Since 2013, the questions in the Science portion of the General Scholastic Ability Test (GSAT Science) have been based on the 2010 version of the Senior High School Curriculum Guidelines. The GSAT scores are required for students who wish to enter college through the Stars Program and Personal Application Program, while students who wish to enter college through the AST-score-based Examination and Placement Program should keep in mind that some departments may require students’ GSAT scores to reach a certain threshold before submission of an AST score. Science learned at the high-school level serves as a foundation for specialized science studies and as a basis for scientific literacy.
The GSAT Science covers four areas: Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Earth Science. The study of physics focus on cause and effect relationships and patterns in physics phenomena; basic ideas and scope of physics; physics’ impact on human life and environment. The study of Chemistry focuses on basic chemistry principles, applications, and learning through laboratory work; and composition, structure, properties of and energy changes in matter. Students also learn, through the study of the history of science, about the discovery and development of scientific knowledge. The study of Biology focuses on biological phenomena, biological commonality and diversity of creatures; structures and functions of organisms; development of modern biology; relationships between creatures and their environment; and the importance of ecological environment protection and sustainable development. The study of Earth Science focuses on the application of earth science concepts and principles; basic observation skills; and concern for the environment of earth. The goal of the subject is to educate students as modern citizens with earth science literacy including knowledge, reasoning, skills and concern for the environment.
The main objective of the GSAT Science is to test students’ basic science knowledge and skills in four major areas: (1) basic science knowledge and concepts; (2) ability to understand, organize and interpret scientific data and charts; (3) ability to apply what is learned and to use logical reasoning, i.e. the ability to connect all the dots and to make inferences; and (4) analytical skills, that is, the ability to make sensible analysis and judgment based on scientific facts. The cognitive level required increases from (1) to (4).
1. Basic science knowledge and concepts
Students recall important terms, facts, procedures, and scientific principles or theories in textbooks. Cognitively speaking, remembering facts and internalizing them as usable information is done at elementary level. This knowledge could be further divided as follows:
- 1a. Important scientific terms and their definition
- 1b. Basic scientific phenomena, principles, theories, and laws
- 1c. Limitations of science
- 1d. Influence of science on human civilization
2. Ability to read scientific data and charts
Students are able to understand and explain concepts or phenomena, or to explain a certain phenomenon based on known facts, principles, and laws. A student may showcase this ability by presenting data in another form (e.g. translating texts into numbers), or expressing the meaning of data (by explaining it or by summing it up). Cognitively, the ability to understand, i.e. the ability to retrieve the meaning of information, is more advanced than memorization. This ability to understand could be further divided as follows:
- 2a.The ability to understand data, formulas or charts
- 2b.The ability to find patterns, rules, or relationships from data, formulas or charts
- 2c.The ability to read charts and make explanations, make inductive or deductive arguments, inferences, or conclusions from it
3. Ability to apply what they’ve learned and make logical reasoning
Students are able to apply the principles, methods, concepts, principles, laws and theories to a scenario that may be new or unfamiliar to them. Cognitively, the ability to apply what you learned to a new scenario is at an even more advanced level than the ability to understand. Application could be further divided as follows
- 3a.The ability to choose adequate materials
- 3b. The ability to explain phenomena in daily life based on scientific laws or models
4. Analytical skills
Students are able to divide one thing into smaller parts to better understand its components or structures. Specifically, they are able to identify the components of something, analyze the relations between the components and the principles or theories behind. Analytical skills could be further divided as follows:
- 4a. The ability to explain important scientific principles from data, formulas, or charts
- 4b. The ability to discover or identify the cause and effect relationships in a problem
- 4c. The ability to make logical reasoning based on facts
- 4d. The ability to differentiate things
The GSAT Science is divided into two parts. The scope and the content of each part are as follows:
Please see Table 1 for the scope of GSAT Science based on the 2010 Curriculum Guidelines The first part of the test covers Elementary Physics I, Elementary Chemistry I, Units 1, 2, and 3 in Elementary Biology I, and Units 1 to 5 in Elementary Earth Science. The second part of the test covers Elementary Physics II A, Elementary Chemistry II, Units 4, 5, and 6 in Elementary Biology I, and Units 6 to 8 in Elementary Earth Science. The first part and the second part account for 62.5% and 37.5%, respectively, on the GSAT Science.
2. Design of the GSAT Science
The GSAT Science totals 128 points and contains no more than 68 questions. The first part contains 40 questions, 10 for each subject, and the total score is 80. There are 28 questions in the second part, with 7 questions designed for each subject. Students may choose to answer all the 28 questions, but they only need to answer 24 of them correctly to get the full score of 48.
The first part evaluates students’ basic knowledge, logical reasoning and ability to apply what they’ve learned. The second part contains, for each subject, 5 questions on scientific reasoning and 2 questions on subject knowledge. The scientific reasoning questions test students’ ability to analyze data, organize information, and make deductive arguments rather than advanced subject knowledge.
Focus of the Questions
The goals of GSAT Science are as follows:
- To tests the main concepts listed in the Curriculum Guidelines
- To test students’ ability to connect concepts they’ve learned, with cross-disciplinary questions that may involve concepts from all four subjects: Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Earth Science
- To use materials from daily life so that the questions are relevant to students' life experiences
- To avoid questions that require mere rote-learning by providing scenarios to put things in context, and giving information and charts necessary for answering the questions
- To avoid difficult questions as the purpose is to evaluate basic subject knowledge and skills