GED Sample Questions: Social Studies Timelines

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

On the Social Studies portion of the GED, you may be asked questions using only a historical timeline. Take a look at the following example for some practice with timelines.

The questions in this article refer to the following timeline.

Timeline of Major Events in U.S. History

1900: Gold standard for currency adopted by United States.

1914: World War I begins.

1918: World War I ends.

1929: Stock market crashes; Great Depression begins.

1933: Gold exports banned; daily price established; U.S. citizens ordered to turn in all gold.

1934: Price of gold fixed at $35 per troy ounce.

1939: World War II begins.

1945: World War II ends.

1950: Korean Conflict begins.

1953: Korean Conflict ends.

1965: Vietnam War begins.

1973: Vietnam War ends; gold prices allowed to float; U.S. currency removed from gold standard.

1974: U.S. citizens allowed to own gold again.

1979: Soviet Union invades Afghanistan; U.S. hostages seized in Iran.

1980: Historic high prices for gold.

1987: Stock market crashes.

1989: Berlin Wall falls.

1990: Gulf War begins.

1991: Gulf War ends.

2001: Terrorist attacks on the United States.

2002: Invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq.

2008: United States elects first black president.

2009: United States slips into a recession.

  1. In 1900, the value of the United States’ dollar was based on

    • (A)stock market

    • (B)value of gold

    • (C)value of silver

    • (D)trade surplus

  2. What, if anything, is the connection between the stock market crash and the Great Depression in 1929?

    • (A)It was the trigger.

    • (B)Very little; economic problems had been building for some time before the crash.

    • (C)Pure coincidence.

    • (D)The stock market crash actually delayed the Great Depression.

  3. What does “U.S. citizens ordered to turn in all gold” mean?

    • (A)Citizens got to keep their gold.

    • (B)Citizens had to tell the government about their gold.

    • (C)Citizens could buy gold from each other, for profit.

    • (D)Citizens had to take all their gold to government offices.

  4. When was U.S. currency removed from the gold standard?

  5. Based on what you see in the timeline, what likely caused the price of gold to reach an historic high?

    • (A)Citizens were allowed to hold bullion.

    • (B)Gold stocks were sold.

    • (C)The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan.

    • (D)The Gulf War began.

Answer Key

  1. B. value of gold.

    The first item on the list states “gold standard for currency adopted.” That means that the value of the American dollar was based on the value of gold.

  2. A. It was the trigger.

    The Great Depression was caused by a variety of issues, but the immediate cause, the trigger, was the crash of the stock market. The other answers are wrong. While Choice (B) says that problems had been building for a while, the crash started the panic that resulted in the Great Depression. It wasn’t coincidence nor did the crash delay the Depression.

  3. D. Citizens had to take all their gold to government offices.

    U.S. citizens had to take all their gold to U.S. offices and not keep any in their own homes. The timeline and graph don’t tell you why they had to do so, just that they did. Turn in is the key phrase here.

  4. 1973.

    The U.S. currency was removed from the gold standard in 1973.

  5. C. The Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan.

    The best answer is that gold reached a historic high when the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. You have to read the timeline to answer this question.