TExES Social Studies 4-8 (118) Ultimate Guide2019-12-09T21:33:43+00:00

TExES Social Studies 4-8 (118) Ultimate Guide and Practice Test

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TExES Social Studies 4-8 Quick Facts

This test assesses the knowledge of educators who plan to teach Social Studies in 4th-8th grade in Texas.

The Social Studies 4-8 test is composed of 100 multiple-choice questions and is administered on a computer at a testing center. Five hours are allotted to complete this test.

Cost: 

$116

Scoring: 

The passing score for this test is 240.

Pass rate: 

In 2016-17, 64% of test takers passed this test. 

Study time: 

The amount of study time necessary for this test depends on your content knowledge. Start by reviewing the associated learning standards to determine your strengths and weaknesses, focusing more time on those that are less familiar. Remember, this test is approximately 71% content-based, with the rest related to foundations, skills, and instruction, so you will mostly be answering content-based questions. Allocate several weeks to review less familiar material more than once. 

What test-takers wish they would’ve known: 

  • Do not spend too much time on a question if you do not know the answer. Complete all the questions that you feel strongly about and use the remaining time to review challenging questions. 
  • DO NOT leave any questions blank. Skipped questions and incorrect answers equally count against you. 
  • You will not need to bring any materials or calculators into this test. 
  • This test may contain multiple question formats, including selecting multiple answers, filling in a text box with the answer, or clicking on a graphic to answer. Read each question carefully to make sure you understand how to answer correctly. 
  • You cannot take any food or drink into the testing room, but you are allowed to leave to use the restroom

Information and screenshots obtained from Pearson.

Domain I: Social Studies Content

Overview

The Social Studies Content domain has about 71 questions. Subjects covered within this domain include:

  • History
  • Sociology and Geography
  • Economics
  • Civics

Let’s explore each subject!

History

Overview

While studying this subject, you should focus on the following overarching concepts:

  • Texas History Key Concepts
  • Early US History
  • Post Civil War History

To jumpstart your studying, let’s explore a few specific history concepts.

Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca

Cabeza de Vaca was a Spanish explorer known for his expedition through the Gulf Coast of what is now Texas. He originally landed in Florida in 1528 as part of a fleet sent out from Spain to colonize the region. They decided to sail west but by the time they arrived on the Texas coast, storms, disease, and lack of food had significantly reduced the expedition’s numbers to 80. Of that number, only 15 survived on the island now called Galveston until the spring of 1529. Cabeza de Vaca spent the next few years traveling and trading from eastern Texas to northern MexicoIn 1532, de Vaca and the three final survivors lived among natives in the area until finding their way back to Mexico in 1536. Cabeza de Vaca’s experience living with Native Americans led him to advocate for their rights in Spain for better treat argue in Spain for their better treatment. 

Cabeza de Vaca was appointed to govern territory in Mexico in 1542. However, he was eventually removed from this position and the country, likely due to his outspoken compassion for Native Americans and criticism of the Spanish for their treatment. He was sent back to Spain in 1545 where he was convicted of misconduct and corruption. 

Battle of San Jacinto

The battle of San Jacinto occurred on April 21, 1836 and was the concluding military event of Texas’ fight for independence from Mexico. The month before, Texas soldiers were defeated by Mexican forces and their General Santa Anna in the Battle of the Alamo. The defeat provided a rallying cry – Remember the Alamo! – for Sam Houston’s men as they attacked Santa Anna and his troops in San Jacinto. Despite being outnumbered, Houston and his men captured Santa Anna and defeated the Mexican army in the battle. 

The Battle at San Jacinto marked the end of the War for Texas Independence. After his imprisonment at the Battle of San Jacinto, Santa Anna recognized Texas’ independence from Mexico in exchange for his freedom. 

Effect of Manifest Destiny on Native Americans

While the idea of Manifest Destiny would establish actions to increase the size, wealth, and power of the United States, its effects were devastating to Native American populations. Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act in 1830 in anticipation of American migration west. This act facilitated the removal of Native Americans from eastern land considered desirable by American settlers, and resettled them in designated “Indian Territory” located west of the Mississippi River. Forced to leave their homes, 15,000 Native Americans began the long journey down the Trail of Tears, with between 3,000-4,000 dying along the way. 

The Bureau of Indian Affairs was created in 1824 to oversee issues concerning Native American populations. During this time period, the bureau, along with federal and state governments, repeatedly violated the trust of the native populations with unfair treaties, ignored laws, and broken promises. In 1832, the Supreme Court sided with Worcester in the case of Worcester v. Georgia. Worcester was a missionary in Cherokee territory and encouraged the tribe not to cooperate with laws being imposed by Georgia’s government. Georgia responded by passing a law making it illegal for Americans to be on tribal land without the state’s approval. When the Supreme Court ruled that state and federal governments did not have authority to dictate what happens on tribal lands, the ruling was widely ignored by the states and President Andrew Jackson. State and federal governments continued to violate the rights of Native Americans with impunity. 

In 1862, the Homestead Act helped dramatically increase settlements in the west. Americans, including women and former slaves, could purchase 160 acres of land by paying for filing fee costs and living on the land for at least five years. The influx of settlers into the western territories forced even more Native Americans out of their lands and onto reservations established by the U.S. government. 

An additional blow to the culture and traditions of American Indians, the Dawes Severalty Act of 1887 ended tribal control of reservation lands, assigning separate plots for individual ownership and allowing the rest to be marked by the federal government for public sale. This division of land was a new concept to many Native Americans who were unfamiliar with this social structure in their communal lifestyles. Not only did this change impact their cultures but it also significantly decreased the power American Indian tribes had in their interactions with the federal government.  

The Women’s Rights Movement (1848-1920)

Throughout the 19th century, women fought for social reform and rights for themselves and for African Americans. Sarah Grimke was one of the first advocates for women’s rights and was disappointed from an early age with the education opportunities women were given compared to men. She and her sister were born in the south, but relocated to Pennsylvania as adults speaking and writing in support of the rights of women and slaves. She was heavily criticized for her outspokenness in political discussion because many found it inappropriate behavior for a woman at that time.

Another notable voice in the early women’s rights movement was Sojourner Truth. She traveled around the country giving speeches on the importance of rights for women and African Americans, sharing her perspective as a woman and a former slave. She is best known for her 1851 speech, “Ain’t I a Woman?”

In 1848, activists Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott, organized the Seneca Falls Convention. At this first women’s rights convention, the Declaration of Rights and Sentiments was voted on and approved by the attendees. The declaration included 12 specific goals, or resolutions, for the movement, including a demand for female suffrage. Even at the convention, including a woman’s right to vote as a specific goal was considered controversial within the gathering of women focused on expanding their rights, and this resolution barely passed. 

Elizabeth Cady Stanton also worked alongside fellow abolitionist and women’s rights activist Susan B. Anthony to form theWomen’s National Loyal League. This group was primarily focused on abolishing slavery, but many members were also active in the suffrage movement. Another important activist, Matilda Joslyn Gage, worked with Stanton and Anthony in this group, but later parted ways when they disagreed on supporting the Fifteenth Amendment. The women eventually reunited in their work with the formation of the National American Woman Suffrage Association in 1890.

Despite dedicating their lives to fighting for women’s rights, none of these women lived long enough to see the passage of the 19th amendment in 1920, when women finally won the right to vote. 

And that’s some basic information about the history portion of the test.

Sociology and Geography

Overview

These are the overarching concepts within this subject:

  • Human Geography
  • Sociology Basics
  • Physical Geography

Let’s talk about a few specific sociology and geography concepts.

Regions

Geographers identify regions as areas with more similarities or commonalities than differences. Regions are often identified based on shared physical, functional, or cultural characteristics. 

Physical regions share physical characteristics such a climate or land formations. For example, the eastern coast of the United States falls into the physical region of the Coastal Plains. 

Functional Regions are established by a focus on a central key location, often a large city. An example of a functional region is any area included when a specific city’s metropolis is referenced. For example, “Greater Houston” is a functional region that includes Houston’s urban center as well as all surrounding suburbs.

Cultural Regions are defined by shared cultural characteristics, such as  language. North America could be divided into two cultural regions because the U.S. and Canada are both primarily English-speaking countries, while Mexico and Central American countries are primarily Spanish-speaking. 

Regions of Texas

Texas contains four natural regions; the Mountains and Basins, the High Plains, the Central Plains, and the Gulf Coast Plain.

The Mountains and Basins Region is Texas’s western-most region. 

It is characterized by mountains, plateaus, and basins, along with flat desert. The climate in the mountains is cool, but the desert portion is dry and hot, only cooling down at night.

The High Plains stretch down from the Texas Panhandle and are characterized by flat grasslands. The plains are elevated above sea level, have little rain, and experience a wide range of temperatures. 

The Central Plains are mostly made up of grasslands and the Hill Country, with mild temperatures and frequent rain.

The Gulf Coast Plain makes up the southern and eastern portions of the state. It includes the coastal beaches and plains and woods further inland. The Gulf Coast Plain receives the most annual rainfall of the four regions in Texas. 

Causes of Human Migration

There are four main reasons why humans migrate to new areas; need for water or food, safety, freedom from persecution, and better economic opportunities. 

Native Americans migrated throughout the plains regions following the herds of wild animals they hunted for food, demonstrating a historical example of movement based on a need for a suitable water or food.

Many civilizations that developed near or in mountainous regions illustrate movement based on militaristic advantage or protection from the elements. The mountains served as a defensive barrier, allowing the people to stretch limited resources to cover more ground. 

The Great Migration of the 1900s serves as an example of migration due to both a desire to escape persecution and a desire for a better livelihood. Despite the abolition of slavery during the Civil War, African Americans continued to experience segregation, racism, and violence in the South. Millions of African Americans moved north hoping to find more welcoming communities and take advantage of job opportunities created by a boom in the manufacturing industry.

Cultures Change

Culture defines habits and daily activities or routines that occur within a community. Cultural elements can include religion, food, language, and social interactions or norms. 

Cultures can change over time and be influenced by each other. Cultural adaptation occurs when a person begins living in a new culture and adopts its  behaviors and practices. Cultures can also change due to diffusion or exchanges. Diffusion occurs when elements of one culture are adopted as another culture’s habits and norms. Similarly, cultural exchange occurs when two cultures share characteristics with each other, causing both to change. 

Transcendentalism

Transcendentalism is a philosophical movement popularized in the 1800s, based on beliefs in independence, idealism, connecting with nature, and rejecting the corrupting influence of society. The philosophy contends that individuals can find and connect with God through a connection to nature. 

In the United States, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau are  identified as proponents of the transcendentalism movement. Emerson wrote Nature which detailed his understanding of the natural world as a path to connecting with God. For two years, Henry David Thoreau isolated himself on Walden Pond in Massachusetts, living as simply as possible. He reflected on his experience separated from society and connected to nature in the book, Walden.

And that’s some basic information about the sociology and geography portion of the test.

Economics

Overview

These are the main concepts in this subject:

  • Basic Economic Concepts
  • Economic History
  • The American Economy

Here are a few specific economic concepts that you will see on the test.

Basic Economic Concepts

Goods and Services: In an economy, goods are the physical products or objects that can be purchased and services are non-materials actions that are performed for a customer. So, buying food at the grocery store to make dinner is a purchase of goods, while paying a personal chef to make dinner for you is a purchase of services.

Needs and Wants: A need is defined as something essential to a person’s health and well-being that they cannot live without, while a want describes goods or services that a person prefers to have, but are not necessary for basic human survival. For example, everyone needs food and water to survive but someone might want a soda and burger to eat because it’s their favorite meal.

Scarcity: Scarcity refers to the limited amount of resources available to fulfill every individual’s needs and wants. 

Factors of Production: The Factors of Productions are the inputs needed for the successful production of a product. These four factors consist of land, labor, capital, and entrepreneurship. 

Interdependence: No single economy can fulfill all of its wants and needs, which leads to the development of interdependence, or reliance on another country’s supply of goods and services. For example, a country that cannot produce wheat may rely on trade arrangements with a neighboring country to ensure bread is available in their grocery stores. 

Economic System: The production and exchange of goods and services are organized within an economic system that dictates how the exchange is managed. The three main economic systems are capitalism, communism, and socialism. 

Free Enterprise: A free enterprise economy occurs when the government does not control businesses, but allows the market to regulate itself.  

Supply Side Economics (Reaganomics)

Supply-side economics is the idea that government involvement in the economy should primarily make business production easier. This can be done by decreasing taxes and business regulations with the assumption that increased capital allows more products to be produced and more people to be employed. 

President Ronald Reagan was a proponent of supply-side economics, also known as Reaganomics, and attempted to stimulate the economy in the 1980s by reducing income taxes, specifically for those who paid the largest percentage of taxes. These cuts were expected to allow more money to trickle down to those with lower incomes, with the expectation that they would increase their own spending and therefore increase the amount of taxes they paid. That, combined with a reduction of government spending on social programs, was expected to replace the funds lost by lower tax rates. 

While the economy was initially improved by the tax cuts, congress did not cut social programs at the same rate that taxes decreased and the expected “trickle down” was not experienced. This lead to a significant increase in the federal deficit. 

Traditional and Post-industrialization Economies

Traditional Economies

Traditional economies are based on individuals producing items of value and trading those items with other people in their family or tribe to fulfil their needs. For example, a farmer would be able to trade food to a blacksmith for tools. These economies relied on bartering or trade instead of currency. 

Post-industrialization Economies

A command economy is an economy that is controlled by the government. The government dictates how much of a specific product is produced and controls most aspects of its distribution. 

A market economy is not controlled by the government but determined by the wants and needs of the people. Production varies according to the demand in the market.

A mixed economy combines characteristics of command and market economies. For the most part, the market dictates production and demand, but the government has the power to intervene and regulate private industry when necessary.

Government Market Regulation and Taxes

Price Controls and Subsidies

Governments can regulate the economy in various ways, including through price controls and subsidies. 

Price controls place a maximum or minimum price on a product. This is usually done when the government sees demand for a good or service changing in a way that could have a negative impact on the public. For example, if there is a sudden drop in the availability of gas in an area, demand would be higher than supply. Without price controls, businesses could charge customers exorbitant prices because of the increased demand. 

Subsidies occur when the government directly pays certain individuals or industries in order to keep their product prices low for customers. Farmers frequently receive agricultural subsidies to help stabilize the cost of commonly grown foods for American consumption.  

Taxes

The government also impacts the economy through taxes. Taxes are used to keep basic government functions operational and pay for different government programs and projects. 

Taxes are a trade off in the economy. While taxes are important and used to fund things that are essential for the country to function properly, like roads and infrastructure, they also limit both the consumer’s buying power and the producer’s ability to expand their business. Taxes can limit economic development by decreasing the amount of money that people have available to invest back into the economy. 

And that’s some basic information about the economics portion of the test.

Civics

Overview

These are the overarching concepts within this subject:

  • Types of Government
  • US Government
  • Citizenship

Check out these specific civics concepts that are likely to appear on the test.

Origins of Democracy

The roots of democratic forms of government stretch back to Ancient Greece. Ancient Greece was made up of individual city-states, and Athens in particular is known for its early example of democracy. The citizens of Athens would debate ideas, vote on laws, and directly elect some public officials. 

Checks and Balances

Each of the three branches of the U.S. government have specific powers to balance the powers of the other branches. For example, the legislature passes laws, but the president can veto those laws. However, the president’s veto can be overturned if enough of the legislature supports the law. 

The courts, or judicial branch, can declare laws or presidential acts unconstitutional. As a check against the court’s power, the executive branch nominates the judges, who have to be approved by the legislature to serve on the court. 

Landmark Supreme Court Cases

Marbury v. Madison, 1803

The Marbury v. Madison case addressed whether Marbury, who received a last-minute judge appointment by President Adams, had a valid commission, a paper stating his appointment, since he did not technically receive it until President Adams had already left office. While the case was not ruled in Marbury’s favor, it is considered the single most important decision in American constitutional law. This case established that an act of Congress could be ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court and introduced the idea of judicial review. 

McCulloch v. Maryland, 1819

McCulloch v. Maryland helped define the scope of Congressional power by determining that federal laws supercede state laws when the two conflict as long as the federal government’s actions are constitutional. After the federal government established a national bank, Maryland attempted to impose taxes on it, but their action was determined to be unconstitutional because the right to have a national bank was protected under the Constitution. 

Gibbons v. Ogden, 1824

Gibbons v. Ogden established the Supreme Court’s right to regulate interstate commerce, considered a landmark decision. Gibbons operated steamboats between New Jersey and New York City under a federal operating license. New York City previously awarded a monopoly on the use of state waters to Robert Fulton and Robert R. Livingston, who then sold the right of use to Ogden. Gibbons argued that his federal trade license could not be superseded by a state-awarded monopoly. This case established a new understanding of the powers related to the federal right to regulate commerce as described in the Constitution. 

Dred Scott v. Sandford, 1857

Dred Scott was a slave who lived with his owner in a free state where slavery was prohibited for several years before moving back to a slave-owning state. Scott argued that his time in a free state gave him legal grounds for freedom. The court decided that since Scott was of African ancestry, he was not eligible for citizenship and therefore could not petition the court. This infamous court case is credited with contributing to the rising tensions that lead to the Civil War. 

The Texas Constitution

The Texas Constitution has many similarities to the United States Constitution, including a limited scope of power, checks and balances, separation of powers and rights of the individual. Both constitutions organize their governments into three branches – the executive, judicial, and legestalive, and both divide the legislature into a senate and house of representatives. 

A main difference between the two constitutions is that the Texas Constitution is very specific and detailed regarding the powers of state and local governments. Because the document is so detailed, citizens must frequently pass amendments by voting instead of changes being made by the legislature. For example, the Texas Constitution prevents any state income tax from being collected from any employee who lives in the state. For a state income tax to be established, voters would have to pass an amendment to the Constitution. This process has resulted in the Texas Constitution, adopted in 1876, having 498 new amendments added to it as of 2017. 

Fundamental Rights and Laws

Inalienable rights are personal rights held by every individual not given to them by laws, customs or beliefs. These rights cannot be taken away from a person and cannot be given or transferred to another person. Inalienable rights are inherent to humanity and are part of what distinguishes human beings.

Natural rights are those every individual is born with and retains throughout their lifetime. The United States Constitution includes  the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” These rights cannot be denied or restricted by individuals or governing powers.  

Divine right refers to the belief that certain people are chosen by God to rule others. Divine right provides a doctrinal framework for monarchies and ensures the right of kings and queens to govern regardless of the consent of those they rule since their authority cannot be questioned or opposed. 

Types of Laws

A social contract is any agreement a group of people make to live together cooperatively and benefit society instead of being motivated by choices that benefit the individual. 

Common law is not explicitly passed by a legislative body as a written law, but has instead developed from judicial opinions that set precedents for future rulings. 

A natural law is not necessarily enforced by a governing body, but is based on the idea that there are objective and universal standards of right and wrong all people understand and use. 

And that’s some basic information about the civics portion of the test.

Domain II: Social Studies Foundations, Skills and Instruction

Overview

The Social Studies Foundations, Skills and Instruction domain has about 29 questions. This domain mainly focuses on assessing how prepared the test taker is to  teach social studies. Test questions focus on:

  • Social Studies Skills
  • Instruction and Assessment

Let’s talk about a few of specific concepts.

Primary and Secondary Sources

A primary source is a document that comes directly from a person experiencing an event firsthand or was written when the described event happened. A letter from a soldier to his wife during the Civil War would be considered a primary source. The first-hand experience of the author is considered an advantage of a primary source, but primary sources may also be written by someone with a limited or biased perspective. 

A secondary source comes from someone without first-hand knowledge. A history textbook would be an example of a secondary source. Secondary sources benefit from being able to review or cover an event in a greater context and are likely to include research and evidence for assertions. However, a secondary-source author may not be able to provide the detailed, emotional connection to an event that a primary-source author can.

The Research Process

The research process in a social studies class should follow the following steps:

Ask a Question – Prior to researching the topic, each student should create a guiding question or thesis statement that helps define the focus of the work. 

Background Research – To build foundational details about their research topic, students should begin with broad, general research.

Refine the Question – After completing background research, students will be able to clarify or specify their original question, defining the focus even more. i. 

Gather Evidence – Using the question as a guide, students will gather evidence from a variety of sources to provide specific details and formulate the answer.  

Analyze the Evidence to Form a Claim – Students should now be able to synthesize their research to answer their guiding questions. The claim should not be a statement of the individual, specific details from their research, but a well-developed conclusion(s) the student formed based on the research.

Presenting a Thesis for Review – In the final step, the students’ conclusions and claims, can be presented and evaluated by an audience.

Communication of Value of Social Science

Social Studies is important to students’ ability to both understand the world they live in and participate appropriately as members of society. Students learn about historical events and how they impact the world we live in within the social studies classroom. This includes developing an understanding of the laws of our society are, why they exist and how they came to be. Additionally, students will learn about the physical nature of our world and how those physical characteristics impact human behavior.

Types of Assessments

Assessments can be formal or informal and are used to evaluate students’ progress in school. Formal assessments will either be criterion-referenced – testing student knowledge against a predetermined standard, or norm-referenced – testing student knowledge against the performance of other individuals in the group. Informal assessments are more flexible and can be based on something as simple as a conversation with a student. 

Assessments can also be formative and used to guide instruction, or summative and used to determine student success following the completion of instruction. 

Formative assessments will be curriculum-based, but offer flexibility in format. Using exit slips is a good way to assess student understanding of a lesson quickly. At the end of class, a teacher can ask a question related to the day’s lesson, the students answer, then hands in their answers on the way out of class. These answers are then used to guide instruction for the following day. 

Diagnostic testing, typically in the form of a pre-assessment, can be formal or informal and is considered a formative assessment because the results are used to address student learning in an upcoming unit. 

Summative assessments are formal and performance-based. These tests are used to determine the overall success of each student in mastering the objectives of a unit or class following the completion of instruction on a given topic.

And that’s some basic information about Domain II.

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