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Section 7: Sample Selected-Response Questions
Core Subjects 4–8 Subject Exam IV—Science Subtest (809)

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This section presents some sample exam questions for you to review as part of your preparation for the 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 002—The teacher understands the correct use of tools, materials, equipment and technologies.

1. Which of the following is a unit of energy?

  1. Degree Celsius
  2. Joule
  3. Light-year
  4. Newton
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Option B is correct because a joule is a derived unit of energy equivalent to kg·m2/s2. Option A is incorrect because a degree Celsius is a unit of measurement for temperature. Option C is incorrect because a light-year is an astronomical unit of length equal to the distance light travels in a vacuum in one year. Option D is incorrect because a newton is a derived unit of force equivalent to kg·m/s2.

Competency 003—The teacher understands the process of scientific inquiry and the history and nature of science.

2. Of the following, which is an example of a hypothesis that may be tested in the classroom?

  1. Nearly all elements are solids at room temperature.
  2. Solid is a state of matter.
  3. The particles in a solid substance are tightly packed and vibrate in place.
  4. The rate of dissolving of a solid substance in a liquid is faster for a powdered form of the solid than for solid chunks.
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Option D is correct because it is a hypothesis that may be tested in the classroom. Appropriate solid substances are available in different forms and the rate of dissolving is easily measurable in a classroom setting. Option A is incorrect because the statement is an observation. Option B is incorrect because it is a classification of matter. Option C is incorrect because although it is a hypothesis, it would be difficult to test the hypothesis in the classroom.

Competency 004—The teacher understands how science impacts the daily lives of students and interacts with and influences personal and societal decisions.

3. Which of the following are generally considered nonrenewable energy resources?

Select all that apply.

  1. Coal
  2. Petroleum
  3. Wind
  4. Natural gas
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Options A, B and D are correct because coal, petroleum and natural gas are finite resources that are depleted at a much faster rate than the rate at which they are formed. Coal is a carbon-rich rock formed by the slow conversion of plant materials under high pressure and high temperature over a very long period of time. Petroleum is formed from the conversion of large quantities of plankton under high pressure and high temperature over a very long period of time. Natural gas is a product of the conversion of deposits of organic materials that form coal or petroleum over a very long period of time. Option C is incorrect because wind is a renewable energy resource that cannot be depleted. Modern wind turbines convert the mechanical energy from the wind to electrical energy using an electric generator.

Competency 006—The teacher understands forces and motion and their relationships.

4. A cyclist is riding at a constant velocity of 20 km/h. Assuming air resistance and friction are a total of 20 N and are the only forces acting in the backward direction, the forward force produced by the pedaling of the cyclist is

  1. zero.
  2. less than 20 N but greater than zero.
  3. equal to 20 N.
  4. greater than 20 N.
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Option C is correct because the cyclist is riding at a constant velocity, so the net force on the cyclist must be zero. Therefore, the magnitude of the forward force produced by the cyclist is equal to the magnitude of the backward forces of air resistance and friction, which is 20 N. Option A is incorrect because if the forward force is zero and the backward forces are 20 N, the cyclist would be slowing down and the velocity would not be constant. Option B is incorrect because if the forward force is less than 20 N but greater than zero and the backward forces are 20 N, the cyclist would be slowing down and the velocity would not be constant. Option D is incorrect because if the forward force is greater than 20 N and the backward forces are 20 N, the cyclist would be speeding up and the velocity would not be constant.

Competency 008—The teacher understands chemical properties of and changes in matter.

5. A bond that results from the attraction between positively and negatively charged ions is called

  1. a covalent bond.
  2. a hydrogen bond.
  3. an ionic bond.
  4. a metallic bond.
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Option C is correct because an ionic bond is a bond formed by the electrostatic attraction between positively and negatively charged ions. Options A, B and D are incorrect because none of these bonds involve attractions between positively and negatively charged ions.

Competency 009—The teacher understands energy and interactions between matter and energy.

6. As the beam from a flashlight enters a swimming pool, the beam of light bends. The phenomenon is an example of

  1. absorption.
  2. polarization.
  3. refraction.
  4. reflection.
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Option C is correct because refraction is the change in the direction of a wave, in this case light waves, as the wave passes through the boundary of two materials — for example, air and water. Option A is incorrect because absorption occurs when the energy of light is transferred to a material. Option B is incorrect because polarization is the process of restricting light waves only to those that possess certain properties. Option D is incorrect because reflection is the change in the direction of a wave at the boundary of two materials such that the wave does not pass through the boundary.

Competency 011—The teacher understands the structure and function of living things.

7. Which of the following correctly pairs the organic molecules with their building blocks?

  1. Proteins—amino acids
  2. Fats—nucleotides
  3. Carbohydrates—fatty acids
  4. DNA—simple sugars
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Option A is correct because the building blocks of proteins are amino acids. Option B is incorrect because the building blocks of fats are fatty acids. Option C is incorrect because the building blocks of carbohydrates are simple sugars. Option D is incorrect because the building blocks of DNA are nucleotides.

Competency 012—The teacher understands reproduction and the mechanisms of heredity.

8. Which of the following is a sexual form of reproduction?

  1. Production of spores
  2. Binary fission
  3. Budding
  4. Fertilization
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Option D is correct because fertilization is a form of sexual reproduction. Option A is incorrect because the production of spores is a form of asexual reproduction. Option B is incorrect because binary fission is a form of asexual reproduction. Option C is incorrect because budding is a form of asexual reproduction.

Competency 013—The teacher understands adaptations of organisms and the theory of evolution.

9. Which of the following is an adaptation that enabled animals to move from living in the ocean to living on land?

  1. A heart with two chambers
  2. A covering of scales
  3. Cartilage for support
  4. An egg with a hard shell and an amniotic sac
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Option D is correct because an egg with a hard shell protects an embryo and minimizes water loss on dry land, and the amniotic sac is filled with fluid which cushions an embryo. Option A is incorrect because the development of a two-chambered heart was not needed for animals to move from living in the ocean to living on land. Option B is incorrect because the development of scales was not needed for animals to move from living in the ocean to living on land. Option C is incorrect because the development of cartilage was not needed for animals to move from living in the ocean to living on land.

Competency 014—The teacher understands regulatory mechanisms and behavior.

10. Of the following, which is the most likely human response to a decrease in environmental temperature?

  1. Leaching of calcium from long bones
  2. Decreased metabolic heat production
  3. Decreased blood flow to the extremities
  4. Increased rate of perspiration
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Option C is correct because decreased blood flow to the extremities is a response that minimizes the cooling of blood as environmental temperature decreases. Option A is incorrect because leaching of calcium from bones is not a human response to a decreased environmental temperature. Option B is incorrect because metabolic heat production increases rather than decreases in response to a decrease in environmental temperature. Option D is incorrect because increased perspiration is a human response to an increase rather than a decrease in environmental temperature.

Competency 017—The teacher understands cycles in Earth systems.

11. Which of the following parts of the water cycle is most involved in cloud formation?

  1. Infiltration
  2. Condensation
  3. Transpiration
  4. Sublimation
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Option B is correct because condensation is the process by which water vapor in the air is changed into liquid water. Condensation is crucial to the water cycle because the process is responsible for the formation of clouds. Water vapor molecules condense onto a microscopic solid particle, such as dust, ash, smoke or ice, to create a cloud droplet. Option A is incorrect because infiltration happens during and after precipitation, as water soaks into the soil or surface material. Option C is incorrect because transpiration is the evaporation of water from plant leaves. Option D is incorrect because sublimation is the process of a solid, such as ice, changing directly into a gas, such as water vapor.

Competency 018—The teacher understands the role of energy in weather and climate.

12. More solar energy reaches Earth’s equatorial regions than Earth’s polar regions because the equatorial regions

  1. have more vegetation to absorb sunlight.
  2. have a greater percentage of surface covered by land.
  3. have days with more hours of light.
  4. receive the Sun’s rays that are closest to vertical.
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Option D is correct because at the Equator, rays from the Sun are close to vertical and more concentrated. This allows equatorial regions to have higher temperatures. At polar regions, sunlight is received at a more oblique angle and is less concentrated, which results in the colder temperatures year-round. Option A is incorrect because having a higher density of vegetation does not mean that an area receives a greater amount of energy from the Sun. Option B is incorrect because the amount of solar energy received on Earth’s surface does not depend on the material on the surface. Option C is incorrect because in polar regions, there are several months when the Sun does not set and there are 24 hours of daylight. However, temperatures on average remain below freezing because a given amount of sunlight is spread out over a large area.

Competency 022—The teacher understands the process of scientific inquiry and its role in science instruction.

13. Which of the following is an example of how a teacher can incorporate inquiry-based instruction into a science lesson on the environment?

  1. The teacher has students watch a video on ecosystems and write down key vocabulary terms.
  2. The teacher has student groups build a diorama of different ecosystems and label the biotic and abiotic components of that ecosystem.
  3. The teacher has students perform an activity where they simulate an oil spill in a container and use various methods and materials to clean it up and determine the effectiveness of each.
  4. The teacher has students write a persuasive essay on the importance of water conservation.
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Option C is correct because students are engaged in an activity in which they are learning and experimenting on their own. They are analyzing and evaluating the effectiveness of different materials to correct an environmental problem; thus, they are engaged in discovery learning, which is at the highest level of learning and skills, based on Bloom’s taxonomy. Option A is incorrect because students are engaged in watching a video, but they are only writing down key terms and not performing a hands-on activity. Option B is incorrect because the construction of a diorama is not an experiment that involves hypothesizing, data collection and analysis. Option D is incorrect because a persuasive essay incorporates writing, but it does not involve performing a laboratory experiment that utilizes scientific processes.

Competency 023—The teacher knows the varied and appropriate assessments and assessment practices to monitor science learning in laboratory, field and classroom settings.

14. Of the following, which is the most useful way to assess student misconceptions about density prior to a unit on density?

  1. Giving students a quiz on how to calculate densities
  2. Having an activity during which students weigh several objects
  3. Holding a class discussion about density
  4. Asking each student to predict the relative densities of several objects
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Option D is correct because asking each student to predict the relative densities of several objects is most useful in assessing if any of the students have misconceptions. Option A is incorrect because a quiz on how to calculate densities would be more useful to assess mathematical ability and is more appropriate after the unit is completed. Option B is incorrect because an activity during which students weigh several objects is appropriate to assess a student’s measurement skills. Option C is incorrect because a class discussion may or may not reveal the misconceptions held by all of the students.

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