Things to Know for the Science TAKS (10th and 11th grade)
The TAKS tests are coming up and students have just over one week from the time I write this. This year might be slightly unusual. As I understand it the Academic UIL state meet is the same week as TAKS (that Friday, May 2nd), so if your school has students going to the state meet, then they may have to take the SOcial Studies test (always given on Fridays) on Monday instead. So, that Monday, which is a good day for final reviews and test taking strategies won’t be available to some schools.
Now, I just teach science and I’ve been teaching since TAKS testing started. Here are the things that you MUST know for the science TAKS test. In reality both 10th and 11th grades take the test over the same material. There are very few differences. The biggest difference is the number of questions in each category. Here they are (not including review questions)
TAKS Objective 10th grade 11th grade
1: Nature of Science 17 17
2: Living Systems 11 8
3: Organisms and the Environment 11 8
4: Chemistry 8 11
5: Physics 8 11
So 10th graders who aren’t as good in science should concentrate on Biology while 11th graders should concentrate more on Chemistry and Physics. “But my kid hasn’t take Physics!” That’s what IPC is. Don’t worry, the Physics on the TAKS has few actual calculation questions… but many that require thinking.
Everyone should concentrate on Objective 1: The nature of science. This includes topics like the scientific method, drawing conclusions from graphs and charts, verifying others conclusions, lab safety (few questions), and things like comparing products and understanding product descriptions.
Things to Especially Know
Here are some things that are almost surely going to be on the TAKS test. I say this because questions like them have been on almost every TAKS test since the beginning.
Objective 1: The Nature of Science
Know how to read a chart and graph. Even if you don’t have a clue what the concept behind the graph is, by reading the titles and labels, you can get through the question.
Drawing conclusions. Students must be able to read a paragraph or look at a chart and draw a conclusion from the data presented. Read the statements VERY carefully and look for words in the answer choices that don’t match. If the paragraph didn’t say anything about water, then an answer that talks about water isn’t correct.
Products. There is always a question about products. Usually, it’s an ad or product description. Sometimes, they ask the students to compare two or three different products. The ad questions are pretty easy, some common sense goes a long way. The product comparisons are a little more difficult and often require some simple calculations. For example: the question might give three candy bars information and ask which bar contains more fat per gram. Just divide the fat of each bar by the mass of each bar and compare.
Occasionally (often enough for me to note it) there is a question on how to read a scientific instrument, usually a graduated cylinder or balance scale. Practice this. Remember to read the graduated cylinder at the bottom of the meniscus.
Objective 2: Organization of Living Systems
There is ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS some kind of DNA/RNA question where you get a sequence of nucleotides and are asked to what the complimentary sequence is. If you didn’t understand what I just said, then RUN, do not walk to your Biology teacher and ask about it. Just remember that C always compliments G and A always compliments T, except in RNA where U replaces T.
There is almost always a question that asks you to determine what human organ systems are involved in a process. There are 11 human organ systems. Know what they are and what they do.
There is almost always a question that involves the organelles within the cell. Know what they are and what they do.
There is usually a question about plants. Know what roots, stems, and leaves look like, do, and the effects of them on the plant.
Objective 3: Organism and the Environment
There is ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS a question about the three types of symbiosis. Know them and be able to give examples of how they work. Parasitism, Commensalism, and Mutualism.
There is almost always a food web/ food chain question. Know what consumers and producers are.
There is usually a question on bacteria and/or viruses. Know what they are and how to identify them in pictures.
Objective 4: Chemistry
There is almost always a pH question, a question on ions, a question on phase changes, and a question on balancing equations. More rarely a question about gas laws.
There is almost always a question that involves the Law of Conservation of Mass.
Objective 4: Physics
There is almost always a question on energy (kinetic, Gravitational Potential, and or the conversion between them and the Law of Conservation of Energy).
There is almost always a question on energy transfer (Conduction, Convection, and Radiation).
WARNING: The newer TAKS tests have calculation questions that require MORE THAN ONE FORMULA! It is very, very important to not just punch numbers in the calculator and hope that is an answer choice. You will get it wrong. Pay very close attention to the units given in the problem and the units of the answer. Use the formula chart to figure out how to get from the question to the answer choices. WRITE UNITS IN YOUR FORMULAS!!!!
The formula chart can also help you, even if there are no numbers in the question. The formula explain how things go together. Like a force affects the acceleration of a mass.
Make sure you know they units of energy, force, work, and power and how they are derived. If you don’t, I can tell you if you ask, or find your IPC or Physics teacher and FIND OUT!
I hope that helps. Good luck.