GED Social Studies : Passage Content

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GED Social Studies

varsity tutors app store varsity tutors android store

Example Questions

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:

village 

river

forest

lake

city

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."

Example Question #11 : Text Analysis

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

The religion of Christianity began as a religion of suffering, pity, and forgiveness. This was Christ’s dominant message: the majority of people live to suffer, and we must take pity on those who are suffering and forgive those who cause it. Thus Christianity, by its basic tenets, was not meant as a religion of power. It was a religion for the powerless, the common man. It was meant to provide meaning to suffering and to give a form of power (power over one's own emotions) to the powerless.

For the first few hundred years after Christ’s death, Christianity lived up to this message. It was widely embraced by the common people around the western world, in particular the Roman Empire, and by and large they were persecuted for it. This was the whole point: you will suffer for me and I will reward you when I return. As generations went by and Christ failed to return, the message was violently corrupted. Constantine the Great, a Roman Emperor in the fourth century, adopted Christianity as the official religion of his army and later of his empire. In doing so, he took Christianity from a fringe religion, with a growing flock of dedicated believers, to the official religion of the world’s largest empire. In so doing he also militarized the cross. He took the religion of Christianity away from suffering, pity, and forgiveness and imbued it with qualities that were never supposed to be there: dominance over your enemies; power; warfare; wealth. This would have untold consequences for the history of the western world and the history of the Christian faith. No longer did its believers have to cower in fear of their enemies, but also no longer were they truly adhering to the teachings of Christ.

Constantine the Great was a __________

Possible Answers:

Roman Emperor.

lifelong follower of Christ.

barbarian who attacked the Roman Empire.

Greek King.

Christian missionary.

Correct answer:

Roman Emperor.

Explanation:

Answering this question is a simple matter of reading carefully and paying attention to details. The author says that "Constantine the Great, a Roman Emperor in the fourth century, adopted Christianity as the official religion of his army," so Constantine the Great was a Roman Emperor.

Example Question #11 : Ged Social Studies

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’s attitude and opinion about a possible solution is primarily __________.

Possible Answers:

pessimistic

irate

neither optimistic nor pessimistic

passive

optimistic

Correct answer:

neither optimistic nor pessimistic

Explanation:

The author expresses both optimism and pessimism about the possible solution to the problem he identifies. He says " 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." So, he identifies causes for optimism and pessimism and does not give greater emphasis to either option. It is not correct to say he is "irate," because that means angry, nor is he "passive," because that means not caring, not taking action.

Example Question #11 : Passage Content

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

The city of Dubrovnik has a rich and complicated history. For centuries it served as a halfway point between the Ottoman Empire and the Christian nations of Europe. After the Ottoman Empire invaded and conquered much of the Balkans, trade between the Empire and Christian Europe was largely forbidden, except through the independent city-state of Dubrovnik (at the time called Ragusa). Considering the massive amount of trade that poured through Dubrovnik on the way from the East to the Italian city-states and the nations of Northern Europe, it is no surprise that the city grew immensely wealthy and developed an autonomous character.

Which of the following opinions is offered by the author of this passage?

Possible Answers:

Christian Europe despised the Ottoman Empire

Trade is the primary driving force of growth

Dubrovnik has an interesting history

The Ottoman Empire conquered much of the Balkans

The nations of Northern Europe relied on Dubrovnik to provide goods from the East

Correct answer:

Dubrovnik has an interesting history

Explanation:

Answering this question requires you, above all else, to determine an opinion as opposed to a factual statement or an inference. So it is not an opinion that the Ottoman Empire conquered much of the Balkans; this is a fact. That the author would consider trade a primary driving force of growth is an inference you might make from this passage, but it is not a clear opinion. The only opinion that is supported by this passage is that Dubrovnik has an interesting history. This is supported by the opening statement where the author says “The city of Dubrovnik has a rich and complicated history.”

Example Question #11 : Passage Content

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

Albania is a relatively small country in southeastern Europe; however, the people who live there believe their country should be much larger. They contend that the countries of Kosovo, Macedonia, and parts of Northern Greece all belong to the larger territory of Greater Albania. This suggests potentially destructive conflicts in the near future. After all, Serbia also claims Kosovo as part of it’s territory; Kosovo generally favors close relations with Albania, but believes itself to be an independent country; Macedonians think of themselves as closer to Greece than Albania, and Greeks certainly would resist any territorial incursions. Of course, this is not a part of the world unfamiliar with the convulsions of war. Perhaps the only saving grace is that the people of Albania consider themselves as averse to conquest. They generally believe they are a defensive nation, an opinion reinforced by history, concerned with protecting what they have and unwilling to take land from others.

The information in this passage supports which of the following conclusions?

Possible Answers:

The author is Albanian.

Albania is likely to declare war on one of its neighbors.

None of these conclusions is supported by the passage.

Albania has fought defensive wars in the past.

Serbia represents the biggest threat to Albanian autonomy.

Correct answer:

Albania has fought defensive wars in the past.

Explanation:

There is no evidence to support a conclusion that the author is Albanian. There is a great deal of information that suggests Albania is not likely to declare war on one of its neighbors—the author’s comments about the defensive mentality of the Albanian nation. Additionally the author does not suggest that any one country represents a bigger threat to Albanian autonomy than any other. The only conclusion that is supported in that Albania has fought defensive wars in the past. The author says “They generally believe they are a defensive nation, an opinion reinforced by history, concerned with protecting what they have and unwilling to take land from others.” If the opinion that Albania is a defensive nation is reinforced by history, then it is likely they have fought defensive wars in the past.

Example Question #12 : Passage Content

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

Shays’ Rebellion was an armed uprising in Massachusetts, which many historians have claimed dramatically altered the direction of American political history. Shays’ Rebellion took place in the dying months of the Articles of Confederation and ended right as the Constitutional Convention was beginning. It was already clear to many of America’s leading political figures that the Articles of Confederation were too limited and too ineffective to be the primary governing document of a strong modern nation. Shays’ Rebellion only served to further highlight the need to place more power in the hands of the Federal government.

The national government was incapable of raising funds or militia forces to meet the threat of the uprising and was reliant on the good will of the various states. This situation troubled many of the Founding Fathers, George Washington in particular, who demanded that this situation be remedied in the United States Constitution to prevent such an uprising from happening again. Only Thomas Jefferson felt unthreatened by the events of Shays’ Rebellion—which might have been because he was in France on diplomatic work at the time. Jefferson argued that a little rebellion from time to time is healthy for a republic, famously commenting that the tree of liberty occasionally needs to be watered with the blood of tyrants.

How did Shays’ Rebellion alter the direction of the United States government?

Possible Answers:

It led to the centralizing of power.

It caused the American government to establish a strong armed forces.

It caused the American government to abolish the Articles of Confederation.

It led to the death of George Washington.

It led the government to revoke the right of free assembly.

Correct answer:

It led to the centralizing of power.

Explanation:

You might have been tempted to answer that it caused the American government to abolish the Articles of Confederation, but the author tells you that the government was likely going to do this anyway. What you are clearly told is that "Shays’ Rebellion only served to further highlight the need to place more power in the hands of the Federal government." Thus it led to the centralization of power.

Example Question #3 : Evaluating Evidence

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

Shays’ Rebellion was an armed uprising in Massachusetts, which many historians have claimed dramatically altered the direction of American political history. Shays’ Rebellion took place in the dying months of the Articles of Confederation and ended right as the Constitutional Convention was beginning. It was already clear to many of America’s leading political figures that the Articles of Confederation were too limited and too ineffective to be the primary governing document of a strong modern nation. Shays’ Rebellion only served to further highlight the need to place more power in the hands of the Federal government.

The national government was incapable of raising funds or militia forces to meet the threat of the uprising and was reliant on the good will of the various states. This situation troubled many of the Founding Fathers, George Washington in particular, who demanded that this situation be remedied in the United States Constitution to prevent such an uprising from happening again. Only Thomas Jefferson felt unthreatened by the events of Shays’ Rebellion—which might have been because he was in France on diplomatic work at the time. Jefferson argued that a little rebellion from time to time is healthy for a republic, famously commenting that the tree of liberty occasionally needs to be watered with the blood of tyrants.

Which of these conclusions can be reached from the information in this passage?

Possible Answers:

Thomas Jefferson spent much of his life in Europe.

The Constitutional Convention was under direct threat from the men involved in Shays’ Rebellion.

The Articles of Confederation placed power primarily in the hands of the states.

Massachusetts was particularly prone to social uprisings in the Eighteenth Century.

George Washington was wary of a strong centralized government.

Correct answer:

The Articles of Confederation placed power primarily in the hands of the states.

Explanation:

It is pretty clear that from the information in this passage at least that George Washington was not that wary of a strong centralized government—given that he was calling for one. Additionally, just because Massachusetts has one social uprising does not mean you can conclude that it is particularly prone to suffering from them. Similarly, just because Jefferson is in France for a time does not mean he spent much of his life in Europe. Finally, there is no evidence to suggest the Constitutional Convention was under direct threat from the men involved in Shays’ Rebellion. The only thing you can reasonably determine is that the Articles of Confederation placed power primarily in the hands of the states. You can determine this because the author notes that "the national government was incapable of raising funds or militia forces to meet the threat of the uprising and was reliant on the good will of the various states."

Example Question #13 : Passage Content

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

In the years leading up to the Civil War, several disputes arose between the North and the South; although these disputes were generally resolved through compromise and concession, each disagreement seemed to entrench the divide between the two regions. Take, for example, the Supreme Court case of Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857). The case centered around a former slave, Scott, who felt that, having been taken to a region where slavery was prohibited, he was now a free man. Abolitionists in the North, of course, agreed with him and took on his case as their own. The court ruling, however, shocked the abolitionists. The Supreme Court ruled that not only was Scott not a free man, but also, being a black man, that he was not an American citizen and therefore could not bring a case before the Court; furthermore, the court held that Congress could make no laws regarding the prohibition of slavery in territories acquired since the signing of the Constitution. The Chief Justice at the time, Roger Taney, had hoped this case was resolve the issue of slavery once and for all and prevent Civil War, but he was spectacularly wrong on both accounts. The ruling was met with outrage in the North and solidified the feeling that the North and the South were two separate nations, both ideologically and economically.

Based on the evidence in this passage abolitionists were most likely to __________

Possible Answers:

argue against the maintenance of the union.

live in the South.

favor an end to the institution of slavery.

favor the promotion of peace and unity in the United States.

support the institution of slavery.

Correct answer:

favor an end to the institution of slavery.

Explanation:

An abolitionist is someone who favors the end of a certain practice. During this period of American history, abolitionists favored an end to the institution of slavery. You can determine this from the evidence in this passage because you are told that  "The case centered around a former slave, Scott, who felt that, having been taken to a region where slavery was prohibited, he was now a free man. Abolitionists in the North, of course, agreed with him and took on his case as their own."

Example Question #14 : Passage Content

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

Communism is an economic system where the government controls property and the means of production. Its primary intention is to promote economic equality and normalize the standard of living. In theory, a perfect communist system would result in no man having more or less than his neighbor and would involve everyone doing an equal amount of work for an equal incentive—the good of the collective whole. Yet, every time pure communism has been attempted on a large scale in human history it has resulted in widespread famine and poverty. Why might this be? Well, the simplest answer is human nature. The positive aspects—our competitive nature, our desire to better ourselves and our families lives—and the negative—our inability to work hard without incentive, our desire to manipulate one another—all combine to favor an economic system that is based on competition and individually-motivated reward.

According to the author the primary goal of Communism is to _________________.

Possible Answers:

ensure that government owns all property

promote the common good of the collective whole

eliminate famine and poverty

strengthen the means of production

provide for equal economic opportunity

Correct answer:

promote the common good of the collective whole

Explanation:

The primary goal of Communism, according to the author, is to promote the common good and economic equality of the collective whole. It is not intended to provide for equal economic opportunity, which is closer to the goal of pure Capitalism.

Example Question #1 : Order Of Events And Processes

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 was the Federal Reserve created?

Possible Answers:

To provide additional funds to the American government

To ensure that America paid off its international debts

To regulate the United States’ monetary supply

To regulate the United States’ monetary policy

To try to prevent financial panic

Correct answer:

To try to prevent financial panic

Explanation:

In this passage, the author directly states that "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." Throughout the passage, the author comments on how the primary role of the Federal Reserve is to keep the financial market and economy stable—and to prevent panics and depressions.

Learning Tools by Varsity Tutors