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Approach

Science may be something you enjoy.  Or it may not be.  It can seem daunting.  All those facts and figures.  All the special terms. However, as you become more familiar with it, it won’t seem so complex or intimidating. 

We will cover a variety of techniques to help you get the right answer on the test even if you don’t know much about certain scientific topics. But you stand a better chance of doing well if you round out your science knowledge.  This includes learning both factual information and ways of thinking about science. Since the past four weeks have been spent teaching you a variety of different ways to think about and interpret information, the science lessons will be focused more on a strong scientific review. There are different things you can do ahead of time to help you prepare for the exam.

 

BEFORE THE TEST

1. Build on your science awareness

2. Take time to notice the science around you.

For example, the effects of gravity. Try dropping something light and something heavy from the same height. Think about what happens and why? Rub a balloon on your head and watch your hair stand on end. Increasing your curiosity about the way the world works, scientifically, will help you to be interested in and thus understand the scientific mentality.

3. Read.

Read anything that you find interesting:  Articles in newspapers and magazines, books that delve into topics of interest, anything that familiarizes you with how scientific information is presented.  Even sides of cereal boxes or tooth paste tubes can be useful.

4. Watch TV. 

Not just anything.  There are many different shows that present scientific facts and methods in all kinds of situations. “Scientific American Frontiers” on PBS is highly recommended.  If you want something more exciting try the different Discovery channels, Animal Planet, or TLC (The Learning Channel) just to name a few.  If you don’t have access to cable, there are often short features on local and national news dealing with some new scientific developments as well as many children’s science shows that can be surprisingly interesting and factually correct.

There is a whole world of topics to choose from.  Science isn’t just something done by scientists.  Science is cars, clothes, music, video games, health, food, medicine, and much more.  It touches on and improves most aspects of our lives. Wherever your interests lie, you can delve into the science and keep yourself informed, interested and involved. As you work on your science background, it will put the course lessons in a context that is meaningful to you and help you when it comes to information covered on the test.

5.  As with all of the sections read and understand the directions before taking the test.

DIRECTIONS

The Science Test consists of multiple-choice questions intended to measure general concepts in science. The questions are based on short readings that often include a graph, chart, or figure. Study the information given and then answer the question(s) following it. Refer to the information as often as necessary in answering the questions.

You will have 80 minutes to answer the questions in the test booklet. Work carefully, but do not spend too much time on any one question. Be sure you answer every question.

Do not mark in the test booklet. Record your answers on the separate answer sheet provided. Be sure that all requested information is properly recorded on the answer sheet. To record your answer, mark the numbered circle on the answer sheet that corresponds to the answer you select for each question in the test booklet.

          Example:  

Which of the following is the smallest unit in a living thing?

(1) tissue

(2) organ

(3) cell

(4) muscle

(5) capillary

The correct answer is “cell”; therefore, answer space 3 would be marked on the answer sheet. Do not rest the point of your pencil on the answer sheet while you are considering your answer. Make no stray or unnecessary marks. If you change an answer, erase your first mark completely. Mark only one answer space for each question; multiple answers will be scored as incorrect. Do not fold or crease your answer sheet. Return all test material to the test administrator.

DURING THE TEST

1. Pacing

Make sure you answer all 50 questions. Be aware of how much time you have left and allow yourself enough time to finish.  This will mean spending an average of 1 minute and 24 seconds on each question.  It helps to wear a watch and routinely check the time.

Skim the directions.  By the time you take the test, you should already be quite familiar with the directions so that you don’t have to spend a lot of time reading them closely.

On questions with lengthy explanations, do not let reading passages eat up your time.  You don’t really need to take the time to learn or memorize the material in the reading passages.  Get a sense of what they are talking about, their main ideas or themes. Skim through the reading but then carefully read the question being asked. Then go back to look up the terms/concepts in the reading passage that the question refers to. This allows for a more efficient and effective use of your time.

2. Reason it out

Much of the time the answer is in the question.  All you have to do is understand what the statements mean and what is being asked. 

Example:

The root hair of a plant, shown in the diagram below, is the most efficient way for the plant to absorb water from surrounding soil.

At what point is the flow of water the greatest?

A)    Point 1 to point 2

B)     Point 4 to point 2

C)    Point 4 to point 1

D)    Point 3 to point 1

E)     Point 3 to point 2

All they are really asking is “where does the water pass through the root hair”? They phrase it as “greatest flow” and they have already have told you that water flow is “most efficient” at the root hair. Where water flow is most efficient is also going to be where water flow is greatest.  Point 1 is outside the root hair and Point 2 is inside. 

You don’t have to know a lot of outside information to figure some questions out.  Just make the connection between in what they present and what they are asking. From this example you can see that the ability to understand different kinds of phrasing and vocabulary is very important for finding the key to the answer. Draw on your knowledge from the reading and writing sections of this course to assist you in the science section as well. No matter what you are studying, the ability to be a critical reader is crucial. Pay close attention to what is being asked and how it is being asked before getting caught up in the science of it.

3.  Work the formula

When concepts have a mathematical relationship, there will be formulas that you will need to work with.   They will require arithmetic and sometimes some simple algebra.  You will need to identify the variables (letters) and the values and/or concepts they stand for.  Then work them out like you would with any math equation.

For example, the velocity (or speed) of an object is the distance it travels divided by the time it takes.

You may be given the equation v = d/t which expresses this relationship between velocity, distance, and time.

You will then be given some of the values and asked to solve for the remaining value.

If you are told that an object travels at velocity 30 km/s for 100 seconds and are then asked for the distance it travels, you can plug in the values and set it up as

                        30 km/s = d / 100 seconds

                     100 x 30 = d

                           3000 = d

The distance equals 3000 km. Even if you didn’t know what velocity meant, you could still use the formula as a guide and work out the answer. 

The variables used to represent values are usually the first letters of the concepts being represented.  I.e. “Force equals mass times acceleration” is “F=ma”

3.  When in doubt, eliminate

Use common sense.  Remember you are playing a game called “Which one of these five am I going to pick?”  The answer may come to you immediately.  It may not.  If it doesn’t, you should eliminate answer choices to give yourself a better chance of picking the right one.  You should be sure of your eliminations, so sure that you cross them out and don’t go back and give them a second or third look (which would use up more precious time.)

You can safely eliminate, for example, when an answer choice clearly contradicts a scientific fact you know to be true.  Also, you can eliminate an answer choice if a question has accompanying visual information and the answer choice contains a concept clearly not represented by the visual information (map, chart, table, graph, etc.)

Click on the link below to move on to Lesson 1.

Back: Science Introduction | Next: Lesson 1


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