Environmental Science is one of my favorite starter exams because it is a high school science that does not require a microscope or algebra. Perfect for grades 7 – 10. Besides being a relevant and engaging course to study, students can learn critical thinking skills and build an awareness that where we get our information from matters.
The DSST exam title is actually: Environment and Humanity: The Race to Save the Planet. Topics: Ecological concepts (ecosystems, global ecology, food chains and webs), environmental impacts, environmental management & conservation, and political processes & the future.
I’ve taught this both as a 12-week course, and a 24-week course with adding labs. I spent quite a bit of time searching for a text and chose Environmental Science by Arms ISBN: 0030520193 Copyright 2000. You will find it at online booksellers for pennies. It is one that oodles of families and co-ops have followed suit in using. The text is colorful, includes diagrams, is supported by auxiliary resources from the publisher, and is very affordable.
Reviewing book options for this class helped me realize that pictures do speak a thousand words! And the difference between a high school and college text is that publishers remove the pictures from advanced levels, shrink the font, and add 200 unnecessary pages! Though there are two more recent high school publications of this text, but I still prefer the 2000 copyright. It covers the information necessary with far fewer chapters. I reviewed ten DSST sample questions and found answers to nine of them in the text. Not a guarantee of future success, but good enough for me. I did not purchase the teacher’s guide. I did use these Concept Review Worksheets. I have not found the Answer Key to these worksheets online – we looked up any questions we were uncertain of. I appreciate the suggestion from this homeschool mom, recommending this site which they used in their co-op.
Take advantage of the charts and diagrams in this book to teach your student how to read and interpret them. Teach your student how to conduct a cursory review of the chapter, a second “read” the charts and diagrams, then go back through for a third time and read the text. Learn about the x and y axis, different ways to display data, and how to answer questions by interpreting data. This book is a treasure for that purpose.
Since the text does address evolutionary topics such as the age of the earth and adaptation, use it as an opportunity to discuss critical thinking, worldviews, science and politics. Consider watching Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” followed up by reading the article: “35 Inconvenient Truths – The Errors in Al Gore’s Movie” also shared on YouTube.
Labs can be in the form of experiments, investigations (what is a carbon foot print, draw the CO2 cycle), environmental movie reviews and field trips (local recycling center). Additional ideas can be drawn from the AP Central site for teachers. Minnesota parents might enjoy subscribing to the Minnesota Conservation Volunteer Magazine for interesting, relevant articles.
Test prep should include InstantCert flashcards.
Prometric has partnered with iStudySmart to offer DSST practice exams http://getcollegecredit.com/testprep/ The fee for each title is $5. You will have up to 2 attempts to complete the practice exam in a 24-hour window.
Free-CLEP-Prep has a free practice exam that is helpful as well, however, I would not use it to gauge test-readiness. Rather, use it as a study tool and make sure you know the information it contains.