FTCE Social Science 6-12 Ultimate Guide2020-03-09T15:07:04+00:00

FTCE Social Science 6-12: Ultimate Guide and Practice Test

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FTCE Social Science 6-12

FTCE Social Science 6-12 Quick Facts

The Florida Teacher Certification Examinations (FTCE) Social Science exam is required for Florida teachers who teach social sciences in grades 6-12. It is designed to measure a candidate’s knowledge of the six competencies to ensure a teacher is qualified to instruct students in this subject area.

Types of questions include command questions, questions over charts and graphs (graphic related questions), sentence completion questions, scenario questions and direct questions.  

Since the entire Social Science (6-12) Test is approximately 120 questions, you can break down the number of questions by the weight of each competency:

  • Geography (10% = approximately 12 questions)
  • Economics (15% = approximately 18 questions)
  • Political Science (15% = approximately 18 questions)
  • World History (25% = approximately 30 questions)
  • U.S. History (25% = approximately 30 questions)
  • Social Science Methodology (10% = approximately 12 questions)

Given a test time of 2 hours and 30 minutes and 120 questions, you have about 1.25 minutes to answer each question. The test is timed, and at any point, you can see the time remaining on the test. So, pace yourself and monitor the time.  We recommend going through the entire test and answering every question you are reasonably certain about. Then go back and address the questions you were unsure of.




The number of questions answered correctly is converted to something called a “scale score.” A scaled score of at least 200 is required to pass.

For the Social Science (6-12) test, test takers must answer roughly 74% of the questions correctly to pass the test. For a 120-question test, this equivalates to approximately 89 questions answered correctly. These numbers may vary slightly based on the number of questions and the difficulty of the test, which may vary slightly from test to test as there is more than one version.  

Study time:

In order to feel prepared for the test, plan to spend several weeks studying. 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:

You may encounter a series of “test questions” which exam writers may incorporate into the test as practice questions which may or may not later be added to the test as a regular question.  So do not be alarmed if you come across a question that you feel may not be worded well or doesn’t make sense. Do your best to answer it correctly, but it’s possible this is just a test question that will not count toward your score.  

Don’t spend too much time on a question you don’t know and risk losing valuable time on future questions that you would know.  You risk running out of time if you allow more difficult questions to occupy too much of your time and don’t allow yourself enough time to read every question.  

Information and screenshots obtained from http://www.fl.nesinc.com/studyguide/FL_SG_obj_037.htm

Exam Content


This exam has 6 competencies:

  • Geography (10%)
  • Economics (15%)
  • Political Science (15%)
  • World History (25%)
  • U.S. History (25%)
  • Social Science Methodology (10%)

The Social Sciences encompass several academic disciplines that all center around society and the dynamics of human relationships. Social Sciences include the study of both U.S. and world history with the intent of better understanding the past to plan for the future. The study of geography examines physical features of the Earth and its landscape and analyzes population growth and movement and its effects on competition for resources and land use.  Political Science focuses on government practice and politics at all levels. Economics focuses on the widespread manufacturing and distribution of goods or services for financial gain. The study of society and social phenomena are paramount for us to gain a better understanding of what human beings require to function and thrive.

So, let’s talk about Geography first.


This competency includes about 12 multiple-choice questions which make up about 10% of the entire exam.

This section tests your knowledge of the six essential elements of geography and the application of those elements as it pertains to spatial relationships. You will also process information as it relates to maps and location. You will determine how humans and nature can impact Earth’s terrain and the future trajectory of various geographic regions. Geography analyzes the impact of humans on Earth as well.  

Let’s talk about some concepts that you will more than likely see on the test.

Six Essential Elements of Geography

The 6 Essential Elements of Geography include:

  • The World, in spatial terms- This element puts human and physical systems in geographical context. Examples include absolute location (latitude and longitude or 123 Main St.) and relative location (“1 hour south of the border”, “a block from downtown”).
  • Human Systems– This element considers the impact of humans on other humans in the population, which in turn shapes that region’s economy, resource availability, culture and politics.
  • Physical Systems– This element (also known as “Physical Geography”) includes the effects of glaciers, hurricanes, the atmosphere, the climate, etc. on Earth’s terrain. It explains how Earth’s physical systems shape Earth’s terrain and how these systems interact with various plant and animal life which inhabit the region.
  • Places/Regions– Consider geographers division of the world into hemispheres, or regions. These divisions are all characterized by natural, physical characteristics or by the people who inhabit the area. These characteristics can establish a culture unique to an area.
  • Environment/Society– Consider the effects of human behavior on the Earth. How does a factory emitting harmful chemicals into the air impact the society as a whole? How does a community who establishes a green approach to recycling impact the Earth? This element of geography considers location and the impact on Earth and its geography. It further considers how humans adaptations to these changes can impact the environment- like the building of dams and canals, etc.  
  • Uses of Geography– This element of geography focuses on utilizing past experiences to prepare for the future. Geographical characteristics have largely impacted wars, the spread of disease, and the demise of entire cultures or populations. Understanding geography helps us to interpret the past, plan for the present, and prepare for the future.   


Erosion is the gradual wearing away, diminution or diminishing of topsoil, or the uppermost component of a surface. This typically occurs as a result of some force acting upon it, like wind, water, etc. Consider a rocky shoreline for instance, which has waves crashing into it all day, every day. Over a period of time, the rocky cliffs of the shoreline will wear down and began eroding. This impacts the geography of shorelines across the globe. Both natural and manmade factors can contribute to erosion. Something as simple as soil utilized by farmers for farming can suffer erosion following excessive rainfall, which leads to flooding and runoff of topsoil. This impacts major farming industries. One of the greatest examples of this is the Dust Bowl that occurred in the 1930s. Farmers over plowed the Great Plains, displacing native soil and grasses. These features played a vital role in preserving moisture. The stripped away soil, paired with drought conditions and windy prairie conditions, were a recipe for agricultural turmoil. During drought season, the soil became dust. The drought conditions, wind, and soil erosion of the Dust Bowl damaged agriculture across American and Canadian prairies for almost a decade.  


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.

Apennine Mountains

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.

Hinduism is:

  • 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.


This competency includes about 18 multiple-choice questions which make up about 15% of the entire exam.

This section tests your knowledge of understanding society’s need for the evolving process of manufacturing and distributing goods. Economics accesses how scarcity and opportunity cost impacts the availability and distribution of resources. This section also tests your understanding of the various types of economies and their associated advantages and disadvantages.    

Let’s talk about some concepts that you will plausibly see on the test.

Opportunity Cost

Opportunity cost is the quantifying or qualifying of the value of something that must be given up in order to achieve value from something else that often times, would not be achieved without foregoing some sort of less desirable loss. Simply put, the opportunity cost is the value of something given up to acquire something with greater potential. For example, if a company manufactures a product that requires plastic containers for distribution, they can manufacture those containers themselves, or outsource the job to a third party. If a third party has a storage solution that is not plastic, but more environmentally friendly, they may choose to exercise opportunity cost and utilize the more environmentally friendly (yet more costly) alternative storage solution. While their profit margins may not be as great, they may stand to gain the support of more “green” customers or realize some other financial relief from taking a more environmentally friendly approach. Note that opportunity costs are not always financial or quantifiable benefits. Opportunity cost exists anytime one solution prevails over another and there are gains and losses associated with declining the alternative choice.  

Consider your day today.  You are likely to encounter a choice you made today in which you exercised analysis of opportunity cost.  

Types of Economies

In traditional economies, the pricing of goods and services is guided by history, tradition, beliefs, and customs. Essentially, the traditional economy is built around the way society runs. Simple in principle, this type of economy has roots in bartering for goods and is perhaps one of the oldest forms of economics. Today, you tend to see this type of economy in mostly third-world countries. As a result, it suffers from a lack of forwarding progression as it relates to more modern and advanced medicine and technology.    

In a command market, the government dictates what goods will be produced and sold. A central power controls everything and dictates for what, how and whom the economy will answer. If done so by non-corrupt leaders, it can distribute wealth more fairly, and utilize a region’s resources more equitably. The drawback to this type of economy is potentially forcing individuals into jobs they don’t want and a lack of motivation from those who carry out the duties of this style of market.

In a market economy, the market is left to dictate what, how and for whom fundamental questions. In market economies, the economy is driven by a combination of the desires of individuals and businesses with little to no room for government input. It essentially operates in the direct opposite fashion of a command market. The advantages of this type of market include an entrepreneurial driven environment, healthy investments in research, and a less competitive business atmosphere. The disadvantages of this type of market manifest themselves in low funding of social services, monopolies, and income inequalities.  

Political Science

This competency includes about 18 multiple-choice questions which make up about 15% of the entire exam.

This section tests your knowledge of the guiding principles of the Constitution.  This section also tests your knowledge of the functions of both local and state government, the ability to compare and contrast various political systems, and your ability to determine the guiding principles and associated results of foreign policy.  

Let’s talk about some concepts that you will likely see on the test.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was a collaborative effort initiated by Canada, the United States, and a handful of European Nations. It was initiated to offset Russia’s Soviet aggression during the Cold War. It inevitably provided a good forum for the United States to limit Russia’s expansions and functioned as a counterweight to Soviet advances. Nuclear testing in Russia was a major catalyst. The Korean War further strengthened NATO. The Warsaw Pact was a collective effort of various communist countries attempting to offset the NATO Alliance. NATO was essentially the United States’ first peacetime military alliance It was founded under a United Nations charter. Today, NATO has 29 members (countries) and is still dedicated to the security of the North Atlantic region.  

Branches of the Federal Government

The Constitution divides the federal government into 3 equal branches- the Executive Branch, the Legislative Branch, and the Judicial Branch.  

As you may have guessed, the President of the United States, along with his Vice President and Cabinet, make up the Executive Branch. The President serves as both Head of State and Commander in Chief but acts with his Vice President and Cabinet to enforce legislation put in place by the Legislative Branch.  

Established in Article I of the Constitution, the Legislative Branch, or Congress, is comprised of the House of Representatives and the Senate.  The Constitution grants Congress the sole responsibility of enacting laws, initiating revenue bills, declaring war, impeaching officials like the President, and raising and appropriating funds to put laws, or bills, into action.  

The Judicial Branch is appointed by the President and approved by the Senate. The Judicial Branch interprets laws passed by Congress and ultimately decides whether or not they are Constitutional. The Judicial Branch operates with a system of district courts, courts of appeal, and the highest court, the Supreme Court.  

World History

This competency includes about 30 multiple-choice questions which make up about 25% of the entire exam.

This section tests your knowledge of early and ancient civilizations, understanding the major contributions of various eras which gave rise to significant contributions to society. You should also be able to identify the cause and outcome of major wars. This section also tests for understanding of major religions, the timeline of major eras, and the historical figures who left their footprint on society.  

Let’s look at some concepts that are likely to pop up on the test.


Hippocrates was an ancient Greek physician and philosopher. During his time, most people attributed illnesses to “wrath of the Gods.” Hippocrates was the first to suggest that sickness had a natural cause that was not a result of superstition.  Hippocrates is credited with establishing the first School of Medicine. You might recognize the Hippocratic Oath as an oath many physicians take today before beginning their practice of medicine. Presently, this approach involves addressing a patient, their symptoms, and their habits and lifestyle choices before determining their course of treatment.   


Hinduism, an Indian religion, is one of the most widely practiced religions in the world. However, over 95% of the world’s Hindus reside in India. Hindus believe in a single deity, Brahman, who is the ultimate being. A Hindu priority is the “soul” and the belief that salvation ends the cycle of reincarnation. Another Hindu principle is the “what goes around, comes around” mentality. This causes people to believe actions on Earth impact their present lives as well as their future lives.  Hindus hold all living organisms in high regard and as such, tend to be vegetarians.  

The Renaissance

Following the end of the Middle Ages, around the late 14th century, the Italians declared an age of “rebirth.” In fact, the word Renaissance translates to “rebirth.”  The period was characterized by tremendous advancements in art, science, and literature. During this time came the invention of the printing press, emerging ideas of humanism, and a more modern approach to thinking and visualizing man’s place. The creation of the printing press allowed for the spread and distribution of ideas to all types of people. Some of the greatest painters and sculptors of all time dominated during the Renaissance, including Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. William Shakespeare transformed literature as one of the most famous playwrights and writers of all time during the Renaissance. The end of the historical epoch came around the end of the 15th Century when European kings battled for rights to the wealthy Peninsula. The Catholic Orthodoxy also challenged the age of more radical, free-thinking.  

U.S. History

This competency includes about 30 multiple-choice questions which make up about 25% of the entire exam.

This section tests your knowledge of major wars like the American Civil War, World War I, and World War II, including what led to them and the end results. It tests your knowledge of major historical figures that shaped the outcome of the war, and the evolution of the world’s progress and history. You should be able to identify social, political, and economic characteristics of various, influential eras of the past, including the influence of immigration to specific areas.  

Here are some concepts that are likely to be part of the test.

The Battles of Lexington and Concord

The American Revolution was the battle for American independence that began in 1775 against the British Empire. In 1775, a majority of Americans were opposed to war as tensions grew amongst Great Britain’s North American Colonies. Armed conflict ended in an unlikely defeat when British General Cornwallis surrendered to General George Washington in 1781 in Yorktown.

The British Government attempted to increase revenue by taxing the American colonies. The citizens felt they were not treated as equal British subjects and that they were unjustly represented in British Parliament. The signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 severed the 13 American colonies ties to the British Crown and granted independence to these colonies. Shortly thereafter began the growing idea of nationalism that eventually led to Manifest Destiny.  

Manifest Destiny

Manifest Destiny was the widespread, expansionist belief in the 19th Century that settlers of North America were destined to spread across North America and inevitably govern the continent. Following American independence from Great Britain in the American Revolution, the unity brought about by newfound nationalism led to the desire for more territory. The idea was to move west toward the Pacific and “replace ignorance with civilization.” This movement was fueled by economic incentivization and a quest for American superiority.    

Ponce de Leon

Ponce de Leon was a Spanish explorer who is the first known explorer to reach the mainland that is now the United States, specifically Florida. In a European expedition to find gold, he landed in the southeast corner of what is now Florida.  He was appointed by the Spanish king as the first governor of Puerto Rico in earlier career expeditions. While he is credited as the one to advance Spanish colonization and discover Florida, native people had inhabited the area for some time and were aggressively resistant to the settling of European explorers there.  The opposition and uprising of local tribes and warriors in the area eventually led to his death in 1521 at the age of 61.  

Social Science Methodology

This competency includes about 12 multiple-choice questions which make up about 10% of the entire exam.

This section tests your knowledge of various social science disciplines and concepts. You are also expected to know the correlation amongst those disciplines and how they impact one another. This section also tests your understanding of primary versus secondary resources, their use, and your ability to recognize the most effective methodology for teaching the social sciences.  

Let’s talk about some concepts that are likely to be on the test.

Social Science Disciplines

Social Science Disciplines include:

  • Anthropology– This is the scientific study of humans and human behavior including their biology, language, culture, evolutionary history, etc.
  • Economics & Management– This is the scientific study of the production, distribution, utilization, and consumption of goods and/or services for the purposes of benefitting society and/or obtaining some form of financial gain by an entity.   
  • History– This is the in-depth study of the past utilizing written documents or artifacts for the purpose of linking the past to the future. Understanding and analyzing the tensions that led to war and agreements reached following major wars is important for us to learn from our past. It helps teach us how to avoid and navigate future conflict. It also gives us insight into how and why things work the way they do today, how we as a country got here, and how we succeed and thrive.  
  • Human Services– Think “Serving Society.”  While Human Services is a broad field, in all disciplines, its focus is to improve the quality of life for the population it serves. Human Services accomplishes this through charitable efforts, addressing social concerns, and assisting others for the purpose of bettering their community or organization.  
  • Sociology– This is the scientific study of society, including social problems, interactions, and relationships.
  • Psychology– This is the study of cognitive, emotional, and social impact on the mind and relationships. You could also consider it the study of the interaction of human systems.
  • Political Sciences– This is the study of politics, including ideas, laws, policy, strategies, diplomacy, and wars. This includes the study of local, international, global and diplomatic viewpoints.  

Primary versus Secondary Sources

A primary source provides a first-hand account of an event or experience. For example, an autobiography is a first-hand account of someone’s life written by the individual. A secondary source is information relayed secondhand by someone who did not experience or witness something first-hand. For instance, a biography is an account of someone’s life written by someone other than who the biography is about.  

Another example is scholarly publications of research. If the individual who conducted the experiment or participated in the experiment wrote the article, it is a primary source. If a group of researchers sit down to do an interview and tell someone else about the experiment, the interviewer then writes a secondary recollection of what they are told. This writing is a secondary resource.  

And that’s some basic info about the FTCE Social Science 6-12 exam.

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