Social Studies Exam Overview: GED Test Prep (page 2)
To prepare effectively for the GED Social Studies Exam, you need to know exactly what the exam is like. This article explains the structure of the exam, including the types of questions and stimuli you will see on the exam.
What to Expect on the GED Social Studies Exam
The GED Social Studies Exam covers basic social studies concepts and includes questions from four main content areas:
- U.S. and world history
- civics and government
The exam applies these four topics to your daily life and looks at how they affect your role as an individual, a member of a community, a family member, a worker or student, and a consumer. You will not be asked to memorize facts. Instead, the exam will measure your critical thinking skills. These skills include your ability to understand, analyze, and evaluate social studies material.
The exam includes 50 multiple-choice questions (items) for which you will have 70 minutes to complete. Each multiple-choice question has five answer choices. The exam will include some question sets, meaning that several questions may address a single graphic or reading passage. Question sets usually have from two to five items. The exam may require you to use your understanding of different social studies concepts within the same question set.
Kinds of Stimuli
Exam questions are based on three kinds of stimuli materials: reading passages, visuals, and combined stimuli that use both reading passages and visuals. Here is what you can expect on the GED Social Studies Exam:
- Reading passages from articles, speeches, textbooks, laws, or other documents. Reading passages range in length from 50 to 60 words for single-item questions to no more than 200 words for question sets. Forty percent of the questions on the GED Social Studies Exam will be based on reading passages. The exam will include one or more excerpts from the U.S. Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution, Federalist Papers, and Supreme Court landmark cases. Review these documents before taking the exam to familiarize yourself with their fundamental concepts.
- Visuals including maps, graphs, charts, tables, diagrams, photographs, and political cartoons. Forty percent of the questions in the exam are based on some form of graphic. The exam will also use one practical document such as a voter's registration form, consumer guide, tax form, budget tool, survey, workplace contract, bank statement, insurance form, or other document.
- Combined stimuli using both text and visuals. Combined materials make up 20% of the exam's questions.
Kinds of Questions
The questions on the GED Social Studies Exam measure four major thinking skills: comprehension (your ability to understand), application (apply information to new situations), analysis (break down information and analyze it), and evaluation (make judgments about information). Here is the breakdown of the types of questions on the GED Social Studies Exam:
- Comprehension questions 20%
- Application questions 20%
- Analysis questions 40%
- Evaluation questions 20%
Each question type looks at a different thinking skill.
- Comprehension. For these questions, you will read passages or review visuals and demonstrate that you understand the meaning of the text or graphic. To answer these questions, you may need to restate information that you have read, summarize ideas from a passage, or draw conclusions. When answering these types of questions, do not use any prior or additional knowledge of a subject that you might have. These exam questions measure your ability to find the best answer based only on the information that is provided. Comprehension questions are typically worded as in the following examples:
- Which of the following best describes the passage?
- What is the purpose of this paragraph?
- According to the map, which of the following is true?
- What conclusion can you make based on the information in the chart?
- Application. These questions ask you to take information or ideas from one situation and apply them to a different situation. Here are some examples of application questions:
- Who might use the information in this graph to support their position?
- Which of the following is the most similar to the situation described?
- Analysis. For these questions, you need to break down ideas and show relationships between ideas. You might be asked to differentiate between fact and opinion, identify an assumption that the author has made but has not stated explicitly, identify cause-and-effect relationships, or compare and contrast information or ideas. Typical analysis questions may be worded as in the following examples:
- Based on the quotation, what can we infer about the speaker?
- The writer's position depends on which of the following assumptions?
- Evaluation. These questions ask you to synthesize information and make your own hypothesis or theory. Some questions will require that you evaluate information or ideas and make a judgment about whether the information is accurate. You will need to look at data to back up conclusions, identify how values and beliefs shape decisions, and uncover arguments that might be illogical. Here are some examples of typical evaluation questions:
- Which of the following is supported by the information given in the passage?
- Which of the following is an unlikely explanation of the information presented in the graph?
- Which of the following expresses an opinion rather than a fact?
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