Living Environment Honors and Subject SAT II Biology Test

  • Living Environment Honors is a very rigorous and comprehensive course. The Honors level is above and beyond the Regents core curriculum. At the same time it is not an SAT II Biology preparation course. We instead follow the New York State Living Environment requirements.  Students must complete State-mandated 1200 minutes of hands-on laboratory activities with satisfactory laboratory reports and take Living Environment Regents examination at the end of the course.

    As part of our curriculum we don’t practice College Board SAT II Biology questions and don’t prepare students for SAT II exam, since its format and philosophy are very different from NY Sate Living Environment curriculum approach. The SAT II is a very fast-paced exam: 80 questions in 60 minutes. All questions are multiple choice. The skills and knowledge that are tested include ability to recall (fast!) facts and terminology and apply the knowledge to practical situations.

    This is very different from the New York State Living Environment curriculum approach that is focused on understanding relationships and applications of concepts with much less emphasis on the memorization of specialized terminology and technical details. The Regents exam also includes numerous constructed-response questions that require students to be able to write about biological concepts.

    Living Environment Honors does include in-depth study of most topics, terminology and facts that are found on SAT II Biology exam. At the same time our goals are broader than preparing students for a one-hour multiple choice test. We teach students to clearly explain and analyze biological processes by asking them to write answers to free-response questions. An important part of our curriculum is a research project that all Living Environment students participate in the Spring Semester, which has as its goal a research and inquiry-based understanding of biological concepts and relationships. This also reinforces the district goals of writing across the curriculum and college readiness. All these activities take time away from some topics that are sometimes found on SAT II tests. It is impossible to predict what facts exactly will appear on the SAT II test so we advise students who want to take it to study certain topics, specifically the topics of Plants, Taxonomy and Animal Behavior independently.

    To sum up: The Honors course fulfills and exceeds the New York State Regents requirements; it also helps to prepare students for SAT Subject Test in Biology. At the same time, students should also study independently using SAT II Review Books in order to familiarize themselves with the test format, type of questions and the test-taking strategies.

    The focus of preparation should be on topics that are covered in our curriculum. They constitute the major part of both SAT Biology tests (E and M). The topics of Plants, Taxonomy and Animal Behavior should be studied independently. Before the test students should take several practice tests (found in SAT II Review books).

    Important information about SAT Subject Biology Test, including the difference between Biology E and Biology M test as well as practice test questions can be found at:

    When the students take an AP Biology course in the future, they can retake the SAT II Biology test if they want to improve their grade.

    The students can take the SAT II and if they feel that they did not do their best, they have 48 hours to cancel their score and consider it simply a practice. Once a request to cancel scores has been submitted, scores cannot be reinstated and are not reported to the student or any institutions.  Please check if this policy is still in effect when you will be registering for the test: .