SAT Chemistry Subject Test Information

standardized test answer sheet

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You don't have to be going into the chemistry field in college to take the SAT Chemistry Subject Test. If you're thinking about heading into pharmacology, medicine, engineering or biology, then this SAT Subject Test could show off your skills when others can't. Let's get into what's on this exam, shall we?

Note: This test is not part of the SAT Reasoning Test, the popular college admissions exam. This is one of the many SAT Subject Tests, exams designed to showcase your particular talents in all sorts of fields.

SAT Chemistry Subject Tests Basics

Before you register for this test, here are the basics:

  • 60 minutes
  • 85 multiple-choice questions
  • 200-800 points possible
  • A period table will be provided for you.
  • Calculators are not permitted on the test, but are unnecessary anyway.

SAT Chemistry Subject Test Content

So, what will you need to know? Here are the number of questions and the types of content you'll be looking at when you sit for the exam:

Structure of Matter: Approximately 21-22 questions

  • Atomic Structure: (experimental evidence of atomic structure, quantum numbers and energy levels, electron configurations, periodic trends)
  • Molecular Structure: (Lewis structures, three-dimensional molecular shapes, polarity)
  • Bonding: (ionic, covalent, and metallic bonds, relationships of bonding to properties and structures; intermolecular forces such as hydrogen bonding, dipole-dipole forces, dispersion (London) forces)

States of Matter: Approximately 13-14 questions

  • Gases: (kinetic molecular theory, gas law relationships, molar volumes, density, and stoichiometry)
  • Liquids and Solids: (intermolecular forces in liquids and solids, types of solids, phase changes, and phase diagrams)
  • Solutions: (molarity and percent by mass concentrations, solution preparation and stoichiometry, factors affecting the solubility of solids, liquids, and gases, and qualitative aspects of colligative properties)

Reaction Types: Approximately 11-12 questions

  • Acids and Bases: (Brønsted-Lowry theory, strong and weak acids and bases, pH, titrations, indicators)
  • Oxidation-Reduction: (recognition of oxidation-reduction reactions, combustion, oxidation numbers, use of activity series)
  • Precipitation: (basic solubility rules)

Stoichiometry: Approximately 11-12 questions

  • Mole Concept: (molar mass, Avogadro’s number, empirical and molecular formulas)
  • Chemical Equations: (balancing of equations, stoichiometric calculations, percent yield, and limiting reactants)

Equilibrium and Reaction Rates: Approximately 4-5 questions

  • Equilibrium Systems: (LeChâtelier's principle in gaseous and aqueous systems, equilibrium constants, and equilibrium expressions)
  • Rates of Reactions: (factors affecting reaction rates, potential energy diagrams, activation energies)

Thermochemistry: Approximately 5-6 questions

  • Conservation of energy, calorimetry, and specific heats, enthalpy (heat) changes associated with phase changes and chemical reactions, heating and cooling curves, entropy

Descriptive Chemistry: Approximately 10-11 questions

  • Common elements, the nomenclature of ions and compounds, periodic trends in chemical and physical properties of the elements, the reactivity of elements and prediction of products of chemical reactions, examples of simple organic compounds and compounds of environmental concern

Laboratory Knowledge: Approximately 6-7 questions

  • Knowledge of laboratory equipment, measurements, procedures, observations, safety, calculations, data analysis, interpretation of graphical data, drawing conclusions from observations and data

SAT Chemistry Subject Test Skills

  • Recall of Facts: 17 Questions. Here, you'll be tested on whether or not you remember a definition, can identify a term, or can otherwise shell out important chemistry knowledge.
  • Application of Material: 39 Questions. This is where things get tougher. Can you apply the knowledge you've learned to solve chemistry problems? Can you apply the concepts of ratios and proportions to solve basic word problems without the use of your calculator?
  • Synthesis of Material: 29 Questions. This skill is the toughest of the three. Here, you'll need to be able to make assertions and create new ideas based on the information presented.

Why Take the SAT Chemistry Subject Test?

Obviously, no one is going to take this test if it doesn't fit in with his or her major unless you've really done poorly on the regular SAT Test and want to redeem yourself a bit by showing that you do have some brains in the old' noggin. If you are majoring in a chemistry-related field like medicine, pharmacology, any of the sciences, then take it to show what you can do and emphasize the positive impact you can make on the program. Competition is fierce for some of these majors, so it's great to put your best foot forward. Besides, it just may be a requirement for your program, so be sure to check with your admissions advisor before you blow this off.

How to Prepare for the SAT Chemistry Subject Test

The College Board recommends taking at least 1 year of a college-prep Chemistry course, along with having a year in Algebra (which everyone does) and some laboratory work. Personally, I recommend getting a test prep book for this bad boy and learning anything you didn't when you were distracted by all the beakers in high school Chemistry class. In addition, there are some free practice questions on the College Board site, along with the answers to show you where you may have tripped up.

Sample SAT Chemistry Subject Test Question

The hydrogen ion concentration of a solution prepared by diluting 50. mL of 0.10 M HNO3(aq) with water to 500. mL of solution is?

(A) 0.0010 M
(B) 0.0050 M
(C) 0.010 M
(D) 0.050 M
(E) 1.0 M

Answer: Choice (C) is correct. This is a question that concerns the concentration of a diluted solution. One way to solve the problem is through the use of ratios. In this question, a solution of nitric acid is diluted 10-fold; therefore, the concentration of the solution will decrease by a factor of 10, that is, from 0.100 molar to 0.010 molar. Alternatively, you could calculate the number of moles of H+ ions present and divide this value by 0.50 liter: (0.100 × 0.050)/0.5 = M of the diluted solution.