In a world full of wicked problems like pandemics, climate change and food security, science is more important and more exciting than ever before.

Assess students’ scientific thinking with the ICAS Science exam

In recognition of the subject’s educational importance, ICAS Science Assessments are designed to provide an objective ranking of students’ performance based on the curricula for the relevant year. Science skills such as experimentation, empirical observation, logical reasoning, scientific analysis and critical thinking not only help you do well in STEM subjects — they are critical components of humankind’s most successful system for pursuing knowledge: the scientific method.

Science has applications in countless fields of study and work, whether it’s looking at some of the smallest objects in the world in genetics and nanotechnology, or some of the biggest in geology and astrophysics. From the oldest disciplines such as medicine, to the newest like quantum mechanics, the universal language of chemistry to the murky depths of neuropsychology, opportunities abound for budding scientists. But even if you have no interest in working in a scientific field, the skills you learn in ICAS Science will benefit your brain, your grades, and your ability to understand and navigate the world.

More than simply a Science competition, ICAS Science Assessments consist of questions written and reviewed every year by expert educators. Papers are carefully graded to stimulate interest and learning across a wide range of abilities, including gifted and talented students. Students encounter a variety of questions on real scientific stimulus materials designed to test students’ scientific skills of:

  • observing and measuring
  • interpreting
  • predicting and concluding
  • investigating
  • space and geometry
  • reasoning and problem solving.

In turn, students receive a unique academic experience designed to challenge their abilities beyond the classroom, a greater understanding of where their strengths and areas of improvement lie, and recognition and encouragement of academic success.

Year 2 to Year 6 ICAS Science Assessments

The primary school level papers of ICAS Science exams challenge and extend high-achieving school students while reinforcing key science skills. Students read a variety of questions on different knowledge areas involving real-life scientific stimulus materials. ICAS papers are each designed according to the respective stage of the national Australian curriculum and are crafted to be an enjoyable enrichment experience. Below are some examples of topics that may be explored in ICAS Science Assessments.

The Introductory paper, for students in the equivalent of Year 2, explores concepts such as light and shadow, properties of different materials, life cycles of plants and animals, and movement of objects in simple situations. Questions may require students to identify features of different seasons, compare the levels of liquids in different containers, draw conclusions based on simple graphs such as the growth of a child, or investigate the formation of shadows.

ICAS Science tests more sophisticated skills as school students progress through the years. For example, in Paper A (Year 3), students may be asked to determine how weather affects different regions, examine differences between living and non-living things, or select the most efficient machinery to achieve an outcome. Papers B and C (Years 4 and 5) explore topics such as cloud patterns, food webs, recycling, the production and use of sounds, simple electrical circuits and the function of experimental controls.

Finally, in Paper D (Year 6), questions may require students to conduct fossil dating, distinguish between physical and chemical changes, investigate the resources needed for the survival of living things, determine the impact of pollution, or examine ranges of radio frequencies.

Year 7 to Year 12 ICAS Science Assessments

The high school level papers of ICAS Science exams challenge and extend high-achieving school students while nurturing the scientific skills required in studying Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Earth and Environmental Science. Students read a variety of questions on different knowledge areas involving real-life scientific stimulus materials. ICAS papers are each designed according to the respective stage of the national Australian curriculum and are crafted to be an enjoyable enrichment experience. Below are some examples of topics that may be explored in ICAS Science Assessments.

Papers E and F, for students in the equivalent of Year 7 and Year 8, assess advanced content on topics such as electrical circuits, forces and chemical processes, as well as new areas such as the particle model of matter, ecosystem interactions and transformation of energy. For example, questions may require students to identify landforms from contour maps, investigate advantages and disadvantages of renewable and non-renewable energy, identify different parts of the cell or calculate speed and acceleration from given formulas.

Papers G and H (Years 9 and 10) set the foundation for the final years of schooling by challenging and extending students on a range of scientific topics. Students may be asked to generate hypotheses about weather, recognise problems associated with extraterrestrial investigations, apply scientific writing principles to experimental reports, understand random sampling methods in biology, or identify the effects of electric currents on humans.

Papers I and J (Years 11 and 12) similarly prepare senior school students for their final exams in STEM subjects in a fun and challenging way, especially for students studying Chemistry, Physics, Biology and Earth and Environmental Science. Questions may require students to examine evidence relating to the formation of the universe, differentiate between accuracy and precision, use the law of constant proportion and the law of conservation, examine the ethics of using living subjects in experiments or measure macroscopic energy changes such as earthquakes and explosions. While senior high school students often set aside some of their previous extracurricular activities, ICAS tests provide valuable assessment experience and performance insights in the various popular Science subjects.

“I thought the exams were really challenging and interesting, especially when they are applicable to the real world.”
Andrew
Year 8, Science, 2021
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