Biology Exemption Exams

Foundations of Biology Exemption Exams

The Department of Biology offers two optional exemption exams, one for each of its foundational lecture courses. Students can earn test credit for either BIOL-L 111 Foundations of Biology: Diversity, Evolution, and Ecology or BIOL-L 112 Foundations of Biology: Biological Mechanisms or both if students pass both exams. 

For students who plan to pursue a degree in the Department of Biology, it is strongly suggested that they understand the introductory material taught in BIOL-L 111 and BIOL-L 112 before proceeding to BIOL-L 211 Molecular Biology. Given this, the Biology Exemption Exams are designed so students can demonstrate their mastery of the material. Only students who received excellent grades in at least two years of high school biology should consider taking the exams. If you are a student pursuing a degree in the Department of Biology, please consult your academic advisors about whether the exams are right for you.  Incoming students should consult their NSO advisor. 

Students should consider taking the BIOL-L 111 and BIOL-L 112 courses rather than relying on test credits to fulfill requirements if the student is planning to pursue graduate study in the sciences. The BIOL-L 111 and BIOL-L 112 courses can provide a solid foundation for later science coursework required for graduate-level study. In addition, some graduate and professional programs will not allow test credit to fulfill prerequisite coursework. For more information about which health professions programs will accept credit via testing, please consult the advisors at the Health Professions and Prelaw Center.

Credit earned through testing will appear as BIOL-E 111 for successful completion of the BIOL-L 111 exam and BIOL-E 112 for successful completion of the BIOL-L 112 exam, and students will earn a grade of S (Satisfactory). These credits satisfy the BIOL-L 111 or BIOL-L 112 course requirements for biology majors and other science majors, but they carry no lab credit. Students who pass both exams can earn credit for both courses separately. Credit through testing can also apply toward College of Arts and Sciences Natural and Mathematical (N&M) distribution requirements.

Students may take the biology exemption exams and still enroll in BIOL-L 111 and BIOL-L 112 whether they pass or fail the exams. Students who pass the exams cannot earn duplicate credit for both BIOL-E 111 and BIOL-L 111 or BIOL-E 112 and BIOL-L 112. If students pass an exam and then take the course they were exempt from, their record will reflect the grade and credit hours from the course, not the exemption exam. 

If you already have prior academic credit or credit by testing for BIOL-L 111 or BIOL-L 112, you should not take the exemption exam for that course, as credit can be awarded only once. This includes credit awarded from the Advanced Placement (AP) exam, the International Baccalaureate, the SAT Subject Tests and transfer credit granted by Indiana University for eligible courses completed at other academic institutions. For more information about other ways to earn credit for BIOL-L 111, BIOL-L 112 or both by testing, please read the Biology Department's FAQ entry titled "Is test credit available for BIOL L111 and BIOL L112?" See other page for faq edits.

Please contact your academic advisor if you have questions about what credits you have and if either exemption exam would be beneficial to you.

The Biology Department Exemption exams are given online, using the remote proctoring service Examity. The exams are hosted on Canvas. Students who sign up to take either exemption exam can enroll in a practice exam to get them used to answering questions on Canvas and using Examity. The practice exams are not a preview of the content on the exemption exams themselves. These exams are not available on paper. 

There are two exemption exams, one for BIOL-L 111 and BIOL-L 112. Students may sign up to take either exam or both. Each exam can be taken only once.

Each exam is 50 questions, and each exam has a time limit of 75 minutes. The questions cover the content normally covered in BIOL-L 111 or BIOL-L 112 depending on the exam. Questions are a mix of multiple choice, matching, and ordering questions. To receive credit, students must score 80% on their exam. There is no penalty for not passing the exam. 

Students are not permitted to use notes, electronics or other supplemental materials while taking the exam. Blank scrap paper and a pencil are permitted, as is a beverage in a clear container. 

Students who have AES plans for extended time accommodations or other needs should contact before scheduling their exams.

Examity, an online proctoring service, offers students flexibility to take their exams when and where it is convenient for them.

Technology requirements to use Examity:

Other requirements:

Testing environment: During the course of an exam, Examity will record the testing environment; therefore, students should select private spaces for the exam session where disruptions are unlikely and where recording devices can be enabled.

Room scans: If your exam is using live proctoring, your instructor may choose to require a room scan. The proctor will ask you to complete a 360° room pan and desk sweep with your webcam. This is to ensure your workspace is clear of any materials unauthorized by your instructor. If you are using automated proctoring, no room scan will be required. The Biology Exemption Exams use live proctoring.

Academic integrity and academic misconduct: Please note that while Examity proctors or software may flag suspected cheating during exams, these measures do not constitute a determination of academic misconduct. Any suspicion of misconduct will be referred to the Office of Student Conduct and evaluated through a fair and transparent process (see Links to an external site.)

Video tutorial about how to get set up in Examity.

Video tutorial about how to schedule your exam.

For more information about Examity, you can read the IU Knowledge Base article Examity for IU Students. You can also sign up to take Examity for Students, an IU Expand course where you can learn to use Examity. 

Students can determine their eligibility to take the exam and sign up below. Students who are not in one of the eligible groups listed above and still take the exam will not have their scores considered for credit. 

Incoming freshman can also sign up as part of the New Student Orientation (NSO) process and should consult the NSO advisors before signing up for the exams. Current students and transfer students in their first semester at IU Bloomington should discuss the exams with their academic advisors before signing up for the exams.

Yes - for more information about required and optional testing for students, please see the Bloomington Evaluation Services & Testing services website. 

Determine your eligibility

Before you register for the BIOL-L 111 Exemption Exam or the BIOL-E 112 Exemption Exam, please carefully read the following and select the option that best describes you.

Which of the following best describes you?