Strategies to Boost Your GED Social Studies Score on Test Day

By Achim K. Krull, Murray Shukyn

You can increase your score by mastering a few smart test-taking strategies. Here are some tips to boost your GED Social Studies test score during the test and when composing your Extended Response essay.

Improving your score on test day

When you start the GED Social Studies test, resist any urge to rush through the questions. Pace yourself. You wouldn’t sprint at the start of a marathon. However, you have only a certain amount of time for each section in the GED test, so time management is an important part of succeeding on the test. You need to plan and use your time wisely.

During the test, pay attention to the clock in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. When the test begins, check that time and be sure to monitor how much time you have left as you work your way through the test.

You have about 90 seconds for each question-and-answer item. Do the easiest questions first. If you get stuck on a question, leave it and come back to it later if you have time. Keeping to that schedule and answering as many questions as possible are essential. If you don’t monitor the time for each question, you won’t have time to answer all the questions on the test.

Here are a few additional tips:

  • Keep calm and carry on. The time you spend panicking could be better spent answering questions.

  • Remember that each section of the test is timed separately. You can’t transfer time from the multiple-choice section to the Extended Response or vice versa. Use all leftover time in either section to review within that section.

  • Whenever you read a question, ask yourself what it’s asking. That helps you stay focused on what you need to find out to answer the question.

  • Try to eliminate some answer choices. Even if you don’t really know the answer, guessing can help. Ignore choices that are obviously wrong, and you’ve already improved your odds of guessing a correct answer. You don’t lose points for incorrect answers, so you can guess on the items you don’t know for sure without fear.

  • Don’t overthink. Because all the questions are straightforward, don’t look for hidden or sneaky questions. The questions ask for an answer based on the information given. If you don’t have enough information to answer the question, one of the answer choices will say so.

  • Find the best answer and quickly verify that it answers the question. If it does, click on that choice and move on. If it doesn’t, leave it and come back to it after you answer all the other questions, if you have time.

    You need to pick the most correct answer from the choices offered. It may not be the perfect answer, but it’s what is required.

  • Make sure your answer really answers the question at hand. Wrong choices usually don’t answer the question — that is, they may sound good, but they answer a different question than the one the test asks.

  • When two answers appear very close or completely opposite, consider both answers carefully because they both can’t be right — but they both can be wrong. Some answer choices may be very close and appear correct, but there’s a fine line between completely correct and nearly correct. Be careful. These answer choices are sometimes given to see whether you really understand the material. Similarly, two answers that contradict each other both can’t be right, but both can be wrong.

  • Trust your instincts. Some choices may strike you as wrong when you reread them, but second-guessing yourself can lead to trouble; it often leads you to change a correct answer to an incorrect one. If you’re prepared, you probably know more than you think. Don’t change a lot of questions at the last minute.

Writing an exceptional Extended Response essay

The Extended Response section of the test requires different strategies and tactics. Here are a few suggestions for writing a stellar Extended Response essay:

  • Read the prompt carefully. The prompt instructs you on what to write about.

  • Identify the enduring issue and explain why it’s such an issue. The Extended Response essay will present you with two passages and ask you to write an essay explaining how the material represents an enduring issue. According to the GED Testing Service, an enduring issue is “an important topic or idea that may be subject to ongoing discussion throughout multiple eras of history.”

  • State your thesis (main claim) clearly and succinctly in the first sentence of the first paragraph. Don’t try to get creative and hold off to the end to reveal the mystery.

  • Cite evidence from the reading passages and include exact quotations from both passages. The evaluation looks for appropriately used quotes. Be sure to explain how and why the quotes connect to your thesis.

  • Use relevant knowledge from your own studies. This essay is one of the few times the test requires prior knowledge. You’ve done general reading in this subject area; draw on that knowledge.

  • Use any extra time to reread and review your final essay. You may have written a good essay, but you always need to check for typos and grammar errors. The essay is evaluated for style, content, and proper English. That includes spelling and grammar. However, clarity, sound reasoning, and evidence to support your claims are much more important than writing an error-free essay.