Study Guide for the Social Studies Portion of the HSE Exam

Posted by on February 9th, 2016

The Social Studies portion of High School Equivalency (HSE) exams requires just as much preparation as the Math and Writing/Language arts sections. It covers four major domains: US History, Civics, Economics and Geography. A combination of approaches and activities should be used to prepare for the exams. Classroom activities, online resources and practice tests will provide a wide-range of opportunities for students to engage with the material.

Classroom Activities

Your classroom may be some of your students’ first encounter with the information on the Social Studies exam. Or, your classroom could be the place where students become reacquainted with the information. Whatever the case, your classroom activities should be as varied as your students and their learning styles and needs. With the four domains of the Social Studies portion, you can select activities to correspond with each domain. Classroom activities might include:

  • Lecture with Note-taking
  • Worksheets
  • PowerPoints, Slide shows and Prezi
  • Videos
  • Hands-on map activities
  • Reenactments/Role Play
  • Games

Online Resources

The internet offers a number of resources for Social Studies preparation. Online resources can be used to supplement other instructional tools or as review of previously learned concepts. Many online resources are interactive and provide immediate feedback for students. In addition to interactive practice questions, many websites also offer printable worksheets and videos with review quizzes. Students should access the resources both in and away from the classroom for maximum support. A few online resources are:

PrepPath: gives a free download of a Social Studies practice assignment.

History.com: shares detailed information on specific events in history. The pages often include links to supporting material on the topic.

Test Study Guide: offers lessons, practice questions, and practice tests.

Study.com: provides categorized lessons with quizzes following each lesson. Comprehensive practice exams follow each chapter.


Practice Tests

Practice tests should be a regular part of test preparation to help students become more comfortable with the testing format and expectations. Practice tests can be administered as written practice or online. The online tests will strengthen students’ technology skills now that the HSE exams are computer based. Free practice tests can be accessed via the following sites:


A comprehensive approach to preparing for testing is necessary for students. Through the use of multiple channels, students are able to build their test taking skills and ensure their knowledge of subject matter is strong. The confidence built during the preparation process also plays into student testing success. Structure your classroom activities, online resources and practice tests into a combination that works cohesively to leverage student success.



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