Format of the SAT II Chemistry Test
The 85 multiple-choice-type questions that make up the
SAT II Chemistry exam fall into three types, and according to the
College Board Web site, these types test three types of skill.
|Skill Being Tested
||Approximate % of test that this question type makes
||Approximate no. of questions of this type
that you’ll see
|Recall of knowledge: remembering
fundamental concepts and specific information; demonstrating familiarity
|Application of knowledge: Applying
a single principle to unfamiliar and/or practical situations to
obtain a qualitative result or solve a quantitative problem
|Synthesis of knowledge: Inferring
and deducing from qualitative and/or quantitative data; integrating two
or more relationships to draw conclusions or solve problems
As you can see, the SAT II test tests your knowledge of
chemistry in three different ways. This test also contains three
different types of questions: classification questions, relationship-analysis
questions, and five-choice completion questions. Next we’ll talk
about exactly what these three types of questions look like.
Classification questions are basically reverse-multiple-choice
questions. They consist of five answer choices followed by a string
of three to five questions. To make things more confusing, the answer
choices may be used once, more than once, or not at all—so although
a classification question often looks like simple matching, it isn’t!
The level of difficulty in any one set of classification
questions is generally pretty random: you can’t expect the first
question in a set to be easier than the last. However, in the test
as a whole, each set of classification questions is generally a
bit harder than the one that came before.
Familiarize yourself with the following set of directions—if
you read and understand them now, you won’t waste precious time
on test day.
set of lettered choices below refers to the numbered questions or
statements immediately following it. Select the one lettered choice
that best answers each question or 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.
solutions when dissolved in water
exists as a diatomic molecule but can react to form a 2- ion
You can usually answer classification questions a bit
more quickly than the standard five-choice completion questions
since you need to review only one set of answer choices to answer
a series of questions. The answer to number 1 is E.
Electronegativity is a measure of the ability of an atom in a chemical
bond to attract electrons to itself; in chapter 4 you’ll learn how
to use your periodic table to answer questions like this one. The
answer to number 2 is D, copper. Copper often forms
green/blue solutions. The answer to number 3 is A, zinc.
Also in chapter 4, you’ll learn to predict what ions certain elements
will form and in what state they are normally found in nature. Don’t
worry if you don’t know the answers to these questions right now.
This example is meant mainly to show you how a classification question
Relationship-analysis questions consist of a specific
statement, statement I, followed by another statement, statement
II. To answer these questions, you must determine first whether
statement I is true or false and then whether statement II is true
or false. Next you must decide whether the second statement is the
reason for the first statement being true. These questions may appear
intimidating to you since they’re probably unfamiliar, but after
taking the practice exams in this book, you should feel as comfortable
with them as you do with the other question types.
One more thing about this question type: strangely enough,
on the SAT II Chemistry test, the section containing relationship-analysis
questions is always numbered starting with 101. There will be one
section of these on each of the tests, and they also get their own special
section on your answer sheet—also beginning with number 101. There
are usually about 16 or 17 questions of this type on the SAT II
Chemistry exam. Again, take the time to familiarize yourself with
these directions so you won’t have to even look at them on test day.
question below consists of two statements, statement I in the left-hand
column and statement II in the right-hand column. For each question,
determine whether statement I is true or false and whether
statement II is true or false and fill in the corresponding T or
F ovals on your answer sheet. Fill in oval CE only if
statement II is a correct explanation of statement I.
||A 1.0 M solution of HCl has a low pH.
|| BECAUSE ||HCl contains chlorine.
||An atom of chlorine is smaller than an atom
|| BECAUSE ||Chlorine has a
greater effective nuclear charge than sulfur.
Look at question 101. Statement I is true: HCl is an acid,
which is a substance that’s capable of donating H+ ions
in solution. Acids have a pH that’s lower than 7, while bases have
a pH above 7. Statement II is also true: HCl is made up of a hydrogen
atom and a chlorine atom. Now do the final step—is the pH of HCl
directly related to the concentration of the chlorine ions in solution?
No, it is directly related to the number of H+ ions
given off by HCl in solution—you would not fill in the bubble marked CE (correct
Now the answer to question 102. Statement I is true. Statement
II is true. As you’ll learn in “The Structure of Matter,” atomic
radius decreases from left to right across the periodic table because
the more protons in the nucleus of the atom, the more tightly and
more closely held are the atom’s electrons. This is an example of
another way you can use the periodic table while taking the test.
If you understand periodic trends, you won’t have to memorize the
atomic radii of all of the elements. The CE, for “correct
explanation,” should be bubbled in.
Five-Choice Completion Questions
These are the multiple-choice questions we all know and
love, and which are the lifeblood of any multiple-choice exam. You
know the drill: they ask a question and give you five possible answer
choices, and you pick the best one. This will be the third and final
part of the exam.
Here are the directions you’ll see on the exam:
of the questions or incomplete statements below is followed by five
suggested answers or completions. For each question, select the
one choice that is the best answer to the question and then fill
in the corresponding oval on the answer sheet.
the following molecules does not match its geometric shape?
||trigonal planar |
||V shape (bent) |
||trigonal planar |
The answer is E—the shape of this compound
is irregular tetrahedron (also known as trigonal pyramid). You’ll
learn rules for predicting molecular structures in chapter 4. Now,
the above question is a straightforward multiple choice, but there’s
another type of five-choice completion question on the test, and
it looks like the question below:
of the following statements correctly describe the information necessary
for finding the concentration of an unknown monoprotic acid by titration
I. The concentration of the base
II. The total starting volume of acid
III. The volume of the base used to reach the equivalence
||I and II only
||I and III only
||I, II, and III
Let’s analyze it. To find the concentration of the unknown
acid, you’ll need to know the molarity of the base used in the titration
or, put in simpler language, the moles of base per liter of solution.
So, statement I is necessary. We’ll also need the information in
statements II and III, as you’ll learn in “Laboratory.” The correct
answer is E.
While knowing your chemistry inside and out is the best
way to ensure that you’ll do well on this test, it will also help
you on test day if you’ve developed a strategy that enables you
to answer all the questions that test you on chemistry you feel
confident about and to guess intelligently on the questions on areas
in which you feel less confident. We will talk about some strategies
for how to deal with these harder questions in the next chapter.