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Page 1 Science Study Guide for the GED® test

Preparing for the GED Science Test

You will be allowed to use a calculator for this section of the GED test. See our Mathematical Reasoning Study Guide for calculator guidelines and a peek at the reference sheet, to which you will also have access during the test.

Types of Questions

When taking the Science section of the GED test, you will have 90 minutes to complete the entire section. It includes answering multiple-choice questions as well as items of these types:

  • Fill-in-the-blank: These items require you to type a word or short phrase in an answer box.
  • Drag-and-drop: This type of question asks you to move an item on the screen from one place to another. It is used to enable you to place an event in sequence or an object in a category.
  • Drop-down: After you choose your answer from a drop-down menu, the text on the screen will change to show how your answer fits in the item text.
  • Hot spot: This kind of question will require you to mark a particular spot on the screen by clicking on it.

[Note: There are no longer any short answer questions on the GED Science Test. These were discontinued in 2018.]

Subject Areas Covered

Within the subject of science, you must be able to read and understand passages concerning various science topics. You will also need to solve problems related to three topics. The questions fall into the following fields of study in this manner:

Life science: 40%
Physical science: 40%
Earth and space science: 20%

About half of the Science questions refer to a passage or graphic (graph or chart) and the remaining questions are stand-alone items.

Science Practices

As you study, become comfortable using the scientific method in these ways:

  • Scientific presentations: Understand the symbols, terms, and phrases used in both textual (written) and non-textual (graphic) reports or documents.
  • Investigation design: Be able to work with hypotheses, errors, and variables.
  • Reasoning from data: Use sampling techniques and review data to state conclusions and make predictions based on data presented.
  • Be able to assess the findings of an investigation (observation or experiment) and come to conclusions about it.
  • Use words, symbols, and graphics to express the results of an investigation.
  • Be able to understand and use scientific theories.
  • Use statistics to describe and solve problems with data, including the use of combinations and permutations.

Science Concepts

To do well on the Science section of the test, you must have a basic understanding of the following topics and related concepts:

Life Science

  • Human Body and Health: body systems, homeostasis, nutrition, disease transmission and prevention, pathogens.
  • Life Functions and Energy: photosynthesis, respiration, fermentation.
  • Energy Flows in Ecologic Networks (Ecosystems): flow and sources of energy, flow of matter in ecosystems, the effects of changes in communities or environment, carrying capacity, symbiosis, disruption of ecosystems.
  • Essential Functions of Life: chemical reactions, preproduction, metabolism, parts of a cell, cell theory, cell organization, mitosis, meiosis.
  • Molecular Basis for Heredity: DNA, chromosomes, genotypes, phenotypes, Punnett squares, pedigree charts, alleles, mutations, epigenetics.
  • Evolution: common ancestry and cladograms, selection, adaptation, selection pressure, speciation.

Physical Science

  • Conservation, Transformation, and Flow of Energy: heat, temperature, conduction, convection, endothermic and exothermic reactions, types of energy (kinetic, mechanical, chemical), transformation between types of energy, energy sources (nuclear, sun, fossil fuels), waves and wavelengths, electromagnetic radiation.
  • Work, Motion, and Forces: speed, velocity, acceleration, momentum, collisions, force, Newton’s laws, gravity, mass and weight, work simple machines, mechanical advantages.
  • Chemical Properties and Reactions Related to Living Systems: structure of matter, physical and chemical properties, changes of state, density, balancing chemical equations, conservation of mass, solubility, solutions.

Earth and Space Science

  • Interactions between Earth’s Systems and Living Things: matter, living and nonliving things, fossil fuels, effects of natural hazards (earthquakes, hurricanes, etc.), natural resources, sustainability.
  • Earth and its System Components and Interactions: atmosphere, climate change, oceans, interaction between Earth systems, structure inside the Earth.
  • Structures and Organization of the Cosmos: structures in the universe, sun, planets, moons, tides, eclipses, Earth history, fossils, radiometrics, landforms.

You can practice answering multiple-choice questions on these topics by taking our Science Practice Test.