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About the GED Science Test

Instructor: Rachel Torrens

Rachel is a Nurse Practitioner with experience working as a high school teacher, skin surgery center, and as a family NP.

In this lesson, we learn about the basic information regarding the GED Science Test. This includes time requirements, question formatting, and subject matters assessed through this exam.

Understand the GED Science Test Format

For over 50 years, the General Educational Development test (GED) has been a means by which an individual can earn credit similar to that of a high school diploma. The GED is composed of four subjects, each of which is tested independently: Reasoning through Language Arts, Mathematical Reasoning, Science, and Social Studies. In each subject you will need a minimum score of 150 to pass. If you manage a score of 170 you will pass with honors!

In this lesson, we will focus on the GED Science Test, which is ninety minutes in length. During that time, you will be tackling fifty questions of various formats, including:

  • Multiple choice - This represents the majority of questions. You may have two or three multiple choice questions based off of one image or one paragraph of information.
  • Short answer - There are two of these questions that require you to write a couple paragraphs in which you cite text to support your answer. The test makers anticipate these questions taking you approximately 10 minutes each.
  • Drag-and-drop - Here you will be required to drag different terms into the appropriate spot, or some other similar task. For example, you may read about the setup of a particular science experiment. Then you will be asked to drag and drop the item that represents the independent variable into the proper location.
  • Hot spot items - These are interactive questions that most often involve an image that contains a 'hot spot.' For example, you may be asked to plot a data point on a graph.
  • Fill-in-the-blank - This type of question requires you to fill in missing information, usually in the form of a scientific term.

You may feel overwhelmed at the variety of question types. However, be encouraged! Each type of question highlights a different way of thinking and approach to the problem, so remain flexible, and you'll likely do well with all the various question formats. You are also allowed to use a calculator in addition to your wits.

It's All Science, But Let's Get Specific

Overall, the GED Science Test is assessing for information that would have been covered in science courses in grades 9-12. Roughly sixty percent of the test will cover basic concepts and vocabulary covered in high-school science classes.

That being said, the GED Science Test is not just testing how many factoids you have memorized, but rather your ability to read and glean information from a scientific text or diagram. At times, this will mean correctly understanding a key provided in a graph, analyzing data provided in pictorial format, or assessing a table of data. There are many of these visually based questions in the science portion. In order to properly understand the information contained in an image, you may need to spend more time staring at the image than you did in reading the question...and that's okay!

A graph like this one will be presented for you to analyze. For example, the test might ask you based off of the information in this graph: At a speed of 200 m/s, which gas has the highest probable density? The answer is xenon.
Noble gases distribution graph

Now, on to the specifics of the topic matter covered in this test. Three broad categories are covered in the GED Science Test.

  • Roughly forty percent of the test evaluates physical science.
  • About forty percent of the test evaluates life science.
  • Lastly, twenty percent covers earth and space science.

Physical Sciences

The physical sciences - as far as the GED Science Test is concerned - involves mostly physics and chemistry. So this section includes questions about the items that physically surround you, such as atoms, forces, and chemical composition. Additional subjects which may be covered in this portion:

  • classification of matter
  • periodic table of the elements
  • chemical reactions and bonds, chemical solutions (such as acids and bases)
  • study of motion and physical laws (such as gravity and momentum)
  • thermodynamics
  • electricity
  • magnetism.

Life Science

This category embraces any science which deals with the anatomy or processes of living things, so mainly biology. Subjects which may be covered in this portion:

  • cell structure of plants and animals
  • genetics
  • evolution
  • classification of living things
  • animal and plant reproduction, including gene regulation and genetic anomalies
  • ecosystems
  • general physiology and anatomy
  • photosynthesis
  • role of viruses and bacteria in the environment.

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