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The SAT Subject Test in Chemistry tests a very wide breadth of content, which include common topics taught in a one-year-long college preparatory chemistry class. These topics, listed below, include Structure of Matter, States of Matter, Reaction Types, Stoichiometry, Equilibrium and Reaction Rates, Thermochemistry, Descriptive Chemistry, and Laboratory Knowledge.

Topic # of Questions
Structure of Matter 21 to 22
States of Matter 13 to 14
Reaction Types 11 to 12
Stoichiometry 11 to 12
Equilibrium and Reaction Rates 4 to 5
Thermochemistry 5 to 6
Descriptive Chemistry 10 to 11
Laboratory Knowledge 6 to 7

Students will also need to have taken one year of algebra, some experience in the chemistry laboratory, and knowledge of the second-year algebra concept of logarithms.

Note that extensive lab experience is unnecessary; it is helpful to know what common glassware looks like and for what the different pieces are commonly used. Also know that the challenge lies not in the difficulty of the math but rather the speed at which questions must be completed. Calculators are not permitted, because problem solving requires only simple numerical calculations.

# of Questions Timing Part Type Numbering System*
A Classification 1 to 25
85 60 minutes B Relationship Analysis 101 to 114
C Standard Multiple Choice 16 to 71

*Note that the exact number of questions in each part differs slightly from year to year, but the total of 85 questions remains the same.

The SAT II Chemistry test is a one hour exam given by The College Board. It contains 85 Multiple Choice questions, which are divided into three types: classification questions, relationship analysis questions (always start at #101), and standard multiple choice questions with five answer choices. To see a complete test with answers and explanations, go to pages 287-302 of the PDF: link provides complete tests (with answers and explanations) for multiple SAT II exams.

Classification questions give students a set of answer choices that will be used for a series of questions. For these types of questions, students choose from a set of 5 answer choices for a series of 2-3 questions. These are mostly “rapid-fire” knowledge based questions.

Currently the SAT II Chemistry exam is the only SAT exam that incorporates relationship analysis questions. These questions tend to be the trickiest but not necessarily the hardest. For each statement, students need to one, identify whether two statements are true or false, and two, if both statements are true, decide whether the second statement correctly explains the first statement. To answer such a question, students must bubble in one of three answer choice: (T, F), (T, T), or (T, T, CE) where T = True, F = False, and CE = Correct Explanation. See below:


Calculators are not allowed. A periodic table, shown at the end of this document, which contains atomic mass, atomic numbers, and symbols for each element, is provided.

Students receive +1 point for every correct answer, -1/4 for every incorrect answer, and 0 for each blank answer. The score is then converted into a 200-800 scale. The mean in 2009 was 638 with a standard deviation of 113. The mean in 2011 was 648 with a standard deviation of 110. See table below for the specific national percentile that students fall into given their SAT 2 Chemistry score.
Chemistry SAT Subject Test Score Percentile
800 95
780 91
760 86
740 80
720 74
700 67
680 61
660 54
640 48
620 43
600 37
580 32
560 27
540 22
520 18
500 15
480 11
460 8
440 5
420 3
400 1
Around 50% of admitted applicants to top schools like Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton University, and Williams College score above the low 700s. Some schools allow students to earn college credit if they earned over a certain score (like Georgia Tech in CHEM 1310 if the students scored over 720). Some schools also will accept a good score on the Chemistry SAT Subject Test as part of their science admissions requirement. For example, if the college requires three years of high school science, a student may earn a high score on the SAT II Chemistry exam to bypass one year.
  1. The exam is offered in October, November, December, January, May and June.
  2. The exam uses the metric system of measurements.
  3. Focus on the topics that you know. When studying, generally students should value mastery of familiar topics over knowing a little bit about each topic. The College Board expects that different high schools will have slightly different curriculums in their general and honors chemistry courses. Getting 60 out of 85 questions correct will still score in the 700s.
  4. Read carefully. The SAT knows mistakes that students commonly make, especially when students are put under pressure. For example, if the question asks for molarity, do not figure out the molality. The wrong answer will likely be in the answer choice. Avodi this trap by circling what the question is asking.
  5. AP Chemistry is sufficient preparation for a high score on the Chemistry SAT, since the AP class requires much more critical thinking. Most students who take the test have not taken the aforementioned course.
  6. Students are not allowed to tear out the periodic table of elements, which is located in the back of the instructions page. However, there are many students who get away with this and live to tell the story of the significant amount of time saved.
  7. Before beginning the exam, draw on the periodic table of elements those arrows showing trends such as electronegativity, molecule size, and ionization energy. Remember to note that the noble gases are usually exceptions to these trends.
  8. A perfect score usually still allows students to leave 3-4 questions blank or to incorrectly answer 1-2 questions. However, note that this is a small leeway compared with the SAT 2 Physics exam, which allows students to miss more than twice that amount.
  9. This is not a test on which students can cram (unlike some other exams like the SAT 2 Chinese exam on which students with some background in Chinese can cram).
  10. Barron’s study guide seems to be the go-to for many students taking the SAT 2 Chemistry Exam.
  11. Generally, there are 2-4 (T, T, CE) answers in any given test.
  1. Always skip stoichiometry questions (until later). It is the easiest content wise but balancing equations take the longest time.
  2. In the T/F section, only worry about the “because” part of the question if both answers are true. In other words, do not worry about whether the second part is the correct explanation (T T CE) if the second part were not true. Just bubble in T F. Otherwise you are wasting time.
  3. Be careful of ions. Remember that a Calcium 2+ ion has the same number of electrons as Argon.
  4. Vapor pressure of water must be subtracted when measuring pressure of a gas collected over water. This is due to Dalton’s Law of Partial Pressures.
  5. Learn how to use “mL of mercury” and “torr” to measure pressure. Just knowing “atmospheres” is not enough.
  6. Memorize absolute zero (-273°C, 0K)
  7. Learn solubility product.
  8. Memorize tests for different chemicals.
  9. Memorize list of strong acids and strong bases. Also learn about acids with multiple H+ ions (e.g. diprotic acids like H2SO4). Nomenclature of acids is also important to know (i.e., hypo-, -ous, -ic)
  10. Learn how to balance redox reactions, which are more difficult than simple stoichiometry. Ones including molecules of Cr and Mn are common on the exam, so it is a wise decision to memorize those balanced redox reactions.
  11. Memorize the nomenclature of the relevant organic chemistry (like ethers and propan-1-ol)
Link: :
  1. Which of the following might be the most active ingredient in household bleach?
    1. NaCl
    2. Na2O
    3. NaOCl
    4. NaOH
    5. HCl
  2. If 50.0 g of CaCO3 reacts completely with excessive hydrochloric acid at STP, how many liters of carbon dioxide gas will be produced?
    1. 11.2
    2. 22.4
    3. 25.0
    4. 44.8
    5. 50.0
  1. Na
  2. O2
  3. CO2
  4. SO2
  5. SO3
  1. Which yields the most acidic solution when dissolved in water.
  2. Which exhibits the least amount of covalent character in its bonding.
    1. Acetic Acid is readily soluble in water BECAUSE
    2. Acetic acid is an organic acid
    1. Zinc Metal will reduce Cu2+ ions in aqueous solutions BECAUSE
    2. Zinc is a more active metal than copper
Sample Questions (Classical Multiple Choice)
  1. Answer: C This is a typical sort of “you either know it or you don’t” type question. There is no math, no chemical equation to construct; it is simply a question about the properties of specific chemical substances. Here, the answer C (sodium hypochlorite) is a bleaching agent commonly used in household products.
  2. Answer: A This is representative of the sorts of calculations that may appear on the test. Notice that students are not allowed to use calculators; however, most of the questions will use numbers that make the math easy. In this example, students need to know the chemical equation: CaCO3 + 2HCl → CaCl2 + H2O + CO2. The molecular mass of CaCO3 is 100.0 g/mol, so 50.0 g is 0.500 mol. According to the reaction equation, this should produce 0.500 mol of CO2. Finally, recall that at STP, one mole of gas occupies 22.4 L, so 0.500 mol occupies half of that, or 11.2 L. Thus, the correct answer is A.
Sample Questions (Classification)
  1. Answer: E Only choices C, D, and E yield acidic solutions in water. Of the three acids produced (H2CO3, H2SO3, and H2SO4), only the last is a strong acid.
  2. Answer: A The electronegativity of sodium (an electropositive, first column metal) and oxygen (a rather electronegative non-metal) are most different, indicating a high degree of ionic, rather than covalent, bonding.
Sample Questions (Relationship Analysis)
  1. Answer: T, T Both statements are true: acetic acid is indeed soluble in water, and it is also an example of an organic acid. But see counterexample: fatty acids (such as the oleic acid in olive oil) are also organic acids, but these do not dissolve well in water.
  2. Answer: T, T, CE This example is a little harder in terms of content, since many introductory chemistry courses do not delve into electrochemistry.