GED Social Studies Tips

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.

The GED test contains four independent subtests that can be taken one at a time. The four subject areas are Reasoning through Language Arts, Mathematical Reasoning, and Social Studies.

The passing score on each of the four subject tests is 145 and your score is calibrated on a scale that goes from 100 to 200.

What is on the GED Social Studies test?

The GED Social Studies portion assesses your knowledge of U.S. and World History, U.S. Civics & Government, Geography, and Economics in the following areas:

  • Civics & Government makes up 50 percent
  • U.S. & World History makes up 20 percent
  • Geography & the World makes up 15 percent
  • Economics makes up 15 percent as well

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, & numbers relating to Social Studies
  • Analyze history & interpret historical events
  • Understand subject matter related to Social Studies

Social Studies content

To attain the GED passing score on the Social Studies subtest, you’ll have to demonstrate an understanding of the four Social Studies content areas and command basic reasoning skills.

You are not required to command complex political matters or memorize all sorts of facts about the U.S. government. You are, however, required to be familiar with how our government and society are structured, the different branches of government, and how our democracy works.

You don’t need to memorize lots of historical names and dates to become a GED graduate, but you must be able to interpret ideas and events. That also applies to geography. You should pay attention to the overview of geographical subjects and practice how to think analytical and critically about them so you can form your own opinion.

At the same time, it is important that you know about, and can discuss, important events that play an important role in the history of our nation, such as the Civil War, the Louisiana Purchase, the Industrial Revolution, and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization), just to mention a few.

Most Social Studies questions are based on a short passage, but they may also come with a diagram, map, political cartoon, photograph, an excerpt from a historical document, for example, the Declaration of Independence, or a consumer label.

Work on your reading skills

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 provided evidence to come to a possible conclusion

How to study for economics

As stated before, you don’t need to do lots of memorization. There’s also no need to master economical theories. Instead, you should be working on improving your 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, & 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 (see also tip #10 below).

GED Social Studies format

The GED exam must be taken exclusively on a computer. Paper-based testing is a thing of the past. The four subtests are computer-adaptive meaning the difficulty level depends on your given answers. That’s how the GED works.

There are various question formats on the GED Social Studies subtest including multiple-choice, hot spot, fill-in-the-blank, and draggable. There are no short answer questions on this subtest. As said earlier, you are allowed 70 minutes to complete this subtest.

The GED Social Studies subtest covers an extensive range of topics, and you may well be overwhelmed and perhaps even don’t know where to start.

Don’t worry! This website offers you numerous free online video lessons and many free practice tests to help you get all set for the real thing real fast.

Our video lessons cover important topics that are found on the GED Social Studies. Our free support ensures you’ll master everything required to be successful on the Social Studies subtest.

Time pressure

The GED Social Studies test, like the other subtests, is a timed test so it is key to work on your time-management competencies as well. Many unsuccessful test-takers feel they ran out of time to answer all of the questions. You are given 70 minutes to answer all questions on the Social Studies test.

One of the keys to success on the Social Studies subtest is not to focus only on memorizing facts. You rather should learn to make sense of numbers, data, events, and facts. Organize the subject matter that you need to know and understand. Perhaps you should start with learning the topics you’re not so familiar with.

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 happens often 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 too much into a question.

The questions on the GED Social Studies subtest are usually pretty straight forward. 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 happens often 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’ll get rid of these definitely wrong answer options first, you will better be 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 answers 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 happens sometimes 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 withing 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 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.

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 will be given some data for interpretation on the GED Social Studies subtest, that data will be the basis for some conclusion.

Bar graphs typically are used for drawing draw comparisons, and line graphs for showing changes over time. So make sure you’ll read all labels and titles.

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 are accounting 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 economical concept of supply and demand, chances are you’ll find the question to be very intimidating, and interpreting the graph could be challenging.


Last Updated on April 6, 2021.

People Also Read: