Sample questions from MSA science test

August 14, 2011

Here are two sample questions from the Maryland School Assessment test for science. The first is for fifth-graders, the second is for eighth-graders.

Question One

Use the information below to answer the following:

Students visited the Morris W. Offit telescope located at the Maryland Space Grant Observatory in Baltimore. They learned about the stars, planets and moon.

The students recorded the information below.

  • Star patterns stay the same, but their locations in the sky seem to change.
  • The sun, planets and moon appear to move in the sky.
  • Proxima Centauri is the nearest star to our solar system.
  • olaris is a star that is part of a pattern of stars called the Little Dipper.

The apparent change in the location of a star pattern is related to

A. Sun flares
B. The season
C. The weather
D. Moon phases

The answer is “B,” the season

Question Two

Nitrogen, a nutrient found in fertilizer, helps plants increase in size. Rainwater runoff often carries fertilizer into ponds and lakes.

What effect does excess nitrogen have on organisms in a pond or lake ecosystem?

A. Algae grows rapidly.
B. Mutations occur gradually in fish.
C. Clam shells are slowly weakened.
D. Frogs adapt quickly to new food sources.

The answer is “A,” algae grows rapidly.


Source: Maryland State Department of Education website at

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