Are you are dreading the test and have no idea how to or what to study? Don’t worry! We are here to help you out. So let’s look at what this exam is all about.
CLEP Natural science exam covers introductory level topics of both physical and biological sciences. Comprising of about 120 questions, test has to be completed in 90 minutes. It is designed to test the basic science knowledge of students who are looking to major in non-science subjects. College credit earned on basis of this exam may depend on the institution. However, ACE recommends passing of this exam equivalent to six credit hour semester work. Important point to note here is that this exam is not meant for students intending to major in science.
So, now you know the generalities, let’s dive into the course contents!
The syllabus of the exam is equally divided into two major parts: Biological Science and Physical Science. In a nutshell, Biological Science covers the study of everything that is alive and Physical Science covers the study of inanimate, non-living things. Exam breakdown is as follows:
This will probably prove to be the most interesting part of your study. You will explore the concept of evolution- how humans and all other living things came to be in the form that we see now. Start with learning the origins of life and work through to the theory of evolution. And don’t forget about Darwin! Animals and plants are all classified into categories and you will want to learn them carefully and while you do that you will learn many interesting things along the way like the fact that the house cat and the ferocious leopards are members of the same family!
Slightly technical but interesting, this portion covers the basic building blocks and process sustaining the life form. This section starts with the most fundamental unit of life called the ‘cell’ and goes on to explore how cells and the processes involved in biosynthesis and bioenergetics sustain life. Furthermore, you will learn about gene composition which will prepare you to study about heredity in the next section.
This section has the largest share in biological science part of the exam and rightly so, as it covers the fundamentals of core biology. Here you will cover anatomy of animals, details of animal tissue structure and mechanism of reproduction. Further, you will dive into the concept of homeostasis and the role hormones play in the proper functioning of animals. Sounds boring so far? Don’t worry; the boring is compensated by the exciting study of genes and DNA and how it all works in inheritance. And don’t forget to study about plant physiology and reproduction; after all they are living organisms too!
So here you will be studying about how animals interact with each other and with their environment. How communities of living things are formed and how living things depend on each other for survival. Detailed study of ecological cycles, energy cycle, population growth models, community structures and biogeography will get you through this section just fine!
Mostly, everyone is familiar with the concept that everything in the physical world is made of atoms. Atoms are the smallest building block of matter. And they are small- like really small- (like The Atom superhero of DC comics!). But what is an atom made of? Even smaller particles called elementary particles exist that form the atoms. Here, you will study these particles and how they form the atomic structure and what kind of the nuclear reactions they are involved in.
Now that you know all about atoms, you are in a position to learn about how these atoms bond together to form elements and compounds. You will look into atomic bonding types and their nature and chemical reactions involved in their formation. You might find this portion to be a bit dry, but putting in a little hard work will take you a long way!
Fundamental concepts of physics are tested in this portion. You will study about states of matter: solid, liquid and gas. Is there a fourth one? Plasma? You will get to study that in detail and will probably find many interesting things. Further, you would need to know about the thermodynamics. Ever heard of Einstein’s Theory of relativity? While studying this section you will get to know all about that too!
This section covers fundamental concepts of electricity and magnetism. Do you both these phenomenon are interlinked? You will get to study electric circuits and electromagnetic waves. How electromagnet waves propagate and how often we encounter them in daily life. Further, you will get to know nature of sound waves and how they are different from other waves. Most importantly, you will study all about light! Is light a wave? What are photons? Prepare for all these concepts comprehensively!
Here is your chance to alleviate the stress of studying all the boring concepts of science ! Who doesn’t love the night sky filled with twinkling stars! Ever wondered about them? About the mysteries of the universe? Here is your chance to satisfy your curiosity and get good marks at the same time! Study about galaxies and star, how they are formed. And don’t forget our own solar system!
Here, you will get to learn all about our home planet Earth! You will study in detail all about atmosphere and many layers of the atmosphere. Further you will want to go into detail about the geological processes and history of the planet. This will prove to be an interesting study!
That was all about the course contents of the exam! Further you need to how questions are designed to test particular abilities of the candidates.
Let’s take a look:
• Factual knowledge: about 40 % of the exam questions will test your knowledge of the facts. It means fundamental theories of biological and physical science; basic concepts and principles.
• Comprehension and interpretation: about 20% of the exam will test your understanding and correct interpretation of given information. The information may be in the form of graphs or theoretical passage or tables or any other such similar form. So it is best that you include such type of questions in your practice session.
• Application: 40 % of the exam will consist of questions that will require arriving at the answer by applying some scientific principle that you have learned. You might be required to perform quantitative or qualitative analysis based on graphs/figures/tables/ diagrams provided.
Correct Answer: Cell wall
Explanation: That was an easy one to boost your confidence! Cell wall is fully permeable and present in plant cells only. It surrounds the cell and helps in maintaining it's shape. It is made of cellulose and quite rigid, thus helps in maintaining turgidity of the cell.
Correct Answer: Conduction
Explanation: Heat transfer in solids takes place by conduction. Particles of solids vibrate at their fix position and transfer heat through vibrations. They do not leave their place. Molecules of liquids and gases transfer heat by actual movement of particles. This one was pretty easy, wasn't it? But you should better prepare yourself for harder questions of the exams by studying deeply the concepts of thermodynamics.
Correct Answer: Coulombs
Explanation: Charge is measured in coulombs. Ampere is the unit of current and it is the rate of flow of electric charge. Voltage is measured in volts and resistance in ohms.
Correct Answer: Fats
Explanation: Adipose tissues store fat. They are located mainly under the skin and around the internal organs. It provides cushion to the organs and thermal insulation. Fat is stored as energy reserve.
Correct Answer: Fruit
Explanation: Mature ovaries form the fruit. Embryo is contained inside the seeds. Seeds are inside the fruit. Under the right conditions seeds germinate.
Correct Answer: Geographical isolation
Explanation: This question relates to evolution. Allotapric speciation happens when organisms are geographically isolated from each other and over time mutation and genetic drift causes them to evolve into different species. In sympatric speciation, geographical separation does not occur. Mutation and natural selection is part of both processes.
Correct Answer: It is expanding
Explanation: The big bang theory posits that our universe originated in an explosion. Accordingly it is thought that it is still expanding even today.
Correct Answer: Neutrons
Explanation: Isotopes are atoms of the same elements with same atomic number but different mass number. Same atomic number means that number of protons is the same. However, number of neutrons vary, thus varying the mass number as the mass number is the sum of number of protons and number of neutrons. Isotopes have similar chemical properties as their atomic number is the same. Their physical properties vary due to difference in mass.
Correct Answer: Primary producers
Explanation: Another easy one! This question is related to ecology and trophic level of the autotrophs. Autotrophs are producers and have the ability of producing complex organic substances like carbohydrates from simple elements. They are primary producers and they produce their own food. Green algae are an example of an autotrophs.
Correct Answer: Their number of neutrons is equal to number of protons
Explanation: Atoms with eight number of electrons in their valence shell are stable. All other atoms have the tendency to try to achieve this state. Atoms that do not have 8 electrons in their valence shell undergo chemical reactions to achieve this state. Metals with one two or three valence electrons form positive ions by losing these electrons. When they lose electrons of their valence shell, it becomes empty. Next shell now becomes the valence shell and contains eight electrons. Nonmetals such as chlorine need to gain electrons to complete their valence shells. They become negative ions by gaining electrons. These positive negative ions form covalent bonds. Nonmetals also form the covalent bond in which atoms share their valence electrons with each other in such a way that valence electrons of every element become eight! Since noble gases already have eight electrons in their outer shell, they do not need to undergo any chemical reaction. They are monoatomic gases.
While quite short on the study side of things, the official CLEP book is the go-to final practice test. Since this is the only official practice test available, I normally use it as my final spot check before taking the test.
REA offers a great combination of CLEP study tips, exam study materials, and detailed practice tests. This book functions well as the central pillar of a strong CLEP prep strategy, with resources like the Official CLEP Study Guide (above) providing a great final practice test at the end.
The website looks like it was made before the internet, but it’s legitimately the single most useful study guide I’ve found yet. Basically it’s a series of flashcards that help you study in a fast paced and fun way.