Test Information Guide

Overview and Test Objectives
Field 13: Biology

Test Overview

Table outlining the test format, number of questions, time, and passing score.
Format Computer-based test (CBT); 100 multiple-choice questions, 2 open-response items
Number of Questions
  • Subarea I: 12–14 multiple-choice questions
  • Subarea II: 16–18 multiple-choice questions
  • Subarea III: 16–18 multiple-choice questions
  • Subarea IV: 17–19 multiple-choice questions
  • Subarea V: 17–19 multiple-choice questions
  • Subarea VI: 16–18 multiple-choice questions
  • Subarea VII: 2 open-response items
Time 4 hours (does not include 15-minute CBT tutorial)
Passing Score 240

The Massachusetts Tests for Educator Licensure (MTEL) are designed to measure a candidate's knowledge of the subject matter contained in the test objectives for each field. The MTEL are aligned with the Massachusetts educator licensure regulations and, as applicable, with the standards in the Massachusetts curriculum frameworks.

The test objectives specify the content to be covered on the test and are organized by major content subareas. The chart below shows the approximate percentage of the total test score derived from each of the subareas.

The test assesses a candidate's proficiency and depth of understanding of the subject at the level required for a baccalaureate major according to Massachusetts standards. Candidates are typically nearing completion of or have completed their undergraduate work when they take the test.

Pie chart of approximate test weighting.

Sub area I 10%, Sub area II 14%, Sub area III 14%, Sub area IV 14%, Sub area V 14%, Sub area VI 14%, and Sub area VII 20%.

Test Objectives

Table outlining test content and subject weighting by sub area and objective.
Subareas Range of Objectives Approximate Test Weighting
I Nature of Science 01–04 10%
II Chemistry of Life and Cell Biology 05–07 14%
III Characteristics of Organisms 08–10 14%
IV Human Anatomy and Physiology 11–15 14%
V Genetics, Evolution, and Biodiversity 16–19 14%
VI Populations, Ecosystems, and the Environment 20–22 14%
VII Integration of Knowledge and Understanding 23 20%

*The open-response items may relate to topics covered in any of the subareas.

Subarea I–Nature of Science

Objective 0001: Understand the dynamic nature of scientific inquiry and scientific processes.
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Objective 0002: Understand the processes of gathering, organizing, analyzing, and reporting scientific data.
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Objective 0003: Understand scientific instruments, materials, and safety practices.
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Objective 0004: Understand the historical and contemporary relationships among science, technology, and society.
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Subarea II–Chemistry of Life and Cell Biology

Objective 0005: Understand the chemical components of living systems and basic principles of biochemistry.
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Objective 0006: Understand cell structure and function.
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Objective 0007: Understand the physiological processes of cells.
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Subarea III–Characteristics of Organisms

Objective 0008: Understand the structures, structural organization, and life processes of plants.
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Objective 0009: Understand the structures, structural organization, and life processes of archaea, bacteria, protists, fungi, and invertebrates.
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Objective 0010: Understand the structures, structural organization, and life processes of vertebrates.
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Subarea IV–Human Anatomy and Physiology

Objective 0011: Understand the structures and functions of the human digestive system and the principles of nutrition.
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Objective 0012: Understand the structures and functions of the human circulatory and immune systems.
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Objective 0013: Understand the structures and functions of the human respiratory and excretory systems.
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Objective 0014: Understand the structures and functions of the human nervous, endocrine, and reproductive systems.
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Objective 0015: Understand the structures and functions of the human skeletal, muscular, and integumentary systems.
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Subarea V–Genetics, Evolution, and Biodiversity

Objective 0016: Understand the principles of heredity.
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Objective 0017: Understand the molecular basis of genetics.
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Objective 0018: Understand the theories and mechanisms of evolution.
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Objective 0019: Understand biodiversity and classification.
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Subarea VI–Populations, Ecosystems, and the Environment

Objective 0020: Understand populations, communities, ecosystems, and biomes.
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Objective 0021: Understand the cycling of materials and the transfer of energy through an ecosystem.
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Objective 0022: Understand the effects of human activities on the environment.
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Subarea VII–Integration of Knowledge and Understanding

Objective 0023: Prepare an organized, developed analysis on a topic related to one or more of the following subareas: Nature of Science; Chemistry of Life and Cell Biology; Characteristics of Organisms; Human Anatomy and Physiology; Genetics, Evolution, and Biodiversity; and Populations, Ecosystems, and the Environment.

(Refer to objectives 0001 through 0022 and associated descriptive statements.)