Heredity | TASC Science

They're all working towards individual goalsHeredity is a high emphasis area of the TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion™. It is a part of the Life Science focus of the test. Test takers, head to the cellular structure post to find the connection between these topics.

Heredity refers to the inheritance of traits. Traits can be anything including eye color, food preferences, weight, or disposition. Genetics, in regards to all living things, is based entirely on this inheritance. Genes encode the instructions that define traits. In terms of human beings, each of us has thousands of genes that are made of DNA and reside in our chromosomes.

The History of Heredity

Scientists had long speculated that human traits tend to be similar among families. Many scientists believed that a child’s traits were a blend of a father’s and mother’s traits. And in 1858, Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace announced the theory of natural selection.

Darwin speculated that parents often had more offspring than they needed to replace themselves. This led to a growth in population, and if every individual born were to live and reproduce still more offspring, the population would collapse. Instead, individuals compete for resources. Competition is successful at limiting the population because, as Darwin observed, it is very rare for any two individuals to be exactly alike.

Following this logic, Darwin reasoned that “natural variations among individuals lead to natural selection. Individuals born with variations that confer an advantage in obtaining resources or mates have greater chances of reproducing offspring who would inherit the favorable variations.” Individuals with less appealing or less competitive traits would be less likely to reproduce.

In 1866, Gregor Mendel published the results of his experiments on pea plants. Mendel had been observing the breeding habits of these pea plants for many years. His results showed that “both parents must pass discrete physical factors which transmit information about their traits to their offspring at conception.” For example, a child may have a parent with brown hair and a parent with red hair. These two physical factors, as a trait, are opposing – you cannot have two different hair colors. Therefore, when a child inherits these two opposing forms of the same trait, the dominant form of that trait will be apparent. The child will have brown hair. Red hair, in this example, is the recessive trait. It is still a part of the child’s genetic makeup, and it may be passed on to the child’s child, but it is not expressed.

Since Darwin’s and Mendel’s publications, scientists have made important discoveries about heredity, genetics, and how traits are inherited. Some of these discoveries include:

  • Mutation
  • Gene Flow
  • Genetic Drift

Learn more about these terms, and familiarize yourself with the process of inheritance. These terms can appear on your TASC Science subtest, and you’ll want to know exactly how traits are expressed — and why they are expressed the way they are.

Solving Simple Equations | TASC Math

iStock_000020861530LargeIf you are studying for the TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion™, you already know that high emphasis areas need extra attention. You’ve already reviewed polynomials, and now you need to focus your attention on simple equations.

What is a simple equation?

An equation is a mathematical expression that says two things are the same. They are equal, and the expression uses an equal sign to illustrate this.

Some examples of simple equations include:

2x = 100

8y – 14 = 10

a/15 = 2

The letters in each of these equations (x, y, and a) are known as variables. In a simple equation, the variable is a symbol for a number that you do not know. It usually is represented with the letter x or y, but any letter can be used. It is your job to solve the equation and find out what number the variable stands for.

A coefficient is the number used to multiply or divide a variable. In the above examples, 2, 8, and 15 are all coefficients, respectively.

Any number that stands alone is called a constant.

How do you solve an equation?

To solve an equation, you must solve for the variable. This means you must isolate the variable and separate it from the coefficient (if it has one). To do this, you apply the inverse operations to the equation. An inverse is an operation that “undoes” another operation.

For example, in our first simple equation above, 2x = 100 is a multiplication operation. The inverse of multiplication is division. To solve this equation, we would divide 2 from each side of the equation:

2x = 100

2x(/2) = 100(/2)

x = 50

By using the inverse, we’ve found that x equals 50. We can check our equation by replacing x with 50 in the original equation:

2(50) = 100

Because 2 multiplied by 50 equals 100, we know we’ve solved this simple equation correctly. When you take the TASC Math subtest, try to use any leftover time to double-check your answers for equation problems in this way.

A Few Math Study Tips

  1. Know Your Inverses: Multiplication is the inverse of division, and division is the inverse of multiplication. Addition is the inverse of subtraction, and subtraction in the inverse of addition.
  2. Combine Like Terms: In some simple equations, you might see more than one constant or more than one coefficient. For example, you might see something like this:

2x – 10 + 2x = 70

To solve this, you would combine like coefficients first, then isolate the variable:

4x – 10 = 70
4x – 10 (+ 10) = 70 (+ 10)

4x = 80

4x(/4) = 80(/4)

x = 20

  1. Always Isolate the Variable: You cannot solve for the variable unless it’s isolated. Start away from the variable. In the example above, after we combined the coefficients, we added the constant (10) to both sides. Doing that before dividing by the coefficient (4) is much easier than waiting.
  2. Keep the Equation Balanced: Because the equation is equal, whatever you do to one side of the equation you must do to the other. In all of our examples, we used the inverse on both sides of the equal sign.

REAL TALK: Chantal Reddon’s TASC Test Success Story

iStock_000018257308LargeFor New York resident Chantal Reddon, age 25, taking the TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion™ 9 years after completing the 10th grade renewed her sense of motivation. “I feel like there is now a chance for me to pursue dreams I once thought I could no longer achieve.” Chantal took her test at the Riverside Testing Center in Yonkers and like many others whose success stories inspire us, her story shares her journey on towards her high school equivalency.

  1. What kept you from earning your high school diploma?

What kept me from earning my diploma was ME! I thought it was cool to run the streets and be like every other individual around me. I surrounded myself with a bunch of negative people, which basically made me think negatively about everything else (including myself). I thought if (no matter how hard) I tried, I would still fail. Now I know that not trying is worse than actually failing.Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 9.43.59 AM

  1. What’s your inspiration for pursuing your high school equivalency?

Honestly, I did not have any inspiration until I met my teacher (Miah Hedgepeth). It took meeting Miah, a complete stranger who believed in me, to believe in myself. She made me feel like no matter what I did, no matter where I’m from, I could do better and succeed. From then on, I knew I had to be the one to do the right thing and show others like myself that education is important and you can become whatever you want. She gave me something that no one else did and that was hope and motivation, which I want to give to others someday, too. Miah is my inspiration for pursuing my H.S.E. (high school equivalency).

  1. How did you prepare for the TASC test? How did the study materials help you prepare for the TASC test? 

I prepared for the TASC test by enrolling in classes at Pathways to Success. I was taught every subject I needed. Also, my teacher would give me websites (with practice items) to do at home on my own to brush up on my problem areas. Some of the study materials helped me a lot.

  1. What plans do you have for your future? What are your goals, dreams, and ambitions?

As for my future, well, I love helping others, which is why I’m pursing a career in the medical field. I also have dreams of one day owning my own business, which would help children from all backgrounds that are less fortunate. I want to be able to provide them with everything they need. My goals, as of right now, are to finish college and earn my associate degree and continue from there. I’m just taking it one step at a time!

  1. What is your number one piece of advice or tip for all TASC test takers?

My advice for TASC test takers is to remain focused and study as much as you can. The most honest advice I can give is do not give up! You may think things are hard and get so many negative things thrown your way, but through it all, remain positive. Use everything you can as a stepping-stone to push yourself further in life. Everything you have to endure to get it will be worth it.

What’s your TASC test success story? We want to hear from you! Send us a private message on Facebook and we’ll respond back with a few questions about your experience!

Sentence Structure and Grammar | TASC Writing

Exam at university

Many of the high emphasis areas of the Writing subtest focus on sentence structure. Students taking the TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion™ will need to:

  • Demonstrate a knowledge of standard English grammar
  • Understand simple, compound, complex, and compound-complex sentences
  • Revise sentences to correct misplaced or dangling modifiers
  • Form and use verbs in the active and passive voice

We understand that grammar terms can be especially confusing while you’re studying for your high school equivalency. But, you’re probably using simple and compound sentences regularly. And you probably often use the active voice when speaking. You just need to learn the terms! Start by focusing on the important elements of sentence structure listed above, and start practicing for the TASC writing subtest today.

Types of Sentences

  1. Simple: A simple sentence is one independent clause with no subordinate clauses. This means the sentence has a subject and a verb, and can stand on its own. (A subordinate clause cannot stand on it’s own; it is a fragment, and it does not express a complete thought.)

    Example: Sarah likes math.

  2. Compound: A compound sentence is composed of two or more independent clauses with no subordinate clauses. The independent clauses are usually joined with a comma and a conjunction, or with a semicolon. Some examples of conjunctions include: and, but, or, nor, for, so, and yet.

    Example: Sarah likes math, but she loves science.

  3. Complex: A complex sentence is composed of one independent clause with one or more subordinate clauses.

    Example: If you study for more than an hour, take a break.

  4. Compound-Complex: A compound-complex sentence contains at least two independent clauses and at least one subordinate clause.

    Example: Create a study group, and then decide whether you want to start with the writing or start with the reading subtest.

Types of Voice

A verb can be in either the active or passive voice. Writers must be aware of these two types of voice. If you shift between the two without warning, readers may feel disoriented and confused.

  1. Active: Your sentence is in the active voice if the subject is doing the action. This voice is considered more direct and clearer.

Example: To pass each subtest, each test taker must earn 500 points.

  1. Passive: Your sentence is in the passive voice if the subject is receiving the action.

    Example: To pass each subtest, 500 points must be earned by each test taker.

Types of Modifiers 

A modifier changes, clarifies, qualifies, or limits a particular word in a sentence. The purpose of a modifier is to intensify this particular word. When used correctly and effectively, modifiers can be wonderful additions to your sentence structure.

Example: David, who hopes to take classes at his local college in the fall, is particularly excited about earning his high school equivalency.

Grammatically speaking, modifiers can include: adjectives, adverbs, and phrases such as adjective clauses and adverbial phrases. The first bolded phrase in the example sentence is an adjective clause; the second is an adverb.

The most common grammatical error associated with modifiers is the dangling modifier. A dangling modifier is a modifier that does not logically connect to any word in the sentence. These modifiers are easy to fix — but can be hard to find, especially in your own writing.

Example of dangling modifier: Understanding the importance of the College and Career Readiness Standards, the TASC test focused on a gradual transition to those standards.

Example of corrected modifier: Understanding the importance of the College and Career Readiness Standards, the creators of the TASC test focused on a gradual transition to those standards.

Many beginning writers rely on simple sentences because they are direct and easy to read. However, using too many simple sentences can be read as boring or redundant. Modifiers can help engage your reader more efficiently and hold attention longer. Use a variety of sentence structures, and incorporate modifiers, to write engaging and effective paragraphs.

Choosing the Right High School Equivalency at Your Test Center

iStock_000041721822LargeAfter the changes to high school equivalency tests in 2014, test center administrators have more options than ever before. Not only have the high school equivalency tests been updated, but the selection of tests has been expanded as well.

More options can be overwhelming – especially if you can only choose one high school equivalency test. As a test center administrator,  you want to choose the very best test for your test takers. To be sure you have all the facts, read through our step-by-step process for making your decision:

1. Learn more about the TASC test. 

The best decision is an informed decision. Explore our website, and learn more about the TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion™.

The TASC test is a partnership between McGraw-Hill Education CTB and each state that decides to use the test. When a state adopts the TASC test as the test for high school equivalency, it is considered the official test for that state.

The TASC test can be easily administered at any test center a state approves. This makes the transition to the TASC test both cost- and time-efficient.

2. Consider the differences. 

When you’re learning more about the TASC test, you should focus specifically on the differences between the TASC test and the other high school equivalency exams.

Here are some quick facts about the TASC test:

  • The price of the test is dependent on your state.
  • It can be taken in either a paper-and-pencil or computer-based format.
  • The test content aligns with College & Career Readiness Standards
  • Students receive two free retests.

Other advantages include:

  • Affordability
  • Greater flexibility compared to other tests with more options for test-takers
  • A research-based test, created collaboratively by doctorate-level research scientists, analysts, and specialists

3. Talk to us at CTB.

At CTB, we love talking to administrators, educators, and policymakers. If you have any additional questions or concerns after visiting our website, our blog, and browsing our sample test items , give us a call.

You can order a copy of the TASC Readiness Assessment from our Customer Support center. Email us at or call us at (888) 282-0589, and select option 4.

4. Introduce the TASC test to students.

Once you’ve chosen the TASC test, you want to introduce the option to test takers. Use our sample test items to introduce the option to students. Giving them a hands-on introduction to this new high school equivalency exam can make test takers feel more comfortable with the transition to the TASC test.

Take some time to discuss the differences between the old high school equivalency test your center offered and the TASC test with students. These differences are what persuaded you to adopt the test, and these differences can help students feel more comfortable with the new test.

These two steps can help test takers understand how different the TASC test is from previous high school equivalency tests, providing them with insight into the type of preparation and practice they will need.iStock_000041721822Large

The Major Events of the Civil War | TASC Social Studies


You might already know that one of the top four areas of the Social Studies subtest on the TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion™ is United States history. Since U.S. history starts with the colonial era and continues to the present day, you might not be sure where to start — and there’s a lot to cover.

From the mid-1800s to the end of the century, the U.S. was ripped in two by a major domestic war. Known more commonly as the Civil War, it is to-date the bloodiest war in American history.

Start with this timeline of events, which focuses on helping you gain all the information you need to answer the high emphasis questions on these history topics:

  • 1850s: Tensions between the North and South continue to grow. Many historians have noted that these tensions can be traced back to the same tensions that caused the colonists to revolt against the British during the American Revolution.
  • November 6, 1860: Abraham Lincoln is elected president.
  • 1860: According to the magazine America’s Civil War, South Carolina holds a secession convention where they vote to dissolve their contract with the U.S. and separate from the nation. Six other states — Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas — follow.
  • February 18, 1861:  Jefferson Davis is appointed President of the Confederate States of America in Montgomery, Alabama.
  • April 10, 1861: After Fort Sumter received a shipment of supplies from the North, Confederate forces in Charleston demand that the fort surrenders. When the fort’s commander, Major Robert Anderson, refused, the Confederates open fire. On April 13th, Major Anderson surrenders. The Civil War begins.
  • October 21, 1861: The Battle of Ball’s Bluff is fought in Virginia. The Union must withdraw from battle, and many soldiers drown as they try to retreat across the icy Potomac River.
  • April 24-25, 1862: A Union fleet of gunships sails into the Mississippi River and demands the surrender of New Orleans. The fort falls within two days, and the Union gains control of the mouth of the river and the city.
  • January 1, 1863: The Emancipation Proclamation goes into effect.
  • May 1-4, 1863: The Battle of Chancellorsville in Virginia is General Lee’s greatest victory. Afterwards, Lee asks President Davis for permission to invade the North. Lee hopes to take the war out of Virginia.
  • July 1-3, 1863: The Battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania is the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. However, it stops Lee’s advances toward the North. Union forces win many important battles shortly after their victory in Gettysburg.
  • December 8, 1863: President Lincoln issues the Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction. This proclamation pardons those who participate in the rebellion if they take an oath to the Union.
  • February 14-20, 1864: The Union captures and occupies Meridian, Mississippi. They are lead by the notorious general, William T. Sherman.
  • March 2, 1864: Ulysses S. Grant is appointed lieutenant general, and assumes command of all Union Armies in the field.
  • November 8, 1864: Abraham Lincoln is reelected president.
  • November 16, 1864: General Sherman’s army begins the “March to the Sea.”
  • April 14, 1865: President Lincoln is assassinated by John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theater in Washington, DC.
  • May 10, 1865: Confederate President Davis is captured by Union forces.
  • May 12, 1865: The final battle of the Civil War takes place at Palmito Ranch in Texas. It’s a Confederate victory. However, it’s too late for the Confederacy. Two weeks later, General Simon Bolivar Buckner enters into terms for surrender of the Confederacy Army. The Civil War officially ends on May 26.

Note that this timeline does not include all the battles of the Civil War, and you should do a little more research after starting here. Look into specific battles, and learn more about the impact of the war on the people of this country.

The Civil War had a dramatic impact on U.S. citizens. There was continued unrest between the North and South, especially as Reconstruction began. As Jean Baker of Goucher College notes, “Besides personal losses and the loneliness endured by women, children, and the old, the war brought political uncertainties.”  This was especially true after the assassination of President Lincoln.

Real TASC Test Talk: Elizabeth Potter’s Success Story

10634301_10204741734286154_1830747813_nFor Elizabeth Potter of Uniondale, New York, inspiration for pursuing her high school equivalency exam came from her children. She “wanted to set an example” and further her education. Today, Elizabeth joins other adults like Mike Puccio and Jennifer Walters whose success story brings hope and inspiration. It’s never too late to earn a high school diploma. 

  1. Prior to taking the TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion, what was the highest grade level you completed (and how long ago was it)?

The highest grade level I completed was the 10th grade, which was in 2001.

  1. What’s your inspiration for pursuing your high school equivalency?

My children.

  1. Which sections or subjects did you find to be the easiest and also most challenging?

All the subjects seemed pretty easy except math. The math was hard. The reading wasn’t bad, but it was just a lot of reading, so you have to learn how to manage your time. 

  1. What is your top piece of advice or tip for all TASC test takers?

My advice to all TASC test takers and people who want to take the test [is] to study and read a lot so you can build up your vocabulary.. If you’re going to a prep school, make sure they are teaching you the updated material. My prep school was teaching old material from last year’s GED® test. Last but not least, if the teacher tells you, [or] they feel like you’re not ready to test, don’t listen to them. They told me the same thing and look at me now. I passed.

What’s your TASC test success story? We want to hear from you! Send us a private message on Facebook and we’ll respond back with a few questions about your experience!

How to Become a Certified TASC Test Center


At McGraw-Hill Education CTB, we designed the TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion™ to be easily taken at any test center where other high school equivalency tests have been administered. Not only does this make it easy to find centers close by, but it also makes it easy for test centers to start offering the TASC test.

To become a certified TASC test center, you must:

  1. Know which high school equivalency tests are currently offered in your state.
    Once the TASC test has been adopted by your state, the high school equivalency test is considered the official test for that state. The TASC test program is a partnership between CTB and each state that decides to use the TASC test. If your state has entered into such a partnership your center can consider offering the TASC test.
  2. Consider your options.
    Your test center might already offer a high school equivalency exam. You might be considering replacing your current option, or you might be interested in offering an additional option for test takers. Compare the high school equivalency exams, and decide which is best for you and your test center.
  3. Try out the TASC Test.
    McGraw-Hill Education CTB has developed sample test items to use with your test takers. These items will help students prepare for the TASC test. Test administrators can immediately start working with students. You can help your test takers see how different the TASC test is from previous high school equivalency tests, and the type of preparation and practice required.

The TASC test can be easily administered at any test center a state approves. Most of these test centers have existed for years and are often located near convenient public transportation stops. As an administrator, you must consider your options and decide what is best for your test takers. If the answer is the TASC test, reach out to CTB today. Discover more about offering the TASC test.

TASC Test Spotlighted for Online Testing at Queens Library

iStock_000031410004LargeQueens Library posted a video on YouTube of its recent feature on NY1 news. New York State now offers the TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion™ as its sole high school equivalency (HSE) exam. Queens Library in Long Island City, New York is one of the first organizations to provide testing for the new exam, which replaced the GED® test.

Reporter Matt McClure reported from Queens Library, interviewing TASC test takers and Library employees. Joshua Bassoo graduated from high school in his homeland South America, but he needs a diploma valid in the United States: “I have to do this HSE test . . . so I can get into the college I want to go to.”

In approved states, the TASC test offers test takers the opportunity to earn their high school equivalency, which can lead to better careers and a college education – or beyond. It’s designed for adults who didn’t finish high school and foreigners who need an equivalent to a high school diploma in the United States.

Nikeisha Smothers, Queens Library Literacy Center Manager, explained that the Library provides not only testing but also free preparation courses: “We offer ESOL classes, Adult Basic Education classes, high school equivalency classes for adults. We have seven different centers within the 62 branches.” Find out what’s available and which location is nearest you.

McGraw-Hill Education CTB strongly encourages libraries and other community services to provide test preparation courses such as those at Queens Library. If you’re a test taker, contact your local library today to find help with your high school equivalency exam.

You can view the original video feature by signing in to Time Warner.

Frequently Asked Questions for After the TASC Test

You’ve researched high school equivalency tests and decided to take the TASC Test Assessing Secondary Completion™. You’ve spent time studying and preparing using the practice tests. You may have even spent time retaking tests.

Now, you’ve done it! You’ve taken the TASC test™. But, what comes next? Find the answers to your frequently asked questions about what’s expected after the TASC test.

What is the pass rate?

A minimum passing score for any section of the TASC test is 500 points. The Writing subtest is the only portion of the test that has an additional requirement. Test takers must score at least 500, and achieve at least 2 out of 8 possible points on the Writing essay.

Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at 9.32.46 AM

Test takers must have a cumulative passing score of 2,500.

How long does it take to get my scores?

Paper-based test results can take up to 10 business days after McGraw-Hill Education CTB has received the test to be reported in the reporting system. The time it take you to see your results is dependent on when your test center sends your test to CTB.

Computer-based test results can be reported in your state’s reporting system within 24 hours. Check with your test center if you have questions about viewing your online test score. This immediate report does not include essay scores, however.

Where do I get my results?

Whether you take the paper- or computer-based test, your results will be available your state’s TASC test reporting system.

Will I receive a physical diploma? 

You will receive a high school equivalency certificate. You will not receive a diploma from your former high school or a high school in your area.

What if I need to retake?

Test takers only need to retake the portion of the TASC test that they did not pass. For example, if you earned a passing score on Reading, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies, but did not earn 500 points and the 2 out of 8 on the Writing subtest, then you will need to retake the Writing subtest. The same is true for any of the other specific subtests. You receive two free retests within the first year of registration.

The best thing you can do is focus on the area where your scores did not reach a passing grade. The TASC test results will help guide and focus test takers to the right areas of study. Keep studying, keep practicing, and register with your test center to retake the specific subtest that you need. You’re one big step closer to earning your high school equivalency.


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