Preparation Manual

Section 7: Sample Selected-Response Questions Core Subjects EC–6 Subject Exam IV—Science (904)

This section presents some sample exam questions for you to review as part of your preparation for this Subject Exam. To demonstrate how each competency may be assessed, sample questions are accompanied by the competency that they measure. While studying, you may wish to read the competency before and after you consider each sample question. Please note that the competency statements do not appear on the actual exam.

For each sample exam question, there is a correct answer and a rationale for each answer option. The sample questions are included to illustrate the formats and types of questions you will see on the Subject Exam; however, your performance on the sample questions should not be viewed as a predictor of your performance on the actual exam.

Subject Exam IV Sample Questions

Competency 001—(Lab Processes, Equipment and Safety): The teacher understands how to manage learning activities, tools, materials, equipment and technologies to ensure the safety of all students.

1. Which of the following is equivalent to 200 centimeters?

1. 2 millimeters
2. 20 millimeters
3. 0.2 meter
4. 2 meters
Option D is correct because there are 100 centimeters in 1 meter, therefore 200 centimeters is equivalent to 2 meters. Option A is incorrect because there are 10 millimeters in 1 centimeter, therefore 2 millimeters is equivalent to 0.2 centimeters. Option B is incorrect because there are 10 millimeters in 1 centimeter, therefore 20 millimeters is equivalent to 2 centimeters. Option C is incorrect because there are 100 centimeters in 1 meter, therefore 0.2 meter is equivalent to 20 centimeters.

Competency 002—(History and Nature of Science): The teacher understands the history and nature of science, the process and role of scientific inquiry and the role of inquiry in science instruction.

2. Of the following, which best demonstrates the use of an inquiry-based activity during a unit on physical properties of matter?

1. Creating a graphic organizer of physical properties, using a textbook
2. Describing the physical properties of different objects in a journal
3. Matching terms that describe physical properties with their definitions
4. Separating a mixture, using the physical properties of its components
Option D is correct because the activity of separating a mixture into its components engages the students and develops inquiry skills such as conducting investigations, gathering data, analyzing evidence, and logical reasoning. Option A is incorrect because although creating a graphic organizer may facilitate learning, it is not an inquiry-based activity. Option B is incorrect because although describing physical properties may improve observation and communication skills, by itself it is not an inquiry-based activity. Option C is incorrect because although matching terms with definitions may be appropriate to introduce and reinforce concept vocabulary, it is not an inquiry-based activity.

Competency 003—(Impact of Science): The teacher understands how science impacts the daily lives of students and interacts with and influences personal and societal decisions.

3. Of the following, which is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States?

1. Distracted driving
2. Infectious diseases
3. Sedentary lifestyle
4. Tobacco use
Option D is correct because tobacco use, in particular tobacco smoking, is the leading cause of death in the United States and worldwide. Tobacco use is a major risk factor for heart and lung diseases, including lung cancer. Options A and C are incorrect because although they are significant causes of death, they do not cause as many deaths as tobacco use. Option B is incorrect because although some actions may prevent the spread of infectious diseases, not all deaths caused by infectious diseases are preventable.

Competency 004—(Concepts and Processes): The teacher knows and understands the unifying concepts and processes that are common to all sciences.

4. When a vast amount of ash is expelled from a volcano during a catastrophic eruption, some of this ash can remain in the atmosphere for years. Which of the following changes in Earth's system most likely results from this situation?

1. Decreased solar reflection leading to higher global temperatures
2. Decreased solar reflection leading to lower global temperatures
3. Increased solar reflection leading to higher global temperatures
4. Increased solar reflection leading to lower global temperatures
Option D is correct because as more ash is added to the atmosphere, sunlight is more liable to bounce off the ash particles and be reflected back into space. When less sunlight passes through the atmosphere, Earth's surface and atmosphere remain cooler. Options A and B are incorrect because an increase in volcanic ash in the atmosphere does not decrease the amount of sunlight that is reflected. Option C is incorrect because although solar reflection is increased, this does not lead to higher temperatures.

Competency 005—(Students as Learners and Science Instruction): The teacher has theoretical and practical knowledge about teaching science and about how students learn science.

5. Of the following activities, which best introduces to students the process skill of classification?

1. Measuring the time it takes a marble to reach the bottom of an inclined plane when dropped from different heights
2. Sorting a collection of objects into metals and nonmetals, then sorting the metals into magnetic and nonmagnetic
3. Modeling the faces of the moon using a foam ball and light, then describing and drawing their observations
4. Representing the stages of the life cycle of a butterfly using craft materials provided by the teacher
Option B is correct because the students are performing two consecutive binary classifications based on the physical properties of the objects. Option A is incorrect because this activity best introduces students to the process skill of measurement and the concepts of change and constancy. Option C is incorrect because this activity best introduces students to the process of skills of observation and communication and the concept of models. Option D is incorrect because this activity best introduces students to the concepts of change and constancy.

Competency 006—(Science Assessment): The teacher knows the varied and appropriate assessments and assessment practices for monitoring science learning in laboratory, field and classroom settings.

6. A class has just completed a unit on the anatomy of a flower. Which of the following is the most effective way for a teacher to assess the students' understanding of the concept?

1. Having the students dissect a flower and label the parts
2. Having the students write a paragraph about the pollination of flowers
3. Having the students write the definitions of the different parts of the flowers
4. Having the students plant seeds and measure the time it takes for the plants to flower
Option A is correct because dissecting a flower and labeling the parts demands that the students make the connection between the appearance and location of the parts of an actual flower to descriptions and two-dimensional images of a flower. Option B is incorrect because this activity focuses on the function, not the anatomy, of the parts of a flower. Option C is incorrect because it does not assess students' ability to visually identify parts of the flower. Option D is incorrect because this activity emphasizes the life cycle of a flowering plant, not the anatomy of the flower.

Competency 007—(Forces and Motion): The teacher understands forces and motion and their relationships.

7. An object is being acted on by a force of 20 N directed to the left and a force of 30 N directed to the right. What is the net force acting on the object?

1. 10 N to the left
2. 50 N to the left
3. 10 N to the right
4. 50 N to the right
Option C is correct because forces are vector quantities; thus, both magnitude and direction must be considered when adding. In the example, the forces are acting in opposite directions, so the net magnitude of the force is 10 N. The force directed to the right is greater, so the net force is directed to the right. Option A is incorrect because it assumes that the force directed to the left is greater.
Option B is incorrect because it assumes that both forces are directed to the left. Option D is incorrect because it assumes that both forces are directed to the right.

Competency 008—(Physical and Chemical Properties): The teacher understands the physical and chemical properties of and changes in matter.

8. Of the following mixtures, which can be most effectively separated into its components using a mesh screen?

1. Oil and water
2. Sand and water
3. Sand and pebbles
4. Table sugar and water
Option C is correct because mesh screens or sieves are used to separate solid materials based on particle size. The particle size of sand is less than 2 mm while the particle size of gravel is greater than 2 mm. Therefore a screen with openings of 2 mm can be used to separate sand and gravel. Option A is incorrect because both oil and water are liquids and will flow through a screen. Option B is incorrect because sand is most effectively separated from water using filter paper because the pores in the filter paper are so small that the water will pass through but not the sand. Option D is incorrect because table sugar dissolves in water and is most effectively separated from water by evaporation.

Competency 009—(Energy and Interactions): The teacher understands energy and interactions between matter and energy.

9. When wood burns, which of the following energy transformations occurs?

1. Nuclear energy into mechanical energy
2. Chemical energy into heat energy
3. Light energy into mechanical energy
4. Electrical energy into heat energy
Option B is correct because when wood burns, chemical energy is converted to heat energy. Some of the chemical energy stored in the chemical bonds of the substances in wood is released as heat during the combustion process. Options A, C and D are incorrect because these energy transformations do not occur when wood burns.

Competency 010—(Energy Transformations and Conservation): The teacher understands energy transformations and the conservation of matter and energy.

10. As a demonstration during a unit on weather, a teacher adds food coloring to the bottom of a beaker of water being heated on a hot plate, and the students observe the movement of color in the water. Which of the following processes is illustrated by the movement of the color?

1. Conduction
2. Convection
3. Evaporation
Option B is correct because convection is the process of heat transfer by currents in fluids. Convection plays an important role in both global and local weather phenomena. Option A is incorrect because conduction involves the transfer of heat by the exchange of kinetic energy between colliding particles. Option C is incorrect because evaporation is the process that occurs when liquid at the surface enters the air in the gas phase. Option D is incorrect because radiation is the process of energy transfer by electromagnetic waves.

Competency 011—(Structure and Function of Living Things): The teacher understands the structure and function of living things.

11. Which of the following is the stage in the life cycle of a butterfly that is the major period of feeding and growth?

2. Egg
3. Larva
4. Pupa
Option C is correct because the larval (caterpillar) stage is the major feeding and growth stage. Option A is incorrect because the adult stage is primarily a reproductive stage. Option B is incorrect because the egg stage is not the feeding and growth stage. Option D is incorrect because the pupal stage is the stage of metamorphosis from caterpillar to adult.

Competency 012—(Reproduction and the Mechanisms of Heredity): The teacher understands reproduction and the mechanisms of heredity.

12. Which of the following is the best example of a learned behavior in animals?

1. A bird migrating in the spring
2. An opossum hiding in grass when startled
3. A chimpanzee using tools to access food
4. A bear hibernating in winter
Option C is correct because chimpanzees learn to use tools by watching older chimpanzees use tools. Option A is incorrect because migrating is not learned by watching older birds. Option B is incorrect because hiding in the grass is not learned by watching older opossums. Option D is incorrect because hibernating is not learned by watching older bears.

Competency 013—(Adaptations and Evolution): The teacher understands adaptations of organisms and the theory of evolution.

13. Which of the following is the adaptation that will best aid plant survival in an arid environment?

1. Waxy leaves
2. Aerial roots
4. Green flowers
Option A is correct because having a waxy surface decreases water loss from leaves, aiding plant survival in an arid environment. Option B is incorrect because aerial roots are not an adaptation to aid plant survival in an arid environment. Option C is incorrect because broad leaves are not an adaptation to aid plant survival in an arid environment. Option D is incorrect because green flowers are not an adaptation to aid plant survival in an arid environment.

Competency 014—(Organisms and the Environment): The teacher understands the relationships between organisms and the environment.

14. Which of the following is the relationship in which organism A benefits from living on or in the body of organism B but provides no benefit to organism B?

1. Parasitism
2. Predation
3. Competition
4. Mutualism
Option A is correct because parasitism is a relationship between organisms in which one organism benefits from living on or in the body of another organism, usually at the expense of the other organism. Option B is incorrect because predation is a relationship between organisms in which one organism feeds on another organism; the predator is generally larger than the organism on which it feeds. Option C is incorrect because competition is a relationship between organisms in which the organisms compete with each other for the same resources. Option D is incorrect because mutualism is a relationship between two organisms in which both organisms benefit.

Competency 015—(Structure and Function of Earth Systems): The teacher understands the structure and function of Earth systems.

15. The two most abundant gases in Earth's atmosphere are

1. oxygen and nitrogen.
2. oxygen and carbon dioxide.
3. oxygen and water vapor.
4. oxygen and hydrogen.
Option A is correct because in a sample of dry air near Earth's surface, approximately 99% is oxygen (about 21%) and nitrogen (78%). Option B is incorrect because it lists carbon dioxide, which accounts for approximately 0.036% of Earth's atmosphere. Option C is incorrect because it lists water vapor, which is the most variable component of the atmosphere, but it typically ranges between 1% and 4%. Option D is incorrect because it lists hydrogen, which is found only in trace amounts in the atmosphere.

Competency 016—(Cycles in Earth Systems): The teacher understands cycles in Earth systems.

16. Which of the following is the Coriolis effect most likely to influence?

1. The amount of solar radiation reaching Earth's surface
2. The height of a tsunami
3. The dew point of an air mass
4. The circulation pattern of global wind belts
Option D is correct because the Earth rotates, and as air moves, it undergoes an apparent deflection from its path, as seen by an observer on Earth. This apparent deflection is called the Coriolis effect and is a result of Earth's rotation. Option A is incorrect because the amount of incoming solar radiation reaching Earth's surface is dependent on latitude and the tilt of Earth's axis and is not influenced by Earth's rotation. Option B is incorrect because tsunami height is dependent on the speed and wavelength of the ocean wave and on the topography of the coastline. Option C is incorrect because dew point is dependent on the amount of water vapor present in air as well as the air temperature.

Competency 017—(Energy in Weather and Climate): The teacher understands the role of energy in weather and climate.

17. Which of the following is most likely to occur when a warm air mass meets a cold air mass at Earth's surface?

1. The sky will become clear.
2. All wind will cease.
3. Clouds will form and inclement weather will usually develop.
4. The air pressure will increase and fog will form.
Option C is correct because the boundary of air masses of two distinct temperatures is called a front. Along cold fronts and warm fronts, clouds develop as the less dense warm air rises above the cooler air. This allows for the formation of clouds, and usually precipitation occurs. Option A is incorrect because when two air masses of different temperatures meet, one is usually forced to rise, producing cooling, condensation, and cloud formation. Option B is incorrect because the boundary between two opposing air masses is a meteorologically unstable place, and the air is unlikely to be still because of the pressure and temperature differences. Option D is incorrect because rising warm air usually produces lower air pressure, and fog usually forms when water vapor condenses at the dew point, a result of air getting cooler.

Competency 018—(Solar System and the Universe): The teacher understands the characteristics of the solar system and the universe.

18. Which of the following are planets? Select all that apply.

1. Mars
2. Mercury
3. Neptune
4. Titan