GED Practice Questions: Social Studies

By Murray Shukyn, Dale E. Shuttleworth, Achim K. Krull

The GED Social Studies test will test your knowledge of basic social studies concepts. Use the information to answer the questions. Read the provided passage and study the chart, then choose the best answer choice.

Sample Questions

Questions 1-5 refer to the following passage, which is excerpted from CliffsQuickReview U.S. History I, by P. Soifer and A. Hoffman (Wiley).

The Voyages of Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus, a Genoese sailor, believed that sailing west across the Atlantic Ocean was the shortest sea route to Asia. Ignorant of the fact that the Western Hemisphere lay between Europe and Asia and assuming the Earth’s circumference to be a third less than it actually is, he was convinced that Japan would appear on the horizon just three thousand miles to the west.

Like other seafarers of his day, Columbus was untroubled by political allegiances; he was ready to sail for whatever country would pay for his voyage. Either because of his arrogance (he wanted ships and crews to be provided at no expense to himself) or ambition (he insisted on governing the lands he discovered), he found it difficult to find a patron.

The Portuguese rejected his plan twice, and the rulers of England and France were not interested. With influential supporters at court, Columbus convinced King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain to partially underwrite his expedition. In 1492, Granada, the last Muslim stronghold on the Iberian Peninsula, had fallen to the forces of the Spanish monarchs.

With the Reconquista complete and Spain a unified country, Ferdinand and Isabella could turn their attention to overseas exploration.

  1. Why was Columbus’s estimate of the time required to reach Japan wrong?

    • (A) He thought Japan was much farther away.

    • (B) He thought Japan was much closer.

    • (C) He was just taking a blind guess.

    • (D) He was using Vespucci’s maps.

  2. Why did the Spanish Crown sponsor Columbus’s exploration?

    • (A) The royals were competing with the British for new colonies.

    • (B) Queen Isabella admired Columbus.

    • (C) The war with the Muslims was over, and they could focus on other things.

    • (D) The Crown worried Columbus would be sponsored by a competing nation.

  3. Columbus sailed what direction to reach Asia?

    • (A) east

    • (B) south

    • (C) north

    • (D) west

  4. What about Columbus made finding sponsors for his voyage difficult?

    Write the correct answers in the circles on the answer sheet.

    • (A) He was arrogant.

    • (B) His demands were out of line.

    • (C) He was a shrewd politician.

    • (D) He refused to learn Spanish.

  5. How much funding did Columbus finally receive?

    • (A) complete funding

    • (B) partial funding

    • (C) a small percentage

    • (D) a commission on whatever he discovered

      [Credit: Illustration courtesy of U.S. Census Bureau]
      Credit: Illustration courtesy of U.S. Census Bureau
  6. The highest rate of uninsured by household is among which income group?

    • (A) $75,000 and over

    • (B) $50,000 to $74,999

    • (C) $25,000 to $49,999

    • (D) less than $25,000

  7. Among all households, regardless of income, what has happened to the uninsured rate between 1999 and 2012?

    • (A) It has decreased.

    • (B) It has increased.

    • (C) It has stayed the same.

    • (D) It shows no pattern.

  8. At what point did the uninsured rate change fastest?

    • (A) around 2001

    • (B) around 2004 to 2005

    • (C) around 2008 to 2009

    • (D) around 2012

Answers and Explanations

  1. B. He thought Japan was much closer. Columbus thought the circumference was a third less than it really was. As a result, he thought Japan was much closer than it turned out to be. The other answers are incorrect, according to the passage

  2. C. The war with the Muslims was over, and they could focus on other things. Spain had been at war, trying to recapture Spain from Muslim conquerors. The options of approaching France or England are wrong, based on the passage, and nothing in the passage indicates that the Spanish Crown was worried about competition from other countries.

  3. D. west. According to the passage, Columbus sailed west to cross the Atlantic Ocean in search of Asia.

  4. A & B (he was arrogant; his demands were out of line). Columbus was regarded as arrogant. He demanded the patrons cover all costs and award him the governorship of whatever colonies he established. Nothing in the text talks about learning Spanish, and Columbus’s behavior is certainly not that of a shrewd politician.

  5. B. partial funding. Columbus convinced Ferdinand and Isabella to partially fund the voyage. They certainly did not provide complete funding nor offer a commission on whatever he found.

  6. D. less than $25,000. The labels on the lines on the graph indicate the income levels. The uppermost line is the one for household incomes less than $25,000.

  7. B. It has increased. This is a somewhat tricky question because it reverses the way you’d normally answer. Fewer people were insured in the time period between 1999 and 2012, so the rate of uninsured households went up, or increased.

  8. C. around 2008 to 2009. The sharpest change is an increase in uninsured households in the 2008 to 2009 period, probably because of higher unemployment during the recession. There was a similar change in the year following the 2001 recession, but it wasn’t as broadly applied to all income groups as the later one.