GED Social Studies Study Guide

Last Updated on May 19, 2024.

This Social Studies GED Study Guide explains how to prepare for the GED Social Studies Test.

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This study guide shows what you are required to know to pass the GED Social Studies Test without problems.

Remember that over 50 percent of the Social Studies questions will ask specific questions about provided graphics or an accompanying text.

Therefore, you should learn how to read charts, graphs, and tables.

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GED Social Studies Lessons

On this website, we are publishing 23 GED Social Studies lessons. This is our GED Social Studies study guide.

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What Should I Study for GED Social Studies?

Often, GED test-takers chose the Social Studies subtest as their first test because it’s perceived as the easiest one of all 4 GED tests. The GED Social Studies portion assesses your knowledge of GED Social Studies topics, including the U.S. and World History, U.S. Civics & Government, Geography, and Economics in the following areas:

  • Civics & Government-50%
  • U.S. & World History-20%
  • Geography & the World-15%
  • Economics-15%

To be successful on the GED Social Studies subtest, you’re not required to memorize lots of facts about the subject fields. What rather is assessed is to what extent you are able to:

  • Interpret graphs, charts, and numbers relating to Social Studies
  • Analyze the history and interpret historical events
  • Understand subject matter related to Social Studies

How to Pass GED Social Studies

The most important lessons are Civics & Government and US History. These categories make up 70% of the whole test. The remaining 30% are in Geography and  Economics.

Later on this page, we’ll give you some very useful tips to help ace the GED Social Studies subject test. But first, let’s look a little deeper into what subject matter you’ll find on the GED Social Studies test.

If you want to get a good understanding of history, it is key to work on your reading skills and take practice tests. To be successful on the GED Social Studies subtest, you must be able to:

  • Identify facts, opinions, and propaganda
  • Explore and identify relations between people, places, events, and processes
  • Recognize the bias or point of view of an author
  • Identify the author’s purpose and/or possible reasons
  • Use the provided evidence to come to a possible conclusion

How to study for the economics part of the GED Social Studies

As stated before, you don’t need to do lots of memorization. There’s also no need to master economic theories. Instead, you should be working on improving your GED skills related to things such as:

  • Being able to read data sets, numbers, and graphs
  • Applying data provided in tables, graphs, charts, and maps
  • Being able to use statistical terms such as median, mean, and mode
  • Understanding the difference between causation & correlation and between dependent & independent variables

You should become familiar with basic economics terminology and concepts as you may find questions that include, for example, graphs with data sets related to economics.

Is the GED Social Studies Test Hard?

Well, the fact of the matter is that the GED Social Studies test isn’t that difficult if you study hard and get well-prepared. Keep in mind that this test is not about memorization, and you’re not expected to remember all sorts of historical details.

This part of the GED exam puts more emphasis on understanding the concepts of social studies and measures to what extent you can use logical reasoning and analytical thinking skills and how well you can draw conclusions.

How Many Questions Can You Miss on the Social Studies GED Test?

On the GED Social Studies Test, there are 35 questions. To reach the GED passing score (145), you’ll need to answer between 22 and 24 questions correctly. You must be able to read passages and interpret graphics such as diagrams, charts, photographs, graphs, or maps.

You must be able to understand and use data presented in visual forms, so getting used to this way of presenting information is key to your success.

How Long is the GED Social Studies Test?

As stated earlier, the GED Social Studies Test is 90 minutes long. So, in 1.5 hours, you’ll have to answer 35 questions. Many students find that this time restraint is a cause of much anxiety and test stress.

We offer free lessons with test-taking strategies that allow you to deal with this phenomenon. Taking multiple timed practice tests will get you used to the format and be productive under time pressure as well.

The video lessons and this guide are a part of our Free Online GED Classes module based on the full Onsego GED Prep Course. If our online method is right for you, switch to Onsego GED Prep for full GED curriculum coverage.

10 GED Social Studies Test Tips

1. Read the question carefully

Before looking at the answers or reading through a full paragraph, read the question twice! It often happens that test-takers read a question too fast and fall into a trap. This also counts for answers. You may easily miss the point of the question because you didn’t read it well. Make also sure you won’t read too much into a question.

The questions on the GED Social Studies subtest are usually pretty straightforward. So don’t over-read the questions, and usually, your common sense answer is better than any “theoretical” answer.

2. Don’t just jump to a conclusion

Sometimes, the questions on the GED Social Studies test require some careful analysis. You’ll find that sometimes, a seemingly wrong answer may be right after all. It often happens that a test writer will put a misleading answer first, so you may be tempted to choose that answer, but be careful not to fall into this sort of trap!

You may also come across more answers that appear to be right. In such cases, always choose the best answer option based on what the question asks, not on your assumption.

3. Eliminate incorrect answer options

You should immediately first remove answer choices that contradict the given information. Usually, 1 or 2 answer options will be the opposite of what’s given in the short passage or in the accompanying graph, chart, table, or data.

If you get rid of these definitely wrong answer options first, you will be better able to carefully hone in on the remaining possibilities. You may even find that you’ll come up with the best option after all.

4. Answer all questions

Keep in mind that on the GED test, there is no penalty for guessing or answering answers incorrectly. So make sure you’ll answer all questions, also if you’re unsure or need to guess.

As said in tip #3, when you need to guess, try to eliminate the answer options immediately of which you know they are definitely incorrect. It will be a lot easier to guess and choose from the remaining options.

5. Have trust in your first answer

When you have read a question twice and very carefully, read the answer options carefully twice as well. Then, when selecting your best answer option, trust yourself. It often happens that your first idea proves to be the best idea!

When you’re left with some time to go over your answers again, don’t change anything unless you’ll find some obvious error that you’re absolutely sure about. Usually, your first answer choice is the right answer.

6. Go with the things you know

You should first answer the questions that you know. Skip the questions you don’t know or that you’re unsure of. Don’t dwell on questions; just start answering the questions that you know the answers to.

When in doubt about answers, mark those questions, skip them, and move ahead to the next questions. When you’re done with answering the questions you know the answers to right away, return to the questions you skipped.

It sometimes happens that other Social Studies questions will provide some sort of clue about the right answer to a skipped question.

7. Pace yourself

Although the given time to complete the GED Social Studies test (70 minutes) should be sufficient to deal with all of the questions, it is key to keep the correct pace going.

You should determine how much time you can use for each question. There are around 50 questions on the Social Studies test that must be completed in 70 minutes, so do the math. That leaves you around 1.4 minutes per question, right?

After answering a few questions, check whether you’re within your time limits and if you’re still on schedule. Do not dwell on questions you don’t know the answer to right away. Just skip them to move ahead.

Conversely, do also not rush questions to which you think you know the correct answers immediately. Be careful to read these questions and the answers twice before you select any answer option. Often, it’s the careless mistakes that separate superior scores from average scores.

8. Don’t worry about challenging topics

Social Studies covers numerous topics related to the U.S. and World History, Geography, Civics & Government, Environmental Science, Economics, and Contemporary Global Issues.

You may very well get all set for the GED Social Studies subtest by reviewing and studying, for example, basic history, but please note that over 50 percent of the Social Studies questions will be asking specific questions about provided graphics or an accompanying text. This is your free GED History study guide to the History GED section.

Just read the question and what is presented very carefully. There’s no need to worry if a topic is unfamiliar or challenging to you. All the things you must know to come to the right answer option will be right there, right on that page!

9. Note trends in charts, tables, graphs, and data

When you are given some data for interpretation on the GED Social Studies subtest, that data will be the basis for some conclusions. Bar graphs are typically used for drawing draw comparisons, and line graphs are for showing changes over time. So make sure you read all labels and titles and make GED Social Studies notes!

Before getting to the answer options, take a closer look and try to analyze and summarize the given data in your head. If, for example, a graph contains a line that’s getting smaller from left to right, you should know that that’s an indication that the y- and x-axes are indirectly related (as the “y-value” grows, the “x-value” shrinks). You should be asking yourself: what’s the data supposed to tell or show me?

10. Get familiar with the economics vocabulary

There’s no need to be an Economics superstar to be successful on the GED Social Studies subtest, but you should be aware that Economics questions account for 15 percent of your results on the test.

So, you should get familiar with some basic economics concepts and terminology. You may come across questions that include a graph that shows data about the growth of a product or item based on the principle of supply and demand over, for example, the span of 10 years.

When you are not familiar with the economic concept of supply and demand, chances are you’ll find the question to be very intimidating, and interpreting the graph could be challenging.