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Lesson V

Understanding our planet and its resources is - and has always been - imperative for human survival. Geography is the study of the human and physical environment and how they affect each other. Geography will take up about 15% of the GED® social studies test.

Topics to be familiar with:

††† 1. The world in spatial terms

††† 2. Places, regions and physical systems

††† 3. Resources affect where people live.

††† 4. Environment and society

In this lesson you will learn how to:

††† 1. Distinguish conclusions from supporting details

††† 2. Recognize values

††† 3. Read maps using the information provided

Skill Exercise: Distinguishing Conclusions From Supporting Details

This exercise should be a review at this point, but apply yourself and see what you have learned!

Read the following passage and refer to the question below:

Question 1

The Earthís natural barriers, like oceans and deserts, have slowed the movement of ideas from one region to another for many years. Now, satellites that allow telephones and the internet to reach to the far corners of the world help spread ideas and diminish differences among societies.

Which of the following answer options is most like a communications satellite?

  1. a floor
  2. a window
  3. a wall
  4. a room
  5. a wooden plank

Answer: 2.Windows let people in one place see or hear things that are going on in another place, just like communications satellites. Option 3 is incorrect because it blocks communication and movement. Options 1, 4, and 5 are incorrect because in general, they block communication and movement within the construct of a building.

Question 2

The worst oil spill in the history of the U.S. occurred in 1989 after an oil tanker hit a reef off of the coast of Alaska, spilling 11 million gallons of oil into the sea. Over 1,200 miles of coastline was polluted and 100,000 birds died.

What conclusion is supported by the information given above?

  1. Transporting oil on ships should be illegal
  2. The oil spill was an environmental disaster
  3. So many birds died because they drank the oil
  4. The shipís captain was not operating safely

Answer: 2.All of the information in the passage supports this conclusion. The fact that 11 million gallons of oil were spilled into the sea, polluting the coastline and killing birds, makes it an environmental disaster. None of the other options are supported by the text.

Skill Exercise: Identifying Values

In previous lessons, we discussed the imperative role that values play in peopleís lives and how these values can affect the decisions that they make. Shared values are very important when talking about societyís resources and in deciding our individual responsibility for how they should be used. Take the question of water, for example. Some people donít think twice about leaving the tap running while they wash dishes, while others make conscious choices to use a wash tub and save the 2.5-5 gallons that come out of the tap every minute.

Donít forget to look for biases in written work when you are trying to identify the values of either the writer or of the people being written about. For instance, in the example I gave above, it is fairly obvious that I am biased towards the need to conserve water, and I think it is wasteful and socially irresponsible to not actively try to do this. These are my values, which are shared by some people and not shared by others, but the point is that my bias shines through in my writing.

Read the following passage and refer to the question below:

The process of polluting the environment results from human activity that involves the release of harmful environmental contaminants. Even products of human activity that are generally benign can be pollution, as they may elicit negative effects on the environment after many years. For example, industry releases nitrogen oxides into the atmosphere that are not harmful alone, but, with the help of sunlight, are converted into smog.

Fertilizers, weed killers, and pesticides are washed by the rain into storm sewers and ditches - runoff which eventually reaches lakes, rivers, and streams. Our waters are being poisoned by industrial and animal wastes, which means that the fish we eat are being poisoned as well. But perhaps the biggest concern on a local level is acid rain. Acid rain is caused by the release of sulfur dioxide from coal burning mixed with nitrogen oxide from car exhaust and water vapor in the atmosphere. This forms sulfuric and nitric acid and pollutes the natural environment.

What information is implied by the passage?

1. The air is more polluted than the water

  1. Some chemical wastes are harmful to humans
  2. Technology is a terrible development
  3. Acid rain contains nitric and sulfuric acid

Answer: 2.Option 4 is true, but it is a direct statement in the passage and therefore not implied. The passage does not perform a comparison of air and water pollution, and therefore Option 1 cannot be correct. Option 3 is an oversimplification and is not supported by the information in the passage.

Skill Exercise: Understanding Maps

Since people learn in a variety of ways--visually, audibly, kinesthetically--it is important to be able to explain material that is presented one way in another way. Maps are visual representations of information that may be very useful for some people and very confusing for others. It is important to be able to restate information that you see on a map verbally.

Maps will almost always have both a title and a legend. A legend is a list of symbols that explain information that is shown on the map. The map will also have a compass drawn on it to indicate north, south, east, and west. There will also be a scale to let you know how many miles or kilometers of land are being indicated by every centimeter or inch of the map. It is important to use these tools to fully understand what the map is telling you.

The following 2 questions refer to the map below:

Annual Growth Rate - World Population, 2000

Question 1

According to the map, which of the following continents has the lowest rate of population growth for the year 2000?

  1. South America
  2. North America
  3. Asia
  4. Africa
  5. Europe

Answer: 5.The legend on the map clearly shows that with a growth rate of -1 Ė 0%, Europeís population is actually in decline.

Question 2

Which of the following people would be the most interested in the information on this map?

1. A history student studying ancient civilizations

2. An earthquake-predicting scientist

3. A United Nations social services agency director

4. An oceanographer

5. A psychologist

Answer: 3.Fairly current international population data would be invaluable to a UN director for planning purposes. The other options are incorrect because population figures are unrelated to what they research.


Weíve come to the end of the social studies section of the GED® preparation course. Next up is the cumulative test, so go back and review anything that youíre not completely comfortable with. Itís also probably a good idea to go over those test-taking tips from the beginning of the section before you begin the exam. The test will simulate the social studies section of the GED® exam as closely as possible, but none of the questions are actual GED® test questions.

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