The GED® Social Studies Test focuses on the fundamentals of social studies reasoning, striking a balance of deeper conceptual understanding, procedural skill and fluency, and the ability to apply these fundamentals in realistic situations. In order to stay true to this intention, each item on the Social Studies Test is aligned to one social studies practice and one content topic.
The social studies practices can be described as skills that are key to scientific reasoning in both textual and quantitative contexts. The practices come from important skills specified in the Career and College Ready Standards and other career- and college-readiness standards, as well as in National Standards for History.
The Social Studies Test will also focus on four major content domains:
- Civics and government
- United States history
- Geography and the world
The social studies content topics, which are drawn from these four domains, provide context for measuring a test-taker’s ability to apply the reasoning skills described in the practices. The content topics focus on key concepts that reflect both that which is taught in many high-school-level social sciences courses and that which is most relevant and useful for an adult population.
To measure this content at a range of levels of complexity, several different item types are used in the test, including multiple choice, drag-and-drop, hot spot, and fill-in-the-blank. Additionally, the Social Studies Test features one extended response task that requires test-takers to analyze arguments and use evidence found within brief excerpts from primary and secondary source texts.
Given these priorities, the GED® Social Studies Test follows these specifications:
- Approximately 50 percent focuses on civics and government, 20 percent focuses on United States history, 15 percent focuses on economics, and 15 percent focuses on geography and the world.
- The test includes items that assess textual analysis and understanding, data representation and inference skills, and problem solving using social studies content.
- Social Studies Test items align to one social studies practice and one content topic.
- Each item aligns to one Depth of Knowledge level, based on appropriate alignment to social studies practice.
- Approximately 80 percent of the test items are written to DOK level 2 or higher.
- Problem-solving skills are measured in both academic and workplace contexts.
- Approximately 50 percent of the test items are based on scenarios in which a single stimulus (textual, graphic or a combination of both) serves to inform two or three items; the remaining approximately 50 percent of the items are discrete stand-alone items.
SOCIAL STUDIES CONTENT TOPICS
The social studies content topics describe key concepts that are widely taught in a variety of high-school level social studies courses and are relevant to the lives of GED® test-takers. They focus, in particular, on American civics and government. They are designed to provide context for measuring the skills defined in the social studies practices section of this document.
The content topics for the Social Studies Test focus on two main themes, each applied across the four domains in the social studies arena (i.e. civics and government, U.S. history, economics, and geography and the world). These themes have been selected to ensure that the test covers a wide range of important concepts and ideas in social studies, but they are also intended to function like a lens to draw focus to a distinct subset of ideas within each content topic. Content that falls outside the parameters of these themes are not included in the GED® Social Studies Test.
- Development of Modern Liberties and Democracy, the first theme, explores the development of current ideas about democracy as well as human and civil rights from ancient civilizations to the present. It examines contemporary thinking, policies and structures, major events that have shaped our democratic values, and major thinkers who contributed to American ideas of democratic government.
- Dynamic Responses in Societal Systems, the second theme, explores how the systems, structures and policies that people have created respond to each other, conditions, and events. For example, societies and civilizations have developed and changed in response to particular geographic features and natural events. National economies respond to both governmental policies and natural laws of economics—such as supply and demand—around which policies are built. Similarly, countries respond to both internal and external changes and challenges in ways that are beyond the ability of any one person to control.