GED Social Studies : Problem Solving

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GED Social Studies

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Problem Solving

Adapted from A Smaller History of Greece from the Earliest Times to the Roman Conquest (1897) by William Smith.

The physical features of the country exercised an important influence upon the political destinies of the people. Greece is one of the most mountainous countries of Europe. Its surface is occupied by a number of small plains, either entirely surrounded by limestone mountains or open only to the sea. Each of the principal Grecian cities was founded in one of these small plains; and, as the mountains which separated it from its neighbours were lofty and rugged, each city grew up in solitary independence. But at the same time it had ready and easy access to the sea, and Arcadia was almost the only political division that did not possess some territory upon the coast. Thus shut out from their neighbours by mountains, the Greeks were naturally attracted to the sea, and became a maritime people. Hence they possessed the love of freedom and the spirit of adventure, which have always characterised, more or less the inhabitants of maritime districts.

The Greek city states were able to grow in relative isolation because __________.

Possible Answers:

of their immense distrust of outsiders and travellers

the mountains prevented easy movement across land

of their love of philosophy and the arts 

of their fear of invasion 

the sea provided a natural barrier that was easily guarded

Correct answer:

the mountains prevented easy movement across land

Explanation:

The author notes that the terrain of Greece is extremely mountainous when compared to the rest of Europe. He says "Each of the principal Grecian cities was founded in one of these small plains; and, as the mountains which separated it from its neighbours were lofty and rugged, each city grew up in solitary independence." The mountains separating the Greek city states from one another were tall and hard to traverse and so the cities grw up in isolation from one another. 

Example Question #2 : Problem Solving

Adapted from A Smaller History of Greece from the Earliest Times to the Roman Conquest (1897) by William Smith.

Greece is the southern portion of a great peninsula of Europe, washed on three sides by the Mediterranean Sea. It is bounded on the north by the Cambunian mountains, which separate it from Macedonia. It extends from the fortieth degree of latitude to the thirty-sixth, its greatest length being not more than 250 English miles, and its greatest breadth only 180. Its surface is considerably less than that of Portugal. This small area was divided among a number of independent states, many of them containing a territory of only a few square miles, and none of them larger than an English county. But the heroism and genius of the Greeks have given an interest to the insignificant spot of earth bearing their name, which the vastest empires have never equalled.

The name of Greece was not used by the inhabitants of the country. They called their land Hellas, and themselves Hellenes. At first the word Hellas signified only a small district in Thessaly, from which the Hellenes gradually spread over the whole country. The names of Greece and Greeks come to us from the Romans, who gave the name of Graecia to the country and of Graeci to the inhabitants.

Which of these countries is directly north of Greece?

Possible Answers:

Macedonia

Portugal

Italy

Russia

England

Correct answer:

Macedonia

Explanation:

Answering this question requires you to read carefully. The author says "It is bounded on the north by the Cambunian mountains, which separate it from Macedonia." So, to the north of Greece is a series of mountains, and those mountains separate Greece from Macedonia; therefore Macedonia must be directly north of Greece.

Example Question #3 : Problem Solving

Adapted from A Short History of the United States (1908) by Edward Channing.

The first colonists sailed for Virginia in December, 1606. They were months on the way and suffered terrible hardships. At last they reached Chesapeake Bay and settled on a peninsula on the James, about thirty miles from its mouth. Across the little isthmus which connected this peninsula with the mainland they built a strong fence, or stockade, to keep the Indians away from their huts. Their settlement they named Jamestown. The early colonists of Virginia were not very well fitted for such a work. Some of them were gentlemen who had never labored with their hands; others were poor, idle fellows whose only wish was to do nothing whatever. There were a few energetic men among them as Ratcliffe, Archer, and Smith. But these spent most of their time in exploring the bay and the rivers, in hunting for gold, and in quarreling with one another. With the summer came fevers, and soon fifty of the one-hundred-and-five original colonists were dead. Then followed a cold, hard winter, and many of those who had not died of fever in the summer died of cold. The colonists brought little food with them, they were too lazy to plant much corn, and they were able to get only small supplies from the Indians. Indeed, the early history of Virginia is given mainly to accounts of "starving times." Of the first thousand colonists not one hundred lived to tell the tale of those early days.

If you were a colonist in those early days of colonization if Virginia your chance of survival would be __________.

Possible Answers:

less than one in two

one in one hundred

one in ten

one in two

less than one in ten

Correct answer:

less than one in ten

Explanation:

The author tells you that of the first thousand colonists, less than one hundred lived to tell the story of their experience. That means that an early colonist would have had less than one in ten chance of survival.

Example Question #4 : Problem Solving

Adapted from Independent Bohemia by Vladimir Nosek (1918)

The Czechs freely elected the Habsburgs to the throne of Bohemia, which remained a fully independent state, its alliance with Austria and Hungary being purely dynastic. But soon the Habsburgs began to violate the liberties of Bohemia that they were bound by oath to observe, and this led finally to the fateful Czech revolution of 1618. At the battle of the White Mountain in 1620, the Czechs suffered a defeat and were cruelly punished for their rebellion. All their nobility were either executed or sent into exile, and their property confiscated. The country was devastated by the imperial hordes, and its population was reduced from 3,000,000 to 800,000 during the Thirty Years' War.

In 1627 Ferdinand II greatly curtailed the administrative rights of Bohemia, yet he did not dare to deprive her entirely of her independence. In his "Renewed Ordinance of the Land," Ferdinand declared the Bohemian crown to be hereditary in the House of Habsburg, and reserved legislative power to the sovereign. But otherwise the historical rights of Bohemia remained valid, notwithstanding all subsequent arbitrary centralizing measures taken by the Habsburgs. Bohemia's rights were repeatedly recognized by each succeeding Habsburg. Legally, Bohemia is an independent state today.

Based on this passage, the state of Bohemia most likely resides in which modern country?

Possible Answers:

The Czech Republic

Austria

Hungary

Germany

Italy

Correct answer:

The Czech Republic

Explanation:

It is clear from the passage that the Czech people are the people who live in Bohemia. The Habsburgs were rulers of Austria and Hungary who were also elected to rule the Czech people of Bohemia. It stands to reason that in the modern age, Bohemia is in the Czech Republic. 

Example Question #5 : Problem Solving

The following question refers to the information contained in this passage.

The Federal Reserve is the central banking system of the United States. The roles of the Federal Reserve include regulating the monetary policy and supply, preventing financial panics, and supervising banking institutions. The Federal Reserve was created early in the twentieth century primarily in response to the frequent financial panics that would cripple the U.S. economy, most prominent of which was the Panic of 1907. The powers of the Federal Reserve have expanded throughout the years, usually in response to other financial disasters like the Great Depression. Recent evidence suggests the Federal Reserve is essentially powerless to prevent the destabilizing force that is our boom and bust economy.

Why do you think the powers of the Federal Reserve expanded after the Great Depression?

Possible Answers:

The people no longer trusted the financial institutions and refused to put their money into banks without the guarantee of the Federal Reserve protecting them

The Federal Reserve was directly responsible for the Great Depression, so the government sought to amend it’s powers

The government felt that if the economy was under closer control and greater scrutiny, a repeat of the Great Depression would be less likely

The government believed that the Federal Reserve was deficient and needed to be rebuilt or reformed in order to prevent another financial panic

The people demanded that the powers of the Federal Reserve be expanded to prevent a further outbreak of economic depression

Correct answer:

The government felt that if the economy was under closer control and greater scrutiny, a repeat of the Great Depression would be less likely

Explanation:

The author tells you that "the Federal Reserve was created . . . in response to the frequent financial panics that would cripple the U.S. economy," and that "the powers of the Federal Reserve have expanded throughout the years, usually in response to other financial disasters." Thus it seems most likely that the powers of the Federal Reserve were expanded after the Great Depression because the American government felt that the extension of those powers would make a repeat of the Great Depression less likely. The author does not mention the opinions of the people at all, so while these might be somewhat acceptable answers, they are not supported by this passage.

Example Question #6 : Problem Solving

The biggest threat to humanity in the twenty-first century is almost certainly the rising demand for and use of the Earth’s dwindling natural resources. Currently China, and to a slightly lesser extent India, are hurtling through their own Industrial and economic revolutions, powering this change with a greater and greater consumption of natural resources. This transition is already well under way in parts of South America and Africa as well, and will most likely accelerate in the next few decades. Put simply, the planet cannot sustain this growth.

The people of the Western world have lived a privileged life of abundance and materialism for over a hundred years now, and if the whole world wants to live like a middle-class American then the demand for resources will outstrip supply very quickly. What is needed then is a change, a global change, in what is considered an acceptable and sufficient standard living. We all need to downgrade our expectations and our desires, to accept less for the greater good. Human history suggests this is highly unlikely: competition and warfare has always driven our relationships with one another, and it is quite likely that we will fight endless wars over the rights to oil, water, gas, and so on; but, human history also shows a constant trend of human ingenuity prevailing over all manner of natural and man-made disasters, so there is cause for optimism too. We cannot say with certainty which way mankind will go, competition or cooperation; we can only try to do our part and hope for the best.

The author suggests that the solution to the rising demand for resources is __________.

Possible Answers:

to agree upon a series of international treaties to regulate the consumption of natural resources

for people to wage war with one another to ensure that fewer people are drawing from the planet’s supply of resources

for people to cooperate with one another and accept a less extravagant standard of living

for mankind to revert back to a simpler time from our part and live a less technologically advanced lifestyle

to research new, more sustainable forms of energy and to minimize resource consumption in the meantime

Correct answer:

for people to cooperate with one another and accept a less extravagant standard of living

Explanation:

The author notes that the main problem facing mankind in the next hundred years is the rising demand for, and use of, natural resources. The author suggests that the solution to this problem is for people to cooperate in finding solutions and accept a less luxurious standard of living. This is evident when the author says "What is needed then is a change, a global change, in what is considered an acceptable and sufficient standard living. We all need to downgrade our expectations and our desires, to accept less for the greater good."

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