On the GED Social Studies test, you will have 70 minutes to answer 50 questions. Most of the questions are based on short passages, but they can also be based on diagrams, political cartoons, maps, photographs, excerpts from historical documents (such as the Declaration of Independence), and/or consumer labels. With a wealth of possible information, how can you best prepare?
Tip #1 – Don’t worry about what you don’t know. The term “social studies” is usually interpreted to mean American and World history, but also broadly covers geography, economics, politics and government, environmental science, and contemporary global issues. You can prepare for the Social Studies test by reviewing basic history, but more than half of the questions will ask specifically about graphics, or graphics with accompanying text. Study what is presented to you carefully, and don’t worry if the topic is challenging or unfamiliar to you. All you need to know to get the right answer is on the page!
Tip #2 – Note any trends in data tables, charts, or graphs. When you’ve given data to interpret on the Social Studies test, it is because that data is being used as the basis for a conclusion. Typically line graphs show changes over time, while bar graphs help you draw comparisons. Be sure to read any and all titles and labels. Try to summarize the results for yourself in your head before moving on to the questions. For example, a line graph that gets smaller from left to right would indicate that the y-axis and the x-axis have an indirect relationship (as the value of y grows, the value of x shrinks). Ask yourself: what is this data supposed to show me?
Tip #3 – Remove choices that are contradicted by the given info first. Usually at least 1, if not 2, of the 5 answer choices will be opposite of what is presented to you in the short passages or in the accompanying data. Get rid of those options first, so you can carefully hone in on the stronger possibilities.
Tip #4 – Cause/Effect counts more than Dates/Names. If history is not your strong suit and you’re brushing up on your knowledge of wars, social upheaval, and other major events in American or World History, don’t worry about memorizing dates and names. You will NOT be required to know the specific years of major conflicts, although having a general sense of what caused these conflicts, and what were the major results will be very helpful. Try to absorb history from a “big picture” perspective, and ignore all the tiny details.
Tip #5 – Familiarize yourself with “economics” vocab. You don’t have to have already taken an Economics course to pass the GED Social Studies test, but since economics questions account for 20% of the Social Studies questions, it’s a good idea to get comfortable with some of the basic terminology and concepts. An example of an economics question would be a graph with data on forecasts and actual growth of a product based on supply/demand over the span of 5 years. If you aren’t already comfortable with the concepts of supply and demand, it would be more intimidating for you to interpret the graph.