Important Science Vocabulary Your Adult Students Must Know

Posted by on January 19th, 2016

Understanding specific vocabulary is the key to unlocking success on the Science portion of the High School Equivalency (HSE) exams. Through a baseline understanding of key vocabulary, students are able to accurately answer questions and better decode the problems they may not be sure about.

A number of strategies exist for teaching and reviewing vocabulary within the classroom. In addition to teaching and review, there are also ways to display the words so that students have constant access and reminders. A few suggestions to incorporate vocabulary into the classroom include unit instruction, word walls, games and infographics.

Unit Instruction

There are so many terms that students are responsible for learning. Chunking the words into related units, rather than teaching terms in isolation, is an effective way to provide vocabulary instruction. As students learn the vocabulary in context and relationship, it presents an opportunity for extension of their knowledge retention rate.


Science Word Wall

Choose a wall to dedicate to science vocabulary. As new words are introduced during instruction, add an index card of the word to the word wall. This provides a running list of vocabulary that students should be familiar with.


Games are an effective, fun way to review vocabulary. Jeopardy, Memory Match and Beat the Buzzer are among the games that can be used for review. Interactive games may also be available online.


Posters and infographics should be displayed around the room. The displays should include various scientific illustrations (photosynthesis, metamorphosis, food webs, states of matter, etc.). With this method, the vocabulary is prominently exhibited in context.


There are hundreds of words that students should know for the science portion of the HSE exams.


Boiling point: temperature at which liquid boils

Cell: the basic unit of all organisms

Chemical reaction: a process in which substances are changed to others

Climate: the general, averaged weather in an area

DNA: the carrier of genetic information; deoxyribonucleic acid

Energy: ability to do work; forceful exertion

Erosion: the process of wearing something down by wind, water or other natural agents

Evolution: change through time in the development of a species

Food chain: series of organisms where each member is eaten by another; food chains begin with plant-life and end with animal-life

Fossil: the remains or impression of a plant or an animal from a past age preserved in a petrified form or mold within rock

Gas: the state of matter that expands freely to fill any space available

Gravity: the force of attraction between two masses

Habitat: environment in which an organism normally lives

Liquid: fluid matter with fixed volume, but no fixed shape

Mass: the property of matter that causes it to have weight

Matter: physical substance that occupies space and has mass

Metamorphosis: the process of transformation; change in appearance

Organism: living thing that can act or function independently

Photosynthesis: process by which plants convert sunlight into energy/food

Solid: the state of matter that is firm and stable in shape



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