GED Social Studies : Question Types

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GED Social Studies

varsity tutors app store varsity tutors android store

Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Historical Context

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

In the seventeenth century, the geography of America was very little understood in Europe, and the persons who drew up colonial charters understood it least of all. Charter lines frequently overlapped and were often very indistinct. This was particularly true of the Maryland and Pennsylvania boundaries. Penn and Baltimore tried to come to an agreement, but they never could agree. Years afterward, when they were both dead, their heirs agreed to have a line drawn without much regard to the charters. This line was finally surveyed by two English engineers, Mason and Dixon, and is always called after their names. It is the present boundary line between Pennsylvania and Maryland. In colonial days, it separated the colonies where slavery was the rule from those where labor was generally free. In the first half of the nineteenth century, it separated the free states from the slave states. Mason and Dixon's line, therefore, has been a famous line in the history of the United States.

Throughout American history, the Mason-Dixon line has served as the de facto border between __________.

Possible Answers:

the United States of America and Canada

the territory of Penn and Baltimore and the territory of other people

the territory of the original colonies and territory gained later

colonial land and Native American land

the North and the South

Correct answer:

the North and the South

Explanation:

The passage says that at various points in American history, the Mason-Dixon line has served as the border between the territory of Penn and the territory of Baltimore, as well as the boundary between slave states and free states. From this information, you can infer that the correct answer is therefore that it has served as the de facto border between "the North and the South."

Example Question #1 : Historical Context

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

The war was over. But the future of the American nation was still uncertain. Indeed, one can hardly say that there was an American nation in 1783. While the war lasted, a sense of danger bound together the people of the different states. But as soon as this peril ceased, their old jealousies and self-seekings came back. There was no national government to smooth over these differences and to compel the states to act justly toward one another. There was, indeed, the Congress of the Confederation, but it is absurd to speak of it as a national government.

The Continental Congress began drawing up the Articles of Confederation in June, 1776. But there were long delays, and each month's delay made it more impossible to form a strong government. It fell out in this way that the Congress of the Confederation had no real power. It could not make a state or an individual pay money or do anything at all. In the course of a few years, Congress asked the states to give it over six million dollars to pay the debts and expenses of the United States. It received about a million dollars and was fortunate to get that.

Based on this text, what was the primary problem with the Articles of Confederation? 

Possible Answers:

The national government spent too much money on the military. 

It encouraged the states to fight wars between one another. 

The national government had no authority over the states. 

None of these answers is correct; the author believes the Articles of Confederation had no major problems. 

It led to a decline in democratic principles in the infant United States. 

Correct answer:

The national government had no authority over the states. 

Explanation:

The author notes that "it fell out in this way that the Congress of the Confederation had no real power. It could not make a state or an individual pay money or do anything at all." So, the national government cannot make the states do things and has "no real power;" therefore, the correct answer is that "the national government had no authority over the states."

Example Question #2 : Historical Context

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

There were no political parties in the United States in 1789. All the leading men were anxious to give the new Constitution a fair trial. Even Patrick Henry supported Washington. Many men believed a monarchy to be the best form of government. But they saw clearly that the American people would not permit a monarchy to be established. So they supported the Constitution although they thought that it was "a frail and worthless fabric." But they wished to establish the strongest possible government that could be established under the Constitution. This they could do by defining in the broadest way the doubtful words in the Constitution as Hamilton had done in the controversy over the bank charter. Hamilton had little confidence in the wisdom of the plain people. He believed it would be safer to rely on the richer classes. So he and his friends wished to give to the central government and to the richer classes the greatest possible amount of power. Those who believed as Hamilton believed called themselves Federalists. In reality they were Nationalists.

Alexander Hamilton would have favored which system of government? 

Possible Answers:

Representative democracy

Theocracy

Direct democracy

Monarchy

Autocracy

Correct answer:

Monarchy

Explanation:

The author notes that "Many men believed a monarchy to be the best form of government," but the author does not mention, specifically, that Hamilton was one of these "many men." Instead, he tells you this later in the passage by describing how Hamilton did not trust the common man to make wise democratic decisions and that Hamilton favored a strong central government ruled over by the wealthy. It is clear from context that Hamilton would have been one of the "many men" who favored establishing a monarchy in the United States. 

Example Question #4 : Historical Context

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

There were no political parties in the United States in 1789. All the leading men were anxious to give the new Constitution a fair trial. Even Patrick Henry supported Washington. Many men believed a monarchy to be the best form of government. But they saw clearly that the American people would not permit a monarchy to be established. So they supported the Constitution although they thought that it was "a frail and worthless fabric." But they wished to establish the strongest possible government that could be established under the Constitution. This they could do by defining in the broadest way the doubtful words in the Constitution as Hamilton had done in the controversy over the bank charter. Hamilton had little confidence in the wisdom of the plain people. He believed it would be safer to rely on the richer classes. So he and his friends wished to give to the central government and to the richer classes the greatest possible amount of power. Those who believed as Hamilton believed called themselves Federalists. In reality they were Nationalists.

Based on the text what do you think was the major disagreement that led to the formation of the first two political parties? 

Possible Answers:

The level of spending on the American military

The level of taxation

The relationship between America and the major European powers of France and England

Which economic principles should be encouraged

How strong the national government should be

Correct answer:

How strong the national government should be

Explanation:

The author tells us that "But they [Hamilton and his supporters] wished to establish the strongest possible government that could be established under the Constitution." He also tells us that "Those who believed as Hamilton believed called themselves Federalists." You should know from your American history knowledge that the first two American political parties were the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans. It seems reasonable to conclude from this text that the original political parties in America were established over the disagreement of how strong and centralized the power of the national government should be. 

Example Question #5 : Historical Context

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.

During the Thirty Years' War, the population of Bohemia __________.

Possible Answers:

grew slightly

fell slightly

grew dramatically

fell dramatically

remained the same

Correct answer:

fell dramatically

Explanation:

Answering this question requires you to read the passage carefully. At the end of the first paragraph, you are told that Bohemia "was devastated by the imperial hordes, and its population was reduced from 3,000,000 to 800,000 during the Thirty Years' War." This is a significant decline in population, so the correct answer is the population "fell dramatically" during the Thirty Years' War.

Example Question #6 : Historical Context

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.

The Battle of White Mountain occurred during __________.

Possible Answers:

The Czech Revolution

The Thirty Years' War

The War of Austrian Succession

It is impossible to say based on the passage alone.

The First World War

Correct answer:

The Czech Revolution

Explanation:

In context, the discussion of the Czech defeat at the Battle of White Mountain occurs in the part of the passage where the author is talking about the Czech revolution. He says, "At the battle of the White Mountain in 1620, the Czechs suffered a defeat and were cruelly punished for their rebellion."

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 love of philosophy and the arts 

of their immense distrust of outsiders and travellers

of their fear of invasion 

the sea provided a natural barrier that was easily guarded

the mountains prevented easy movement across land

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 #41 : Question Types

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:

Russia

England

Italy

Portugal

Macedonia

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:

one in two

one in one hundred

one in ten

less than one in ten

less than one in two

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:

Germany

Austria

The Czech Republic

Italy

Hungary

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. 

Learning Tools by Varsity Tutors