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Biology Merit Exam

The 41st Annual Biology Merit Exam will be held on Friday, April 24, 2020 and our theme will be the Tyrannosaurus rex!

UPDATE 3/11/20 - Registration for the 2020 BME has been temporarily suspended.  It is doubtful that we will hold the event on campus this year due to concerns over COVID-19, but are working towards an online option.    Details will be posted on these pages and emailed directly to teachers that pre-registered participated last year.   Thanks for your patience and understanding!  
Ginger Foulk, 

 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.