• About the Biology Keystone Exam in CBSD

    Please see below for 2023 Item samplers for Grade 8 Science PSSA and Keystone Biology

    PSSA Science Grade 8 Item Sampler

    Keystone Biology Item Sampler



    The Biology Keystone Exam is Pennsylvania’s end of course assessment for Biology.  It consists of two test modules that each take approximately 1.5 hours to complete.  The exam contains multiple choice questions and open-ended responses that are designed to assess student comprehension of Biology.  For a student to perform at an advanced level they must be able to do the following:  

    • Evaluate the application of scientific reasoning, inventions, tools, and new technologies in the study of biology.   
    • Apply the scientific concepts of hypothesis, inference, law, theory, principle, fact, and observation. 
    • Analyze structural and functional similarities and differences between prokaryotes and eukaryotes. 
    • Evaluate relationships between structures and functions at various levels of biological organization (cell, tissue, organ, organism). 
    • Analyze the unique properties of water and explain how they support life on Earth. 
    • Analyze and predict how enzymes can regulate biochemical reactions within a cell. 
    • Analyze cell structures (mitochondria and chloroplasts) and processes (cellular respiration and photosynthesis) that transform energy in living systems. 
    • Analyze and predict how cell structures transport material into, out of, and within a cell. 
    • Analyze how organisms use feedback and response mechanisms to maintain homeostasis. 
    • Compare and analyze the three stages (interphase, mitosis, and cytokinesis) and the outcomes of the cell cycle. 
    • Analyze and predict how genetic information is inherited, altered, and expressed. 
    • Analyze the processes (transcription and translation) associated with protein synthesis.
    • Predict the impacts of genetic engineering on medicine, forensics, and agriculture. 
    • Evaluate the mechanisms and sources of evidence related to the theory of evolution. 
    • Compare ecological levels of organization in the biosphere (individual, population, community, ecosystem). 
    • Analyze interactions and relationships in an ecosystem as they relate to energy flow (food webs), biotic components, biogeochemical cycles (water, carbon and nitrogen cycles), and limiting factors. 
    • Predict changes in an ecosystem in response to natural and human disturbances.  

    Taking the Biology Keystone Exam in CBSD

    Students who are currently enrolled in Biology will take the exam in class. 

    Students who need to take the test and are not enrolled in Biology will take the exam in the semester of their current year science course.  For instance, if a student has chemistry in the spring semester he/she will take the test in the spring. 

    The testing window is in January for the fall semester and May for the spring. 

    Preparing for the Biology Keystone Exam in CBSD

    Students currently enrolled in Biology will naturally prepare for the exam as they progress through the course.  The CBSD science curriculum is fully aligned with the Pennsylvania state standards and therefore the content of the exam. 

    Student not enrolled in Biology can prepare for the exam using the following resources:

    Keystone Review Quizzes

    CBSD generated quizzes designed to help students prepare for the ‘types’ of questions they will be asked on the Keystone Exam.  

    Study Island
    An interactive, on-line study program specifically designed to help students prepare for the keystone exam.  This program is subscription based.  For login information please contact lenama@cbsd.org.   

    Pennsylvania Learns
    A free iTunes U course that contains a series of worksheets, videos and apps assembled by the state to help students prepare for the Keystone Exam.

    Keystone Biology Resources by Module
    Podcasts and resources for each module of the Keystone Exam compiled by Council Rock School District.

    Keystone Biology Flashcards
    Flashcards created by Tredyffrin/Easttown School District. 

    Biology Review from Khan Academy
    Playlist of videos for review of Biology topics.

    Crash Course – Biology
    Playlist of videos for review of Biology topics.

    SparkNotes Review of Biology 
    Summary guides for review of Biology topics.

    Keystone Biology Sample Questions 
    A practice test generated from the Standards Aligned System. 
    New York Reagents Review Guide 
    A 12 page guide to New York Regents Exam.  This document covers all essential terms for the Keystone Exam in an organized fashion.
    CK-12 Biology E-book 
    Biology Textbook from CK-12 Foundation available free to access or download.
    http://www.ck12.org/book/Biology/ (Kindle Edition: CK-12 Biology E-book for Kindle) 

    Further, each high school will be hosting after-school review sessions leading up to the exam.  For more information about these review sessions please contact your house principal.