SAT Biology- E or M Which Should You Take?

Since there are two variations in biology tests: Biology E and Biology M, you might be wondering about which variation to choose between them. To find the answer to your dilemma, you may read this article.

Updated by Sreelekha RK on 18th April 2020

If you are a student who is more interested in sciences, you might be wanting to take up one or more subjects of the SAT test as it basically allows you to exhibit your knowledge and skills. 

Since there are two variations in biology tests: Biology E and Biology M, you might be wondering about which variation to choose between them. Here is an answer to your question: both are very important as there will be 60 common questions out of 80.

Taking the SAT Subject Test in either of the biology tests can help you indicate that you are interested and engaged in focusing on science in the college. The metric system is used for all analysis in test questions.

Since most of you have confusion on which to choose, here is a brief explanation and sample question to help you sort it and decide which to choose.

Some basic concepts of SAT Biology test

Basically, there are 3 categories related to science in SAT, namely, Chemistry, Physics, and Biology which are designed and offered by the College Board.

The test in biology will evaluate your knowledge and understanding of the major concepts of biology studied in high school and it is also considered to be a great way to exhibit your achievements. The biology topic is subcategorized as Biology Ecology and Molecular Biology

Here are a few fundamental points every student who is taking the test must know. 

  • These are two different concepts and cannot be taken on a single day.

  • These tests are not part of the SAT Reasoning Test. 

  • The pattern is multiple-choice questions.

  • The duration of this test is 60 minutes 

  • It contains 80 questions. 

  • 60 of the 80 questions are a part of both exams.

  • The test scores range between 200 and 800 points.

Categories under Biology test

The contents of the test and its subtopics are mentioned in the following table. 

 Content Ecology Molecular
Cellular and molecular biology 15% 27%
Ecology 23% 13%
Genetics 15% 20%
Organismal biology 25% 25%
Evolution and diversity 22% 15%

What is SAT Biology E?

Here are a few points which make it simpler for you to understand what exactly it is. 

  • Biology E stands for Biology Ecology.

  • The test focuses on questions on how living things have developed through evolution and natural selection.

  • It covers the processes and relationships that happen between organisms and also on topics like biodiversity, conservation, and human impact on other living things.

  • It also concentrates more on how they interact with one another in their communities, populations, and ecosystems.

The sample SAT Biology E question from the College Board is as follows.

Question: Characteristics of birds but not of mammals include which of the following?

  1. Feathers

  2. Giving birth to live young

  3. four-chambered hearts

Options

(A) 1 only

(B) 3 only

(C) Both 1 and 2

(D) Both 1 and 3 

(E) 1, 2 and 3 

The correct answer A.

This is exactly how the college board gives an explanation of the answer: “This type of question requires you to look at the choices 1, 2 and 3 and decide which combination of characteristics belongs to birds and does not belong to mammals. Clearly, most mammals give birth to live young, so text II end text is not part of the correct answer. This rules our choices (C) and (E). Four chambered hearts are also characteristic of mammals (humans, for instance) so choice text III end text is not part of the correct answer. This rules our choices (B) and (D)”.

What is SAT Biology M?

Here are a few points which can make it simpler for you to understand what exactly it is. 

  • Biology M stands for Molecular Biology. 

  • It is more profoundly concentrated and focused on understanding how life operates on a minute level. 

  • The questions in this part are mostly focused on what happens inside organisms.

  • It also focuses on topics like biochemistry, genetics, and cellular structure and biological processes.

The sample SAT Biology M question from the College Board is as follows.

Question: The graph below illustrates the data obtained from reactions at various temperatures of an enzyme with its specific substrate at pH.

Based on the data, what results can be predicted if the experiment is carried out at 5-degree Celsius?

Options

(A) No prediction would be valid.

(B) An amount of product equal to that at 20 to the power of ring operator text C end text would be formed.

(C) An amount of product equal to that at the optimum temperature would be formed.

(D) An amount of product equal to that at 60 to the power of ring operator text C end text would be formed.

(E) Little or no product would be formed.

The correct answer is E.

This is exactly how the college board gives an explanation of the answer: “This question requires you to extrapolate from the data in order to predict the amount of product that would likely be formed at a temperature lower than the temperatures tested. Choice (A) indicates that no prediction can be made. While the amount of product at 5 degrees can not be known with certainty, it can be predicted from the information provided, so choice A is not correct. Choices (B), (C), and (D) suggest that the same amount of product will be formed at 5 degrees as at 20, 40, and 60 degrees, respectively. This is unlikely, based on the pattern of the data. Between 10 and 40 degrees, the amount of product formed varies with temperature, so the most reasonable prediction is that there would be very little product formed at 5 degrees”.

Which Test Should I Take?

 No matter which you choose, that will be your choice only for 20 specific questions but you will have to answer 60 of the questions that might cover topics from both domains. 

In order to score well in the overall SAT, it is clearly understood that you will have to concentrate on both areas of biology which means you will need to have an in-depth knowledge about biology

You may be thinking of choosing between two of them according to your career aspirations or college major you are planning to acquire but the positive notion is that most careers in the biological sciences will make use of the knowledge you have studied about both sets of topics.

So our answer to your question is, make your choice based on which subject you are more comfortable with. It is better to take up a few practice tests which will help you make a decision about which topic to choose in order to answer those 20 specialized questions. 

And sometimes it is good to go with the flow and believing in your instincts as well. 

Conclusion

It is clear that both the variations are very important for overall scoring in the test. Take a few mock tests, analyze your strengths and then take a clear decision. 

You can take Biology E if you are more comfortable answering questions about biological communities, populations, and energy flow. 

And on the other hand, you can take Biology M if you are more comfortable answering questions about biochemistry, cellular structure, and processes.