Chemistry SAT II

Chemistry Subject Test-SAT II

What’s the Format of the Test, and When Is It Offered?

Here’s a basic rundown of the structure and scoring of the Chemistry SAT Subject Test (also known as the Chemistry SAT II):

  • 60 minutes long
  • 85 multiple-choice questions
  • Scores range from 200 to 800

Note that subject tests still have quarter-point deductions for incorrect answers even though this policy has been abolished on the regular SAT. For every question you answer correctly you’ll receive one point, no points will be awarded or deducted for questions left blank, and you’ll lose 1/4 of a point for every incorrect answer. Calculator use is not permitted, but you’ll have a periodic table to use for reference.

The Chemistry SAT Subject Test is offered in August, October, November, December, May, and June. In other words, you can take it on every regular SAT test date except the one in March.   

What’s on the Chemistry SAT II?

Here’s a brief content overview of the Chemistry SAT Subject Test. I’ve listed the topics in descending order according to their prevalence on the test:

Topic Percentage of Test
Structure of matter (atomic structure, molecular structure, bonding) 25%
States of matter (gases, liquids and solids, solutions) 16%
Reaction types (acids and bases, oxidation-reduction, precipitation) 14%
Stoichiometry (mole concept, chemical equations) 14%
Descriptive chemistry (periodic trends, nomenclature, predicting products of reactions) 12%
Lab practices (equipment and measurements, scientific method, data interpretation) 8%
Thermochemistry (calorimetry, enthalpy and phase changes, entropy) 6%
Equilibrium and reaction rates (equilibrium systems, rates of reactions) 5%



The College Board also breaks down questions by skill on this Subject Test:

Skill Percentage of Test
Application of knowledge 45%
Synthesis of knowledge 35%
Fundamental concepts and knowledge 20%

The most common questions, at 45 percent of the test, are application of knowledge questions. These questions ask you to apply your knowledge of chemistry to scenarios presented on the test.

Synthesis of knowledge questions, at 35 percent of the test, will ask you to draw conclusions based on data provided by the test as well as your background knowledge of chemistry. 

Only twenty percent of questions test fundamental concepts and knowledge. These questions are focused on basic factual recall.  

To break down these skills even further, questions will test your:

  • Understanding of the major concepts of chemistry and ability to apply principles to solve specific problems
  • Ability to organize and interpret results from observation and experimentation, and to draw conclusions or make inferences from experimental data, including data presented in graphs and/or tables
  • Laboratory experience and familiarity with the metric system
  • Ability to handle simple algebraic relationships and apply these to solving word problems
  • Familiarity with the concepts of ratio, direct and inverse proportions, exponents, and scientific notations

Topics on the Test

Structure of matter Atomic Structure, including experimental evidence of atomic structure, quantum numbers and energy levels (orbitals), electron configurations, periodic trends Molecular Structure, including Lewis structures, three-dimensional molecular shapes, polarity Bonding, including 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 Gases, including the kinetic molecular theory, gas law relationships, molar volumes, density, and stoichiometry Liquids and Solids, including intermolecular forces in liquids and solids, types of solids, phase changes, and phase diagrams Solutions, including molarity and percent by mass concentrations, solution preparation and stoichiometry, factors affecting solubility of solids, liquids, and gases, qualitative aspects of colligative properties
Reaction types Acids and Bases, including Brønsted-Lowry theory, strong and weak acids, and bases, pH, titrations, indicators Oxidation-Reduction, including recognition of oxidation-reduction reactions, combustion, oxidation numbers, use of activity series Precipitation, including basic solubility rules
Stoichiometry Mole Concept, including molar mass, Avogadro’s number, empirical and molecular formulas Chemical Equations, including the balancing of equations, stoichiometric calculations, percent yield, and limiting reactants
Equilibrium and reaction rates Equilibrium Systems, including factors affecting position of equilibrium (LeChâtelier’s principle) in gaseous and aqueous systems, equilibrium constants, and equilibrium expressions Rates of Reactions, including factors affecting reaction rates, potential energy diagrams, activation energies
Thermochemistry Including conservation of energy, calorimetry, and specific heats, enthalpy (heat) changes associated with phase changes and chemical reactions, heating, and cooling curves, entropy
Descriptive chemistry Including 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 Including knowledge of laboratory equipment, measurements, procedures, observations, safety, calculations, data analysis, interpretation of graphical data, drawing conclusions from observations and data

Anticipated Skills

Skills Approximate % of Test
Fundamental concepts and knowledge 20%
Application of knowledge 45%
Synthesis of knowledge 35%
  • Understanding of the major concepts of chemistry and the ability to apply principles to solve specific problems
  • Ability to organize and interpret results from observation and experimentation, and to draw conclusions or make inferences from experimental data, including data presented in graphic or tabular form or both
  • Laboratory experience and familiarity with the metric system of units
  • Ability to handle simple algebraic relationships and apply these to solving word problems
  • Familiarity with the concepts of ratio and direct and inverse proportions, exponents and scientific notations

Recommended Preparation

  • One-year introductory college-preparatory course in chemistry
  • A one-year course in algebra
  • Experience in the laboratory