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SAT II Test Prep

The SAT Subject tests are multiple-choice exams which each focus on a specific subject within the areas of English, math, history, foreign languages, and science.

Overview of Chemistry Level 1 SAT II Test

The Chemistry Level 1 SAT II test requires students to understand the concepts of chemistry, apply principles and solve specific problems, interpret results obtained by experimentation, and draw conclusions or make inferences from experimental data. Students are provided with a detailed Periodic Chart of the Elements in their test booklet.

Normally, CATES suggests students consider the Chemistry Level 1 SAT II if they have completed one year of introductory chemistry at the college-preparatory level, laboratory experience, mathematics preparation (including algebraic relationships and word problems), and familiarity with the concepts of ratio and direct and inverse proportions, exponents, and scientific notation. Calculators are not allowed on this test, so the math you will be asked to do is fairly straightforward.

Format & Scoring

The Chemistry Level 1 SAT II test is a one-hour exam that features 85 multiple-choice questions. However, unlike in other SAT II’s, these questions are sometimes presented very differently, so it is particularly important for students to familiarize themselves with this format beforehand. Essentially, there are three ways in which questions are presented on the Chemistry SAT II:

Multi Answer Questions (1-25) - On these questions the test makers have more or less reversed the format, Jeopardy style. The five answer choices are presented to students followed by three to four questions or statements. The students are required to correctly match the information in the numbered questions or statements to the lettered answer choices. For every three or four questions, you are referring to the same answer choices, but keep in mind, the same answer choice can be correctly paired to more than one question.

For these question types, CATES recommend that students take a bit of time to study the answer choices before they move on to the actual questions. Often they can predict the information that is being tested by assessing the list of answer choices. Taking a moment to consider the answers with an open mind, creating a “Web of Association,” can save time when you are looking to match the questions below.

Correct Explanation Questions - (101-115*) - These question types consist of two statements presented in two columns. Your first job is to determine if the statement on the left is true or false. Then, you must determine if the statement on the right is true or false. You simply fill in the “T” or “F” on the answer sheets. If, and only if, both statements are true, there is a third task. You are required to determine if the statement on the right is a correct explanation of the statement on the left. If it is, you must fill in the oval labeled “CE” (correct explanation). Again, if either of the two statements are false, you do not fill in the third oval.

Once you understand how these questions are formatted, you will see that the content isn’t incredibly difficult. However, there is no partial credit awarded for these questions, so the difficulty lies in answering the two (or three) parts of each question correctly in order to receive credit. For this reason, CATES often recommends that students do these questions after they have done the other sections of the test. By saving this section for last, students ensure that have enough time for some of the more straightforward question types in the other sections, and therefore don’t miss out on earning those points.

* Notice that these questions are inexplicably numbered 101-115. Don’t let this inconsistency throw you.

Multiple Choice Question (26-70) - One question followed by five answer choices, generally in easy, medium, difficult order. You know what to do with these.

For all three question types, the College Board awards one point for every correct answer, deducts one-quarter point for every incorrect answer, and neither awards or deducts points for unanswered questions. Like all SAT II Subject Tests, the scores on the Chemistry Level 1 SAT II test range from 200 to 800, with 800 being the highest possible score.


  • 800: 94th
  • 750: 81st
  • 700: 66th
  • 650: 50th
  • 600: 35th
  • 550: 23rd
  • 500: 13th

Scoring Strategy

CATES has found that the first eight to ten questions on this test are often the most intimidating. This is very different from other science and math SAT II’s, in which the material is often presented in a general order of difficulty. The Chemistry SAT II, you could say, begins with “Shock & Awe.” Please use this observation to your advantage, and revisit these questions at the end of the test if you feel overwhelmed at first. The multiple-choice questions (26-70) are generally a good place to begin. Taking mock tests and developing a

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