GED Social Studies Test For Dummies Cheat Sheet - dummies
Cheat Sheet

GED Social Studies Test For Dummies Cheat Sheet

From GED Social Studies For Dummies

By Achim K. Krull, Murray Shukyn

To perform well on the GED Social Studies test, you need to be able to read closely, draw conclusions from data presented in various formats (text, charts, maps, images, and so on), and write a well-reasoned and well-structured essay. This Cheat Sheet provides a more detailed list of what you need to know to perform well on the GED Social Studies test and provides tips and tricks to help you answer questions more quickly and with greater accuracy.

Recognizing the Knowledge and Skills Required to Pass the GED Social Studies Test

Uncertainty can generate significant test anxiety. Knowing what’s on the GED Social Studies test will reduce that anxiety. To do well on the test, you need to be able to do the following:

  • Read, understand, and analyze social studies content presented in reading passages.

  • Identify the central idea in a reading passage.

  • Understand information presented in graphic formats, including charts, tables, maps, illustrations, photos, and political cartoons.

  • Draw conclusions based on information presented in a variety of formats.

  • Develop solutions to problems using the information provided.

  • Cite specific evidence in a source to support conclusions.

  • Identify people, places, environments, processes, and events and their interactions.

  • Tell the difference between fact, opinion, and judgment in a written source document.

  • Tell the difference between supported and unsupported claims.

  • Recognize bias and propaganda in a reading passage and evaluate the credibility of the author.

  • Understand cause-and-effect relationships and distinguish between correlation and causation.

  • Compare and contrast ideas from two or more sources.

  • Analyze how historical context shapes a person’s point of view.

  • Figure out the meaning of unfamiliar social studies terminology based on the context in which it’s used.

  • Write a well-reasoned, well-structured, and well-supported essay that clearly expresses your ideas.

Improving Your Reading Speed and Comprehension for the GED Social Studies Test

On the GED Social Studies test, you’re required to read passages of varying lengths and answer one or more questions about what you read. To improve your ability to read quickly and fully understand what you read, you need to practice. Here are some suggestions on how to improve your reading speed and comprehension:

  • Read more. The more you read, the better you get at it.

  • Read widely. Read books, newspaper and magazine articles, editorials, letters to the editor, and so on related to a wide variety of social studies topics, especially history, civics, government, economics, geography, and current events.

  • Read closely. If you don’t fully understand what you read, read it again.

  • Look up unfamiliar words. If you don’t know a word’s meaning, look it up and jot down the definition. Try to use the word in a sentence.

  • Ask questions as you read. What’s the main point the author is trying to get across? How does each detail support the main point? Is the author omitting anything? Asking questions helps you retain the information while deepening your understanding of the passage.

  • Talk about what you read. Explain what you read with others. Forcing yourself to explain a written passage to someone else really helps your own understanding.

  • Write a summary of what you read. Put it in your own words. Comparing the original to your version clarifies how much you understand. A simple list of key point and supporting evidence will help you focus on sorting out the content.

Knowing Your Way around a Graph for the GED Social Studies Test

If you happen to bump into a graph (chart) on the GED Social Studies test, such as the following example graph, don’t panic. Read the question and answer choices and then look for information on the graph that helps you answer the question. Don’t just look at the lines, dots, bars, or pie slices. A graph has many other features that can be very helpful in choosing the correct answer:


  • Title: The title indicates the theme or purpose of the graph. For example, you can tell just by looking at the title of the graph that it’s intended to show the difference in workers’ pay based on union or nonunion membership.

  • Axes: Most graphs have two axes — an x axis that runs along the bottom and a y axis that runs up and down the side. In the above graph, the x axis represents union and non-union earnings by employment categories. The y axis represents wages and salaries.

  • Axis labels: The axis labels indicate what each axis represents. In the example, you can probably figure out what each axis represents based on other information in the graph; for example, the dollar figures along the left axis clearly indicate that the axis represents dollar amounts. The x-axis is complicated somewhat by being subdivided into two facets: employment categories, and union vs. nonunion earnings.

  • Legend: The legend is a color-coded (or shade-coded) indicator of what each line, bar, or other shape on the graph represents.

  • Plot area: The plot area is the central portion of the graph where all the data is displayed.

  • Data points: Data points position data in the plot area. In this graph, for example, the top of each bar represents a dollar amount on the y-axis and workers’ employment category on the x-axis.

  • Explanatory notes: Many graphs have additional text explaining something about the information presented visually. Read it carefully. This info is the graph’s “fine print” and can change how you interpret the material.