Praxis Social Studies: Content Knowledge Ultimate Guide2019-07-24T13:41:03+00:00

Praxis Social Studies: Content Knowledge Ultimate Guide and Practice Test

Preparing to take the Social Studies: Content Knowledge exam?

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Praxis Social Studies: Content Knowledge Quick Facts

The test assesses understanding of social studies content knowledge. Many states use this assessment as a requirement for a person’s teaching licensing and certification to be complete.

The Social Studies: Content Knowledge is a computer-based assessment covering 6 content areas, ranging from United States History to World History to Behavioral Sciences. The entire test is selected-response questions with a total of 130 given in the allotted time of 2 hours. Each content area is broken down in the chart above with the approximate number of questions for each category. 

Cost: 

The exam costs $120 to be paid using a debit or credit card, money order, bank check, paypal, or echeck. 

Scoring: 

The score needed to pass varies from state to state. Check out this list for more information.

Study time: 

The amount of study time you need will depend on many factors, including your educational history, subject background, and how comfortable you are with a test-taking environment. In general, we recommend people spend 1 to 3 months studying. 

What test takers wish they would’ve done: 

  • Take several practice tests to get an idea of the format
  • Create a study plan
  • Keep track of time during the test
  • Create a pacing plan

Information and screenshots obtained from the ETS Praxis website.

I: United States History

Overview

This content category has 26 selected-response questions. These questions account for 20% of the entire exam.

So, let’s talk about some key concepts you are more than likely going to see in this content category.

Key Concepts

Manifest Destiny

Manifest Destiny was the belief that the United States was destined by God to expand its dominion and spread democracy and capitalism across the entire North American continent. There was a large increase in immigration which caused the US population to expand rapidly in the first half of the 19th century. This population growth lead to economic depression which forced Americans westward in search of new land and opportunities. 

The Louisiana Purchase was a huge factor in the United States expansion, nearly doubling the size of the country. Americans sought new opportunities in Louisiana as well as some moving to Texas. Ultimately Texas joined the United States and the idea of the United States expanding all the way to the Pacific Ocean was inevitable. 

Civil War

The Civil War occurred from 1861 to 1865 between the Northern (Union) and Southern (Confederate) states. The North and South had major contrasting opinions on economic issues; specifically, the North wanted economic expansion which would change the South (slave-holding) way of life.

Impact of the Civil War: The Homestead Act was passed which allowed people to settle and farm land in the west without the help of slavery. The Pacific Railroad Act was passed as well which promoted the construction of a transcontinental railroad. 

Populism Versus Progressivism

Populism and Progressivism are both movements started by the people based on their dissatisfaction with the current government and its inability to address problems. Both groups began to propose a comprehensive plan of political reforms to help people.

II: World History

Overview

This content category has 26 selected-response questions. These questions account for 20% of the entire exam.

So, let’s talk about some key concepts you are more than likely going to see in this content category.

Key Concepts

The Roman Empire

This article describes the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, including its successes and failures as well as its contributions to the development of the western society. https://www.ancient.eu/Roman_Empire/

The Caste System

The word “caste” is used to describe the division of societies based on hereditary groups. Four categories were made to organize society along economic and occupational lines. The categories were spiritual leaders and teachers (Brahmins), warriors and nobility (Kshatriyas), merchants and producers (Vaishyas), and laborers (Sudras). Physical contact between groups were prohibited. 

The caste system is associated with Hinduism and was most prevalent in India; however, it has been outlawed (although its presence is still felt).

Globalism

Globalization encompasses the technological, political, economic, and cultural exchanges between people and nations to further the interconnectedness and interdependence of the world. The link below explains the emergence of global culture in the late twentieth century, including its major elements and consequences. https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/us-history/modern-us/1990s-america/a/globalization

III: Government/Civics/Political Science

Overview

This content category has 26 selected-response questions. These questions account for 20% of the entire exam.

So, let’s talk about some key concepts you are more than likely going to see in this content category.

Key Concepts

Landmark Supreme Court Cases

Marbury v. Madison, 1803

This case established the Supreme Court’s power of judicial review over Congress. It helped define the boundaries between the executive and judicial branches of the government. 

McCulloch v. Maryland, 1819

This case established the federal government’s implied powers over states. The state of Maryland began imposing a tax on all bank notes not charted by Maryland banks, but the Supreme court ruled this unconstitutional because it was an attempt to violate the powers of the federal government. 

Brown v. Board of Education,1954

This case established that “separate but equal” had no place in the public education system, ending segregation in schools. 

Gideon v. Wainwright, 1963

This case established the right of a criminal defendant to have an attorney even if they could not personally afford one. 

Miranda v. Arizona, 1966

This case established the requirement that police must advise people in custody of their rights before questioning them. 

Loving v. Virginia, 1967

This case established laws that forbid interracial marriages as unconstitutional. 

Roe v. Wade, 1973

This case determined that the right to privacy under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment extended to a woman’s right to have an abortion. 

United States v. Nixon, 1974

This case established that sitting Presidents could not use their executive powers to withhold evidence during a criminal investigation. 

Obergefell v. Hodges, 2015 

This case ruled that same-sex couples had a fundamental right to marry. 

Chambers of Congress

The two chambers of Congress are the Senate and the House of Representatives. The major differences between the two chambers are listed below.

Basic Approaches to Foreign Policy

There is a variety of approaches to foreign policy all with different ideas about what should be done. Below is a chart that lists different types of foreign policies and what each approach entails.

IV: Geography

Overview

This content category has 19 selected-response questions. These questions account for 15% of the entire exam.

So, let’s talk about some key concepts you are more than likely going to see in this content category.

Key Concepts

Weather Versus Climate

Weather is the day-to-day, short term state of the atmosphere including temperature, humidity, precipitation, and wind. Climate is the typical weather pattern in a given region over a long period of time. For example the weather on January 18, 2019 in Boston was a high of 43 degrees and a low of 27 degrees, with zero chance of precipitation. The typical climate in January in the Northeast is cold temperatures with the chance of snow. 

Ecosystems

An ecosystem is a community of living organisms and nonliving components interacting in a given environment. It is important to understand how an ecosystem operates because the interactions are all linked. Anything that impacts one aspect of an ecosystem will ultimately impact the other aspects of the ecosystem. Humans often disrupt ecosystems with small actions that turn into large effects. 

Population Pyramids

Public Domain image obtained from https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Population_pyramid_of_Greece_(1928).svg

A population pyramid shows the percentage of male and female age ranges in a given area. Above is an example of a population period for Greece in 1928. It shows the male population in blue and female population in pink. The age ranges are listed on the y-axis. For example, we can see that there were about 100,000 women aged 55-59 in Greece in 1928.

V: Economics

Overview

This content category has 20 selected-response questions. These questions account for 15% of the entire exam.

So, let’s talk about some key concepts you are more than likely going to see in this content category.

Key Concepts

Basic Economics Terms

Supply and Demand

  • Supply- the amount of product or service available to the public 
  • Demand- desire of customers wanting the product or service
  • Supply and demand have a relationship dependent on one another ultimately regulating prices  

Cost-Benefit

  • A process that assesses the relation between the cost of the undertaking and the value of the resulting benefits  

Opportunity Cost

  • The loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen 
  • Example- if you spend time and money going to see a movie, you can’t spend that time at home, and you can’t spend that money somewhere else 

Incentive

  • A way to encourage specific actions or behaviors by a specific group of people during a defined period of time
    • Examples: tax incentives, subsidies, tax rebates 

Money Supply

  • Total amount of money in circulation or in existence in the country

Interest Rates 

  • Proportion of the loan that is charged as interest to the borrower 

Inflation 

  • A general increase in prices and fall in the purchasing value of money 

Unemployment Rate  

  • Percentage of unemployed workers in the total labor force 

Federal Reserve System

The Federal Reserve System acts as the United States central bank. Its major functions are to provide and maintain an effective payments system, supervise and regulate banking operations, and conduct monetary policy. 

Check out this website for detailed information regarding the Federal Reserve System. https://www.federalreserve.gov/aboutthefed/pf.htm

Trade

Nations trade for various reasons. The main reason for trade is that the country does not have the resources or capacity to satisfy their country’s own needs and wants so they look to other countries who do. Another reason is that imports may be cheaper or of better quality when made in a different country. These goods may also be easily available or more appealing than locally produced goods. 

Trade dates back 9,000 years, but today international trade is responsible for the development and prosperity of the modern industrialised world. International trade allows nations to benefit in regards to increased revenue and decreased competition. International trade can also allow nations to dispose of surplus goods while benefiting from currency exchange.

VI: Behavioral Sciences

Overview

This content category has 13 selected-response questions. These questions account for 10% of the entire exam.

So, let’s talk about some key concepts you are more than likely going to see in this content category.

Key Concepts

Major Theoretical Perspectives

Functionalism 

  • All aspects of society serve a purpose and all of those aspects are indispensable for the long-term survival of society 

Conflict

  • Society is in a state of conflict because of competition of limited resources 
  • Social order is maintained by wealth and power
  • Individuals and groups within a society work solely for their own benefit

Social

  • Society is a human construction 
  • Aims to determine what role human awareness plays in social action, situations, and worlds 

Interactionism 

  • People in a society develop and rely on social interaction 

Concepts of Culture

Culture is the set of traditions, rules, and symbols that shape our feelings, thoughts, and behaviors of groups of people. Below are a list of components that influence culture.

  • Language- a way to communicate with others 
  • Values- ideas people share as good/bad, desirable/undesirable
  • Norms- concepts and behaviors seen as normal 

Theories of Intelligence

General Intelligence 

  • Analysis of mental aptitude tests led to the theory that people who performed well on one cognitive test tended to perform well on other tests
  • Concluded that intelligence is a general cognitive ability that can be measured and numerically expressed  

Primary Mental Abilities 

  • Did not view intelligence as a single, general ability, rather one that focuses on seven different primary mental abilities: verbal comprehension, reasoning, perceptual speed, numerical ability, word fluency, associative memory, and spatial visualization 

Multiple Intelligences

  • Proposed that the numerical expression of human intelligence, such as in the IQ test, are not a full and accurate overview of a person’s ability 
  • Describes that 8 types of intelligence based on skills and abilities that are valued in different cultures: visual, verbal, physical, logical, interpersonal, and musical

Triarchic Theory of Intelligence 

  • Agrees with Primary Mental Abilities Theory, but viewed types of intelligence as individual talents 
  • Proposed “successful intelligence” which involves 3 different factors: analytical, creative, and practical intelligence

And that’s some basic info about the exam.

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