Unit 4 - Hypothesis

When planning an investigation, the first stage is to come up with a hypothesis. Many students see a hypothesis as prediction of the outcome of an experiment - but it is a lot more than that. This GCSE Biology quiz will help you get to grips with what exactly a hypothesis is.

A hypothesis is a prediction backed up with a scientific reason saying why you think the prediction is correct. Effectively it is what you expect the outcome of an experiment to be and the reason why you expect it. The experimental part of your investigation is then aimed at testing your hypothesis. Always keep reminding yourself of your hypothesis when planning your experiment as that will help to keep you on track.

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An example of a hypothesis would be that 'seedlings growing in a greenhouse will grow faster than seedlings on a window sill because there is more light for photosynthesis'. To improve on this, you could add 'there is more light because it is coming into the greenhouse from all sides and not just from the side where there is the window'.

Variables will affect the outcome of your experiment so they need to be identified. Once you have your hypothesis, you can then begin to identify the independent variable, the dependent variable and the control variables. The dependent variable is the factor that you think will change. In the example above, the dependent variable is therefore the growth rate. The independent variable is the factor that you think will cause the dependent variable to change, in our example it would be the amount of light. The control variables are harder to work out and you may find that you add more control variables to the list when you are designing your experiment. The more detail you add to your hypothesis the more it will help you to make sure that the experiment you design will investigate the right variables. It helps you to control the variables better too.

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  1. What is a scientific hypothesis?
    It doesn't matter if either the prediction or the reasoning is wrong - that will be decided by the experimental work you do to test the hypothesis
  2. Which of these is a hypothesis?
    The first and the last options must be wrong as they are written in the past tense. The third is not precise enough but the second option offers a prediction and a scientific reason
  3. The hypothesis that links fossils with prehistoric organisms can only be tested if....
    Yes! Believe it or not, without actually going back in time, the link between an actual fossil and an actual organism cannot usually be proven. Palaeontologists (scientists who study fossils) are now developing ways of obtaining DNA from certain fossils which can then be used to prove the links
  4. Which is the correct order for an investigation?
    We always start an investigation with a hypothesis
  5. After writing a hypothesis, we need to write the...
    Once you have decided on the variables, you can then begin to think about the experiments that you will do to test the hypothesis
  6. Another phrase to describe a hypothesis is...
    A hypothesis is a prediction based on what you know, so it is an educated guess that can be tested
  7. When do we come up with a hypothesis?
    It is the very first thing that you need to do when planning an investigation
  8. "I think that X will happen because of Y" is an example of...
    This is probably the simplest way of describing a hypothesis
  9. Before we can start the experiment, we need to do a...
    You can only do this when you have decided on your method that you will use to carry out your experiment
  10. Which of these is a hypothesis?
    Option 2 is a conclusion, option 3 is an evaluation and option 4 does not indicate the dependent and independent variables precisely enough - what is meant by best team ... the one that scores the most goals? The one that wins the most matches? A hypothesis should be very precise

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