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Biology Merit Exam

The 41st Annual Biology Merit Exam will be held online on Friday, May 1, 2020 and our theme will be the Tyrannosaurus rex!

UPDATE 4/20/20 - The BME will be offered online at 10:00 am on 5/1/20.   The exam is free.  Advance registration is required and due by 10:00 AM on April 29.  Please click on the Details - Register link in the left margin for complete details.   Thanks for your patience and understanding!  
Ginger Foulk, 

5/4/20 Division and Award Winners for BME 2020 Announced - Congratulations to all our participants for a job well done!

 The Clemson University Department of Biological Sciences annually conducts the Biology Merit Exam to recognize and promote outstanding achievement in the biological sciences among middle and high school students in South Carolina. 

Students attending the Biology Merit Exam at Clemson University will have an opportunity to:

      • Test their biology knowledge
      • Acquaint themselves with Clemson University
      • Tour the Clemson campus, explore the museums, attend special science exhibits and demonstrations (as part of Bio Science Expo)
      • Prepare for the Advanced Placement Exam
      • Prepare for success on the Biology End of of Course Exam
      • Explore a college atmosphere and see what a college freshman exam might look like
      • Compete against students at grade level for awards


Any middle school or high school students who have completed or are currently enrolled in a biology or life science course and who have been identified by their teachers as having a strong interest and aptitude in the biological sciences are eligible to participate. Homeschool students and students from out of state are welcome to participate!

Exam Structure and Divisions

The Biology Merit Exam consists of forty multiple-choice questions of varying degrees of difficulty that are distributed among the major  areas of biology. Each year the exam has a different theme animal. Examples of previous exam themes include: the biology of the yellow jacket, polar bear, wandering albatross, tiger, killer whale, and octopus. Students compete only against others in their own division, and awards are given to the top three students as well as honorable mentions in each division.

Biology content areas include:

      • General Principles
      • Molecular Biology
      • Cellular Biology
      • Genetics
      • Ecology
      • Taxonomy
      • Plant Structure and Function
      • Animal Structure and Function

Three divisions

      • Division I: Middle school students having completed or presently enrolled in life sciences or high school students having credit for middle school life science only.
      • Division II: High school students having completed or presently enrolled in their first biology course.
      • Division III: High school students having completed or presently enrolled in a second year of a high school life science.

Students compete only against other students in their division.