The GED® Social Studies Test: What You Need to Know

Not sure how to go about preparing for the Social Studies portion of the GED® test? What content and skills does the test cover? How long is the test and what types of questions do you need prepare for? The GED® test can seem overwhelming. However, if you break it down and study smart, you can be sure to score well on test day. Let’s take a look at some of the questions you might be asking yourself. Here are the top 7 things you need to know about the GED® Social Studies Test.

1. Tests vary in length and style. How long is this test and what type of questions will I see on it?

The Social Studies portion of the GED® test is one of the shortest of all content areas. You will have 90 minutes to complete approximately 35 questions. The questions you’ll encounter could be multiple-choice, fill in the blank, drop-down, drag and drop, and hotspot (choosing the correct portion of an image). You will also have 25 minutes to answer one extended response question. About half of all test items will provide a stimulus (text, graph, etc.) with questions about it.

2. Social Studies covers a wide range of topics. What content does this test cover?

The GED® Social Studies test can be broken down into four content categories:

U.S. Government and Civics (50%)
U.S. History (20%)
Economics (15%)
Geography (15%)

3. What skills will this test require of me?

Now that you know what content you need to be familiar with, let’s consider what skills you need to exhibit. This portion of the test focuses on reading and critical thinking skills. You should display an ability to make connections across time and space through your answers to test questions. Most questions will not ask you about specific facts but will require you to analyze information and draw conclusions. For example, you might not necessarily need to know the exact years the Civil War took place, but you should know about some lasting impacts and how the country changed as a result of the war. The following tips highlight main themes you should be familiar with from each category of questions.

4. What do I need to know about U.S. government and civics?

This category accounts for half of the entire social studies test. Some of the main concepts to study include the founding documents (Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Bill of Rights, etc.), types of governments (modern and historical), the structure of the U.S. government (branches and levels of government), rights and responsibilities of U.S. citizens, the election process, representation in government, and contemporary public policy (modern political issues such as civil rights, immigration, and healthcare debate).

5. What do I need to know about U.S. history?

Historical patterns and processes are the focus of this category. You need to have a good understanding of how the United States has developed and changed over time. This can be done practically through a review of U.S. historical eras. You should have an understanding of the Revolutionary War and founding of the U.S., Manifest Destiny and geographic growth of the U.S., the Civil War, Reconstruction, Industrialization, the Great Depression, WWII, Cold War, and American policy since 9/11.

6. What do I need to know about economics?

These questions could touch on topics about microeconomics or macroeconomics, supply and demand, the relationship between economic and political freedom, the Great Depression, and the economic causes or impacts of war, colonization, and exploration.

7. What do I need to know about geography?

Geography is all about relationships across space on the Earth’s surface. You should have an understanding of the location and development of civilizations, borders of nations and states, migration flows, urbanization, culture, and the relationships between location, resources, and economic development.

Doing your research and knowing what to expect before going into a test is half the battle. Careful study and preparation can actually make taking the GED® test the easy part! Follow these guidelines and you’ll be setting yourself up for great success on test day. Good luck!

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