way that makes it easy for one to study what they're having trouble on. There are many vocab words that make it easy to study from. And, the diagnostic tests provide a great way to get an idea of what is on the real test. The only problem I found with it was a few isolated errors, mainly just typos. Still, I got an 800 using this book. Get it!

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