Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems Section: Overview

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The Chemical and Physical Foundations of Biological Systems section asks you to solve problems by combining your knowledge of chemical and physical foundational concepts with your scientific inquiry and reasoning skills. This section tests your understanding of the mechanical, physical, and biochemical functions of human tissues, organs, and organ systems. It also tests your knowledge of the basic chemical and physical principles that underlie the mechanisms operating in the human body and your ability to reason about and apply your understanding of these basic chemical and physical principles to living systems.
This section is designed to:

  • test introductory-level biology, organic and inorganic chemistry, and physics concepts;
  • test biochemistry concepts at the level taught in many colleges and universities in first-semester biochemistry courses;
  • test molecular biology topics at the level taught in many colleges and universities in introductory biology sequences and first-semester biochemistry courses;
  • test basic research methods and statistics concepts described by many baccalaureate faculty as important to success in introductory science courses; and
  • require you to demonstrate your scientific inquiry and reasoning, research methods, and statistics skills as applied to the natural sciences.
Test Section Number of Questions Time
Chemical and Physical
Foundations of Biological
(note that questions are a
combination of passage‐based
and discrete questions)
95 minutes

During the actual exam, you will have access to the periodic table while answering questions in this section of the exam.
Exam content will draw from*:

  • First-semester biochemistry, 25%
  • Introductory biology, 5%
  • General chemistry, 30%
  • Organic chemistry, 15%
  • Introductory physics, 25%

Foundational Concept:

  • Foundational Concept 4, 40%
  • Foundational Concept 5, 60%

Scientific Inquiry and Reasoning Skill:

  • Skill 1, 35%
  • Skill 2, 45%
  • Skill 3, 10%
  • Skill 4, 10%

*These percentages have been approximated to the nearest 5% and will vary from one test to another for a variety of reasons. These reasons include, but are not limited to, controlling for question difficulty, using groups of questions that depend on a single passage, and using unscored field-test questions on each test form.

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Periodic Table of Elements