FTCE Middle Grades Social Science 5-9: Ultimate Guide and Practice Test
Preparing to take the FTCE Middle Grades Social Science 5-9 exam?
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FTCE Middle Grades Social Science 5-9 Overview
The Florida Teacher Certification Examinations (FTCE) Middle Grades Social Science exam is required for Florida teachers who teach social sciences in grades 5-9.
Each question requires an A, B, C, or D response
There are four types of multiple-response questions
- Sentence completion– select the option that best completes a sentence
- Charts, graphs, maps– identify or interpret a diagram, and choose the response that best answers the question
- Direct question– choose the response option that best answers the question
- Command– select the best response
Results are reported in a pass/fail format. For the Middle Grades Social Science 5-9 exam, you must answer 61% of the questions correctly for a minimum scaled score of at least 200.
In 2017, out of 381 first time testers, 75% passed.
In order to feel prepared for the test, plan to spend several weeks preparing. It is helpful to create a schedule for yourself ahead of time by breaking down the test topics into different weeks. This way, you will know you have enough time to study each topic covered on the test.
What test takers wish they would’ve known:
- Watch for questions that include the words, “not or except,” which indicates that you need to choose the answer choice that does not apply.
- Keep an eye on the time and make sure you are able to complete the test in the 2.5 hour time frame.
- It is better to guess on a question you don’t know the answer to than to leave it unanswered.
Information and screenshots obtained from the National Evaluation Series website: http://www.fl.nesinc.com/testPage.asp?test=038
The exam has five competencies:
- History (33%)
- Geography (25%)
- Civics and Government (25%)
- Economics (10%)
- Curriculum and Instruction (7%)
So, let’s talk about History first.
This competency includes about 40 multiple-choice questions which makes up
about 33% of the entire exam.
These questions will ask you about significant people and events from world, U.S., and Florida history.
Let’s talk about some concepts that you will more than likely see on the test.
Ponce de Leon and the Fountain of Youth
Juan Ponce de Leon
Juan Ponce de Leon (1474-1521) was a Spanish explorer who joined Christopher Columbus on his second journey to the New World. Ponce de Leon served as a military leader on the Island of Hispaniola and was eventually given a lot of land to farm and appointed governor of Puerto Rico.
The Spanish monarch replaced Ponce de Leon as governor, but to reward him for his service, Ponce de Leon was given an expedition to explore islands north of Puerto Rico. In 1513, Ponce de Leon sailed with around 200 men and three ships to explore what is current day Florida. When Ponce de Leon first spotted “Florida,” he actually thought it was an island, and due to the fact he discovered the land around Easter (Pascua Florida or Festival of Flowers in Spain), he called the land he found La Florida. Ponce de Leon was the first European to set foot in Florida (as far as we know).
The Fountain of Youth
Ponce de Leon’s expedition explored and mapped the coast of Florida and while doing so, encountered Native Americans who were hostile and aggressive. Many times, when the expedition landed on shore, they had to fiercely fight against the natives. Legend explains that Ponce de Leon was searching for the “Fountain of Youth,” a fountain that one could drink from and become young again. There is actually little evidence that this was ever a goal of Ponce de Leon’s since it is not mentioned in any of his writings, and the story really only began after his death.
Ponce de Leon’s discovery of Florida initiated a time period of exploration and conquering by European powers who wanted to increase their power and spread their religion.
World War I
World War I, also known as the Great War, was fought in Europe between 1914-1918. The two sides of the war included the Allies and the Central Powers.
Causes of War
The main catalyst of WWI was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. Within a few days of the assassination:
- Austria declared war on Serbia, so;
- Russia prepared to defend Serbia. Because of that;
- Germany declared war on Russia to protect Austria, which caused;
- France to declare war on Germany to protect Russia, so;
- Germany invaded Belgium to get to France which caused Britain to declare war on Germany.
Whew! That’s a lot.
Location and Battles
Most of the fighting in WWI took place in Europe on either the western (Belgium to Switzerland) or eastern (between Germany/Austria/Bulgaria and Russia/Romania) front. Most battles were fought in trenches along the western front which meant armies barely moved.
Major battles included:
- First Battle of the Marne
- Battle of the Somme
- Battle of Tannenberg
- Battle of Gallipoli
- Battle of Verdun
End of the War
WWI officially ended on November 11, 1918 when an armistice (agreement) was signed by Germany and the Allied powers. Today on November 11, people wear paper poppies to remember over 18 million people who fought and died in WWI. It is said that red poppies were the only thing that would grow on the bloody battle fields of Europe.
Effects of World War I on the United States
World War I had a range of economic, social, and political effects on the United States:
- Manufacturing and production increased
- Economy was booming (led to the Roaring 20s)
- Inflation was high
- Unions gained strength
- Racial tensions heightened as people competed for jobs
- The Red Scare, or fear of communism, began to spread
- Prohibition began causing a rise in organized crime and political corruption
Those who lived through World War I hoped to never see such a violent conflict again. Unfortunately, only twenty years later, World War II began, and the United States was at war again.
The Great Depression
The Great Depression was a time of economic crisis that began in the United States in 1929. During this period, many Americans were jobless, homeless, and hungry. They had little confidence in the government.
Causes of the Great Depression
The Great Depression began when the stock market crashed in October 1929. Other causes included:
- Reduction in consumer spending due to fear caused by the stock market crash
- Drought that impacted farming; farmers were not able to sell goods, and in turn, were not able to pay back bank loans
- The Smoot-Hawley Tariff that heavily taxed imports; this led to a reduction of trade between the United States and Europe
- Overproduction of goods that created a surplus of items that were not being purchased
- Banks failing to insure people’s money and then losing it
The New Deal
The New Deal was a series of programs and policies put in place by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The New Deal:
- Regulated the stock market, banks, and businesses
- Provided job opportunities for thousands
- Established Social Security
- Established programs that built public parks, libraries, schools, highways, and landmarks
- Helped establish trust and faith in the federal government’s ability to protect the welfare and money of American citizens
The New Deal was the greatest effect of the Great Depression, because not only did the New Deal help lift American citizens out of a very dark time, many New Deal programs and projects are still used by Americans today.
End of the Great Depression
The beginning of World War II marked the end of the Great Depression due to a booming wartime economy that provided jobs for many who were previously out of work
This competency includes about 30 multiple-choice questions which make up about 25% of the entire exam.
These questions test your knowledge of basic geography concepts, including physical, environmental, and human geography themes and elements.
Here are some concepts you should know.
The Apennine Mountains, or the “backbone of Italy,” are one of two major mountain ranges in Italy. The Apennine Mountains range north to south along the Italian peninsula. The range is approximately 20 miles wide at its narrowest and 120 miles wide at the center. Its highest peak is the “Great Rock of Italy,” or “Gran Sasso d’Italia,” at 9,554 ft. The eastern side of the range is very steep, while the western side is more rolling. Most early people settled along the western coast of Italy in one of three plains areas at the base of the Apennine Mountains:
- The Tuscan Plains were very fertile for farming.
- The Latium Plains, where Rome was located along with the hub of the Roman Empire’s trade business.
- The Campanian, where Italy’s best harbor was.
The Apennine Mountains also served as a natural barrier to protect against outside attacks. It made it difficult to cross from one side of the Italian peninsula to the other, which helped protect Ancient Rome.
Hinduism is a major religion that is practiced by approximately 15% of the world. Hinduism is practiced in greatest numbers in Asia, with India containing the most highly concentrated area of Hindus.
Hinduism began in India by the ancient people who settled around 1500 BCE. Unlike the other major world religions, Hinduism does not have a single founder. Hinduism is based on the Vedas, which are the sacred texts and teachings of the Aryans.
- Polytheistic, or a religion of many gods
- Led by priests who come from the Brahmin caste in temples all over the world
Hindus believe that:
- God is inside every being, not in a far away heaven
- Dharma is a person’s moral and religious duties
- Karma is how you get back what you give to the universe (what goes around comes around)
- An individual’s soul is “reborn” through reincarnation after death; what an individual returns as depends on the deeds from their prior life or karma
Alexander Von Humboldt
Alexander Von Humboldt (1769-1859) was a German scientist whose studies laid the groundwork for what is known today as biogeography.
Alexander Von Humboldt was born into a well-connected political family, but he chose to pursue his passion as a naturalist. Von Humboldt set out on a four month expedition throughout South America and discovered many different species of birds in the Amazon; he also discovered the Casiquiare Canal. He met many native tribes and documented all of his findings. His studies continued from South America, to Cuba, then to the United States.
Von Humboldt discovered, documented, and catalogued native species and features he observed throughout his expeditions, and due to this and the patterns he observed, he was the first to present the Pangea theory as it related to the Atlantic continents.
Von Humboldt’s work became the catalyst for the specific fields of geography and meteorology. Von Humboldt believed there was a connection between all fields of science, as well as nature, and was the first to study them together, rather than separate from one another.
Civics and Government
This competency includes about 30 multiple-choice questions which makes up about 25% of the entire exam.
These questions test your knowledge of concepts and events related to the U.S. Government and the rights and duties of American citizens.
The following concepts may pop up on the test.
Democracy is a system of government where citizens exercise their power through voting. There are two main types of democracies:
- Direct democracy (less common) in which citizens form a governing body and vote directly on every issue
- Indirect democracy (more common) where citizens elect representatives who vote on issues for them
Direct Democracy Pros and Cons
- A vote actually counts
- Total transparency
- Government accountability
- Creates a happy society
- People control the quality of their life
- It can be difficult to make a final decision
- People don’t always participate
- Can encourage more segregation
- Potential for manipulation is high
- Can be unstable
- Difficult to regulate
- Does not typically work in a large country
Representative (Indirect) Democracy Pros and Cons
- Still gives some power to citizens
- System of checks and balances is in place
- All citizens are given the opportunity to participate
- Government can work quickly
- Citizens are encouraged to participate
- Allows for different levels of government
- Polarization between those who have opposing views
- Possibility of a super majority forming
- Citizens must be able to trust their representatives
- Voice of the people typically ends with a general election
- Focuses on the majority
Code of Hammurabi
Discovered in 1901 by Jean-Vincent Scheil, the Code of Hammurabi (1754 BCE) is a Babylonian code of law of Ancient Mesopotamia written on a 7ft tall piece of rock. The Code of Hammurabi, along with the Rosetta Stone, is one of the most significant artifacts of the ancient world, because it details what culture, life, and laws were like in Babylonia.
Written by King Hammurabi during a time of prosperity in Babylonia, the Code of Hammurabi lists almost 300 laws written in an if/then or conditional format. The laws make it clear that justice was top priority in Babylonia during this time period.
Today, historians study and discuss Hammurabi’s Code to gain insight into an important history of justice, law, and even the Bible.
Notable Supreme Court Cases
Here are some Supreme Court cases you should definitely know.
Marbury v. Madison (1803) confirmed the legal principle of judicial review (the ability of the U.S. Supreme Court to limit the power of congress by declaring legislation unconstitutional).
- This case was brought about when President Thomas Jefferson, through his secretary of state, James Madison, prevented William Marbury from taking office as justice of the peace. John Marshall, the head Supreme Court justice, argued that acts of congress that conflict with the Constitution are not law and are non-binding to the courts.
Brown v. Board of Education (1954) declared segregation in public schools violated the 14th amendment and was, therefore, unconstitutional.
- This case was brought about when Oliver Brown filed a class-action suit against the Topeka, Kansas Board of Education in 1951 after his daughter, Linda, was denied entrance into an all-white elementary school. Brown claimed that all-black schools were not equal to all-white schools, which violated the 14th amendment. In his decision, Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote that, “in the field of public education the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place,” as segregated schools are “inherently unequal.”
Gideon v. Wainwright (1963) ruled unanimously that under the 6th amendment, states must provide attorneys to criminal defendants if they cannot afford one themselves.
- This case was brought about when Clarence Earl Gideon was charged with a felony crime in Florida. Gideon could not afford an attorney to represent him, and in open court, he asked the presiding judge to appoint an attorney to him. The judge denied his request, because Florida law only allowed appointed attorneys for poor defendants who were charged with a capital offense. Gideon represented himself in that case, but was found guilty and sentenced to time in prison. While in prison, Gideon filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in the Florida Supreme Court, and then later filed a petition in the U.S. Supreme Court. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that guarantee of counsel is a fundamental right in a fair trial.
Obergefell v. Hodges (2015) ruled that same-sex couples have a guaranteed right to marry by both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment.
- This case made its way to the U.S. Supreme Court when district court rulings in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee were appealed to multiple circuit courts. Baker v. Nelson was the case that set the precedent that a ban on same-sex marriage was constitutional; therefore, Obergefell v. Hodges overturned Baker v. Nelson and required all states and U.S. territories to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and to recognize same-sex marriages validly performed in other jurisdictions.
This competency includes about 12 multiple-choice questions which makes up about 10% of the entire exam.
These questions test your knowledge of both micro- and macroeconomics concepts.
Let’s talk about some concepts that you will more than likely see on the test.
Scarcity is the gap between limited (scarce) resources and people’s limitless wants and needs. Theoretically, there are never enough resources to fulfill the wants/needs of every individual, so scarcity always exists.
Scarcity can exist due to :
- Natural causes (flood, drought, fire, infestations, etc.)
- Overuse of natural resources
- A limited number of goods and services
Examples of scarcity:
- The Mexican avian flu killed millions of chickens which created a shortage of eggs, a staple of the Mexican diet.
- Embargoes placed on imports can create a scarcity of exports from that country.
- The U.S. gasoline shortage in the 1970s
- Using coal that cannot be replaced (at an alarming rate)
Since scarcity will always exist, all governments and nations have to address the issue and decide how to use the limited resources available. The way a country decides to use its resources reflects how that government values the citizens of their country. When resources become extremely scarce (like we saw in the United States during World War II), governments may choose to ration (limit the purchase of) certain resources to make sure there is enough to go around.
A command economy is an economic system where the government (not the free market) determines which products are produced, how many products are produced, and the price at which each product will be sold. The government also determines incomes and investments for citizens in a command economy. A command economy is a key characteristic of communist societies. Command economies can be found in:
- North Korea
- The former Soviet Union
- China (before transitioning to a mixed economy)
Advantages of a Command Economy
- Resources are allocated to maximize social welfare
- Better control of employment levels
- Can create jobs to put people to work
Disadvantages of a Command Economy
- Shortages and surpluses are common
- Producers may struggle to meet needs in a timely manner
- Prices are set by the government in response to revenue needs rather than prices set by the market itself
Because all resources are scarce, all actions have an opportunity cost. An opportunity cost is the benefits you miss out on when you choose one thing over another.
Take a look at this example:
Bob is home alone on Tuesday night. He wants to watch a television program or play a computer game. He decides to play a computer game. The opportunity cost of playing the computer game is not watching television.
Curriculum and Instruction
This competency includes about 8 multiple-choice questions which make up about 7% of the entire exam.
These questions test your knowledge of planning for, teaching, and assessing the Social Sciences.
Here are some concepts you need to know.
Primary versus Secondary Sources
Primary sources are first-hand accounts of a topic from people who were directly connected to it. Primary sources include:
- Diary entries
- Original research
- Newspaper reports written by reporters who witnessed or quoted people who witnessed an event
- Written laws
Secondary sources add a layer of interpretation or analysis to a primary source. Secondary sources include:
- Documentaries (though most documentaries will contain primary sources)
- Most books
- Scholarly articles on a certain topic
Formative versus Summative Assessments
Assessment should take place throughout the learning process in the form of formative and summative assessments.
Formative assessments are given throughout the learning process and are designed to see how students are progressing through a unit of study. Formative assessments are usually quick and are not scored/graded the same way as a summative assessment. Examples of formative assessments include:
- Exit tickets
- Quick quizzes
- Think, pair, share activities
Teachers should use the results of formative assessments to adjust instruction. If students are progressing faster than expected, teachers should have extension activities planned. If students are not progressing as expected, teachers should have a plan for intervention.
Summative assessments are given after a unit or semester to assess a student’s mastery of a certain concept, skill, or set of concepts. Summative assessments are more “high stakes” than formative assessments and typically have a large impact on a student’s grade or pass/fail status. Examples of summative assessments include:
- Final exams
- Standardized tests
- Unit exams
And that’s some basic info about the FTCE Middle Grades Social Science 5-9 exam.