GED Social Studies : Word Meaning

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GED Social Studies

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Example Questions

Example Question #2 : Question Types

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

When considered from a historical standpoint, most academics believe that St. Paul was far more important to the development of the western world than Jesus Christ. Christianity of course emerged from the teachings of Jesus Christ, but it spread due to the dedicated work of St. Paul.

St. Paul was, in his own time, a famously devout Jew. He lived a pious life dedicated to God. One day, according to Paul, Christ spoke to him and showed him the way. From that moment on, Paul would travel back and forth across the Western World spreading the word of Christ and trying to convert anybody who would listen. Paul’s messages reached Rome, Greece, North Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and even further afield. Without Paul’s influence, it is likely that Christ’s religion would have remained a niche branch of Judaism, rather than being established as the dominant western religion in its own right. Paul would continue his proselytizing right up until he died—condemned to death by the Romans for preaching a heathen religion.

The underlined word “proselytizing” most likely means __________

Possible Answers:

demonizing. 

converting. 

mission.

labor. 

reasoning.

Correct answer:

converting. 

Explanation:

In context, the author is talking about St. Paul’s work to convert the people of the Western World to the Christian faith. The author says “Paul would continue his proselytizing right up until he died—condemned to death by the Romans for preaching a heathen religion.” This also provides a clue that the word “proselytizing” must mean something like “preaching,” so the correct answer is “converting.”

Example Question #2 : Word Meaning

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

The vast number of the Greek colonies, their widespread diffusion over all parts of the Mediterranean, which thus became a kind of Grecian lake, and their rapid growth in wealth, power, and intelligence, afford the most striking proofs of the greatness of this wonderful people. Civil dissensions and a redundant population were the chief causes of the origin of most of the Greek colonies. They were usually undertaken with the approbation of the cities from which they issued, and under the management of leaders appointed by them. But a Greek colony was always considered politically independent of the mother-city and emancipated from its control. The only connection between them was one of filial affection and of common religious ties. Almost every colonial Greek city was built upon the seacoast, and the site usually selected contained a hill sufficiently lofty to form an acropolis.

The underlined word "lofty" most likely means __________.

Possible Answers:

ashamed 

high

proud

windy

rocky 

Correct answer:

high

Explanation:

In context the author is talking about how Greek colonies were generally founded where there was a hill sufficiently "lofty" to build an acropolis. The use of the word "sufficiently" and the fact that the hill was used to build a monument meant to tower over the community suggests that "lofty" means high

Example Question #9 : Question Types

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 underlined word, "abundance" is used to describe a situation in which __________.

Possible Answers:

people have much more than they need

people want what other people have

people have much less than they need

people are desperate to see change in their environment

people have exactly what they need and no more

Correct answer:

people have much more than they need

Explanation:

"Abundant" means existing in very large quantities, plentiful. In context, the author says that "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." So, the people of our society have been "privileged," and if everyone in the world wants to be equally "privileged," and they have a similar level of "abundance," then the demand for resources will outstrip the supply. This information tells you that "abundance" must mean having more than is needed.

Example Question #2 : Ged Social Studies

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 underlined word, "maritime," most nearly means __________.

Possible Answers:

swimming

seafaring

independent

debauched

trading

Correct answer:

seafaring

Explanation:

When talking about how the Greeks became a "maritime" people, the author says "Thus shut out from their neighbours by mountains, the Greeks were naturally attracted to the sea, and became a maritime people." So they were "attracted to the sea" and "became a maritime people" this suggests "maritime" means seafaring in this context. In general, "maritime" is slightly more broad: it means related to the sea, but it is often used to mean seafaring

Example Question #1 : Word Meaning

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.

The underlined "James" is most likely a(n) __________.

Possible Answers:

city

village 

forest

lake

river

Correct answer:

river

Explanation:

The author notes that the colonists settled alongside the "James." He says "At last they reached Chesapeake Bay and settled on a peninsula on the James, about thirty miles from its mouth." You can see here that the "James" has a "mouth" this pretty much assures us that the James is a "river."

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