The Ohio Graduation Test in Science was one of my main focuses in my first job working at West High School in Columbus. I prepared a lot of material for helping students with the OGT while I was there, and some of it can be found below.
Although the OGT is being phased out in the coming years, there are still many high-stakes standardized tests that students need to be ready for. So, most of these files will remain helpful to anybody studying this material even if it's not this exact same test.
The science OGT is split into four strands or topics:
- Earth and space science,
- life science,
- physical science, and
- "science processes".
The last of these is the strand where many students do the worst, in part because it's given so little explicit attention in most science classes. The science processes strand covers three broad areas from the old Ohio science standards, including "science and technology", "scientific inquiry", and "scientific ways of knowing". Ethics in scientific research falls under the ways of knowing standard and most of the students I worked with seemed to have had no prior experience thinking about it.
Homologous chromosomes, alleles, genotype vs phenotype, dominant vs recessive, homozygous vs heterozygous... even single-gene Punnett squares. All the basic terms.
- Pure substances and mixtures
Definitions and examples of element, compound, mixture, including the main types of mixture -- homogenous (solution), colloid, and heterogeneous (including suspensions). Also a nice flowchart like a dichotomous key for identifying the type of matter something is.
- Physical or chemical???
Definitions and examples for physical and chemical properties and changes.
- Atoms and bonding guide
A long (9 page!) writeup reviewing everything a state graduation test expects students to know about atoms and chemical bonds. This is 9th-grade level material only, not junior chemistry course stuff. It covers the parts and structure of an atom, how to read the periodic table, ions and isotopes, ionic and covalent bonds, and how to read a chemical formula. It does not cover chemical reactions -- reading an equation, balancing, exothermic/endothermic.
- These cards simply cover vocabulary and some simple conceptual questions. You can use the files to write your own flashcards on any topic -- just make sure you print or copy them double-sided and then cut them apart.
- Earth and space science flashcards
- Life science flashcards
- Physical science flashcards
- Science processes flashcards
Constructed response help
- The biggest problem my students had on the OGT was the constructed response (CR) questions where they couldn't just rely on educated guesses to get points. In fact, I knew many students who simply SKIPPED these questions when they came to them, which is a TERRIBLE idea. A full third of the points on the OGT come from these questions so you can't afford to just jump right past them!
- Writing specific answers
A one-page guide I wrote about being SPECIFIC when composing an answer for one of these questions. Many students lose points simply because they glossed over something either out of carelessness or because they thought it was "obvious".
- 2006 CR question guide
Some CR questions from the 2006 test, along with tips on how to identify what you need to do and some suggestions for writing the answer.
- 2007 CR question guide
Some CR questions from the 2007 test, along with tips on how to identify what you need to do and some suggestions for writing the answer.
Constructed response -- detailed looks
- The state has published detailed answer guides for all of their released constructed response questions, including the exact scoring rubric that is used for those questions and scans of actual student answers to those questions along with the score it received and a description of why it got that score. These are VERY helpful for getting students to understand what separates a good answer from a bad one. They even make a good classroom activity where students try to figure out what score the answers get before you reveal that to them.
- The files below are simply trimmed-down versions of the files that the Ohio Department of Education has posted in the past. I condensed them down but didn't alter any of the language or content.
- Drug testing
2 point question covering experimental design in drug trials.
- Reproduction methods
2 point question contrasting sexual and asexual reproduction.
- Solar warming
2 point question regarding a hypothesis about an experiment with thermometers placed out in the sunlight.
- Advantages of square watermelons
2 point question categorized under science and technology in which students must come up with advantages for growing "square" watermelons. This is one of my very least-favorite OGT questions, which is saying a lot!
- An unknown powder
4 point question under experimental design in which students describe (safe) tests to perform on an unidentifed powder to begin learning some of its properties.
- Ohio weather
4 point question in Earth science, where students describe factors influencing the weather in Ohio. Many of the potential correct answers are actually about climate rather than weather per se, but the question itself doesn't make this clear.
- The ODE released many of the old OGT tests (with some questions removed), and one of the things I did was to go through them and construct special-topic tests. Below you'll find collections of all released questions on a given topic. One for each "strand" on the test and one that collects every released question involving a graph.
- For the answers to these practice tests, refer to my OGT question database (see below) and the ODE scoring guides. Each question in these tests is clearly labeled with its source test and number, so you can look them up easily.
- Earth and space science
- Life science
- Physical science
- Science processes
- Graphs in science
Released question database
- Released question database
A Microsoft Excel file containing an organized, categorized database of all the released OGT science test items. Along with the ODE's official categorizations based on the benchmark addressed by each item, I have more detailed lists of topics, analysis of the most commonly-tested benchmarks, word frequency counts, and a quickly-searchable list of all the multiple-choice answers. For constructed-response answers, refer to the ODE scoring guides.
Write your own sample tests!
- You may notice that my practice tests look very, very similar to the real thing. I spent probably-too-much time customing a Microsoft Word template to get the look as close as I could. It doesn't make a big difference, but when a student's study and practice sessions look like the real deal, it CAN help their performance a little.
- OGT lookalike template
A Word 2010 template file for making your own OGT lookalike. It has some predefined styles in it as well as instructions for how to use it.
- OGT lookalike font: TeX Gyre Adventor
A free font that's a very close match to the super-expensive font the real test is printed with. "Century Gothic" and "Twentieth Century" are fonts you might alrady have installed that are also a pretty good match, but this one is closer.
- I create nearly all my materials in the OpenOffice suite, which is free and open source, so they are saved in version 1.2 of the OpenDocument format. If you want to edit them I strongly recommend using OpenOffice to do it. Microsoft Word can open the files, but depending on your version of Word they may be essentially useless. For example, when I try it in Word 2010, it says my ODTs are "corrupt" and then offers to "recover" some of the data. It gets the text mostly right, but the drawings are completely wrecked, and they're the most time-consuming part to make!
- My text documents are mostly written using a font called "Korinna BT". It seems to be pretty widely available if you search for it. If you don't have/want it, you may need to massage the formatting and spacing to make things look right.
These works by Steve Stonebraker are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://www.camphortree.net/teaching.
Further, I grant to individual teachers and tutors the right to do the following without adhering to the "Attribution" or "ShareAlike" clauses of the Creative Commons license:
- modify the files to suit their needs or the needs of their students.
- distribute to their students the original files OR modified files in hardcopy or electronically.
In plain language: the "spirit" of my licensing is that I want teachers and students to have unhindered access to my files for the direct purpose of teaching / learning. If a teacher wants to use my work with their students as-is or after tweaking, they can do so without needing to attribute me as the author or restate the license. However, if a teacher wants to distribute my work (as-is or tweaked) to any audiences beyond their own students, such as other teachers, then I do expect all of the Creative Commons clauses to be followed.