Page 2 - Test I Social Studies Study Guide for the GACE


Students learn to understand and apply knowledge of geographic concepts and processes throughout primary school. The following concepts and processes are continually built upon throughout the curriculum.

United States Culture and Geographic Systems

The culture of the United States and the impact it has on geographic systems is a main theme of the geography standards. Much of the study of geography focuses on human-environment relationships including how humans influence physical systems and how the physical landscape impacts human systems and actions.

Influence on Physical Systems

Students will learn how humans impact physical systems beginning with European exploration and continuing throughout United States history.

Influence on Human Systems

Students will learn how physical systems impact humans and human actions beginning with European exploration and continuing throughout United States history.

Maps and Globes

Maps and globes are the two most basic tools of geography that can be used to foster student understanding. Many of the standards require students to identify places and major landforms throughout Georgia, the United States, and the world.

Patterns of Economic Activities

Students should come to an understanding of the role geography plays in the spatial pattern of economic activity. For example, many of the largest cities in the country are on the east coast due to past colonization patterns as well as the accessibility to the ocean for trade. Most human settlements are located along waterways for trade and transportation.

Topographical Features in the World

Some significant topographic features include the continents, oceans, and rivers such as the Mississippi, Ohio, Rio Grande, Colorado, Hudson, and St. Lawrence, as well as the Rocky and Appalachian Mountains. Other physical features to know include the Atlantic Coastal Plain, the Great Plains, the Continental Divide, the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi River, and the Great Lakes. Some man-made features to note include New York City, NY; Boston, MA; Philadelphia, PA; Washington, D.C.; Gettysburg, PA; and the Erie Canal.

Topographical Features in Georgia

Significant physical and man-made features in Georgia include the Blue Ridge Mountains, Piedmont, Coastal Plain, Ridge and Valley, Appalachian Plateau, Savannah River, Flint River, Chattahoochee River, and the locations of the Cherokee and Creek tribes.

Government, Civics, and Economics

The last portion of the social studies curriculum covers government, civics, and economics. Students need to apply the knowledge outlined below. As always, refer to the curriculum standards to familiarize yourself with all important information.

Government and Good Citizenship

In order to teach good government and citizenship, we can utilize three main tools. The sections below will outline relating stories, using important documents, and relaying knowledge of historical figures.

Relating Stories

The process of relating stories can aid student understanding by providing examples of content and curriculum goals. Similar to using metaphor, these stories enable students to understand a new concept by introducing it to them through a story about something with which they are familiar.

Using Important Documents

Using primary documents and sources is a powerful tool in teaching history, but especially with the government. Showing students copies and examples of important documents like the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence exposes them to the truths about our government directly from the source.

Relaying Knowledge of Historical Figures

Relaying knowledge of historical figures is another strategy that can assist in the development of civics, government, or economics content. Similar to relating stories, this strategy takes a look at important ideas through the lens of a historical figure and uses the historical example to teach a new concept.

Citizens’ Rights

Beginning with the Declaration of Independence, the natural rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness became priorities.The rights of citizens are protected by the Constitution, which specifically mentions life and liberty. Other basic rights can be found in the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the Constitution. Along with rights come responsibilities such as voting (though voting is also a right) and serving on a jury.

Republican Form of Government

The United States has a republican form of government which basically means that we are a republic, or a representative democracy rather than a direct democracy. This is outlined in the Constitution and evidenced by how our government is divided into three branches and how the legislative branch is further split into the Senate and House of Representatives, according to a compromise made by the founders.

Central Democratic Beliefs and Principles

Some central beliefs and principles include the necessity of respecting the rights of others and promoting the common good, obeying laws voluntarily, and participating in civic life by staying informed, voting, volunteering, etc.

Sharing of Beliefs and Principles

We also share these same beliefs and principles in a number of ways. This includes personal beliefs and civic beliefs.

Personal Beliefs and Principles

We all have personal beliefs and principles that we are free to share and debate with others. Many of these come from the first amendment and include the freedom of speech, religion, assembly, etc.

Civic Beliefs and Principles

The civic beliefs and principles that we all share as US citizens include the importance of voting, community involvement, and the ability to effect change in society through our rights and responsibilities.

Basic Economic Concepts

There are a number of basic economic concepts, such as supply and demand, that impact historical events. Supply and demand is simply the relationship between what is available from suppliers and what is desired by consumers. This relates to history because during war times and the Great Depression, supply and demand was not in balance as usual, leading to difficult economic times for many people and influencing our history.

Productive Resources

The four types of productive resources include natural, human, capital, and entrepreneurship. Natural resources come from the land, or physical landscape, such as oil, coal, or natural gas. Human resources refer to labor and include the skills of workers. Capital resources include the money, space, and equipment necessary to operate a business. Finally, entrepreneurship is the risk-taking and combining natural, human, and capital resources in an attempt to make a profit.

The Role of Money

Money, or currency, is essentially a capital resource and it plays an important role in the exchange of goods and services throughout a society.

The United States Economy

There are four main sectors of the United States economy. They include the household, private businesses, banks, and the government. The household is the most basic exchange of goods and services. Households mostly consume goods and services while the people living in them provide human resources to other sectors. Private businesses provide goods and services. Banks provide checking accounts, savings accounts, and loans. Finally, the government taxes citizens and provides public goods and services in exchange for those taxes.

Businesses and Consumers

Competition, markets, and prices drive consumer behavior. Based on what is available and how much of it is available, consumers will decide whether or not to buy a product or service. People can earn money, or capital, by providing human resources (labor) to businesses. In other words, people work for a paycheck.

Personal Spending and Savings

All resources are limited. This is especially true for consumers seeking to purchase goods and services. Prices are set according to how much of that item is available and how many people want it. The more limited the supply and the greater the demand, the higher the price will be. Consumers need to weigh their choices when it comes to goods and services because they have a limited amount of money available. Therefore, people might opt to forgo one product in order to save money for another product, or vice versa. Everything comes down to choice, and supply and demand.


In the economy, everything has a cost. Businesses have costs that they need to cover before they make a profit. Individuals have costs that they need to pay for before they can spend money on their wants. For example, people must buy food to live before they spend money on tickets to a theme park for a day of fun. The cost of buying food is not only the money required to buy it but possibly the experience of going to the theme park if you don’t have enough money left to do that too.


Though there are costs, there are also benefits in the economy. The cost of a person working is the time that they spend at work. This time could be spent doing other things. However, the benefit of working is getting a paycheck and having money to do other things. There is also the benefit of saving, which allows a person to make short-term sacrifices (costs) for long-term gains (benefits).

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