Strategies for Succeeding on the Social Studies Portion of Any HSE Test

Posted by on August 2nd, 2016

The social studies test is an important part of high school equivalency (HSE) exams. Students should be just as prepared for this portion of the test as the math and language arts sections. There are specific strategies for helping test takers succeed on the exam. Through the application of general best practices students can support their content knowledge with a calculated approach to test taking.

General Knowledge

Students should be familiar with the basic content and expectations surrounding the exam.

  • Time – The social studies portion of the exam is timed. Students will have 70 minutes for completion.
  • Format – The social studies exam is comprised of multiple choice questions.
  • Content – The exam will focus on history, geography, civics/government and economics. Students should have a general understanding of the ideas and concepts in each category.

Basic Testing Strategies

In addition to the general knowledge, test takers should be knowledgeable of best practice testing strategies to apply during the exam administration. Some of the suggestions to be shared with students include:

  • Read Carefully – Read all directions and questions carefully. Do not read too slowly, but be mindful to read each question and answer choice in its entirety. Remember that one word can make a significant difference in the meaning of a question or answer choice.
  • Answer Every Question – There is a correct answer for every question. Even if unsure, be sure to select an answer rather than skipping a question.
  • Process of Elimination – If you are uncertain of the correct answer choice for a question, use the process of elimination. Start by eliminating the answers which are obviously wrong. By narrowing down your choices, you increase the likelihood of selecting the correct answer.
  • Pacing – Be mindful of the time allotted for the exam. With 70 minutes, at 35 minutes into the session, you should be halfway through your test. Do not panic if you notice others finishing before you.
  • Questions Before Supplements – The social studies exams contain various passages, illustrations, maps and other documents as part of the test. Read the accompanying questions and at least skim the answer choices before looking at the document itself. This will help you identify what you should be looking for when you refer back to the speech or illustration.


While there is general knowledge that test takers should be familiar with, there are also specific strategies that can be applied towards success on the social studies portion of HSE exams.

Pacing and specific approaches to answering multiple choice questions are among helpful tools for success. Reading carefully and completely will also assist students achieve desired results on the exams. Through the combination of content knowledge, testing expectations and the application of basic strategies, HSE test takers have a recipe for accomplishment.



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