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GED® Test Social Studies


Welcome to the social studies section of the GED® test preparation course. We know how important passing the GED® exam is to you, and we would like to congratulate you on making it through the first two writing-intensive sections of the course! Now let's get started on the road to mastering the social studies section of the GED® exam!


The social studies section of the GED® test is comprised of 50 questions, making it approximately 20% of the entire exam. You will have 70 minutes to answer all 50 questions, so use your time wisely!

To begin with, let’s address what the GED® social studies test will cover  in terms of subject matter. This part of the test is devoted to the interpretation of global history, US history, geography, civics and government, and economics. Each test-taker will be tested on their understanding of different concepts and principles in each of these categories, as well as their ability to apply these concepts to different contexts.

GED® test-takers will be tested on four different basic types of thinking: comprehension, application, analysis, and evaluation.

The level of cognitive ability (thinking skills) being tested by the GED® test is high, as it is based on a wide foundation of knowledge that one normally receives in a complete high school education. Prior knowledge of history, geography, civics, and economics will therefore be very helpful for you on the social studies section of the GED® exam. We all know a little bit more than we think we do, and it usually just takes a review to remind us of this. You will be provided with a history, economics, civics and government overview to help situate your thinking and remind you of some of the fundamentals of American society. In addition to this, there are many tips and tricks that will help you find the right answer to the question, even if it addresses something that you do not remember learning.

All of the questions on the social studies test are in multiple-choice format, which provides an excellent opportunity to learn productive guessing skills that will help you do well on the GED® exam.


The source materials for the questions will be either in prose (ordinary writing that is not in verse form), visual, or written formats. This means that you will need to practice your ability to understand and analyze information from textbooks, newspapers, historical documents, maps, graphs, diagrams, cartoons, photographs, and artwork, and be able to analyze visual information in conjunction with written information.

The breakdown of these different types of materials is about 40% prose-based questions, 40% visually-based questions, and 20% written and visual together.



Let’s return to the four different cognitive skills that are being tested by the social studies test and go through them step-by-step. The first one, comprehension, measures the ability to understand the meaning and intent of the textual or visual material. These questions will measure your ability to:

  1. restate information,
  2. summarize ideas,
  3. identify implications, draw conclusions, and make inferences.

20% of the questions will be based on comprehension skills.

Next, application questions measure the ability to understand an idea and then transfer the content knowledge of that idea to a situation that is different from the one provided by the question. This measures your ability to:

   1. Identify an illustration of a generalization, principle, or strategy

   2. Apply the appropriate abstraction to a new problem without prompting or instruction

20% of the questions will be based on application skills.

Third, analysis questions measure the ability to break down and dissect information in order to explore your understanding of the relationship between related ideas. This measures your ability to:

  1. Distinguish facts from opinions and hypotheses
  2. Distinguish conclusions from supporting statements
  3. Recognize information that is designed to persuade an audience
  4. Recognize unstated assumptions
  5. Recognize fallacies in the logic of different arguments and conclusions
  6. Identify cause and effect relationships and be able to distinguish them from other relationships
  7. Recognize the point of view of a writer in a historical context, in a historical account
  8. Recognize the historical context of a text or image, being able to escape “present-mindedness”
  9. Identify comparisons and contrasts among points of view and different interpretations of issues
  10. Determine the implications, effects, and value of presenting visual data in different ways

40% of the questions will be based on analytical skills.

And finally, evaluation questions measure the ability to use given criteria to make decisions about the validity or accuracy of information. This measures your ability to:

  1. Assess factual accuracy, assess the appropriateness of information to make conclusions, hypotheses and generalizations
  2. Compare and contrast differing accounts of the same event
  3. Recognize the part that values, belief systems, and convictions play in decision-making

20% of the questions will be based on evaluation skills.


Now that you know what the test is looking for, as well as the type of information that will be covered, let’s get started. The next thing that we will talk about is some general tips for taking the social studies test that will prepare you for the different types of questions that you will face. Then we will split the course into five major subject sections: United States history, global history, economics, civics and government, and geography.

We will begin with an overview of U.S. history, since 25% of the history section will be U.S. history and only 15% will have a global focus. In each subsequent section, we will go over sample questions related to the subject that test the different cognitive skills required, accompanied by explanations. At the end of the lessons will be a comprehensive exam that will mirror the format of the GED® test as much as possible.

Remember, because of the breakdown of the subjects on the test, the sections will not be equal in length. For example, since history comprises about 40% of the questions on the test, the section in this course on history will include more information than the section on geography.

Social Studies Lessons

  1. Overview US History Part 1
  2. Overview US History Part 2
  3. US History
  4. Global History
  5. Overview: Economics
  6. Economics
  7. Overview: Civics & Government
  8. Civics & Government
  9. Geography
  10. Practice Test

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