Textual Presentations on the GED Science Test

By Murray Shukyn, Achim K. Krull

Much of the scientific information presented on the GED Science test comes in the form of reading passages — one or more paragraphs of text. The challenge with these passages is to be able to read and understand the passage and sift through it to find the specific information you need to answer the questions that follow the passage.

Here’s a sample reading passage extracted from the booklet “Wetlands” published by the Environmental Protection Agency:

Some wetlands, such as salt marshes, are among the most productive natural ecosystems in the world. Only rain forests and coral reefs come close to matching their productivity. They produce huge amounts of plant leaves and stems that serve as the basis of the food web. When the plants die, they decompose in the water and form detritus.

Detritus and the algae that often grow on plants are the principal foods for shrimp, crabs, clams, and small fish, which, in turn, are food for larger commercial and recreational fish species such as bluefish and striped bass.

The following diagram represents a typical energy pyramid.

A typical energy pyramid.

  1. In the energy pyramid, detritus and algae that grow on plants are at which level in the food pyramid?

    • (A) tertiary consumers

    • (B) secondary consumers

    • (C) primary consumers

    • (D) producers

  2. In the energy pyramid, producers convert

    • (A) nuclear energy into thermal energy

    • (B) radiant energy into chemical energy

    • (C) mechanical energy into electrical energy

    • (D) thermal energy into radiant energy

Check your answers:

  1. Detritus and the algae that grow on plants are referred to as the primary foods for smaller animals that larger animals feed on, so the correct answer is Choice (D), producers.

  2. Producers are plants that convert radiant energy from the sun into chemical energy in the form of plants, which are comprised of the chemicals carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, which provide energy to the consumers in the food chain. Choice (B) is the correct answer.