GED Social Studies : Passage Content

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GED Social Studies

varsity tutors app store varsity tutors android store

Example Questions

1 3 Next →

Example Question #2 : Order Of Events And Processes

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.

The Greeks competed in games involving __________.

Possible Answers:

chariot racing

All of the other answer choices are correct.

athletic feats

music

poetry

Correct answer:

All of the other answer choices are correct.

Explanation:

The author also notes how ancient Greeks competed in games "not only of matches in gymnastics and of horse and chariot races, but also of contests in music and poetry." So, the correct answer is that all of the provided answer options that list things that could potentially be included in the games were included.

Example Question #1 : Order Of Events And Processes

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.

What gave the states a sense of unity during the Revolutionary War? 

Possible Answers:

Common economic principles

Interdependence on one another for food and production

Common religious beliefs

A shared sense of danger

Common political beliefs

Correct answer:

A shared sense of danger

Explanation:

The author of this passage tells you that "While the war lasted, a sense of danger bound together the people of the different states," and that after the war they no longer had this shared need to protect one another. 

Example Question #21 : Ged Social Studies

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.

From whom did the name of Greece enter the English language? 

Possible Answers:

The Romans

The Spanish

The Greeks

The Macedonians

The French

Correct answer:

The Romans

Explanation:

The author tells you that the Greeks called their own country "Hellas" and themselves "Hellenes." He also tells you that "The names of Greece and Greeks come to us from the Romans, who gave the name of Graecia to the country."

Example Question #1 : Order Of Events And Processes

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.

According to the author of this passage, what was the most direct cause of the Czech revolution? 

Possible Answers:

The execution of the Bohemian nobles

The end of the Thirty Years' War

Plague and famine in the year preceding

The Habsburg rulers violating the rights and freedoms of Bohemia

The outbreak of the Thirty Years' War

Correct answer:

The Habsburg rulers violating the rights and freedoms of Bohemia

Explanation:

The author tells you that first the Habsburgs were freely elected as rulers of the Czech people, but that shortly after they came to power, the Habsburgs began to "violate the liberties of Bohemia that they were bound by oath to observe" and that this in turn "led finally to the fateful Czech revolution of 1618." So, it is clear that according to the author, the most direct cause of the Czech revolution was the violation of rights and freedoms in Bohemia. 

Example Question #21 : Passage Content

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

The feudal system arose during the Dark Ages of European history. After the fall of the western Roman Empire in the fifth century, there was a massive power vacuum in central and western Europe. This vacuum that was swiftly filled by invading barbarian tribes and settlers from further East. Wave after wave of people arrived in the fertile lands of central and western Europe and encouraged those who lived there either to seek protection or perish at the hands of the endless hordes of migrating people. This need for protection created the feudal system. A common family would pledge to work the lands of a Lord or Knight, and that person would in turn promise to defend the family whenever the land was invaded. This grew into a system fairly close to slavery, called serfdom, where the common man had no choice but to toil endlessly to further someone else’s wealth or perish out in the wider world by himself. It was born out of the violence and mass migration of the Early Dark Ages.

The Dark Ages began _________________.

Possible Answers:

during the height of the Roman Empire

after feudalism was overthrown in Europe

after the fall of the Roman Empire

when feudalism took over Europe

before the rise of the Roman Empire

Correct answer:

after the fall of the Roman Empire

Explanation:

The author tells you that "the feudal system arose during the Dark Ages of European history. After the fall of the western Roman Empire in the fifth century, there was a massive power vacuum in central and western Europe." Thus, the Dark Ages arose following the fall of the Roman Empire, as the power vacuum created by the absence of the Romans led to massive migrations of people.

Example Question #1 : Cause And Effect

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

The religion of Judaism—for many hundreds of years after it had adopted monotheism—did not really deal with the notion of heaven and hell, or the afterlife. It was a fringe matter for theologians, but far from central to the practice of the religion. This all changed when a series of devastating wars and diseases dramatically reduced the population of the Jewish nation. Suddenly the belief in the afterlife, and the attention it was given by theologians, exploded. After all, these people had to have died for something, right? So, out of war and tragedy, grew one of the most influential ideas in human history—a monotheistic god who would guide all his people to life after death.

According to the author what caused an explosion in Jewish belief in the afterlife?

Possible Answers:

The fact that the Jewish people were exiled from their homeland

The fear of death that took hold when much of the population died in war and from disease.

None of these answers; the author seems to find the causes behind the explosion of Jewish belief in the afterlife to be mysterious.

The rising attention given to the matter by Jewish theologians

The belief that the people that had died for the cause of the Jewish nation must have died for a reason.

Correct answer:

The belief that the people that had died for the cause of the Jewish nation must have died for a reason.

Explanation:

The author notes that "a series of devastating wars and diseases dramatically reduced the population of the Jewish nation. Suddenly the belief in the afterlife, and the attention it was given by theologians, exploded. After all, these people had to have died for something, right?" The author is noting that the belief in the afterlife grew because the Jewish people believed their people must have died for a reason.

Example Question #1 : Cause And Effect

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.

Why was St. Paul condemned to death?

Possible Answers:

For acting against his own conscience

For demanding equality before the law

For failing to convert the western world to Christianity

For protecting a heretic

For trying to convert Romans away from their faith

Correct answer:

For trying to convert Romans away from their faith

Explanation:

The author tells you that "Paul would continue his proselytizing right up until he died—condemned to death by the Romans for preaching a heathen religion." So, the Romans condemned Paul to die for trying to convert Romans to a “heathen religion,” or “for trying convert Romans away from their faith.”

Example Question #2 : Cause And Effect

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.

According to the author the Supreme Court case Dred Scott v. Sandford __________

Possible Answers:

prolonged the length of the Civil War.

accelerated the outbreak of Civil War.

had no effect on the outbreak of Civil War.

lessened the intensity of the Civil War.

temporarily delayed the outbreak of Civil War.

Correct answer:

accelerated the outbreak of Civil War.

Explanation:

The author of this passage notes that the Supreme Court had hoped that the ruling in the case of Dred Scott v. Sandford would delay, or forever eliminate, the need for Civil War; but, the author says, they were "spectacularly wrong." We may therefore infer that the author believes the Supreme Court ruling on Dred Scott v. Sandford accelerated the outbreak of Civil War.

Example Question #1 : Cause And Effect

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.

Dubrovnik developed as a center of trade primarily because __________________.

Possible Answers:

Muslims and Christians refused to engage in direct trade with one another

of it’s unique character and system of government

The Ottoman Empire controlled the city of Dubrovnik and encouraged trade

other forms of trade between Christian Europe and the Ottoman Empire were forbidden

of it’s location and proximity to the wealthy Italian city-states

Correct answer:

other forms of trade between Christian Europe and the Ottoman Empire were forbidden

Explanation:

Answering this cause-and-effect question is a simple matter of following the text carefully. You know that Dubrovnik developed as a center of trade: the author tells you why when he says that "after the Ottoman Empire invaded and conquered much of the Balkans, trade between the Empire and Christian Europe was largely forbidden." Thus trade between the Christian Europe and the Ottoman Empire was forbidden except through Dubrovnik.

Example Question #21 : Text Analysis

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 early experience of the colonists was defined by __________.

Possible Answers:

suffering

insanity 

fortune

success

warfare

Correct answer:

suffering

Explanation:

Based on the author's description of how the colonists came to The New World ill-prepared for life there and did not plant enough food to prevent them from starving, you could reasonably say their experience was defined by "insanity," but the best answer choice is clearly suffering. The author notes that "of the first thousand colonists, not one hundred lived to tell the tale of those early days."

1 3 Next →
Learning Tools by Varsity Tutors