The Biology Department Challenge Exam is designed to assess whether you have a good grasp of the basic principles of cell biology that form the foundation knowledge for more advanced biology courses such as Anatomy and Physiology, Microbiology, Zoology, and Botany. This information is designed to help you prepare for the exam.

List of Contents:

  • Brief Description of the Exam
  • Course Description
  • Sample Texts
  • Course Outcomes
  • Sample Syllabus
  • Selected Websites Related to the Material in the Course.

Here is a sample course description and the text and laboratory manual used by many members of the department.

Brief Description of Exam

The biology challenge exam is 90 multiple choice questions (90 points) and 2 essay questions (10 points). The essay portion of the exam includes one required essay question and a choice of 1 out of 4 other questions. A student must score a minimum of 70 points to pass. The exam is corrected by a member of the Biology Department, and it is returned with a score and the words Pass or Fail.

Course Description

31121 Biological Principles I 4 Credits
This course introduces basic principles of biology. Topics include scientific method, evolution, cellular and subcellular structure, basic cell chemistry, transport across cell membranes, mitosis, meiosis, metabolism, photosynthesis, DNA structure and replication, protein synthesis, and patterns of inheritance. This course is required as a prerequisite for all other four-credit biology courses.

Lecture: 3 hours Laboratory: 2 hours

Prerequisite: One unit of high January 2, 2013 e Reading II (11092), Introductory Writing (11099), and Fundamentals of Mathematics (38010) or waiver by placement testing results or Departmental Approval

Sample Texts

Biology: Concepts and Connections Flex-Text Version, 4/E
Neil A. Campbell, Jane B. Reece, Lawrence G. Mitchell, Martha R. Taylor
ISBN: 0-8053-6823-X
Publisher: Benjamin Cummings
Copyright: 2003

Laboratory Manual:
Selected Exercises from Biology Laboratory Manual, 6/E, 4/E
Daryl Vodopich, Randy Moore, Sylvia Mader
Original Exercises – MCCC Biology Department
ISBN: 0-07-281873-5
Copyright: 2002

Selected Websites

You certainly don’t need to visit all of these sites, but they are listed here as a resource for you. Some are fairly elementary and some are more sophisticated. In some cases there are topic suggestions.

Animations and Illustrations – DNA, RNA, replication, transcription, translation
These sites show the structures and processes in varying degrees of detail and complexity. Try a few to find the one that is best for you.

Biology for Kids
A good place to start if it has been a while since you studied biology.

Biochemistry for Kids

Studying Cells Tutorial

  • The Scientific Method
  • Size and Biology
  • Major Events in Cell Biology
  • DNA Basics
  • The Cell Cycle
  • Mitosis

Meiosis Tutorial
This exercise is designed to help you understand the events that occur in process of meiosis, which takes place to produce our gametes.

  • Reproduction
  • Chromosomes in a diploid cell
  • Meiosis 1
  • Meiosis 2

Prokaryotes, Eukaryotes, & Viruses Tutorial

  • Organization
  • Prokaryotes
  • Eukaryotes
  • Viruses

Cells Alive – Home Page


Plant, Animal and Bacteria Cell Models

Photomicrographs of plant cell mitosis

Suggested choices

  • The Energy Derived from Glucose Oxidation
  • The Individual Reactions of Glycolysis
  • Anaerobic Glycolysis
  • The Pyruvate Dehydrogenase (PDH) Complex – just the overview
  • Oxidative Phosphorylation
  • Introduction
  • Complexes of the Electron Transport Chain – the basics
  • Oxidative Phosphorylation

Online Tutorial/Animations:

  • Very basic animation
  • Glycolysis
  • Tricarboxylic acid cycle (Citric acid cycle)
  • Electron Transport Chain
  • Carbon Fixation in Photosynthesis

Chemistry Review

  • Large Molecules
  • Cell Biology
  • 1-5, 8,9, 12
  • Glycolysis and the Krebs Cycle
  • Photosynthesis
  • Mendelian Genetics
  • Central Dogma
  • Prokaryotic Genetics and Gene Expression
  • Recombinant DNA