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Life Science

The fundamental goal of life science is to attempt to understand and explain the nature and function of living things. The following represent the major concepts covered by the NAEP 2005 science assessment.

Change and Evolution

  • diversity of life on Earth;
  • genetic variation within a species;
  • theories of adaptation and natural selection; and
  • changes in diversity over time.

Cells and Their Functions

  • information transfer;
  • energy transfer for the construction of proteins; and
  • communication among cells.


  • reproduction, growth, and development;
  • life cycles; and
  • functions and interactions of systems within organisms.


  • interdependence of life, including populations, communities, and ecosystems.

For further examples of questions probing student understanding of life science at each grade level, go to the NAEP Questions Tool.

Last updated 21 December 2010 (RF)
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National Center for Education Statistics -
U.S. Department of Education