GED Test Prep: Social Studies Section - dummies

GED Test Prep: Social Studies Section

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

For the Social Studies section of the GED, you have to answer a variety of items. You have 90 minutes to answer the questions, multiple-choice items, other short items, and one Extended Response (essay). You should leave yourself 25 minutes for the Extended Response, but in this section (unlike the Reasoning Through Language Arts section), your time is one block, and you can allocate it any way you like.

The short items use the same format as the RLA section items: multiple-choice questions, fill-in-the-blanks, and drag-and-drop items. These questions deal with the following subject areas:

  • Civics and government (50 percent)

  • American history (20 percent)

  • Economics (15 percent)

  • Geography and the world (15 percent)

The items in this section are based on written texts (source texts), pictures, charts, tables, graphs, photographs, political cartoons, diagrams, or maps. These textual and pictorial excerpts come from a variety of sources, such as government documents, academic texts, material from work-related documents, and atlases.

You can do only a limited amount of studying for this section. The information to answer each item is in the text or graphic that comes with the question. You need to analyze the material and draw conclusions based on what’s presented. However, you can prepare by reading some books that offer you a basic outline of American history and learn about how government functions.

Read the newspapers to follow current events and the business section of your newspaper for economics. You don’t need to go into great depth or memorize pages of dates and names, but you should have an idea of the general flow of history. You also need to know how your governments—from federal to local—work.

A second skill you need to master for this test section is reading and extracting information from maps, charts, and tables. On the Social Studies section, you’ll see a map with different shadings and will have to determine what the shadings mean and what the difference is between a light gray area on the map and the dark gray. They’re not just decoration.

If you look carefully at all the text and boxes with information on the map or chart, you’ll see that everything has a meaning. So get an atlas, and practice reading maps.

The only difference on the Extended Response is that you can write a shorter essay, but then you also have less time to do so. However, in the Social Studies Extended Response, some general knowledge of American history is expected.

You may see the following types of problems on the Social Studies section.

The following question is based on this table.

Type of Religion Date Started (Approximate) Sacred Texts
Buddhism 500 BC None
Christianity 33 AD Bible (Old Testament and New Testament)
Hinduism 4000 BC Vedas; Upanishads
Islam 600 AD Qur’an; Hadith
Judaism 2000 BC Hebrew Bible; Talmud

According to the table, Hinduism

  • (A)started in 600 AD

  • (B)uses the Qur’an as one of its sacred texts

  • (C)is the oldest religion

  • (D)has no known sacred texts

The correct answer is Choice (C). The table shows that Hinduism is the oldest of the five religions listed because it began in 4000 BC.

The following question is based on this excerpt from the diary of Christopher Columbus.

Monday, 6 August. The rudder of the caravel Pinta became loose, being broken or unshipped. It was believed that this happened by the contrivance of Gomez Rascon and Christopher Quintero, who were on board the caravel, because they disliked the voyage.

The Admiral says he had found them in an unfavorable disposition before setting out. He was in much anxiety at not being able to afford any assistance in this case, but says that it somewhat quieted his apprehensions to know that Martin Alonzo Pinzon, Captain of the Pinta, was a man of courage and capacity. Made progress, day and night, of twenty-nine leagues.

Why would Rascon and Quintero have loosened the rudder?

  • (A)They were trying to repair the rudder.

  • (B)The Admiral found them in an unfavorable disposition.

  • (C)The captain was very competent.

  • (D)They did not want to be on the voyage.

The correct answer is Choice (D). This answer is the only one supported by the text. The others may be related to statements in the passage, but they don’t answer the question.

The following question is based on this graph.

What effect do energy and food prices have on inflation?

  • (A)They level out the range of change over time.

  • (B)They magnify the range of change over time.

  • (C)They increase the rate of inflation.

  • (D)They have no effect.

The correct answer is Choice (B). The inclusion of food and energy prices makes the graph values swing much wider. The combined graph line shows much wider variation. Hence, food and energy prices magnify inflation.

The following question asks you to fill in the blank based on the previous graph.

The range of inflation for “all items” shown on the graph is %.

The correct answer is 1.1. The highest value for inflation on the “all items” line is 2.2% for October. The lowest value, in April, is about 1.1%. Therefore, the range is approximately 1.1%.