Praxis 5159 Study Guide

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Praxis 5159 Study Guide

The Praxis PA Grades 4-8 Subject Concentration: Science exam is designed to measure teaching candidates' certification readiness for entry-level middle school science instruction in the state of Pennsylvania. The exam is used to evaluate whether an applicant has the required skills to successfully instruct students in the fourth to eighth grades. The exam covers significant themes, topics and features from a broad range of multi-field science perspectives, including scientific studies processes, physical sciences, life sciences, and Earth/space sciences.

The exam is delivered by computer in multiple local and national testing centers. Candidates will have one hour and thirty minutes to answer ninety selected-response questions comprised of four individual content categories. Testing candidates are allowed to use two different types of calculators: four-function and scientific. This Praxis PA Grades 4-8 Subject Concentration: Science (5159) study guide provides a table representing breakdowns of the exam content categories, testing percentages, and the approximate number of questions for each content category.

Content Categories% of Questions
Basic Principles and Processes24% (≈21 questions)
Physical Sciences28% (≈25 questions)
Life Sciences24% (≈22 questions)
Earth and Space Sciences24% (≈22 questions)
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Basic Principles and Processes

The first content category of the exam covers basic features and practices of scientific studies. Test-takers should be familiar with the scientific research concepts, as represented in this Praxis 5159 study guide, including research processes such as theories, experiments, designs, evidence-based features and scientific conclusions that form the basis of scientific knowledge and foundations for ongoing studies. Candidates should be familiar with practices/processes for scientific data collection, including measurement units, scientific equations, statistics, error evaluation rules, and visual representation models, for which applicants should know how to correctly read, interpret, and present data. Applicants must know how to safely use science lab equipment, such as Bunsen burners, be familiar with handling/disposal rules for chemicals, and know basic safety practices and interventions, including evacuation procedures. Examinees need to identify notable contributors/contributions to science, as well as significant scientific theories.

Test-takers will need to understand matter/energy concepts and the basic building blocks of matter, including:

  • Energy concepts/features (e.g., laws of thermodynamics, energy types, energy shifts)
  • Matter properties/processes (e.g., solids, atoms, isotopes, elements, conservation, changes)
  • Atom models/theories and structure (e.g., mass, ions, protons, fusion, and atomic number)
  • Crosscutting domains (e.g., ecosystems, rock cycles, living organisms, Earth systems)
  • Heat/temperature concepts (e.g., differences, scales, heat capacity/transference processes)

Candidates must be familiar with science and technology's environmental and societal impacts, including impacts of climate change, pollution, and natural habitat loss and ecological effects. Applicants should know natural resource management processes and concepts, such as recycling, natural resource differences and uses, and natural and artificial power sources.

Additionally, test-takers should recognize technological and scientific impacts on everyday situations and health related topics, including:

  • Dangers/benefits of crop production
  • Diagnostic/treatment technologies (e.g., X-rays)
  • Health concerns (e.g., health/wellness, disease prevention)
  • DNA technology in crime solving
  • Biological manipulation processes
  • Domestic/commercial cleaning supplies/chemical properties
  • Technological uses (e.g., computers, phones, satellites)
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Physical Sciences

Examinees need to understand the concepts and features of the physical sciences, including physics. Test-takers must be familiar with basic terminology and differences of mechanics such as motion, work, and gravitational processes. Applicants must recognize motion and force concepts, including Newton's Laws, simple/complex machines, types/forms of motion, laws of energy/momentum, and the defining properties of fluid. Candidates should understand basic concepts/features of electricity and magnetism, including materials and processes that conduct electricity (charges and repulsion), electrical circuitry components and theories (voltage, and Ohm's Law), vector fields and magnetic force concepts and features, including poles, and magnetic objects.

Test-takers must be familiar with additional physics concepts and features, including electromagnetic and wave optics and attributes of their effects on wavelengths and various forms of light, including those represented in this Praxis PA Grades 4-8 Subject Concentration: Science (5159) study guide:

  • Images, optical devices, and types of prisms
  • Wave types, wave speed, rate of occurrence, reflection, and the Doppler Effect
  • Terminology related to the concepts/theories/features of waves
  • Sound and optics concepts/features (e.g., frequency, vibrations)

Candidates must understand basic chemistry concepts, including the characteristics, properties, and elements of the periodic table and patterns in chemical reactions and physical properties. Additionally, applicants should know chemical structure and bonding concepts, such as bonding types, chemical compound terminology, and types/interpretations of various chemical formulas. Examinees must recognize terminology on states and changes of matter, including molecular theory, ideal gas laws, melting, and heating phases. Candidates must calculate chemical equations and know the basic steps for balancing chemical reactions. Applicants should also recognize terminology related to chemical reactions, including reaction rates.

Test-takers should also be familiar with additional basic chemistry concepts and features, including:

  • Solute decomposition/formation factors (e.g., temperature, solvent types)
  • Acid and base types/properties and processes
  • Solution types and solubility processes and terminology
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Life Sciences

This content category of the exam will ask candidates to demonstrate knowledge of the life science fields, processes, features, and functions. Examinees must recognize the basic functions of life, including cell types and functions, organizational hierarchical units and properties, and specialty cell types, characteristics, and differences. Applicants must recognize terminology related to cell duplication and division processes, including mitosis and meiosis, as well as understand the chemical processes within living organisms that function to sustain life, such as cellular respiration and biomolecules. Test-takers should be familiar with basic principles of genetics, including DNA features and functions (replication, translation), allele types and functions, principles of heredity, and genetic variations and disorders. Examinees must recognize concepts of evolution, including natural selection models, specie isolation types, new populations of species, and different evidence-based theories supporting evolution, including biological and fossil records. Candidates should know the processes in which major animal and plant systems are grouped, such as domain, class, and species, as well as identify the major features of various categories of living organisms.

Applicants must also recognize major components of plants and animals, including humans, as represented in this Praxis 5159 study guide:

  • Plant water/nutrient movement methods, growth processes
  • Plant types, differences, characteristics, parts, functions
  • Plant reproduction processes
  • Plant response to environmental factors
  • Normal body part functions
  • Musculoskeletal system features/processes
  • Control, reproduction, and immune systems
  • Maintaining internal animal/ human stability
  • Body systems' internal/environmental exchange systems

Test-takers should demonstrate knowledge of concepts, features, and characteristics of ecological systems, including population variations of specific species, mating behaviors, and population patterns. Candidates must be familiar with the organization, characteristics, and interactions of groups of different species living within the same environment. Examinees will also need to recognize basic terminology and features related to ecosystems, including energy flow, biome types, and food chain systems.

Earth and Space Sciences

Applicants must understand Earth/space concepts and features. Test-takers should recognize geological themes, including rock/mineral types, origins, and structural processes. Candidates should know Earth's surface features, such as soil and weathering types/processes, sediment erosion/movement, rock voids and water movement, and water saturation and overspill. Examinees must know Earth's inner components/activities, including Earth's layers and planetary dimensions, Earth's topographical features, and map types. Applicants must examine Earth's geomagnetic field/features, and understand concepts of plate tectonics, including seismic waves, volcanic types/activity features, earthquake activity, and mountain building processes.

Test-takers will be asked to examine important topics on Earth's history and processes, including:

  • Historical dating processes, geological times (e.g., eras)
  • Significant geological events (e.g., extinction, Ice Age)
  • Framework for geological reasoning
  • Fossil evidence through geological time
  • Rock relationships and principles

Candidates must recognize Earth's spheric systems/features, including hydrologic cycles such as precipitation and evaporation. Examinees should recognize various activities and characteristics of Earth's water sources and systems, such as tides, groundwater developments, large/small-scale bodies of water, land/sea formations, sand transport processes, and ice formations.

Test-takers must be familiar with Earth's different weather processes, including:

  • Main cloud types and elements
  • Natural air movement
  • Weather systems/prediction models and extreme weather
  • Weather/temperature indicators (e.g., dew point)
  • Atmospheric characteristics/precipitation types

Applicants must identify climate influences, including Earth's orbital position, land formations and sea locations, geographical positions, ocean movement, and natural/geographical conditions and areas. Candidates should also recognize terminology/features of astronomy studies, including those of the solar system, planets, the Sun, space objects, and origin theories. Test-takers must examine relationships between Earth-Sun-Moon structures, such as rotational processes, Moon phases, and tidal/seasonal impacts, as well as understand universe origin theories and themes, such as star and galaxy formation, and cosmic/object measurements. Examinees must also be able to identify space exploration devices used for identifying various space phenomena.

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