What's on the HiSET: Science

The HiSET Science Test assesses your ability to understand, interpret, and apply scientific information. You will have 80 minutes to answer 50 multiple-choice questions.
Each question will assess both your familiarity with a content area and your ability to perform a skill related to understanding and interpreting scientific information.

Science Content Areas

Life Science (50%) topics may include fundamental biological concepts, including the life cycle and environment of organisms; cellular processes and body systems; interdependence of organisms in an ecosystem; and the relationship between the structure and function in living systems.
Earth Science (21%) topics may include properties of earth materials; plate tectonics; Earth’s movements in the solar system; and geologic structures, cycles, and processes over time.
Physical Science (29%) topics may include observable properties of matter such as size, weight, shape, color and temperature; forces and concepts relating to the position and motion of objects; and the principles of light, heat, electricity, and magnetism.

Science Skills

In addition to testing your understanding of science passages and graphics, the questions are based on your understanding of skills that are used in scientific study and investigation. After you study these skills, you will reinforce them as you work through the unit. The science skills include:

  • Comprehending scientific presentations to interpret passages and graphics
  • Using the scientific method to design investigations, reason from data, and work with findings
  • Evaluating experimental design to identify reasons for a procedure, analyze the limitations, and select the best procedure
  • Reasoning with scientific information to evaluate conclusions with evidence
  • Applying concepts and formulas to express scientific information and apply scientific theories
  • Using statistics and probability in a science context
  • Assessing the credibility of sources

Practice Questions

Question 1
In the last several decades, the spider population has exploded on the island of Guam: parts of the island have as many as 40 times more spiders than nearby islands do. One scientist has concluded that the explosion in the Guam spider population is due to an increase in the population of an invasive species of brown tree snake. The snake was introduced into Guam in the 1940s but was not introduced into the neighboring islands. The brown tree snake preys on birds.
Which one of the following, if true, makes the scientist’s conclusion more likely?
A. The birds that the brown tree snake eats are the primary predators of spiders on Guam.
B. The brown tree snake is typically introduced into islands via ships carrying tourists. Guam and the islands nearby have long been popular tourist spots.
C. Brown tree snakes eat spiders as well as birds.
D. In the rainy season, the island of Guam can have more than 40 times as many spiders as it did ten years ago.

A. The birds that the brown tree snake eats are the primary predators of spiders on Guam. The scientist’s conclusion is that the brown tree snake is the reason there are so many spiders on Guam. The question asks for a piece of information that makes that conclusion more likely—that is, a choice that makes the scientist’s conclusion more reasonable or believable. Choice (A) explains why more brown tree snakes would lead to more spiders. Choices (B) and (D) don’t link the spiders and snakes at all. Choice (C) describes a relationship between them, but it suggests that more brown tree snakes would lead to fewer spiders.

Question 2
After a transverse wave passes through a substance, no particle ever ends up far from its original position. Which of the following illustrates this principle?
A. A cork in water bobs up and down as waves pass.
B. Sound waves travel through air.
C. When two waves overlap, they interfere with one another.
D. A stone dropped into a pond causes ripples to radiate outward.

A. A cork in water bobs up and down as waves pass. The question asks for an example in which something stays in roughly the same place after a wave passes through it. If a cork merely bobs up and down as waves pass, then the cork will be in its original position after the waves stop. Thus, choice (A) is the right example.