How to Draw a Conclusion from Data or Evidence on the GED Science Test

By Murray Shukyn, Achim K. Krull

Drawing conclusions from data is an important skill for the GED Science test. You may often think that drawing conclusions from scientific data is something done only in science classes, but it’s actually more common and important in the real world, where such conclusions can affect health, safety, economic conditions, and the very survival of the planet.

To draw conclusions from evidence, look closely at the data or evidence presented and consider carefully how the evidence was obtained; for example, how an experiment or study was conducted. The data and other evidence along with the question and answer choices lead you to the conclusion.

A poorly designed experiment or study can raise more questions than answers. For example, scientists may hypothesize that global warming is caused primarily by burning fossil fuels, but they draw that conclusion only after evaluating other possible factors, such as farming practices, deforestation, solar variability, and greenhouse gases other than carbon dioxide, such as methane.

Here are a few questions that challenge your ability to arrive at evidence-based conclusions.

  1. Oceanographers recently discovered a fish, called an opah or moonfish, that maintains a constant body temperature. Why does this fish challenge the system for distinguishing classifying vertebrates (animals with a backbone or spinal column)?

    • (A) Fish are classified as coldblooded invertebrates.

    • (B) Fish are generally classified as coldblooded vertebrates.

    • (C) Vertebrates cannot maintain a constant body temperature.

    • (D) Invertebrates cannot maintain a constant body temperature.

  2. Photosynthesis is a process in which plants use energy from the sun to convert carbon dioxide and water into energy-rich carbohydrates and release oxygen as a “waste” product. Plants are considered primary producers. Through respiration, primary consumers eat and digest the plants, converting carbohydrates and oxygen into carbon dioxide, water, and energy.

    Herbivores (animals that eat plants) obtain energy directly from

    • (A) the sun

    • (B) breathing

    • (C) carbohydrates

    • (D) water

  3. This graph illustrates the effect of different concentrations of engine coolant on the freezing point of water.

    image0.jpg

    What is the optimum ratio of coolant to water?

    • (A) 50:50

    • (B) 100:0

    • (C) 60:40

    • (D) 40:60

  4. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “ … cellphones and cordless phones use radiofrequency radiation (RF) to send signals. RF is different from other types of radiation (like X-rays) that we know can be harmful. We don’t know for sure if RF radiation from cellphones can cause health problems years later. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified RF radiation as a ‘possible human carcinogen.’ (A carcinogen is an agent that causes cancer.)”

    Based on this information from the CDC, you can conclude that

    • (A) Cellphones are safe to use.

    • (B) Cellphones cause cancer.

    • (C) Cellphones emit X-rays.

    • (D) Cellphones emit radiofrequency radiation.

Check your answers:

  1. To answer this question correctly, you need some information not supplied by the question — the fact that fish are classified as coldblooded vertebrates and that coldblooded animals can’t maintain a body temperature (they’re the temperature of their environment). So the opah challenges the classification system because fish are generally classified as coldblooded vertebrates, Choice (B). (Just for the record, other fish, including tuna and sharks, can raise their body temperature temporarily, but they can’t maintain a constant body temperature.)

  2. Through the process of respiration, herbivores break down carbohydrates to release energy, so Choice (C) is correct. If you picked Choice (A), you’re partially right, because the energy originally comes from the sun, but plants convert the radiant energy from the sun into chemical energy stored in carbohydrates, and the question asks where herbivores “obtain energy directly from.” If you picked Choice (B), you’re thinking of a different meaning of “respiration,” and Choice (D) is just plain wrong — water doesn’t provide energy for animals; it has 0 calories.

  3. The graph shows that the freezing point of water/coolant mixture is lowest with 60 percent coolant and 40 percent water, so Choice (C) is correct.

  4. Based on the information provided, the only conclusion you can draw is that cellphones emit RF radiation, Choice (D). None of the other answer choices is supported in the passage.