GACE Middle Grades Social Science: Ultimate Guide and Practice Test
Preparing to take the GACE Middle Grades Social Science exam?
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GACE Middle Grades Social Science Quick Facts
The GACE Middle Grades Social Science exam is designed to test the knowledge and skills of beginning middle school social science teachers in Georgia.
The Middle Grades Social Science test is made up of selected response questions, multiple choice questions, and questions to be answered in a text box. It has a time limit of two hours and ten minutes.
The test is broken into three subareas:
- The United States and Georgia: Historical, Geographic, Economic, and Civic Understanding (50%)
- Government and Economics (20%)
- World Regions (30%)
The fee for a single content area test is $123.00. Payment can be made by credit/debit card, PayPal, or an E-Check.
A score of 220-249 is considered passing at the induction level. A score of 250+ is considered passing at the professional level. At this time, passing at either level meets the Georgia requirement to pass the content exams for certification.
The amount of time you will need to spend preparing for the GACE Middle Grades Social Science exam depends upon your existing content knowledge.
One way to determine your aptitude for the GACE Middle Grades Social Science exam is to use 240Tutoring materials and practice questions to gauge your understanding of the contents of the exam. Which concepts do you struggle with the most?
After identifying your areas of need, you can use 240Tutoring tools to strengthen your knowledge of these concepts until you’re ready for the big day! Remember, it’s best to spend some time studying each day instead of cramming for the exam shortly before you take it. That way, you’ll retain what you learn and you’ll also have less stress during the exam.
What test takers wish they would’ve known:
- It’s a great strategy to track your time while taking the exam. You can monitor your time by periodically checking the timer in the upper right-hand corner of your screen.
- Test-takers tend to overestimate their abilities to perform well on GACE assessments. Many students regret not putting more time and effort into preparing for GACE assessments beforehand. Fortunately, it’s easy to avoid this mistake by using test preparation materials early. If you’re reading this, you’re already starting off on the right foot!
- Because time management is crucial, skip questions that you find extremely difficult and move forward to questions that you find easier to answer. Don’t worry, you can mark the questions you skip as you take the test. Try to finish the other questions with 10 to 15 minutes remaining and use that extra time to return to the more challenging questions. If you are unsure of an answer, it is better to guess than to leave a question blank.
- When answering the selected-response questions, you should read all possible answers before marking the correct one. You wouldn’t want to miss out on the best answer by not reading all of the responses!
- You’ll feel more confident if you check out GACE’s free guide to taking computerized tests.
Information and screenshots obtained from the ETS GACE website: https://gace.ets.org/prepare/materials/015
The United States and Georgia: Historical, Geographic, Economic, and Civic Understanding
The United States and Georgia: Historical, Geographic, Economic, and Civic Understanding subarea has about 40 questions. These questions account for 50% of the entire exam.
This subarea can be neatly divided into 3 sections:
- U.S. History to 1860
- U.S. History Since 1860
- Georgia History
So, let’s talk about the U.S. History to 1860 section first.
U.S. History to 1860
This section tests your knowledge of US history to 1860, including the significance of relevant geographical locations, causes and effects of colonization, the American Revolution, and westward expansion.
Let’s talk about some concepts that you will more than likely see on the test.
Intolerable Acts of 1774
The Intolerable Acts of 1774 (or Coercive Acts as they were referred to in Great Britain) were laws passed by Parliament in Britain against the American Colonies in 1774. The British hoped that these acts would bring more control to the colonies in America, but in reality many colonists felt that these laws were unfair, or “intolerable”, and began to join the rebel cause that would lead to revolution.
- Boston Port Act– This was a direct response by Parliament to punish the colonists for the Boston Tea Party. This act closed the port of Boston to all ships until colonists paid for the tea that was dumped into Boston Harbor. Many colonists felt that this was unfair because very few of them had anything to do with the Boston Tea Party, but it shut off supplies to all of Boston.
- Massachusetts Government Act– Parliament changed the government of the Massachusetts colony by giving more power to the governor (which was appointed by Britain) and taking power away from the colonists. Officials that were elected by colonists were replaced with appointees from the governor, and town meetings were restricted to once a year. This act created a lot of fear throughout the colonies because colonists were afraid that power would be taken away from them as well.
- Administration of Justice Act– This act gave government officials a lot of protection because it allowed the governor to move capital trials against government officials to Great Britain. This made it difficult for anyone to testify against a government official because any person would have to travel to Great Britain to do so. This act was also referred to as the “Murder Act” because it would allow certain government officials to “get away with murder.”
- Quartering Act– This act required colonists to provide accommodations for British soldiers on their property. In the case that official quarters were not available to the British army, soldiers could make use of colonists’ hotels, barns, and even homes. This act angered the colonists because they felt like their rights were violated when they had to allow soldiers, who were often hostile, in their homes.
Effects of the Intolerable Acts of 1774
- Patriotism rose throughout the colonies as colonists felt like they were losing basic freedoms.
- A meeting of the First Continental Congress was called.
- The Declaration of Independence was written.
Manifest Destiny (1803-1853)
Manifest Destiny was the idea that expanding Westward and occupying land throughout North America during the first half of the 1800’s was a divine right of Americans. This belief was based on the widespread belief that Americans were culturally and racially superior to other groups of people and it was their duty to civilize and enlighten other races.
The term, “Manifest Destiny” was first used by John L. O’Sullivan in 1845, and was then taken up by the democratic party in their quest to take over the Oregon territory as well as others.
Westward expansion had economic, political, cultural, and environmental effects that would change the course of US history.
Economic and Political Causes and Effects
1803– The first major expansion occurs when Thomas Jefferson signs the Louisiana Purchase. The Louisiana Purchase was not only a huge success economically (4 cents an acre), but it helped avoid a war with France. This purchase doubled the size of the United States and annexed Louisiana.
1830– President Andrew Jackson puts a policy in place that removes Native Americans from their land due to the idea of “Manifest Destiny.” This gives settlers even more freedom to move Westward without fear of much conflict.
1845– Texas is annexed after winning its independence from Mexico.
1846-1848– Mexican-American War stemmed from a dispute between the United States and Mexico concerning the southern border of Texas, but ended in the United States gaining over 500,000 sq. miles of land in what is now present day Arizona, California, western Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, and Texas. Once California was annexed, the United States worked to build the transcontinental railroad which moved people and goods from the Atlantic to the Pacific and vice-versa. This opened trade with Japan and other Pacific markets that the United States had not had access to prior. Americans and others from around the world came to California by the thousands to search for gold.
Politically, the greatest impact of Manifest Destiny was the controversy over the spread of slavery. As the United States expanded, southern states and politicians felt like new territories should allow slavery, while northern states and politicians felt like slavery should not spread. This conflict propelled the United States into the Civil War.
Cultural and Environmental Causes and Effects
1803– The Louisiana Purchase added 600 million acres of land to the United States. The majority of that land was rich in resources and perfect for farming. That land was also occupied by many Native Americans who were not willing to freely give up their land to Americans who felt entitled to it.
1812– Louisiana joined the United States. However, it kept French culture and legal traditions strongly in place.
1831– Under direction from President Andrew Jackson, the Choctaw nation was the first group of Native Americans forcibly removed from their land and began what is known as the Trail of Tears. Native Americans were removed from their land by threat of the U.S. Army. This practice continued under President Van Buren until 1840.
The removal of Native Americans from their land caused both politicians and common citizens to be outraged, but still the idea held by so many that Americans were destined by God to expand remained. Thousands of settlers continued to move Westward.
Manifest destiny came to an end as tensions between slave and free states rose. By the early 1860’s the focus in the United States shifted from expansion to preservation as the southern states prepared to leave the Union. The majority of the country prepared for war.
U.S. History Since 1860
This section tests your knowledge of US History since 1860, including major wars and political, economic, social and cultural developments.
Here are some concepts you should know.
The Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order given by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863 to free slaves. Even though the Civil War began in 1861, Lincoln felt like he needed to wait until the Union won a major victory so that he had full support. After the Union Army defeated the Confederates at Antietam, Lincoln felt like the time was right to issue the Emancipation Proclamation so it was viewed as a successful moral victory following a major military victory.
The Emancipation Proclamation did NOT free ALL slaves. The proclamation stated, “that all persons held as slaves” within the rebel states “are, and henceforward shall be free.”
The Emancipation Proclamation:
- Freed slaves in the Confederate States that were not under Union control.
- Did NOT free slaves in border states that were still part of the Union. Slaves in border states would not be freed until the Union defeated the Confederacy.
- Made clear that slavery was wrong and that all slaves would be set free eventually.
- Allowed black men to fight in the U.S. Army.
- Helped the Union gain the support of Great Britain and France where slavery had already been outlawed.
Besides the main effect of freeing enslaved people in Confederate states, the Emancipation Proclamation:
- Acted as the catalyst for the Thirteenth Amendment. The Thirteenth Amendment permanently abolished slavery and involuntary servitude in the United States.
- Shifted the purpose of the Civil War. The war began as an effort to preserve the Union, and after the Emancipation Proclamation, the effort shifted to abolish slavery.
- Caused the Confederate States to fight ultimately to defend slavery, which made it impossible for them to receive aid from other nations since no major power wanted to defend slavery or a nation who did.
Progressivism is a political movement that aims to make positive changes to the government. A progressive movement moved through the United States in the late 19th and early 20th century in an effort to fix problems caused by urbanization, immigration, industrialization, and political corruption.
Goals of the Progressive Era
- Target “political machines” by removing corrupt political representatives
- Establish more direct democracy
- Regulate monopolies
- Prohibit alcohol
- Women’s suffrage (right to vote)
- Reform public education
This section tests your knowledge of Georgia history, including colonization, the effects of major US events on Georgia, Georgia’s role in major US events, and the government of Georgia.
Take a look at these specific concepts you should know.
Muscogee (Creek) Tribe
The Muscogee Creek Tribe was originally located near Macon, Georgia, but English traders began using the term “Creek” to every native person in the deep south. By 1715, there were approximately 10,000 Creek members.
General James Oglethorpe and Georgia colonists arrived to the area already occupied by the Creek tribe in 1733, but the Creek tribe had already established a relationship with the English based on the slave and deer skin trade. The Creek tribe would capture and sell native people living in Florida, but the slave trade eventually gave way to the more lucrative and demanding deer skin trade.
The Creek tribe was known as one of the “Five Civilized Tribes” due to the fact that they adopted much of the English culture, intermarried, and joined the plantation economy that was spreading in the south.
The deerskin trade that the Creeks relied on collapsed after the American Revolution. The state of Georgia pressured the Creeks to give up their lands east of the Ocmulgee River. The United States began a program to make Creeks planters and ranchers. Most Creek people did not want to adopt a new livelihood and resisted the change. The tension between those who wanted to ranch and plant and those who didn’t caused a civil war between the Creek people. This war ended when the U.S. Army became involved. In the Treaty of Fort Jackson, the Creeks were forced to give up 22 million acres of land (a large part of which was in Georgia). Eventually any Creeks remaining in Georgia were removed by the U.S. Army and walked to what is today Oklahoma.
James Oglethorpe (1696-1785)
James Oglethorpe was an English politician who led the settling of Georgia as a British colony. Oglethorpe recognized the problem caused by the number of people in England who were being released from debtor’s prison and those who didn’t have jobs. Oglethorpe suggested to the king that he should start a new colony between South Carolina and Spanish Florida. Oglethorpe believed that this colony would help the unemployment problem in England, but it would also provide a military buffer between the Spanish in Florida and other English colonies.
England approved the new colony in 1732. It was named Georgia after King George II. Oglethorpe envisioned a new type of colony that wasn’t dominated by wealthy landowners, but a colony that would be made up of debtors and unemployed who would own and work on small plots of land. In an effort to keep large plantations from forming, Oglethorpe passed laws that banned slavery, outlawed hard liquor, and limited land ownership to 50 acres.
As the governor of Georgia, Oglethorpe and the first colonists established Savannah as the capital of the colony of Georgia. The colony included public squares, streets in the grid system, and identical houses for settlers. Oglethorpe also built positive relationships with local Native Americans.
Within the first few years of settlement, Georgia was attacked by the Spanish. Oglethorpe asked England for military support. He attacked the Spanish, but was not able to capture St. Augustine. However, he was successful in keeping the Spanish from invading Georgia.
Once Georgia was settled, Oglethorpe went back to England where he was reimbursed for all the personal money he used to establish Georgia. He married, served as a member of Parliament, and continued to monitor the Georgian colony.
Role of Georgia in American Revolution
In the beginning of the American Revolution, Georgia did not play as large of a role as other colonies. This was mostly due to the fact that Georgia was a much newer colony that still had very close ties to England. Even more importantly, colonists in Georgia relied upon British soldiers for protection from the Spanish to the south and Native American tribes in their area.
After the violence at Lexington and Concord, patriots in Georgia stormed the British amory in Savannah and took control of the weapons there. They also attempted to capture Governor James Wright, but he escaped. Georgian patriots took control of Savannah, and many colonists were supportive of the revolution.
In 1778, the British regained control of Savannah. This caused basically a civil war in Georgia between Georgian patriots and loyalists, but Savannah and most of Georgia was controlled by the British until the end of the Revolution.
And that’s some basic info about the United States and Georgia: Historical, Geographic, Economic, and Civic Understanding subarea.
Government and Economics
The Government and Economics subarea has about 16 questions. These questions account for 20% of the entire exam.
This subarea can be neatly divided into 2 sections:
- Concepts of Government
- Concepts of Economics
So, let’s talk about the Concepts of Government section first.
Concepts of Government
This section tests your knowledge of concepts of government, including citizen participation in political systems and power distribution in governmental systems.
Let’s take a look at some concepts you really need to know.
Autocracy is a government in which all power is given to one person. Whoever is in charge of autocracy has no restraints legally and has undisputed and absolute power. Modern forms of autocracies would be an absolute monarchy and any dictatorship. A few of the most well-known autocracies are:
- North Korea
- Saudi Arabia
Citizens who live under an autocratic government have no say. They are not able to vote, they are not allowed to have any say in government, and have no power to make changes. The one advantage to this form of government is that decisions can be made very quickly since one person has ultimate control.
Federalism is a type of government that combines a larger government that controls aspects of the whole country with regional governments (like state and county governments) that work together in a single system. The three largest and well known federalist nations are:
- United States
- European Union
In a federalist system, power is divided from the smallest form of government (city and county governments), which are governed by the state, and the state is then governed by the federal government that is made up of three branches. Leaders who make up the legislative and executive branches of the federal government are elected by citizens.
Concepts of Economics
This section tests your knowledge of concepts of economics, including the four basic economic systems and basic economic concepts.
Take a look at these concepts.
There are four main economic systems. Each economy has strengths and weakness, as well as variations.
- The government controls all resources.
- One person (usually a dictator) or a small group of people decides what goods are produced.
- The government runs all business and decides who will be employed and how. The government also controls who receives the products that are produced.
- Cuba, North Korea, and the former Soviet Union are examples of countries with command economies.
- No government involvement at all. Private companies are in control.
- Consumers decide what should be produced based on what they buy.
- Businesses decide what will be produced and goods are priced to be competitive.
- People with the most money are able to buy the most goods and services.
- No countries have a true market economy, but the United States, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and Germany have a mixed economy that is mostly made up of a market economy with some (little) government intervention.
- Shaped largely by religion or customs.
- Customs and/or religion determine which goods are produced, who produces them, and how they are produced.
- Traditional economies are based on the bartering system and most often depend on a combination of fishing, agriculture, and hunting.
- Traditional economies are most often in developing countries with a low literacy rate.
- Traditional economies are common in Africa, parts of Asia, and the Middle East.
- Mixed Economy
- Most economies today are mixed, and the classification of each depends on how much government intervention there is.
- A mixed economy blends aspects from other types of economies and uses a system that is most beneficial to that country.
- The United States has a mixed economy.
Opportunity costs are key in understanding economics because the opportunity cost of a service or product is the revenue that could be earned by another use or choice. Basically, opportunity cost is the next best alternative of a service or product.
For example, if you spend time and money going to a concert, you can not spend that time or money anywhere else. A simple formula a business might use to calculate opportunity cost is:
Revenue – Profit = Opportunity Cost
Gross Domestic Product
Gross domestic product (GDP) measures the value of a country’s economy. To calculate this, you must know the value of all the products that were manufactured and goods that were provided in a certain period of time (usually a year), but it also takes into account money that has been invested, how much the government spent, and how much imports cost the country.
The formula to find GDP is:
Consumer spending + spending on investments + government spending + the value of exports – value of imports = Gross Domestic Product
And that’s some basic info about the Government and Economics subarea.
The World Regions subarea has about 24 questions. These questions account for 30% of the entire exam.
This subarea can be neatly divided into 2 sections:
- Latin America, Canada, Europe, and Australia
- Africa and Asia
So, let’s talk about Latin America, Canada, Europe, and Australia section first.
Latin America, Canada, Europe, and Australia
This section tests your historical, geographic, economic, and civic knowledge of Latin America, Canada, Europe, and Australia, including development and contemporary issues.
Let’s look at some concepts that will more than likely be on the test.
Natural Resources in Latin America
Twenty-six countries make up Latin America:
Brazil, Mexico, Columbia, Argentina, Peru, Venezuela, Chile, Guatemala, Ecuador, Cuba, Bolivia, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Paraguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Puerto Rico, Uruguay, Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana, Saint Martin, Saint Barthelemy.
Common natural resources throughout Latin America are:
- Precious metals
- Iron ore
Throughout various periods of history, Latin American natural resources have made it a very prosperous region. They have also made colonial powers who controlled this region rich.
Mining for natural resources has led to water pollution in Latin America, and cutting down of timber has led to countries experiencing deforestation at rates that cannot be replaced.
Population Distribution of Europe
Europe is home to approximately 741 million people. The most populated country in Europe is Russia, which has a population of almost 144 million people. The least populated country in Europe is technically the Vatican city-state with a population of 1,000 that is located within Rome, but Monaco is the second smallest with a population of a little over 30,000.
Many countries in Europe do not have high numbers of residents. However,they are very densely populated countries due to the small amount of land that comprises each country. For example, Monaco only has a little over 30,000 residents, but it is the most densely populated country in Europe since it measures less than one square mile.
The majority of Australia will experience multiple seasons of drought due to the fact that the majority of Australia is a desert or semi-arid climate. The southwest and southeast corners of Australia have a temperate climate and good soil for agriculture. The northern part of Australia has a tropical climate that has rainforests, grasslands and deserts.
Multiple types of natural disasters are linked to Australia’s climate. These include dust storms, cyclones, flooding, and drought. Brush fires are one of the most common and destructive disasters related to climate in Australia. Most of the time these fires happen in the eastern part of Australia and are caused by low humidity and high wind conditions. Drought also contributes to brush fires because when vegetation is dry, it acts as perfect fuel for fires and they spread easier and faster.
Africa and Asia
This section tests your historical, geographic, economic, and civic knowledge of Africa and Asia, including European impact, conflicts, and contemporary issues.
Here are some concepts you should know.
Pan-Africanism is a movement that began in the early 1900s. The goal of the movement is to unify and strengthen Africans and people of African descent across the world. The movement began to help unite Africans in an effort to fight segregation and discrimination, but is still alive and thriving. Prominent leaders of the Pan-African movement include:
- Muammar Gaddafi
- Malcolm X
- Marcus Garvey
- W.E.B. Du Bois
Pan-African ideals are spread through literature, art, and music. Today, multiple organizations carry on the movement’s cause.
Zionism began in the late 19th century while Jews from around the world were experiencing more and more anti-Semitism. The term Zionism comes from the Hebrew word Zion which refers to Jerusalem.
Theodor Herzl, a Jewish journalist, and political activist, is credited with beginning the official movement in 1897. He believed that Jewish people and culture could not survive if they did not have a nation of their own.
The movement was both political and religious. The effort was focused on re-establishing Israel as the main location for Jewish identity. In the years before and during WWII, Jews living across Europe faced terrifying persecution and death under Nazi rule. Many of these Jews fled to Palestine or other regions of the Middle East to escape persecution. When the Holocaust and WWII were over, Zionist leaders were very active in promoting the idea and need of an independent Jewish nation. When the British army withdrew from Palestine after the war, Israel became an official independent state in May of 1948. Since then, Zionists have encouraged Jews from all over the world to move to Israel.
Communism in Asia
Four out of the five remaining communist countries in the world today are in Asia. They are:
- North Korea
Communist governments impact Asia and the rest of the world by:
- Decreasing income inequality.
- Being extremely inefficient since state-controlled markets are slower to adjust than capital markets like in the United States and most of the developed world.
- Limits entrepreneurial opportunities, which limits ideas from those who do not have the chance to begin a company and share it with the world.
- Giving power to government officials who use it to their benefit, not necessarily what is in the best interest of their country and the rest of the world.
And that’s some basic info about the World Regions subarea.