March 3, 2015

236 TExES Science 7 – 12 Exam

The TExES Science 7 -12 Exam is a certification examination that is designed to determine if an individual has the knowledge necessary to teach science at the high school level in the Texas public school system. This exam assesses an individual’s knowledge of a variety of scientific disciplines and the methods to effectively teach topics related to these specific disciplines. This exam is required in order to become a certified science teacher at the high school level within the state of Texas. The exam consists of 140 multiple-choice questions that are related to the following areas:

  • Scientific Inquiry and Processes (10%)
  • Physics (20%)
  • Chemistry (20%)
  • Cell Structure and Processes (8%)
  • Heredity and Evolution of Life (8%)
  • Diversity of Life (*%)
  • Interdependence of Life and Environmental Systems (6%)
  • Earth’s History and the Structure and Function of Earth Systems (9%)
  • Components and Properties of the Solar System and the Universe (6%)
  • Science Learning, Instruction and Assessment (5%)

The exam-taker will be supplied with a Formula and Definitions Reference Sheet, a copy of the periodic table, and a scientific calculator. The exam-taker will have five hours to complete the exam and the exam will be scored on a scale of 100 – 300 with 240 set as the minimum score considered as passing for the exam. The registration fee for the Science 7 – 12 Exam is $131 and the exam is only administered in a computer-based format. However, there are usually other exams and fees that are required in addition to this exam in order to become certified as an entry-level high school science teacher within the state of Texas.

236 TExES Science 7 – 12 Exam Practice Questions

Sample Study Notes

1. Define the term science.

The American Heritage College Dictionary defines science as “the observation, identification, description, experimental investigation and theoretical explanation of phenomena.” Its Latin root is scientia, which means “knowledge.”

  • NATURAL SCIENCE is concerned with the natural world; SOCIAL SCIENCE studies human behavior. Both are based on empirical evidence, which is observable data that can be verified by other scientists who are working in similar situations under the same conditions.
  • FORMAL SCIENCE is the systematic study of a specific area; it is essential to developing the hypotheses, theories and laws used in other scientific disciplines, i.e. describing how things work (natural science), how people think, and why they do what they do individually and as a society (social sciences). It is based on a priori evidence, which proceeds from a theory or assumption rather than from observable phenomena.
  • APPLIED SCIENCE is using scientific research in any of the natural, social and formal sciences to address human needs.

2. Define scientific method, scientific inquiry, deductive and inductive reasoning.


  • SCIENTIFIC METHOD: a set of procedures used to study natural phenomena. It provides guidelines with which to pose questions, analyze data and reach conclusions. It is used to investigate an event, gain knowledge or correct earlier conclusions about the occurrence and integrate the new information with previously learned data. Researchers pose hypotheses, and design experiments and studies to test them. The process must be objective, documented and shared with other researchers so the results can be verified by replicating the study in similar situations under the same conditions.
  • SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY: used to explore theories and develop explanations for natural phenomena. It has two functions: to provide a description of how something happens and to explain why the process succeeds or fails.
  • DEDUCTIVE REASONING: a process in which a specific conclusion logically follows from a general premise. If the premise is true, the conclusion is true. Deductive reasoning is used in mathematics.
  • INDUCTIVE REASONING: a process in which a universal conclusion is formed from considering an individual example. Inductive reasoning is the methodology of the natural and social sciences.

3. Describe the steps used in the scientific method.

The steps of the scientific method described here are not necessarily used in exactly the same way in all sciences. Sometimes they happen at the same time or in a different order and may be repeated during the course of the study. Whatever order researchers use, the steps should be applied with intelligence, imagination and creativity. The following sequence is the one used most of the time.
1. A question is asked about a natural phenomenon. It should be stated in specific language to focus the inquiry.
2. The subject is thoroughly researched. Previous test results are studied. It is important to understand what the earlier experiment(s) proved or disproved.
3. With information gleaned from researching the topic, a hypothesis is formed about a cause or effect of the event, or its relationship to other occurrences.
4. An experiment is designed and conducted to test the hypothesis and gather information.
5. The resulting data is analyzed to determine if they support or refute the hypothesis.
It is common for test results to lead to more questions about the subject or a related phenomenon.

4. Define the unifying principles of biology: cell theory, evolution, gene theory, and homeostasis.


  • CELL THEORY: the cell is the basic building block of all living things; it is the smallest unit of life able to function on its own, e.g. bacteria and protozoa. In higher organisms, groups of cells form the organs and tissues. There are two kinds of cells: prokaryotic, which are present only in bacteria; and eukaryotic, which are found in all other life forms. New cells form by dividing from existing cells.
  • EVOLUTION: as a result of natural selection and changes in the gene pool (genetic drift), inherited traits morph from one generation to the next.
  • GENE THEORY: the traits of all living organisms are encoded in their DNA, the chromosome component that carries genetic information. These traits are passed from generation to generation. The physical or biochemical characteristics are capable of adapting to changes in the environment, but the only way these adaptations can be transferred to the genes is through evolution (see above).
  • HOMEOSTASIS: a self-regulating, physiological process that keeps biological systems stable and in proper balance internally, no matter what is happening in the external environment.

5. Describe physics and define its core theories.

Physics is a fundamental, experimental science: the study of matter, motion, energy, space and time. The goal of a physicist is to understand the natural world by formulating and testing hypotheses in an effort to develop scientific laws that predict other phenomena. Physics is one of the oldest sciences. Physicists specialize in either theoretical (the development of new theories) or experimental (testing theories and discovering new phenomena) research. Physics is divided into four disciplines: condensed matter physics; atomic, molecular, and optical physics; high-energy physics; and astronomy and astrophysics. Other sciences are complex applications of the laws of physics. The core theories of physics, as described in Webster’s New Explorer Desk Encyclopedia, are:

  • CLASSICAL MECHANICS: the motion of objects
  • ELECTROMAGNETISM: interaction between charged particles
  • RELATIVITY: measurement changes in various states of motion
  • THERMODYNAMICS: relationships between heat, work, temperature and energy
  • QUANTUM MECHANICS: mathematical explanations of atomic and subatomic systems
  • OPTICS: production, propagation, changes and manipulation of light

6. Define these laws of physics: Newton’s Three Laws of Motion, Laws of Thermodynamics, Electrostatic Laws and Invariance of the Speed of Light.

These definitions are summarized from Webster’s New Explorer Desk Encyclopedia.

NEWTON’S THREE LAWS OF MOTION define the relationship between the acceleration of an object and the forces acting on it:

  • Gravity: attractive force between a pair of masses
    Conservation of Mass-Energy: the total of mass and energy is retained in any collision; either may change forms
    Conservation of Momentum: systems remain constant in a closed environment
    LAWS OF THERMODYNAMICS are specific examples of the Laws of Conservation of Mass-Energy.
  • Zeroeth Law outlines the measure of temperature
    First Law of Thermodynamics: relationship between energy, heat and work within a system
    Second Law of Thermodynamics: natural flow of heat in a closed system
    Third Law of Thermodynamic: impossible to create a perfectly efficient thermodynamic process
    ELECTROSTATIC LAWS are the relationships between electrically charged particles which create electrostatic force and fields
  • THE LAW OF INVARIANCE OF THE SPEED OF LIGHT states that the speed of light in a vacuum is constant and is not measured differently in different frames of reference. This law led to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.

7. Describe chemistry and define its various disciplines.

Chemistry grew out of the practice known as alchemy, a philosophical and spiritual discipline that investigated the possibility of transforming base metals into gold. Modern chemistry is the physical science concerned with the composition, structure, properties and reactions of atoms, molecules, crystals and other aggregate matter. It is sometimes called the “central science” because it connects the other natural sciences. Chemistry studies matter in relation to energy (the capacity to do work), entropy (the measurement of energy unable to do work) and the spontaneity of chemical reactions (the changing of matter into one or more substances). Chemistry is divided into several disciplines based on the type of matter being studied:

  • ORGANIC CHEMISTRY is the study of compounds that contain carbon. Note: some carbon compounds are considered inorganic compounds.
  • INORGANIC CHEMISTRY is the study of mineral compounds.
  • BIOCHEMISTRY is the study of organisms capable of responding to stimuli, reproduction and growth.
  • PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY is the study of energy systems at the macro, molecular and sub-molecular levels.
  • ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY is the study of matter and its chemical composition and structure.

8. Define these chemical terms: matter, atom, proton, neutron, element, compound, and molecule.


  • MATTER: any substance that has mass and takes up space
  • ATOM: small particle with a positively-charged core made of protons, neutrons and electrons
  • NUCLEUS: the positively-charged center of an atom
  • PROTON: subatomic particle with a positive electric charge that forms part of the nucleus
  • NEUTRON: subatomic particle that is neutral (has no electric charge), and which forms part of the nucleus
  • ELECTRON: subatomic particle that has a negative electric charge, and which circles the nucleus.
  • ELEMENT: made of only one atom; cannot be broken down further. All the elements are grouped by their atomic number on the Periodic Table.
  • COMPOUND: two or more elements joined together with a specific ratio of atoms that determines structure, and a particular system that determines chemical properties
  • MOLECULE: smallest part of a piece of matter that contains all of the matter’s particular properties. Organisms, cytoplasm and cell membranes are made of molecules.

9. Discuss the solar system and its components.


  • The SOLAR SYSTEM is composed of the sun, eight planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune), three dwarf planets (Pluto, Ceres and Eris) and other small bodies (asteroids, Kuiper belt objects, comets, meteoroids and interplanetary dust).
  • The SUN dominates the solar system. It is a star (a body of gas classified as G2 on the blue-white to red spectrum). It contains 99% of the system’s mass and its gravitational pull controls the entire solar system. The orbit of the planets and most other objects is counter-clockwise. (Halley’s Comet is one exception.)
  • A PLANET is any body with enough mass to form itself into a ball-shape, and which has no smaller objects in its immediate vicinity. Its distance from the sun varies during the course of its year; the length of its year is determined by its proximity to the sun.
  • The MOONS that orbit the planets, dwarf planets and small solar system bodies (SSSBs) are also called natural satellites. They are controlled by the gravitational pull of the objects they orbit rather than directly by the sun’s gravity.

10. Discuss the National Assessment of Educational Progress requirements for assessments in science.

The study of science is divided into three major areas: earth, physical and life sciences. Each of these is sub-divided into specialized fields of study. The U.S. Department of Education established criteria for testing comprehension of science concepts, using recommendations from the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Students are required not only to know facts, but to integrate those facts into previously-learned information by using critical thinking. In other words, students need to be able to apply the facts they learn in class to phenomena found in the real world. The assessments developed by educators, curriculum specialists and the business community emphasize the importance of assessing students’ ability to reason, understand concepts, solve problems, evaluate results, and communicate knowledge of the subject matter. The tests attempt to measure whether students can take cognitive skills learned in science, apply them in other disciplines, and use them outside of school in meaningful ways.

TExES Science 7-12 Exam Practice Questions