HiSET Social Studies Study Guide

HiSET Test Review - Social Studies Study Guide
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HiSET Social Studies Review

Social Studies itself is a broader subject—about as broad as the Language Arts subsection, but condensed into one part rather than two. Its depth is one of the biggest reasons as to why it’s included on the HiSET, and why it is important to demonstrate basic mastery of this subject in order to move on to a higher level academic or professional climate. High school students also take Social Studies classes of several different varieties, all of which will be included on the exam to some degree.

How can Social Studies help you as you advance professionally? The subject teaches you a lot about the world—the people within it, why it is the way it is, and how it works—from a much different and relatable perspective. Regardless of which field you enter when you progress to college or the workforce, this is an important skill to have. Additionally, common Social Studies often translate to higher level University courses, which will form part of your general education requirements once you transition to academia. Since the HiSET is meant as an equivalent to your high school diploma, it is also the next step to entering a college environment.

At Mometrix Test Preparation, we want to help you succeed. This is why we have written this guide—to give you a thorough idea of what will feature on this particular subsection of the HiSET and how you can prepare. The rest of this page features a detailed HiSET Social Studies study guide to further educate and prime yourself for your big day. Read on to learn more about what will be on this important subsection, the specific subjects you should study, and how the test itself is formatted.

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What Is Featured on the HiSET Social Studies Subsection?

The Social Studies subsection is, like the majority of the HiSET, divided into 50 multiple choice questions, for which you will be given 70 minutes to complete. The purpose of the test is to evaluate your basic knowledge of Social Studies within several different subjects. You will find questions of all varieties on the test, with such focuses as economics, history, geography, political science, anthropology, sociology, and psychology. You will also be expected to create inferences based on given data, most of which includes graphical pieces—charts and political cartoons. You may also receive documents to read and answer questions about.

The test further divides into seven categories—three process-related and four content-related. The exam is approximately 10 percent Geography, 35 percent History, 20 percent Economics, and 35 percent Civics and Government. To help brush up on these subjects, you can check out our HiSET Social Studies flashcards, or—for deeper understanding—our HiSET Social Studies practice test.

It is worth noting that the questions you’ll encounter won’t be anything more complex than what is usually featured in average high school curriculum around the country. In addition to the processes and content you’ll be expected to know, you will also be assessed on your ability to discern whether you have enough information to generate an inference, the logic behind a conclusion based upon written context, and how reliable a given piece of information is; to acknowledge how far-reaching a method can stretch before it stops being true; and whether a declaration is false or true based upon historical knowledge and various pieces of information provided to you.

We will first go into the content you’ll see on the test.


As a subject, geography is meant to enhance one’s understanding of the world through its countries and the various cultures living within them. The ‘Geography’ category of the HiSET Science subsection, as a result, tests three skills—your ability to think critically about case studies and read visual information, such as maps; your understanding of how geographic placement affects societal, governmental, and financial development within an area; and comprehend the vocabulary attached to geography as well as the concepts that make up the discipline.


The most well-known of all the Social Studies subjects, the History category of the HiSET Science subsection assesses three distinct areas of knowledge—how well you comprehend the history of the world and the United States, based on the cultures that sprouted from specific periods as well as the financial and governmental situations thereof; the various and continual links between our time and the past, and how these developments could go on to affect the future; and acknowledgment of different points of view as well as the ability to weave judgments from various sources of information.


Economics explains the world’s relationship with and management of money and the market. As such, the ‘Economics’ category looks for the following elements of comprehension—the basics of any economy based on consumer patterns; the role that a government plays within an economy, as well as the different roles in which the economy and government can interact and how the economy influences the world at large; and the basic models found within an economy, such as supply and demand.


The Civics/Government category of the HiSET Science subsection mainly focuses on the United States government. However, you will have to know about other relevant topics outside of the U.S. On this section, you will find questions relating to the diverse forms of government in existence, based on their traits and why these different systems might have developed; the assorted governmental divisions within the United States, how they cooperate with each other, and why they exist; what authority means with respect to the United States government; and how democracy works. More specifically, you will likely be expected to answer questions about democratic citizenship and all of the properties aligned with it, including the duties expected of a democratic citizen and the natural rights they are granted by their government.

Alongside the above four elements of Social Studies knowledge, you will also need to demonstrate your understanding of three processes: Evaluation and Generalization, Analysis, and Interpretation and Application. We will also go over the meanings of these three categories.

  • To Evaluate and Generalize, with the Social Studies subsection, means to decipher how reliable a given source is; to decide whether a conclusion makes sense based on information; and to discern whether you have been provided with enough information to make an inference in the first place.
  • To Analyze means to acknowledge the points an author makes as well as why they have written a document; and whether their statements qualify as individual beliefs or the truth.
  • To Interpret and Apply means to piece create broader inferences based on relevant texts; draw conclusions based on contextual or subtly-delivered information; and to use facts to create conclusions.

While we have kept made this overview thorough, we haven’t covered everything there is to know for this particular subsection of the test. However, you will find a wealth of information through the links on this page, which serves as a comprehensive HiSET Social Studies study guide. If you would like further help with your studies, feel free to check out our HiSET Social Studies practice practice test or HiSET Social Studies flash cards. We want to see you succeed, which is why we’ve provided you with as many study tools as possible.

Good luck, and study hard!

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by Mometrix Test Preparation | Last Updated: December 27, 2021