GED Social Studies : Question Types

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GED Social Studies

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Example Questions

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

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

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

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

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 #51 : 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 author suggests that the solution to the rising demand for resources is __________.

Possible Answers:

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

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

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

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

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

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."

Example Question #1 : Other Passage Connections

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

The New England colonies were founded by English Puritans who left England because they could not do as they wished in their homeland. All Puritans were agreed in wishing for a freer government than they had in England under the Stuart kings, and in state matters they were really the liberals of their time. In religious matters, however, they were not all of one mind. Some of them wished to make only a few changes in the church. These were called Non-Conformists. Others wished to make so many changes in religion that they could not stay in the English state church. These were called Separatists. The settlers of Plymouth were Separatists; the settlers of Boston and neighboring towns were Non-Conformists.

The settlers of Boston wanted to __________.

Possible Answers:

establish an extremely liberal society

establish an extremely reactionary society 

completely reform their church 

make some small changes within their church

leave their church to found a new one

Correct answer:

make some small changes within their church

Explanation:

The author notes that the settlers of Boston were called "non-conformists." The author also tells us that "some of them wished to make only a few changes in the Church. These were called Non-Conformists." So, we can be relatively confident in saying that the settlers of Boston wanted to make some small changes in their church. 

Example Question #2 : Other Passage Connections

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.

This passage is primarily about __________.

Possible Answers:

the territory of Lord Baltimore 

the inability of Europeans to grasp the vastness of America

the constant disagreements between Penn and Baltimore

relations between early colonists and Native Americans

the history and significance of the Mason-Dixon line

Correct answer:

the history and significance of the Mason-Dixon line

Explanation:

Although this passage begins by discussing the disagreement between Penn and Baltimore and Europeans' inability to understand American geography, the primary focus of the text is the development of the Mason-Dixon line and its significance throughout American history.

Example Question #3 : Other Passage Connections

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

During the sixth century before the common era, three other national festivals—the Pythian, Nemean, and Isthmian games—which were at first only local became open to the whole nation. The Pythian games were celebrated in every third Olympic year, on the Cirrhaean plain in Phocis, under the superintendence of the Amphictyons. The games consisted not only of matches in gymnastics and of horse and chariot races, but also of contests in music and poetry. They soon acquired celebrity, and became second only to the great Olympic festival. The Nemean and Isthmian games occurred more frequently than the Olympic and Pythian. They were celebrated once in two years—the Nemean in the valley of Nemea between Phlius and Cleonae—and the Isthmian by the Corinthians, on their isthmus, in honor of Poseidon (Neptune). As in the Pythian festival, contests in music and in poetry, as well as gymnastics and chariot-races, formed part of these games. Although the four great festivals of which we have been speaking had no influence in promoting the political union of Greece, they nevertheless were of great importance in making the people feel that they were all members of one family, and in cementing them together by common sympathies and the enjoyment of common pleasures. The frequent occurrence of these festivals, for one was celebrated every gear, tended to the same result. The Greeks were thus annually reminded of their common origin.

What is the primary focus of this text?

Possible Answers:

How athletic and fit the ancient Greeks were

Why the Greeks were so opposed to foreigners of all kinds

How the Greeks came to develop a shared identity through mutual participation in games and festivals

Why the Greeks developed a love of philosophy and democracy

The unique characteristics of each of the various games and festivals participated in by the Greeks

Correct answer:

How the Greeks came to develop a shared identity through mutual participation in games and festivals

Explanation:

The primary focus of this text is to explain how the mutual participation in games and festivals engendered a certain collective identity among the ancient Greek people. This is clear where, near the end of the passage, the author says that "although the four great festivals of which we have been speaking had no influence in promoting the political union of Greece, they nevertheless were of great importance in making the people feel that they were all members of one family, and in cementing them together by common sympathies and the enjoyment of common pleasures."

Example Question #4 : Other Passage Connections

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 primary purpose of this passage is to __________.

Possible Answers:

explain how the physical characteristics of the terrain shaped the identity of the Greek people

suggest that new research needs to be carried out into the development of oceangoing vessels in Ancient Greece 

show how Greek art and philosophy were defined by the mountainous life lived by most Greek people

highlight the role that the sea played in the emergence of the Greek trading empire

demonstrate the Greek love for mountains and the sea

Correct answer:

explain how the physical characteristics of the terrain shaped the identity of the Greek people

Explanation:

The author spends the whole of this passage talking about the physical terrain of Greece, but why he does this is best summarized in the first sentence. The author says that "the physical features of the country exercised an important influence upon the political destinies of the people." The author wants to explain how the physical characteristics of Greece shaped the identity of the people who lived there. 

Example Question #5 : Other Passage Connections

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.

The relatively small size of Greece is highlighted in order to __________.

Possible Answers:

diminish the achievement of the Romans 

show how easily Greece was conquered by the Romans

amplify the achievements of the Greeks

make comparisons between Greece and Portugal

express sorrow that Greece could not be more influential

Correct answer:

amplify the achievements of the Greeks

Explanation:

The key to understanding why the author highlights the relatively small size of Greece can be found in the concluding sentence of the first paragraph. The author says "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 "vastest" (biggest) empires have never matched the achievements of Greece. The author is trying to amplify how impressive the achievements of the Greeks are by highlighting how small the country is. 

Example Question #6 : Other Passage Connections

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.

Which of these is not a problem that the author mentions when highlighting the difficulties faced by the colonists?

Possible Answers:

They brought too little food with them from England

The most useful men spent their time on frivolous activities

Fever and disease

Attacks by Native Americans

Many of the men were unprepared for a life of constant work

Correct answer:

Attacks by Native Americans

Explanation:

Throughout this passage, the author highlights how difficult life was for the early colonists. They were unprepared for the work; they neither had enough food nor planted enough corn; the best men spent their time hunting, fighting, and searching for gold; in the summer, they were killed by fevers and in the winter by the cold. The author does not suggest that they were attacked by Native Americans. He notes that they put up a fence to protect them, but does not say if it was necessary to do so; furthermore, he tells us that they were able to get "small supplies" from the Native Americans—suggesting that the Native Americans were actually of some limited help, rather than a difficulty. 

Example Question #1 : Tables, Graphs, And Charts

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

Life Expectancy (in years)

Japan 84.6

Spain 82.5

Norway 81.9

Ireland 81.4

United Kingdom 81

United States 79.8

Mexico 77.2

China 76

Colombia 74.7

Russia 70.5

Iraq 68.5

India 65

Ethiopia 60.5

Nigeria 53

Lesotho 51 

Data provided by the World Health Organization (2012). 

According to the data in this chart, people in Russia live on average how many more years than people in Iraq? 

Possible Answers:

Three-and-a-half

Three

Two-and-a-half

Two

One

Correct answer:

Two

Explanation:

According to the table people in Russia live on average 70.5 years, whereas people in Iraq live on average 68.5 years, so the correct answer is that people in Russia live on average two years longer than people in Iraq. 

Example Question #1 : Visual Representations

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

Life Expectancy (in years)

Japan 84.6

Spain 82.5

Norway 81.9

Ireland 81.4

United Kingdom 81

United States 79.8

Mexico 77.2

China 76

Colombia 74.7

Russia 70.5

Iraq 68.5

India 65

Ethiopia 60.5

Nigeria 53

Lesotho 51 

Data provided by the World Health Organization (2012). 

Which of these countries has the highest life expectancy? 

Possible Answers:

Ethiopia

India

Mexico

Russia

Colombia

Correct answer:

Mexico

Explanation:

Of these five answer choices, Mexico has the highest life expectancy, at 77.2 years. 

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