Test I Social Studies Study Guide for the GACE

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General Information

Approximately 25% of the GACE® Elementary Education Test I is occupied by questions about social studies. You will encounter mainly standard multiple-choice questions in this section of the test, but there may also be a few fill-in-the-blank and/or multiple-answer multiple-choice questions, as well.

The main emphasis throughout the GACE test is on matching concepts with appropriate teaching strategies for those concepts. Yes, you’ll need to know the content listed below, but you’ll also need to look through your notes and class books/references to make your own list of strategies that you’ve been taught.

Information Processing Skills

A portion of the test and the standards will evaluate information-processing skills. You will need to understand information processing in the sense of the terms and concepts that follow.

Working with Information about Social Studies Content

First, you will need to know how to work with information about social studies content. Students will need to be able to locate, analyze, and synthesize information.

Locating Information

Locating information simply refers to finding certain information in a social studies source. For example, students may be asked to identify the main idea, purpose, or point of view of a historical source. All these skills apply to locating information.

Analyzing Information

Analyzing information mostly means evaluating sources for truthfulness and bias. According to the standards, students may be required to evaluate primary sources, identify main ideas, distinguish between fact and opinion, and draw conclusions.

Synthesizing Information

Synthesizing information can include many different processes that require putting information together in various formats. For example, students may be asked to construct tables or charts, order events chronologically, or formulate research questions.

Applying Information

Students will be required to apply information as they progress through the grade levels. Most lower grade levels require introduction, development, and mastery of skills while upper grade levels require application of the skills. Students will largely be asked to solve problems and make decisions when working with social studies sources.

History and Historical Processes

The next main section of the test and standards deals with history and historical processes. Students will be required to understand and apply these processes.

People, Events, and Symbols

Students will be asked to connect the main people, events, and symbols of importance to the history of the United States and Georgia. Related instruction progresses through the grade levels as each level builds on the last in terms of important people, events, and symbols.


Students must understand the concept and importance of chronology. As students progress through each grade level they will build on the timelines and chronology taught in past grade levels. The remainder of this section of the study guide will touch on some of the main historical themes covered but as always, you are encouraged to review the standards directly to familiarize yourself with all of the topics.

Figures in Georgia History

Students will analyze the significance and contributions of important figures in Georgia history such as James Oglethorpe, Tomochichi, and Mary Musgrove (figures important to the founding of the state of Georgia); Sequoyah (development of a Cherokee alphabet); Jackie Robinson (sportsmanship and civil rights); Martin Luther King, Jr. (civil rights); Juliette Gordon Low (Girl Scouts and leadership); and Jimmy Carter (leadership and human rights).

Cultures of Georgia

Students will analyze the significance/contribution of various cultures of Georgia including the Georgia Creek and Cherokee cultures of the past. Students should be able to compare and contrast the culture and lifestyle of these historic native groups with that of present day Georgians.

Democracy in the United States

The next portion of the social studies curriculum covers the importance and significance of democracy in the United States. Again, chronology is an important aspect of this section as students should understand the roots of democracy in the US and then know some important examples of the exercise of rights and freedoms throughout our nation’s history.

Political Roots

The political roots of democracy include learning about the three branches of government and their origins, as well as the functions of each branch of government. This is important to understand at both the national and state levels. It also includes the challenges facing the founders and the rights outlined in the Bill of Rights.

Americans Who Expanded Rights and Freedoms

Understanding the lives of Americans who expanded rights and freedoms should include knowing the accomplishments of Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Sojourner Truth, and Harriet Tubman. You should also review people like Andrew Jackson and expanding suffrage, Abraham Lincoln and the 13th Amendment, and voting rights outlined by multiple other Constitutional Amendments.

Native American Cultures

Native American cultures and how they developed in North America is an important aspect of the curriculum. Students should have an understanding of how native cultures developed differently in various regions across the United States, largely due to variations in physical geography.

European Exploration

Students should understand European exploration and the factors that shaped British colonial America, including a study of people like Hernando de Soto, Christopher Columbus, John Cabot, Henry Hudson, and Jacques Cartier. The achievements of these individuals influenced settlement patterns and relations with native groups in various places throughout North America.

The American Revolution

The American Revolution is the foundation of American history. You should be familiar with the following aspects of this conflict.


Main causes of, or movements leading to, the American Revolution include the French and Indian War, the 1765 Stamp Act, the slogan “no taxation without representation,” the activities of the Sons of Liberty, the activities of the Daughters of Liberty, the Boston Massacre, and the Boston Tea Party.


Some of the main events of the war that led to a British defeat and American victory include the Battles of Lexington and Concord, Saratoga, and Yorktown. Lexington and Concord were the earliest battles, beginning the war, while Saratoga was a major turning point, and Yorktown was the final battle resulting in victory for the American colonists. You should also be familiar with the influence of key individuals and groups during the American Revolution, including King George III, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Benedict Arnold, Patrick Henry, John Adams, Paul Revere, and Black regiments.


The British were defeated at the Battle of Yorktown which resulted in American victory and the official birth of a new nation.

Resulting Challenges

Though the war ended in favor of the colonies that would become the United States, many challenges faced the new young nation and threatened to ruin it. These challenges included forming a government, compromising on many issues (like the federalist system and slavery), and proving the country could be a viable state on the world stage. Success in the War of 1812 was influential in proving to the world that the United States would in fact be a free and independent country. ### The United States between 1860 and 1945

Between 1860 and 1945, the United States faced numerous challenges and grew in many ways. The following subsections cover a few of those important people, events, and developments. However, you should review the standards and curriculum for yourself as this is a very short list covering many years of history.

Key People

Key people during this period include Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, Ulysses S. Grant, Jefferson Davis, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, William T. Sherman, the Wright brothers (flight), George Washington Carver (science), Alexander Graham Bell (communication), and Thomas Edison (electricity). Key people during WWII include Franklin D. Roosevelt, Josef Stalin, Winston Churchill, Hirohito, Harry Truman, Benito Mussolini, and Adolf Hitler. See below under Key Developments for the contributions of more individuals.

Key Events

Key events from this time period include major battles, campaigns, and events of the Civil War: Fort Sumter, Gettysburg, the Atlanta Campaign, Sherman’s March to the Sea, and Appomattox Court House. Important events during the turn of the century include the role of the cattle trails in the late 19th century, the Black Cowboys of Texas, the Great Western Cattle Trail, and the Chisholm Trail. Next, understanding the role of William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt in expanding America’s role in the world includes the Spanish-American War and the building of the Panama Canal.

Important events during WWI include German attacks on U.S. shipping during the war in Europe (1914-1917), which ultimately led the U.S. to join the fight against Germany; the sinking of the Lusitania and concerns over safety of U.S. ships; U.S. contributions to the war; and the impact of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919. Additionally, students need to be aware of the Stock Market Crash of 1929, Herbert Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt, the Dust Bowl, and soup kitchens. Finally, students should have an understanding of WWII in both Europe and the Pacific. These include studies of Pearl Harbor, Iwo Jima, D-Day, VE and VJ Days, and the Holocaust.

Key Developments

Key developments during Reconstruction include how slavery was replaced by sharecropping and how freed African Americans or Blacks were prevented from exercising their newly won rights through Jim Crow laws. Cultural developments during the 1920s include the Jazz Age (Louis Armstrong), the Harlem Renaissance (Langston Hughes), baseball (Babe Ruth), the rising popularity of the automobile (Henry Ford), and transatlantic flight* (Charles Lindbergh). Important **cultural elements of the 1930s include Duke Ellington, Margaret Mitchell, and Jesse Owens. Finally, students learn about the changing role of women and African Americans or Blacks; this includes “Rosie the Riveter” *and the *Tuskegee Airmen.


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