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The General Scholastic Ability Test (GSAT) evaluates student’s basic skills and knowledge while the AST evaluates students’ advanced knowledge and ability on the subject.


In order to evaluate students’ basic and advanced knowledge of physics, Bloom’s (1956) taxonomy of the cognitive domain is used to divide the test's objectives into three levels. The following list presents all the goals of the test from the most basic to the most advanced.

1. To evaluate students’ understanding and knowledge of physics
  • 1a. Important terms and their definitions
  • 1b. Basic phenomena, patterns, theories, laws, and principles of physics
  • 1c. Scales of important physical phenomena
  • 1d. Units of physical quantities
  • 1e. Principles, procedures, equipment, and materials used in physics experiments and their characteristics
  • 1f. Facts and principles in important physics experiments
  • 1g. Discovery and application of important technologies

2. To evaluate students’ ability to use concepts in physics to solve problems
  • 2a. Solving problems simply using definition, formula, laws, or principles of physics
  • 2b. Expressing concepts, methods, and principles of physics using figures or models
  • 2c. Explaining observed phenomena of physics using physics concepts or models
  • 2d. Solving problems using the data, formula, and charts/graphs given in the question

3. To evaluate students’ ability to analyze data and apply their knowledge of physics
  • 3a. Discovering the causes and effects of problems
  • 3b. Analyzing data (narratives, statistics or figures) to solve the problems
  • 3c. Utilizing several concepts, formula, laws, and principles in physics to solve problems
  • 3d. Comparing and contrasting different concepts in physics and understanding the relations among them
  • 3e. Making induction, extension, prediction, deduction, or drawing conclusion according to physics data at hand


Questions in the AST Physics are based on the 2010 version of the Senior High School Curriculum Guidelines and materials covered in Basic Physics I, Basic Physics II B, and Elective Physics. For detailed information about the test, please see the AST Physics Guide on the CEEC website.

The design of AST Physics is in accordance with the 2010 version of the Senior High School Curriculum Guidelines.

1. AST Physics assesses all the concepts covered in the 10th to 12th grade physics courses. The test includes twelve themes: Physics and Measurement, Composition of Substances, Fundamental Interaction, Energy, Cosmology, Mechanics, Thermal Physics, Waves in Physics, Optics, Electromagnetism, Modern Physics, and Experiment. The following table shows teaching hours and percentage of each theme on the test.

2. Each theme appears in the AST Physics in proportion of its teaching hours and percentages. Theme 1-5 in Table 1 are covered in Basic Physic I and each takes up only 1-2% of the total teaching hours, which is less than the 3% any one single question would at least have out of the total score in AST Physics. Therefore, the aforementioned 5 themes Questions can appear individually or in sets. But themes 1 to 5 together should not take up more than 6% of the total score.

Focus of the Questions

  1. Questions on the AST Physics are not based on one particular version of textbooks. Students who have mastered the content of one version of textbooks will be able to answer all the questions. If there are symbols or terms that do not appear in all versions of physics textbooks, students will be provided with notes explaining them along with the questions.
  2. The design of the test focuses on students’ ability to understand and apply concepts in physics. Questions that require complicated calculations will be avoided.
  3. Scenarios in the questions will mostly be based on real life situations.
  4. Most questions will have corresponding figures to help students not only to understand the questions but also to evaluate students’ ability to interpret charts and figures.
  5. Questions could come in groups. Question groups allow each question to assess a single concept and to guide students to score some basic points since the guidance questions are mostly placed in the beginning of each group.
  6. Ability to conduct an experiment is another important aspect of AST Physics. Students will be tested to see whether they understand the principles and procedures of certain experiments and whether they know how to choose and arrange equipment as well as interpret experiment results. Students who have done the experiments beforehand will understand the questions better and thus perform better in the test.