This section tests your knowledge about non-living systems (think physics, chemistry, astronomy, etc.).
Physical Science questions make up about 33% of the Science subtest.
There are three big concepts you definitely have to know to get these questions correct:
- Force and Motion
- Energy Transformations
The first big concept you have to know is about matter.
Matter is everything that has mass and takes up space. You need to know these things about matter:
- physical properties of matter
- conservation of matter
- physical and chemical changes of matter
- mixtures and solutions
- atoms and elements
- molecules and compounds
The next big concept to know is force and motion.
To get these questions right, you need to know the different types of motion (circular, relative, etc.). You also need to think about speed, distance, and time relationships.
Read over Newton’s laws of motion and think of real-life examples that apply to each law.
Finally, you have to know about forces and equilibrium. This includes knowing about friction, centripetal force, and Newton’s universal law of gravitation.
And the last big concept you have to know for the test is all about energy.
Energy is the ability to do work or apply a force over a distance.
Know that energy is never created or destroyed; it only changes forms. And it can be transferred is a bunch of different ways.
There are two broad kinds of energy: kinetic and potential. Know what these are and the differences between them.
There are also many forms of energy like chemical, electrical, heat, light, sound, etc.
To understand interactions of energy and matter, you need to know about the different types of waves (sound, light, infrared, radio, X-rays, gamma rays).
You also need to think about light and color, mirrors and lenses, and heat and temperature. Remember that heat and temperature are not the same things! Heat can be caused by conduction, convection, and radiation.
Finally, study electricity and magnetism. Know the ways that electrical energy can be converted to heat, light, and motion.
Now, those are the three broad concepts to be familiar with.
Right now, I’m going to give you three specific concepts to be familiar with because they will most likely appear on the test.
Potential and Kinetic Energy
Remember, energy is the ability to do work or apply a force over a distance. There are two broad classifications of energy.
Potential energy is stored energy. A rock on the edge of a cliff has potential energy because gravity might pull it down.
Kinetic energy is the energy of motion. When potential energy is used, it turns into kinetic energy. So, if that rock falls down the side of the cliff, during its fall, it has kinetic energy.
Make sense? Good! Be sure to know the difference between potential and kinetic energy.
Newton’s first law, the law of inertia, says that an object resists changes in its state of motion. Remember this? “An object in motion will stay in motion unless acted on by an equal or opposite force.”Think about why seatbelts are important.
The second law explains why objects with greater mass require more force to move the object. Force = mass * acceleration.
Newton’s third law explains why objects move in the opposite direction of the greater force. “For every action, there is an equal or opposite reaction.”
Take some time to look up Newton and his laws of motion.
States of Matter
States of matter are defined by the arrangement of the atoms or molecules.
A solid has particles packed together in a relatively fixed position and has a definite shape and volume.
Liquids have a definite volume, but no definite shape so they take on the shape of their container. The particles of a liquid are close together, not packed, and move around more than those of a solid.
The particles of a gas are moving so quickly and far apart that they fill all available space. Substances in the state of a gas do not have a fixed shape or volume; they take the shape of their container.
And that’s some basic info about the Science subtest.