Samples of Science and Math Items
By: Michael Calhoun
The following items adhere to the Code of Fair Testing Practices in Education, developed by the Joint Committee on Testing Practices
5) What is the volume of the liquid shown in the illustration to the
A. 35.0 ml
B. 36.0 ml
C. 36.5 ml*
D. 37.5 ml
Question Stem with Rationales
6) Which of the following statements explains why a crystal that is invisible underwater becomes visible in air when removed from the water?
A. The air’s index of refraction is the same as that of water
B. The crystal can produce interference with light in air.
C. The air’s index of refraction is different then that of water.*
D. The crystal is a solid substance with a specific shape and size.
This item requires the examinee to demonstrate the ability analyze information
about the index of refraction of a crystal that becomes invisible when
submerged underwater, but reappears when removed. Response A is
incorrect because if two substances refract (bend) light at the same angle
they cannot be distinguished. The crystal and the water are said to have
the same index of refraction. When the crystal is lifted out of the water
and into the air, it becomes instantly visible. The crystal’s shape and
size can been seen because the air’s index of refection is very different
then that of the water therefore Response C is correct. Response
B is incorrect because the interference of light occurs when two waves
meet and add or cancel each other. The crystal’s shape and size can been
seen because the air’s index of refection is very different then that of
the water. The appearing and disappearing will happen regardless of geometric
shape or physical size of the crystal, therefore Response D is incorrect.
Question Stem with Distractors
7) Gray wolves are carnivores. Their diet includes dear, sheep, birds, and lizard, even fish. They hunt in packs and live in dens. The wolf’s predators include other wolf packs and bears. They are found in the upper mid and northwest sections of the United States and Southern Canada. This description is an example of which of the following choices?
Distractor A is incorrect because a biome is a geographic area characterized by certain types of plant and animal communities. A biome contains a number of smaller but related ecosystems.
Distractor B is incorrect because a community consists of all the populations of different species that live, and interacts in an area. The different populations in a community may depend on each other for food and shelter.
Distractor C is incorrect because an organism’s habitat is the environment in which it lives.
Distractor D is correct. An organism’s niche includes its habitat, its feeding patterns in relationship to other living things along with its predators. These items are all stated in the paragraph about the Gray Wolf.
Extended Response Item With Scoring
1.Explain the difference between covalent and ionic bonds.
2. Diagram and label an example of two compounds one containing ionic bonds and the other with covalent bonds.
||The response demonstrates an in-depth understanding
that ionic bonds refers to the electrical forces of attraction that
exist between ions of opposite charges and that NaCl table salt is an
example. The student is also aware that covalent bonding results from
the sharing of electrons between two atoms. The hydrogen molecule is
||The response demonstrates a general understanding
of covalent and ionic especially the importance of electrostatic forces
as the bases for ionic bonding and the sharing of electrons for covalent
||The response demonstrates a simplistic understanding
the difference between ionic and covalent bonding.
||The response demonstrates a minimal understanding
of the difference between ionic and covalent bonding.
||The response is incorrect or contains some correct
statements that are irrelevant to the concept being measured.
Grading & Teaching Notes:
1. Ionic bonds refer to the electrical forces of attraction that exist between ions of opposite charges. Covalent bonding results from the sharing of electrons between two atoms.
2. Any examples of ionic and covalent bonded compounds.
Passage based Multiple-Choice Item
Passage 1. A tropical wave that begins spinning around a center of low pressure is called a tropical depression. Tropical depressions have maximum sustained wind speeds at the surface of the ocean of less than 37 to 62 km/h (40 mph). When the maximum winds reach 63 to 117 km/h (over 40 mph) the storm changes into a “tropical storm,” It is at this point that the storm is given a name by the National Hurricane Center. When the winds in the storm reach 120 km/h (75mph) the storm is upgraded to a hurricane. The winds of a hurricane are structured around a central “eye”, which is an area of very low pressure that is free of clouds and relatively calm. Around this “eye” area, storm clouds wrap in a counter-clockwise motion. This “eyewall” of clouds, wind and rain, is the most destructive part of hurricane. The eyewall creates the hurricane’s eye, because the rapidly spinning clouds in the wall reduce the pressure in the eye and suck out any clouds that may be present.
1) Which of the following statements is the criterion used for upgrading
a tropical storm to a hurricane?
A. Formation of an eye.
B. Low central air pressure.
C. Storm surge potential.
D. Sustained wind speed*
2) A storm with an atmospheric pressure of 1007 millibars and a maximum
sustained wind speed of 82 Km/h would be classified as which of the following
A. Tropical Disturbance
B. Tropical Depression
C. Tropical Storm*
Passage 2. Io is
one of 28 moons of Jupiter. Io is also one of the largest at 3630 km
in diameter; only Ganymede and Callisto are larger. The Voyager and Galileo
space probes exploration of the Jovian moon Io discovered active volcanoes.
These volcanoes give rise to very hot lava flows as long as 500 km and
gas/dust plumes that can reach heights of 400 km. In addition, Io has
tremendously high mountains, which are not volcanoes, and tectonic faults
that give rise to the mountains and volcanoes. Io has a thin atmosphere
consisting of sulfur dioxide mainly from plumes erupting from the volcanoes.
1) Which statement is a conclusion supported by information given in
A. Geological features found on Io are similar to features on Earth.*
B. Geological features found on Io are similar to features on Mars.
C. Geological features found on Io are similar to features on Mercury.
D. Geological features found on Io are similar to features on Venus.
Upper Elementary & Middle School Integrated Science Math Items
1) Tincture of iodine is brownish-red in color. When added to fruit juices
containing vitamin C will become colorless. This reaction can be used
to test for the amount of vitamin C in different juices. An equal amount
of iodine is placed in cups and drops of different juices were added until
a color change took place. The following is a record of the results.
|Name of Juice||Number of Drops|
1.What is the mean number of juice drops needed
to change the color of iodine?
2. Solve for z: 2z + 3 = 5
B) 1 Correct 2z = 5-3, z = 2/2, z = 1
3. Speed = Distance/Time is the formula used to calculate how fast the sea floor is spreading. A bottom sediment was taken from the Indian Ocean 1,000 Km from the underwater ridge. Fossils found in the sediment indicated that it had begun to move 10,000,000 years ago. How fast is that section of the Indian Ocean floor moving?
A) 0.0001 km/year or 1 x 10-4 Correct
B) 0.001Km/year or 1 x 10-3
C) 0.01 Km/year or 1 x 10-2
D) 0.1 km/year
4. The Richter scale is used to report the magnitude of earthquakes.
Each Richter number is 32 times greater then the number that
precedes it. A magnitude 6
earthquake is _______ more intense than a magnitude 4 earthquake.
A) 100 times
B) 1000 times Correct
C) 32,768 times
D) 1,000,000 times
Extended Response Item With Scoring
5. Write an equation for this motion graph. Explain why your equation is reasonable for the graphical data shown.
||Response is correct and the underlying
reasoning process is appropriate and clearly communicated.
||Response indicates substantial and appropriate
mathematical reasoning but is lacking in some minor way(s).
||Response indicates some mathematical reasoning
but fails to address the item's main mathematical ideas.
||Response indicates no appropriate mathematical