Prepare for the GED Social Studies Test with Sample Questions

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

Make sure you have done plenty of preparation before showing up on test day. The following GED Social Studies test questions will give you a good idea of how prepared you are.

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 Panic of 1873

During his second term, Grant was still unable to curb the graft in his administration, Secretary of War William Belknap was impeached by the House, and he resigned in disgrace for taking bribes from dishonest Indian agents. The president’s personal secretary was involved with the Whiskey Ring, a group of distillers who evaded paying internal revenue taxes. A much more pressing concern though was the state of the economy.

In 1873, over-speculation in railroad stocks led to a major economic panic. The failure of Jay Cooke’s investment bank was followed by the collapse of the stock market and the bankruptcy of thousands of businesses; crop prices plummeted and unemployment soared. Much of the problem was related to the use of greenbacks for currency.

Hard-money advocates insisted that paper money had to be backed by gold to curb inflation and level price fluctuations, but farmers and manufacturers, who needed easy credit, wanted even more greenbacks put in circulation, a policy that Grant ultimately opposed. He recommended and the Congress enacted legislation in 1875 providing for the redemption of greenbacks in gold.

Because the Treasury needed time to build up its gold reserves, redemption did not go into effect for another four years, by which time the longest depression in American history had come to an end.

  1. What were the main problems President Grant had in his second term with his government?

    • (A) problems with his administration

    • (B) problems with whiskey

    • (C) problems with the IRS

    • (D) problems with personal bankruptcy

  2. What type of money was used for investment?

    • (A) British pounds

    • (B) silver

    • (C) gold

    • (D) greenbacks

  3. What was the cause of the Panic of 1873?

    • (A) investment failure

    • (B) bankruptcy

    • (C) over-speculation

    • (D) tax evasion

  4. What followed the failure of Jay Cooke’s bank?

    • (A) collapse of the stock market

    • (B) increase in market value

    • (C) business profitability

    • (D) rising crop prices

  5. How did Congress end the depression?

    • (A) It provided easy credit.

    • (B) It leveled prices.

    • (C) It built up gold reserves.

    • (D) It hoarded greenbacks.

    Questions 6-8 refer to the following tables.

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  6. By how much did the Mexican gross domestic product (GDP) outperform the U.S. GDP in the year 2007? _________ percentage points

  7. Why does Canada’s GDP appear healthy as compared to that of the United States and Mexico?

    • (A) Canada has consistently performed well.

    • (B) Canada performed better than it did in 2Q.

    • (C) Canada performed better in 1Q.

    • (D) Canada performed better in 2008.

  8. How did the Canadian dollar perform against the U.S. dollar, according to the graph?

    • (A) moved higher

    • (B) stayed the same

    • (C) lost ground

    • (D) finished even

    Questions 9-11 refer to the following political cartoon.

    [Credit: Illustration by Ricardo Checa]
    Credit: Illustration by Ricardo Checa
  9. What is the setting for the cartoon?

    • (A) living room

    • (B) laboratory

    • (C) playroom

    • (D) library

  10. What problem has the researcher been studying?

    • (A) the common cold

    • (B) a rare blood disease

    • (C) hair loss

    • (D) limited patents for medicines

  11. What is the cartoon’s implication?

    • (A) Drug companies put caring for patients as their highest priority.

    • (B) Natural remedies are better than medicine.

    • (C) Drug companies place profits ahead of humanitarian concerns.

    • (D) The scientist has found a miracle cure.

Answers and Explanations

  1. A. problems with his administration. The main problems President Grant faced involved grafts in his administration, which means that members of his administration faced all sorts of problems and left their jobs under pressure. The other answers are incorrect, based on the passage.

  2. D. greenbacks. Greenbacks — not British pounds, gold, or silver — were used as a source of investment capital.

  3. C. over-speculation. Over-speculation in railroad stocks led to the Panic of 1873. Other factors, such as investment failure, bankruptcy, and tax evasion may have also occurred, but they didn’t directly cause the Panic of 1873.

  4. A. collapse of the stock market. The failure of Cooke’s bank was followed by a collapse of the stock market. The other answers are the opposite of what happened, according to the passage.

  5. C. It built up gold reserves. The main way Congress ended the depression was to build up its gold reserves. Credit, prices, and greenbacks didn’t have as much to do with the end of the depression.

  6. 2.8 The Mexican GDP was 2.8 percentage points higher than the U.S. GDP. The other answers are simply incorrect, according to the graphs.

  7. A. Canada has consistently performed well. According to the GDP graphs, Canada’s economy has consistently performed well when compared to the economies of the United States and Mexico.

  8. B. stayed the same. The value of the Canadian dollar is a straight line, which means its relative value stayed the same.

  9. B. laboratory. The setting for the cartoon is a laboratory, not a living room, playroom, or library.

  10. D. limited patents for medicines. The researcher has been studying limited patents for medicines. You can tell this from the phrase everlasting patents.

  11. C. Drug companies place profits ahead of humanitarian concerns. The cartoon implies drug companies are greedy. Drug companies may also be caring or generous, but the cartoon doesn’t suggest this.