Social Studies

Studying social studies is not so different from reading the news. Social studies gives you context to understand the nation, the world, and society -- knowledge you’ll need in many jobs and in life.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • You’ll need to apply social studies concepts, know how to read graphs and charts displaying social studies data, and use reasoning to interpret social studies information.
  • The social studies test is not a memorization test! For example, you won’t need to memorize the capitals of countries or dates that events occurred, but given some information about an event you might need to use that in drawing conclusions.
  • Use the free Social Studies Study Guide to start studying. It will help you understand the skills being tested. Log in to start using the study guide.
  • The GED Ready® practice test for Social Studies can help you determine if you are ready to take the actual test. Log in to give it a try.

Try a Sample Question

This question is based on information from a government report about U.S. westward expansion and Manifest Destiny. The question based on information from a government report presents you with an inference (something that the reader can understand the author to mean even though it is not stated directly), and you are asked to decide which statement from the report provides evidence to support the inference.

Read the excerpt, and answer the question that follows.

This information is from a 2004 U.S. General Accounting Office report.

U.S. Westward Expansion and Manifest Destiny

After the establishment of the U.S. government in 1789, the United States steadily acquired land. The new government promoted settlement and expansion south to Florida and west to California.

In 1845, editor John L. O'Sullivan coined the phrase "manifest destiny." This phrase described what had become a national movement to promote expansion and "civilize" persons encountered along the way. According to O'Sullivan, the claim to new territory was a right given to Americans by God. He believed that "it is a right such as that of the tree to the space of air and earth suitable for the...destiny of growth." In the years since, some people have contended that this Manifest Destiny ideology was a form of racism.

O'Sulliven called on Americans to resist any foreign power that tried to interfere with "the fulfilment of our manifest destiny to overspread the continent allotted by Providence..." O'Sullivan further argued that such God-given favor gave white Americans the right to bring the benefits of democracy to what he considered more backward peoples, meaning Mexicans and [American] Indians, by force if necessary.

 

Which statement provides evidence that Manifest Destiny was used to justify the mistreatment of individuals?

Option A is incorrect. This statement explains that the government promoted U.S. territorial expansion. However, the statement does not say anything about how individuals were treated during expansion.

Option B is incorrect. This statement expresses John O'Sullivan's belief that white Americans' right to new territory was God-given and as natural as "that of a tree to the space of air and earth..." However, the statement itself does not provide any evidence that mistreatment occurred as a result of expansion or that it was justified.

Option C in incorrect. This statement expresses the view of some later observers that Manifest Destiny was a source of racism. However, the statement itself does not mention mistreatment that resulted from racism or provide any justification for it.

Option D is correct. This statement identifies John O'Sullivan's view the "God-given favor" gave white Americans the right to use force if necessary as the way mistreatment of Native Americans and Mexicans was justified.

Explore a variety of Social Studies materials:

Social Studies for the GED® Test

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Steck-Vaughn GED® Test Preparation Student Print Bundle Social Studies

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Fast Forward: Your Study Guide for the GED® Social Studies Test

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