GED Social Studies Practice - dummies

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

The official GED Social Studies test consists mainly of multiple-choice items but also has some technologically enhanced items. They measure general social studies concepts. The items are based on short readings that often include a map, graph, chart, cartoon, or figure. Study the information given and then answer the item(s) following it.

Refer to the information as often as necessary in answering. Work carefully, but don’t spend too much time on any one question. Be sure you answer every question.

Sample questions

Refer to the information as often as necessary in answering. Work carefully, but don’t spend too much time on any one question. Be sure you answer every question.

Passage A

Democracies fall into two basic categories, direct and representative. In a direct democracy, citizens, without the intermediary of elected or appointed officials, can participate in making public decisions.

Such a system is clearly most practical with relatively small numbers of people — in a community organization, tribal council, or the local unit of a labor union, for example — where members can meet in a single room to discuss issues and arrive at decisions by consensus or majority vote.

Some U.S. states, in addition, place “propositions” and “referenda” — mandated changes of law — or possible recall of elected officials on ballots during state elections. These practices are forms of direct democracy, expressing the will of a large population. Many practices may have elements of direct democracy.

In Switzerland, many important political decisions on issues, including public health, energy, and employment, are subject to a vote by the country’s citizens. And some might argue that the Internet is creating new forms of direct democracy, as it empowers political groups to raise money for their causes by appealing directly to like-minded citizens.

However, today, as in the past, the most common form of democracy, whether for a town of 50,000 or a nation of 50 million, is representative democracy, in which citizens elect officials to make political decisions, formulate laws, and administer programs for the public good.

  1. One example of allowing the population as a whole to vote on an issue in America would be

    • (A) a recall election

    • (B) election of a local mayor

    • (C) the election of the president

    • (D) a school board election

Passage B

In a democracy, government is only one thread in the social fabric of many and varied public and private institutions, legal forums, political parties, organizations, and associations. This diversity is called pluralism, and it assumes that the many organized groups and institutions in a democratic society do not depend upon government for their existence, legitimacy, or authority.

Most democratic societies have thousands of private organizations, some local, some national. Many of them serve a mediating role between individuals and society’s complex social and governmental institutions, filling roles not given to the government and offering individuals opportunities to become part of their society without being in government.

In an authoritarian society, virtually all such organizations would be controlled, licensed, watched, or otherwise accountable to the government. In a democracy, the powers of the government are, by law, clearly defined and sharply limited. As a result, private organizations are largely free of government control.

In this busy private realm of democratic society, citizens can explore the possibilities of peaceful self-fulfillment and the responsibilities of belonging to a community — free of the potentially heavy hand of the state or the demand that they adhere to views held by those with influence or power, or by the majority.

  1. One example of an authoritarian society would be

    • (A) Canada

    • (B) Kingdom of Sweden

    • (C) the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

    • (D) the Republic of Korea (South Korea)

  2. America is a democratic country. All citizens have the right to do all of the following except

    • (A) elect their senator

    • (B) elect local magistrates and sheriffs

    • (C) elect their state governors

    • (D) elect the president

Answers and explanations

Take a look at the following answers and explanations to see how you performed.

Passage A

  1. A. a recall election. Choices (B), (C), and (D) are all examples of indirect or representative democracy, where someone is elected to represent the voter. For example, mayors, who citizens elect directly, are in office to represent them. The voters don’t make political decisions; the mayor in council does. Only in recall elections is the voters’ voice directly applied to a decision.

Passage B

  1. C. former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The former USSR, also known as the Soviet Union, was a government that allowed elections but allowed only one political party. The party, not the people, decided who would run for office. Although the form resembled democracy, it didn’t allow for pluralism or political choice.

    The other countries are all pluralist. Canada is a parliamentary democracy that has four major federal parties and numerous minor ones based on popular will. Sweden is also a parliamentary democracy, and like Canada, has a Monarch as head of state. It, too, has several political parties contending for office in free elections. South Korea is a republic, run by a legislative assembly and a president elected by popular vote.

  2. D. elect the president. The first three choices are all true, but the last choice isn’t. American voters don’t elect the president, at least not directly. They vote for a group of people who form an electoral college. The members of that electoral college actually elect the president. For a detailed explanation, look up the history of the electoral college.