The TASC Social Studies Test contains a number of items that refer to charts, graphs, written passages, photographs, and other stimulus material. To prepare well for it, you need to practice deriving meaning from visual aids like these. You also need to have a clear understanding of common, basic terms from the areas of history, economics, government, and geography.
This study guide outlines the scope of the TASC Social Studies test, which is extensive. The outline here simply mentions many of the ideas with which you should be familiar. It will be necessary to read more and consult other sources to have a full understanding of the material.
There is more emphasis placed on certain topics on the test and that is noted here. You should spend more time on the “heavily emphasized” material than on that which is not as important for the test. However, be sure to do some review of all of the concepts. Missing a number of questions in minor areas can add up and negatively affect your score.
The U.S. economy after World War II changed quite drastically, as economic production shifted from primarily creating objects for war to creating items intended for simple consumption, such as household items and goods. With war over, the American people began to relax, and life began to shift from survival mode to pleasure-seeking, resulting in the mass creation of suburbs and changes in the U.S. job market.
The American economy was transformed due to the difference in goods being produced, and the willingness of the American public to spend more on leisure. While wartime created economic hardship and encouraged a production focus primarily on war and war-related items, the end of the war meant more Americans were willing to spend frivolously, or in frivolous pursuits, and more jobs were created focused on entertainment and goods.
Social change came primarily in the form of mindset. Whereas the general mindset had previously been that of fear and survival, men and women began to relax and regard life as something in need of filling, rather than merely surviving. This meant more time for fun pursuits (dates, dancing, shopping, etc.), and more money spent on objects without intrinsic value (household goods, vehicles, entertainment, etc.).
The Cold War
The Cold War was a conflict borne between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Both were determined to upstage one another, particularly in the form of scientific and war-related progress, resulting in a time of intense tension and small conflicts. Although no all-out war occurred (despite the title “cold war”), these tensions persisted from approximately 1947 to 1991 and basically involved a battle of ideals: communism (Soviet Union) and capitalism (U.S.).
The Korean Conflict
The Korean Conflict (also known as the Korean War) was a war between North and South Korea. The United States came to the aid of South Korea, while China came to the aid of the North. It is argued that the U.S. became involved in the war due to the fear (from the Truman administration) of another World War. To avoid this potential issue, the U.S. came to South Korea’s aid. Ultimately, there was no real winner of the war; instead, Korea remained divided, and peace talks continued.
The Vietnam Conflict
The Vietnam War is regarded as one of the most controversial U.S. involvements in this country’s history, as many men and women felt the United States had no business becoming involved. The war was, ultimately, entered into in an attempt to stop the rise of communism, with the United States hoping to establish authority in the area, to ensure that communism was not established. The war was, reportedly, a war determined to provide liberty—but sacrificed countless men and women in the process. Ultimately, the United States withdrew from fighting in 1973.
Domestic policy changed after World War II, as soldiers began returning home a renewed sense of justice on their minds. As a result, men and women began focusing on civil rights and liberties, and the modern understanding of civil rights began to grow; black men fought just as hard—and lost just as much—as white men, so why should they be treated differently?
In addition, the vast numbers of returned soldiers prompted a heavier emphasis on government involvement in the lives of Americans, resulting in social programs and other government-sponsored programs.
Civil Liberties (Gender and Racial)
As mentioned above, men returned home to find that the United States they’d fought for was still entrenched in racial and gender biases. The civil rights movement was largely borne during this time, with a focus both on racial equality, and the equality of women; racial minorities fought just as hard in the war and felt they deserved better treatment, while women worked long and hard in the absence of men, prompting women to demand better treatment.