Science Exam Overview: GED Test Prep (page 3)
To prepare effectively for the GED Science Exam, you need to know exactly what the test is like. This article explains the structure of the exam, including the types of questions you will be asked and the topics that will be tested.
What to Expect on the GED Science Exam
The science portion of the GED consists of 50 multiple-choice questions designed to evaluate your understanding of general science concepts. Each question is followed by five answer choices labeled a to e. You will be instructed to select the best answers to the question. There is no penalty for guessing. You will have 80 minutes (one hour 20 minutes) to answer the questions on this part of the exam. There will be some question sets—i.e., more than one question will be asked about a particular graphic or passage.
Types of Questions
On the test, you will encounter conceptual understanding and problem-solving questions that are based either on information provided on the test, or on information learned through life experience.
A question that tests your conceptual understanding requires you to show your understanding of the material presented as a part of the question. In this type of question, you could be asked to:
- read a graphic
- summarize the results of an experiment
- rephrase a fact or an idea described in a passage
- find supporting detail in a passage
- make a generalization about information presented in the question
- understand cause and effect
Problem-solving questions will ask you to apply your understanding of information presented as part of the question. Questions of this type could require you to:
- interpret results
- draw conclusions based on results
- analyze experimental flaws or logical fallacies in arguments
- make a prediction based on information provided in the question
- select the best procedure or method to accomplish a scientific goal
- select a diagram that best illustrates a principle
- apply scientific knowledge to everyday life
- use the work of renowned scientists to explain everyday global issues
Some questions will require you to draw on knowledge you have acquired through your daily life and prior schooling. In other questions, all the necessary information will be included in the passage or graphic provided as part of the question. In either case, reviewing basic science concepts presented in the following chapters, and answering as many practice questions as you can, will improve your performance.
Up to 60% of the problems on the GED Science Exam will require you to understand, interpret, or apply information presented in graphical form. Graphical information includes diagrams, charts, and graphs. Graphics are a concise and organized way of presenting information. Once you realize that all graphics have some common basic elements, it will not matter whether the information presented in them is in the area of biology, chemistry, physics, or Earth science.
The topics covered on the GED Science Exam are:
- physical science—35% of the questions
- life science—45% of the questions
- Earth and space science—20% of the questions
On the GED Science Exam, physical science includes high school physics and chemistry and covers the structure of atoms, the structure of matter, the properties of matter, chemical reactions, conservation of mass and energy, increase in disorder, the laws of motion, forces, and the interactions of energy and matter.
Life science deals with subjects covered in high school biology classes, including cell structure, heredity, biological evolution, behavior, and interdependence of organisms.
Earth and space science GED questions will test your knowledge of the Earth and solar system, the geochemical cycles, the origin and evolution of the Earth and the universe, and energy in the Earth system.
National Standards and the GED
In accordance with Education Standards set forth by the National Academy of Sciences, the GED Science Exam has been modified to include more interdisciplinary questions. These questions also fall into one of the three major categories (physical science, life science, and Earth and space science) but focus on themes common to all sciences. Common themes include the scientific method, the organization of knowledge, applications in technology and everyday situations, and the development of scientific ideas through history. Since many of the GED Science questions will be interdisciplinary, a chapter will cover each of the following themes:
- unifying concepts and processes
- science as inquiry
- science and technology
- science and personal and social perspectives
- history and nature of science
Unifying concepts and processes in science questions test your knowledge of the organization of scientific knowledge, development of scientific models based on experimental evidence, equilibrium, evolution, change, conservation, measurement, and relationship between form and function.
Science as inquiry questions require you to summarize and interpret experimental results, select relevant information, select the best plan for an investigation, understand and apply the scientific method, make a prediction or draw a conclusion based on given facts, and evaluate the source of experimental flaws and error.
Science and technology questions require you to understand: the function of an instrument, instructions for operating an instrument, technological processes, the elements of technological design, how technology uses scientific knowledge to improve products and processes, and the impact of technology on science, human life, and on the environment.
Science and personal and social perspectives questions cover human health (nutrition, exercise, disease prevention, genetics), climate, pollution, population growth, natural resources, social impact of natural disasters, human-induced environmental hazards, public policy, application of scientific knowledge to everyday situations, and application of scientific knowledge to explain global phenomena. These questions are quite common.
History and nature of science questions could include a passage on the development of an idea or theory through time, or the work of an important scientist. You can also expect to see general questions about the development of science as a field and its principles.
The chart below summarizes the approximate breakdown of question types and subjects covered in the questions on the GED Science Exam:
In addition to the interdisciplinary questions, other recent changes to the GED Science Exam include:
- increased focus on environmental and health topics (recycling, heredity, prevention of disease, pollution, and climate)
- increased focus on science as found in daily life
- increased number of single item questions
- decreased number of questions based on the same passage/graphic
Now that you have a better idea of the kind of questions that may appear on the GED Science Exam, you can start reviewing the basic science concepts described in the next chapters.
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