Study Guide for the Science Portion of the HSE Exam

Posted by on March 18th, 2016

Studying for the High School Equivalency (HSE) exam should be strategic. Adequate time should be spent on each subject with a study plan directly targeting the information needed for your students. For the Science portion of the exam, a successful study plan should include vocabulary work, classroom activities, online resources and practice tests.


Vocabulary Work

The Science portion of the exam will undoubtedly contain lots of vocabulary that your students should be familiar with. Instruction and study efforts should be made just around the vocabulary alone. Start by helping your students become familiar with the most common vocabulary terms. Extend the preparation to encompass games and other vocabulary related activities. Some activities for vocabulary review are:

  • Flash Cards – The flash cards are portable and can be reviewed just about anywhere.
  • Post-it Hit List – Place a post-it note with the vocabulary and their definitions in a very prominent place for frequent review. Bathroom mirrors and near work computers are common areas. Once the list is mastered, change it out for another short list of words.
  • Writing Sentences – Practice writing sentences using the words in a way that shows the definition.
  • Make Associations – Use motions and images to associate with the words and make connections for better memory.

Classroom Activities

The classroom is where most direct instruction and learning takes place. Classroom activities should be structured with this in mind. The activities should include multiple opportunities for the students to engage with the material. As Science includes a lot of investigation and discovery, the concepts can be taught and reviewed using hands-on activities. Design specific experiments to accompany each concept. Encourage scholarly discussion amongst students regarding concepts and findings. Explore scenarios that have the theories at work. Create opportunities within the classroom for Science to be more than just a theory or concept, but rather a tangible proof.


Online Resources

Online activities can be used both in the classroom and within students’ own homes and communities. The use of online resources gives students access to a wide variety of material in several formats. Online resources can be used as instructional tools within the classroom and for review when away. Some sources for online Science instruction include:


Practice Tests

Provide multiple opportunities for students to take practice Science HSE tests. The practice tests will reinforce the students’ familiarity with the format, timing and overall expectations. Practicing the Science portion of the test will also prepare students on how the information will be assessed. In addition to the standard vocabulary and definition evaluation, the tests may include scenarios and other application questions.


Preparation is a key foundation to success. Like students follow specific plans to prepare for Language Arts and Math portions of HSE exams, a similar approach should be taken for Science. Through vocabulary review, classroom activities, online practice and practice tests, students will have a variety of tools at their disposal to help them successfully pass the exam.


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