10 Tips and Tricks to Pump Up Your GED Social Studies Test Score

By Achim K. Krull, Murray Shukyn

Prepping for the GED Social Studies test is tough because it requires skills developed over a considerable amount of time. The good news is that in many ways you’ve been preparing for this test your entire life. If you can read and reason, you have the strong foundation required to perform well on the test. Now all you need to do is sharpen those skills, figure out how to apply them to the test, and practice. Here are ten tips for doing just that.

  • Take practice tests. No matter how well prepared you think you are, take plenty of practice tests. Consider doing the GED Ready Test from GED Testing Services. Nothing prepares you for a test better than practicing that test. The results of these tests also identify areas that need more attention before you take the real test.

  • Know what to review. After deciding to take the test, do one final review. Any practice tests you take identify areas you know well and areas that need more work. Identify the problem areas as content or skills, or a combination of both. The content issue is relatively easy to solve. Most of the information is provided in the text that accompanies each question, so it’s mostly a matter of reading more carefully, identifying key points, and interpreting the question and answer choices. If your skills need work, look for test questions that use the same skills, and practice. Review the appropriate sections of your study materials to discover more about these skills. When you’re done, retry a practice test.

  • Learn the lingo. The text that accompanies each question provides all the information required to enter or choose the correct answer. However, knowing specific terms improves both reading speed and comprehension. This point is true especially on the economics section of the GED Social Studies test. When you have about 90 seconds to answer each multiple-choice question, saving a few seconds on a question makes a difference.

    Read history books, web publications, newspapers, magazines that cover national and international news, and other related publications to expose yourself to the wide variety of social studies content you’re likely to encounter on the test. When you bump into unfamiliar terms, look up and learn their definitions. This approach gives you a good vocabulary list to review prior to test day.

  • Summarize information. Whether you’re tackling multiple-choice items or the Extended Response, you need to extract information from text quickly. Here is an interesting and fun way to practice this skill: Have someone cut out newspaper stories for you, omitting the headline and subhead. Write a new headline for the story. This task forces you to identify the point of the story in five or six words — good practice for finding the essence of a passage.

  • Be on the lookout for vocabulary and context clues. On the test, you’ll inevitably run into an unfamiliar word or phrase. Often you can work out the meaning from the rest of the sentence or the following sentence. The placement of the word in a sentence and surrounding words can help identify the meaning. For practice, read national newspapers or political or economics magazines (particularly their opinion pieces), which tend to have a higher vocabulary level. Write down unfamiliar words and phrases and your best guess as to the meaning of each word or phrase. Then look up the meaning to see how close you were. Commit that new vocabulary to memory.

  • Extract details from visuals. One skill required to do well on the GED Social Studies test is the ability to interpret visual information presented in the form of graphs, tables, photographs, drawings, and even cartoons. The key to understanding graphs and charts is careful reading. Graphs generally contain text clues to identify the meaning of lines, bars, and shading. That information is in smaller print somewhere on the bottom or side of the graph. Most tables and graphs have a title in large print, centered above the graph. Read that information carefully.

    Tables and graphs often abbreviate numbers, dropping zeros when dealing with numbers in the millions or higher. The small print indicates the number you must multiply the abbreviated numbers by to get the true values.

    Cartoons make more sense if you know the historic context. You don’t need a detailed understanding of history, but a general overview helps you figure out the meaning and significance of political cartoons.

  • Pick the best time. This test is a Big Deal. It’s potentially life changing for you. When you’ve decided the time is right, make sure the time is indeed right. You don’t want to worry about scheduling conflicts or pressing appointments before or after the test. Pick a time free of distractions. If you’re a morning person, try to book an early time slot to take the test. Some centers also offer evenings or weekend appointments that may suit you better.

  • Get psyched. Remind yourself how much you’ve studied and how well you’ve done on practice tests. Think positive; you know you’ll do well. You’ve picked the best of all possible times to do the test. You will do well. Repeat that mantra to yourself. You can do this and do it well.

  • Get in the zone. Focus. For the next 90 minutes you have only one task: Do well on the test. Practice tests can help you learn to focus. Banish all other thoughts from your mind for those 90 minutes. If your thoughts begin to stray, stop, take a deep breath, and refocus.

  • Stay calm under pressure. Although you may feel a lot of external pressure to do well on the GED Social Studies test, you’re really the only one who has the power to apply pressure on yourself internally. Sure, your performance on the test may be a key factor in your future ability to pursue certain educational or career paths, but panic will only undermine your efforts.

    Before the test, practice deep breathing. Studies have shown that a few minutes of clearing your mind and simply taking deep breaths can drop your blood pressure significantly. Practice that when you feel pressured. A second tip: guided imagery: Think of how well you’ll do, the terrific test scores you’ll receive, and the success waiting for you.