GED: Social Studies Test

The General Educational Development (GED) Social Studies Test is 1 hour and 10 minutes long and contains 50 multiple-choice questions that ask you to read and reason carefully using social studies materials.

What you should know

The Social Studies Test covers History, Civics and Government, Economics, and Geography. You should be able to answer questions from information in these areas:

History (40%)

(25% United States; 15% World)

  • Information that discusses how history reflects social, political, and economic developments

  • Articles about how major events have shaped U.S. or world history

  • Information that explains current U.S. or global social and political problems

  • Graphs, charts, tables, maps, cartoons, or photographs that deal with historical times or concepts

  • Visual and written information about the United States — from colonization, settlement, and revolution to expansion, Civil War, reconstruction, and industrialization, to the Great Depression, World War II, and contemporary society

  • Visual and written information about world history — from early civilizations to empires and religions, to growing trade and hemispheric interactions, to the World Wars, new democracies, and the Cold War

Civics and Government (25%)

  • Information that discusses how political decisions have a worldwide impact

  • Articles or visual information that show the importance of the American political system and parties, the Constitution, and state and local governments

  • Excerpts that explain current U.S. political problems and foreign policy issues

  • Information that explains the roles of citizens in American democracy

Economics (20%)

  • Excerpts that explain how a free-market system operates and how the economy is organized

  • Articles, charts, graphs, or maps that explain economic indicators and the world economy

  • Documents and information used by most adults in their roles as citizens, consumers, and workers

Geography (15%)

  • Information that discusses how humans have had a major impact on the natural environment

  • Maps, charts, graphs, or articles that show the major geographic regions and the distribution of the world's population

  • Excerpts that discuss the environment, pollution, and the use of natural resources

  • Kinds of questions

  • The GED Social Studies Test tests higher-level thinking skills. The exam won't ask you simply to remember facts. For example, you would not be expected to know the year that the Monroe Doctrine was signed. However, you are expected to understand important social studies principles, concepts, and events.

The questions are grouped as follows.

Comprehension Questions (20%): You should be able to understand the meaning of information presented in articles or excerpts, as well as in maps, charts, and graphs. Comprehension questions can be answered simply from the information presented in the reading.

  • Comprehension questions ask

  • What's the main point?

  • What's another way of stating the main point?

  • What's suggested by the information?

Application Questions (20%): You should be able to reason one step beyond the comprehension level. You must apply information already stated to solve a problem in a different situation (different context).

  • Application questions ask you to

  • Use the suggested information in a new setting.

  • Apply general statements to a new situation.

Analysis Questions (40%): You should be able to compare information or data. You must be able to explore the relationships of several ideas.

  • Analysis questions ask you to

  • Find ideas that are not specifically stated.

  • Determine the difference between a fact and a hypothesis. Can you tell if a hypothesis is based on the passage?

  • Tell what makes an event happen and what the results are.

  • Draw a conclusion from the information.

Evaluation Questions (20%): You should be able to judge the accuracy of stated or assumed material.

  • Evaluation questions ask you to

  • Determine if the information given would support a point of view.

  • Detect why decisions are made.

  • Determine a trend and predict its outcome.

  • Find what's not true in an argument.