About the GED Social Studies Test

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

An important aspect of getting your GED is passing the social studies test. This lesson gives you an overview of the test and helps you understand what to expect, and how to prepare for success.

Test Overview

If you are trying to get your GED, you might be wondering what to expect from the social studies test. This lesson gives you some information about what the test is, and how you might prepare. The GED social studies test measures what you know about strands in social studies including history, government, economics, and geography. The test lasts for 70 minutes, and it is composed of 50 multiple choice questions. The test is different in Canada from in the United States; specifically, the Canadian version includes more Canadian history and government questions, whereas the test in the US focuses more on US government and history. Much of the test is based on primary source documents that are included as part of the test, so make sure you read efficiently, thoughtfully, and critically. The test focuses more on analysis than on memorization of facts. To pass the test, you will need to answer at least 65% of the questions correctly. Each state has different requirements about exactly what materials you should bring to the test, so check with your local testing center prior to testing day to make sure you are prepared.


The history section of the test is the biggest, comprising about 40 percent of the test. Most of the history questions focus on either the US or Canada, but 15 percent of the test is also about world history. Though the history section of the test will include some content specific knowledge about the basics of world and national history, it is mostly conceptual. In other words, the makers of the test are interested in seeing that you understand basic historical concepts such as the relationship between people and their environment, the nature of war and peace, and the way cultures influence each other over time. The history section will give you many different primary source documents to analyze, including maps, historical speeches, historical documents, and charts or graphs. Questions will ask that you read these documents carefully and put them into the context of what you already know. They will ask you to make inferences and draw conclusions based on what you learn from these documents. The test will ask questions about precolonial history, colonial America and the Revolution, the Civil War, Industrialization, and modern US or Canadian history. In world history, the test will look at ancient civilization, the evolution of nation states, the revolutions of the 19th century, the two world wars, and the twentieth century.

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