Praxis Earth and Space Sciences (5571) Study Guide

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What Is the Praxis Earth and Space Sciences: Content Knowledge (5571) Exam?

The Earth and Space Science Praxis study guide will address the exam designed to test a prospective teacher who wants to teach Earth and Space Science. The test complies with National Science Education Standards and the standards of the National Science Teacher Association covering a wealth of topics about basic scientific processes, as well as all the aspects of the Earth itself and information about space. The computer-delivered exam consists of 125 selected-response questions with a time of 2.5 hours. This Praxis 5571 study guide will take a closer look at the following content categories:

Earth Science Praxis Study Guide (5571)
Basic Principles and Processes12% (~15 questions)
Tectonics and Internal Earth Processes17% (~21 questions)
Earth Materials and Surface Processes23% (~29 questions)
History of the Earth and its Life-Forms14% (~17 questions)
Earth's Atmosphere and Hydrosphere19% (~24 questions)
Astronomy15% (~19 questions)
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Basic Principles and Processes

The Earth and Space Science Praxis exam begins with the basics of concepts. This starts with the scientific method used in all branches of science and the history of Earth and Space science specifically. It also requires knowledge of matter, energy, and the practical applications of Earth and Space science.

Scientific Method and History

An effective examinee will understand the scientific method used for all science to keep inquiries uniform, this includes any models, laws, or theories that might have an effect on the process. It is important to know how to create an experiment based on this method, which should contain variables, a control to give a baseline, and understanding any potential source of error. A test-taker should know that all science is evidence-based, but can also change over time with increased knowledge.

A prospective teacher must have an understanding of how to assemble, assess, translate, and present data learned in experiments including:

  • Using correct measurement units
  • Knowing inaccuracies that could be present
  • Knowing the best calculations and conversions
  • Understanding scientific notation and the best way to present data
  • Knowing the best methods for interpreting data

An examinee is also expected to have knowledge of models and data of various types such as maps and models. A test-taker is required to understand tendencies in data as well as a variety of ways to represent data.

A successful test-taker should understand appropriate uses of lab equipment as well as the best practices for care of the equipment. This includes calibration, storage, disposal, and any safety procedures for a particular piece of equipment. An examinee must understand the benefit and restrictions of technology in these endeavors.

Moving away from the general science practices, it is essential to understand how the ocean and space have been explored. An examinee will know how satellites, space probes, and telescopes have been used to explore space and specifically to try and find water or life elsewhere. A test-taker should also be aware of how the uses of submersibles and sonar in exploring the ocean as well as how research ships have contributed.

Finally, it is fundamental to know the history of the field of Earth and Space Science including where current approaches originated and have changed with time. An awareness of key people throughout history and what they added to the field is essential. (Note: I've bolded several instances of 'It is important' to highlight how often it is used - consider editing some of them - and similar phrases - out throughout the article.)

Matter and Energy

Under this section, a test-taker needs to know how matter is organized as well as a variety of states that matter can exist in. These include the components such as atoms, elements, and molecules that make up all matter, as well as how matter can be used to create mixtures and solutions. An examinee should know all the states of matter (plasma, solid, liquid, and gas as well as theories and laws of gases.

An effective examinee will understand the relationship between matter and energy as well as how the conservation of both energy and matter. It is a requirement to know different structures of energy, including the power requirements for energy to change from stage to stage. A test-taker needs to understand temperature-based transmission of energy including heat capacity. It is also necessary to know scales of temperatures as well as an awareness of the expansion and contraction involved in temperature changes.

A test-taker needs to have an understanding of what happens in nuclear reactions. This includes knowledge of how radioactive decay happens and an understanding of how fusion works and fission works. This also includes heat production is manufactured as a byproduct of radioactivity.

Finally, an examinee needs to understand how chemical changes happen, including how chemicals bond together. It is ala requirement to know phase changes of physical matter including plant photosynthesis and animal respiration, as well as how different forces or motions can change things. A test-taker must be aware of how waves function and the differences in the electromagnetic spectrum.

Science, Technology, and Society

An effective examinee will understand the influence science has had on the environment. This includes the impact people have had on the world's water, for example: pollution, acidity, water levels rising, and irrigation. A test-taker will also know the impact people have had on the world's air, for example: pollution, gases, and the ozone. Finally, it is essential to understand how people have changed the normal changes of the Earth including the climate, sea levels, and available water supplies.

It is a must to recognize the consequences of utilizing sources of energy. An examinee should know the differences between resources that can be renewed and those that are nonrenewable, along with knowledge of how to sustain sources of energy. It is necessary to know diverse methods to manufacture energy and the effects they have on the Earth.

Finally an examinee should be able to understand and convey the practical applications of Earth and Space Science. This includes viable options to maintain resources, as well as responsible waste management. A test-taker should also know specific advances that have aided humanity such as satellites and radon detectors, as well as the ability to forecast natural disasters.

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Tectonics and Internal Earth Processes

Under this content category an examinee is expected to know the theory of plate tectonics and the contortion of the Earth's crust, along with ways to see these things happening. It is also fundamental to understand earthquakes and volcanoes and their importance. A test-taker should also know how the Earth is formed and what this means.

Plate Tectonics

An effective examinee will understand how the plate movements we can sense as well as the existence of hot spots support the current theories of plate tectonics. It is also vital to understand how these plates converge, diverge, and generally transform and what internal forces prompt these changes. A test-taker should know how various scientific discoveries have led to the conclusion of plate tectonics and how various geographic features support plate tectonics as well.

Earth Structure

The Earth Science Praxis exam requires knowledge of the unique structure of the Earth and what that can cause. It starts with understanding the three layers that makeup the Earth especially the lithosphere and asthenosphere sections. An effective examinee will understand how to convey what the Earth looks like and how large it is, as well as the concepts of seismic waves and magnetic fields. A test-taker should be able to explain how various physical features of the Earth were formed such as faults, folds, and mountains. It is paramount to know how compression and tension have changed the Earth and what happens when the Earth's crust has achieved equilibrium.

Earthquakes and Volcanoes

Finally this content category requires understanding the natural phenomena of earthquakes and volcanoes. This includes what can be learned from studying earthquakes using such tools as seismograms. Knowing the different earthquake classifications that depend on how deep the earthquake happens is necessary information. A test-taker should be familiar with the magnitudes and epicenters of earthquakes, as well as what can be learned from those. An effective test-taker will understand how earthquakes occur as well. A relevant area of knowledge is how volcanoes come into existence as well as the names for their features and what products are produced during an eruption. An examinee will need to know and convey different categories of volcanoes and how they vary in dispersion for example some places have clusters while others are singular.

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Earth Materials and Surface Processes

This content category requires knowledge of the physical elements of the Earth. This includes all the materials that make up the Earth including minerals and rocks as well as how these elements rotate through the Earth. A test-taker must also know how the surface of the Earth naturally modifies.

An examinee needs to know and be able to explain how various minerals can be recognized including such characteristics as density, luster, and cleavage. A test-taker must know tools to analyze the minerals and determine their classification. A prospective teacher needs to know how water and carbon change over time.

A successful test-taker must know the changes that rocks go through over time as well as understand how to explain the various components of the different types of rocks. It is a must to know how to determine what type of rock something is, igneous, sedimentary, or metamorphic. An examinee must also know how the subcategories of these rock types are formed.

Finally, knowledge and understanding of how the Earth has naturally evolved over time is imperative. An examinee will know both chemical and physical changes that occur naturally, including such changes as erosion, deposition, and uplift. An effective examinee will also understand how the Earth's life-supporting ecosystem and the solid layer of the Earth influence each other as well as how the water surface of the Earth impacts the solid layer of the Earth. A test-taker should know and be able to explain the properties of soil and how it is created.

History of the Earth and its Life-Forms

Under this content category, a successful test-taker needs to understand how rocks and fossils can provide information on the Earth's past. It also requires knowledge of how the Earth formed and the major early events of the planet. An examinee needs to know how the air, water, and land all began and how they have all evolved over time.

An examinee should know a variety of standardly accepted ideas of how rocks can be used to reveal things about the Earth, such as how long it has existed. In particular a test-taker needs to know all about the Principle of uniformitarianism and all the small changes involved in the principle. A test-taker should also know a variety of accepted methods for figuring out the age of rocks, such as original horizontality and cross-cutting relationships. Another area of understanding is how radioactive elements can be used to date objects as well as having general knowledge of how long the Earth has existed.

A prospective teacher needs to know what can be learned from fossils about the beginning and evolution of life on Earth. A test-taker should know how various basic types of life started, as well as how some types of life were wiped out in bulk. An examinee will understand how fossils are formed and what information they hold about the Earth over its whole existence.

Earth's Atmosphere and Hydrosphere

An examinee will need to know a variety of topics under this content category starting with information on water in all forms and the atmosphere of Earth. This section also includes knowledge of weather, meteorology, and climate. Finally a test-taker needs to understand the oceans and how they related to the Earth as a whole.

Water and Atmosphere

A successful test-taker should understand the three different states that water can have on Earth, solid, liquid, and gas, and how these forms can change the density of the water. This area also requires an understanding of vaporization and uses of water as a solvent. An examinee also needs to understand how water changes state and the energy necessary for that process. It is also necessary to know how water is dispersed across the planet. A test-taker needs to be aware of the makeup of the atmosphere, the properties of its various layers and what chemicals make up the atmosphere. Finally it is necessary to understand how the atmosphere relates to the water systems, the solid portion of the Earth, and the parts of the Earth that support life.

Meteorology and Weather

An examinee needs to understand atmospheric changes and what they mean as well as understanding the balance of energy coming towards the Earth and the energy coming from the Earth. A test-taker should know how weather systems can move in a rotating pattern and what that means as well as how clouds are created and where wind comes from. It is also imperative to be aware of greenhouse gases and their influences on weather. An examinee should know about humidity, including the temperature at which the air is saturated and creates dew, as well as the temperature when frost begins to form. It is also necessary to understand that there can be changes daily, seasonally, or annually in weather forecasting. An effective examinee will understand the various forms clouds can take and how precipitation begins in the atmosphere. A major area to understand is weather movements such as fronts and storms, as well as how these can turn more serious to become either hurricanes or tornadoes. It is important to understand a variety of weather models and to have understanding of how to decipher atmospheric data. It is necessary to have a basic understanding of meteorology.


An examinee needs to be familiar with outside forces that shape the climate of the Earth and create various zones. It is necessary to understand the influence that factors such as latitude and elevation can have on an area's climate. A test-taker will also be aware of how the air circulates and what that means for an area's climate, as well as understanding specifics of climate zones, such as where they are and what makes them distinct. An examinee needs to know how the tilt of the Earth causes seasons and what the position means. Finally a prospective teacher should understand how naturally occurring developments such as volcanoes, asteroids, and solar effects, can influence the climate.

Surface Water and Glaciers

A test-taker needs to know the various ways water occurs naturally on the Earth, such as streams, lakes, springs, and aquifers. An examinee should know how water naturally moves and is absorbed into the Earth. An examinee needs to know naturally occurring dangers like flooding, and how they come into existence. Knowledge of how people have influenced the Earth's water with manmade objects is also vital. A successful test-taker will have an understanding of various types of glaciers and what attributes make them distinct. It is crucial to understand the movements of glaciers and the forward and backward patterns that develop. Finally, it is a test-taker should understand how erosion works on glaciers, as well as understanding how icebergs and sea ice occur from glaciers.


It is needed to know how much saltiness is present in the oceans, the temperature of the oceans, and how much mass the oceans contain. A test-taker should understand the movements of the water in the oceans, both near the top and farther down, how waves happen on the surface, and what the contours of the sea floor look like. An effective examinee will know the ways the ocean can shape and reform solid land with the effects of tides and waves, and the impacts of tsunamis on landmasses. In particular, an understanding of the role the ocean plays in creating and reshaping various types of islands is crucial. A test-taker should understand hydrothermal vents, estuaries, and marine sediments, as well as understanding why sea levels rise and fall.

Finally, an effective examinee should understand how all of the above work together within the interdependence of the Earth's water and the rest of the Earth. Understanding how underwater plants can receive sunlight and use it effectively is a key element. It is also important to understand how the Earth supports coral reefs and the draw of hydrothermal vents for life forms.


The final content category of the Earth and Space Science Praxis exam revolves around the space portion. This begins with Earth and its place in the universe while moving outward in our solar system. Finally the content category addresses stars and galaxies.

Earth and Our Solar System

An effective examinee will understand how the Earth moves, both turning on its axis as well as moving through the solar system. An understanding of the effect this has on a variety of things including time zones and seasons is needed for a prospective teacher. A test-taker should also understand how these movements have adjusted over time. An understanding how the Earth, Moon, and Sun all interact with each other is key. This includes how these interactions create tides and how they work, as well as how the three cause eclipses and the different kinds. A test-taker should understand how these interactions create the various moon stages and what happens to Earth as a result of solar winds.

A successful test-taker will understand our solar system as a whole including laws and theories related to it. An examinee needs to have an understanding of the other planets in our solar system, including where they are and how they move. This also includes knowing attributes of the moon and sun as well as what each is made of. An examinee should understand satellites that occur naturally and various other things present in the solar system such as comets and meteoroids.

Stars, Galaxies, and the Universe

An examinee should have knowledge of stars including the various states they naturally go through and other characteristics of stars as well as how stars are involved in the development of elements. A test-taker should understand the Milky Way and more galaxies including how they are put together and the different designations for them. This includes their locations and how they move as well as specific concepts such as black holes and dark matter. Finally it is vital for an examinee to know ideas on how the universe was formed and observed potential residue such as radiation.

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