If you’re nervous about the GED Science subject test, the best way to calm those fears is to be prepared. Knowing what to expect on the exam and mastering the skills you’ll need to succeed are the best way to walk in with confidence on test day. Our GED study guide for the Science test is here to help.
GED Science Test Overview
First of all, you’ll want to know what’s on the GED Science test and how it’s structured.
There are three main content areas of the GED Science subject test: life science, physical science, and Earth and space science.
Life Science (biology) includes:
- Human body and health
- Relationship between life functions and energy intake
- Organization, structure, and functions of life
- Genetics and heredity
Physical Science (physics and chemistry)
- Conservation, transformation, and flow of energy
- Work, motion, and forces
- Chemical properties and reactions related to living systems
Earth and Space Science includes:
- Interactions between Earth’s systems and living things
- Earth and its system components and interactions
- Structures and organization of the cosmos
There are 40 available raw points on the GED Science test. 6 of those comes from the 2 short answer questions. The other 34 points come from the other question types (see below).
Your raw score out of 40 is converted to a scaled score out of 200 points. You need a scaled score of 145 out of 200 points to pass (this is the same as all the other subject tests). Learn more about GED scoring.
- Multiple choice
- Fill in the blank
- Drop down
- Hot Spot
- Drag and drop
- Short answer
Start with the Stimulus
Every question (or set of a few questions) is accompanied by a stimulus. This could be text, a graph, a diagram, or an illustration related to a particular scientific topic. Some people see this and get overwhelmed. It’s more they have to read, analyze, etc. Those people are thinking about it all wrong. The stimulus is a GIFT, my friends. It tells you most of the information you’ll need to answer the questions. Consequently, you have to have very little actually memorized going into this test. If you’re familiar with the “big picture” concepts in each of the scientific topics (listed above under “Content”), the stimulus will fill you in on any details you need to answer the questions.
When it comes to taking the exam, you should always start with the stimulus before you read any questions. There are several reasons for this.
- If it’s a topic you don’t know a lot about off the top of your head, you may read a question and freak out or freeze up, thinking there’s no way you can answer it. Read through the stimulus first, though, and you’ll see that most of the information needed is probably given to you right there, enabling you to use your reasoning skills to figure out the right answer even when the topic is unfamiliar.
- If a single stimulus has more than one question, you might get confused if you try to read all the questions first and are trying to look for multiple answers in the text/graphic simultaneously. Read the stimulus first, then tackle the questions one by one.
- If you read the question(s) first before the stimulus, your tendency will be to read through the stimulus quickly just trying to pick out the answer. This increases your chances of getting it wrong because skimming the stimulus makes it less likely that you really understand it. Read the stimulus first. Take your time and make sure you understand what it’s telling you. Then, read the questions.
Focus on Scientific Skills
The GED science test is less a test of your knowledge of specific facts than it is of your scientific reasoning skills. Make sure you understand and can do all of the following:
1. Know what the scientific method is and how to identify the steps in a given experiment.
Image by ArchonMagnus.
2. Pull relevant information from a graph, table, or diagram and interpret the data.
If you need to brush up on these skills, check out this post on data analysis questions. Yes, it says it’s a math post, but trust me, these skills are equally important on the GED Science exam. You will almost certainly come across questions that ask you to analyze data from graphic sources.
- Read all the labels to make sure you understand what each axis, data point, etc., means.
- Pay attention to units. (You may even have to convert between units of measurement.)
- Read the graph before the question. This will help you make sure you really understand what the graph is telling you and you don’t try to rush through looking for an answer and miss something.
3. Draw skills from other areas.
The GED Science test actually combines the types of skills you need on other subject tests. Many questions will have a text-based stimulus that you’ll need to read and understand to answer the questions. This uses the same reading comprehension and critical reasoning skills that you’ll need for the Reasoning Through Language Arts test. Other questions will draw on your math skills, like reading graphs, using simple formulas, or performing calculations. Don’t neglect those areas or think that they’re just for “that test” and not this one. The most successful GED test taker is a well-rounded one who can combine skills from many different areas.
Brush Up on the Big Ideas
Your focus should be on practicing skills, but don’t neglect content review entirely. Make sure you have a good grasp on the big ideas for each subject area.
Here are some things to study for each major content area.
- Definitions of cell, organism, photosynthesis
- How to read a food chain/food web
- The functions of the major human body systems (especially circulatory, respiratory, digestive, and nervous)
- How to read a punnett square
- How natural selection works
- Definitions of atom, element, molecule
- The 3 states of matter and phase changes
- How to read the periodic table
- How to read a chemical equation
- The difference between kinetic and potential energy
- The difference between a conductor and an insulator
Earth and Space Science
- How the Earth is structured (layers, landforms) and divided (hemispheres)
- What natural resources are
- How the water cycle works
- How the rock cycle works
- The Earth’s place in the solar system
Practice, Practice, Practice
One of the best ways to be prepared is to try your hand at practice questions that mimic the real thing. Try out a full length practice test, or some science practice questions such as: