Placement exams

The introductory biology placement exam is part of a system implemented to enhance student success. Our goal is for students to pass their introductory biology courses the first time they take them. It is important for students to pay for a course only one time to keep costs down, to pass 15 credits each semester to graduate in four years, and to have the best transcript possible. Failing courses and withdrawing from courses will decrease your chances of earning admission into post-graduate programs and jobs.

One way we will help you succeed is to provide guidance on what courses to take. To succeed in BIO 1500 (Basic Life Diversity) and BIO 1510 (Basic Life Mechanisms) students should have had a college-preparatory biology class in high school and strong general academic preparation.

Students who need more preparation than they got in high school to succeed in BIO 1500 and BIO 1510 enroll in BIO 1050 (An Introduction to Life). This course is an overview of all of biology in one semester. It usually includes extra support, such as a peer mentor for every 15 to 20 students. The peer mentors are successful upper-level students who help their teams learn how to succeed at Wayne State and in biology courses.

BIO 1050 is also a course for non-biology majors earning distribution credit. Students who do not plan to go on to BIO 1500 or BIO 1510 may take a lab with BIO 1050 for one more credit. Students who plan to continue with BIO 1500 or BIO 1510 should not take the lab.

How does placement into BIO 1500 and BIO 1510 work?

Students who have an ACT of 24 (or the equivalent SAT score) and above are placed into the BIO 1500 and 1510 sequence without further preparation. They may opt to take BIO 1050 for more background if they prefer.

Students with an ACT of 23 (or the equivalent SAT score) or below are placed into BIO 1050. Once they complete BIO 1050 with a C- or better, they may enroll in BIO 1500 or BIO 1510. Alternatively, students with an ACT or equivalent of 23 and below who want to go directly to BIO 1500 or BIO 1510 without taking BIO 1050, may take a placement exam.

For more information on the times, costs and procedures for the placement exam see the Biology placement exam information.

What do you expect students to know and be able to do before taking BIO 1500 and BIO 1510?

The placement exam covers the material that we expect a student to know and be able to do before taking BIO 1500 or BIO 1510. Below are the key learning objectives. The objectives are organized by the five main themes of biology, which have been adopted by the Michigan K12 system and by postsecondary biology educators nationally (Vision and Change in Undergraduate Biology Education: A View for the 21st Century, 2009). The five themes of biology are:

Core concepts

  • Pathways and transformation of energy and matter
  • Information flow, exchange and storage
  • Evolution
  • Structure and function
  • Complex systems

Objectives and practice exams

For more information, see the detailed placement exam learning objectives.