HiSET Social Studies Practice Test

Below is our free HiSET Social Studies practice test. The HiSET Social Studies test covers history, government, geography, and economics. You will be given 50 multiple-choice questions to answer within 70 minutes. Many of the questions include exhibits such as maps, charts, graphs, or passages of text. Make sure you study the exhibit, because it will often contain the answer to the question. Try our HiSET Social Studies practice questions to see if you are ready for your test.

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Question 1
Every map projection has some degree of distortion because

A
The globe is naturally distorted
B
Map-making is not a precise science
C
The technology required to display a map without distortion does not yet exist
D
A three-dimensional object, such as a globe, cannot be projected in two dimensions without distortion
Question 1 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). A sphere has to be cut and stretched to create a rectangle or some other shape.
Question 2
Under the US Constitution, which body has the sole authority to declare war?

A
The President
B
The U.S. Congress
C
The Secretary of Defense
D
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Question 2 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). Only Congress has the authority to declare war, although it is the president who directs the conduct of the war. This is an example of the separation of powers outlined in the US Constitution.
Question 3
Three of the following statements about the Korean War are based on facts and evidence. Which one is based on speculation or opinion?

A
The United States may have won the Korean War if General Douglas MacArthur had been permitted to use nuclear weapons against Communist forces.
B
More than 34,000 American soldiers died during the Korean War.
C
The Korean War was the first time jet fighters faced each other in combat.
D
The Korean War began in 1950 and ended with an armistice in 1953.
Question 3 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). This statement is speculating about how an historical event might have played out differently under altered circumstances. There is no way to prove this factually.
Question 4
Questions 4–6 refer to the following chart.

Which of these is the best title for this chart?

A
Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal
B
Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society
C
George W. Bush's Compassionate Conservatism
D
Harry S. Truman's Fair Deal
Question 4 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). The Great Society was a set of domestic programs launched by Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964–65. These programs focused on civil rights, poverty, education, healthcare, welfare, cultural institutions, consumer protection, environmental protection, housing, rural development, and labor.
Question 5
Questions 4–6 refer to the following chart.

Which of the following data would be most helpful in evaluating the success of Project Head Start?

A
The percentage of students attending private schools each year.
B
The amount spent by the government on preschool programs each year.
C
The average salary of preschool teachers.
D
The percentage of children enrolled in preschool each year.
Question 5 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). According to the chart, the purpose of Project Head Start is to provide access to preschool programs for underprivileged groups. If it is successful, then a higher percentage of children will be enrolled in preschool
Question 6
Questions 4–6 refer to the following chart.

Which of the following programs was designed to help people of all income levels?

A
Housing and Urban Development Act
B
Higher Education Act
C
Medicare
D
Medicaid
Question 6 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). According to the chart, Medicare "provides health insurance for the elderly." There is no mention of income levels; for all of the other choices, the chart specifies low or middle income.
Question 7
Which branch of the federal government can veto legislation?

A
The President
B
The US House of Representatives
C
The US Senate
D
The US Supreme Court
Question 7 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). The President, as head of the executive branch, can veto a law passed by Congress. This is a crucial check to the lawmaking power of the legislative branch. However, Congress can override a presidential veto with a 2/3 majority vote by both the House and Senate.
Question 8
Which of the following facts would best indicate that a country has not yet industrialized?

A
Nuclear power is the country’s main source of energy.
B
The country’s territory was recently reduced by 50 percent.
C
Most of the country’s population still lives in small villages and towns.
D
The country has a long coastline.
Question 8 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). A country that has a largely rural population is more likely focused on agriculture and smaller-scale sustenance than large-scale production. Factories require infrastructure and a large labor force to be viable. As such, industrialization typically goes hand-in-hand with a rise in urban population centers.
Question 9
Which of the following questions about NASA’s budget would be the most difficult to answer?

A
How does NASA spend its money?
B
Does the United States spend too much money on space exploration?
C
How much of an increase did NASA receive over last year’s budget?
D
How much do we spend on astronaut training annually?
Question 9 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). All of the other answer choices represent questions that can be answered with factual information found in government records. Answer (B), however, represents a question that is seeking an opinion of how the United States allocates its funds. As such, there is no clear-cut, correct answer.
Question 10
This question refers to the following graph:

Given the above information, which of the following statements is the most logical conclusion?

A
Presidential elections occur more frequently than state and local elections
B
More voters participate in state and local elections than presidential contests
C
Voter turnout never exceeds 50 percent in any election
D
Voter turnout is higher for state and local elections when there is also a presidential election the same year
Question 10 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). According to the chart, each of the four highest voter turnouts in state and local elections correspond to years that also had presidential elections.
Question 11
This question refers to the following graph:

Given the above information, which of the following statements is the most logical conclusion?

A
A higher unemployment rate leads to more tax revenue
B
A lower unemployment rate leads to more tax revenue
C
There is no relationship between unemployment and tax revenue
D
A higher unemployment rate leads to more tax fraud
Question 11 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). The three highest unemployment rates correspond to the lowest tax revenue figures. Conversely, the three lowest unemployment rates line up with the years where tax revenue was the highest.
Question 12
This question refers to the following images:

Given the above information, which of the following statements is the most logical conclusion?

A
The Northern and Southern colonies had identical geographies and climates
B
The Northern and Southern colonies both created large amounts of iron
C
The Northern and Southern colonies had a several resources in common but also had resources that were unique to their specific regions
D
The Northern and Southern colonies did not share any common resources
Question 12 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). The Northern and Southern colonies had significant differences in both geography and climate. As such there were many resources that were only found in one region and not the other. Some resources like timber were prevalent in both regions.
Question 13
Questions 13–16 refer to the following information.

The following comments are from a public hearing in Metropolis:

Mr. Smith“I am the owner of the local professional football team and I am requesting that the Metropolis city council impose an additional 0.5 % sales tax in order to build a new stadium for our team. The team brings hundreds of thousands of visitors to Metropolis every year and they spend tens of millions of dollars in the local economy. The team also creates thousands of jobs and if Metropolis does not help us build a new stadium in the downtown area, I am sure another city would be very eager to offer us a new home.”

Ms. Gonzalez“I am opposed to the tax increase. Working families already have a very hard time making ends meet in the city because the state has imposed a 4.5 % sales tax. Increasing the tax rate will make the burden on working families even worse. The football team should pay for the stadium itself.”

Mr. McDonald“I live downtown. I love the football team but I do not want the stadium to be built downtown because construction will be loud and make traffic even worse. The stadium should be built outside the city where it will be less disruptive.”

Ms. Zhang“I am a long time resident of Metropolis and I love our football team. I feel so proud whenever the team wins. They have won a lot of championships and that has made Metropolis very famous. The football team is an important part of our history and I support the tax increase so that they can stay in Metropolis.”
 
As revealed in the hearing, which level of government sets the sales tax rate?

A
The federal government
B
The state government
C
The local government
D
Both the state and local governments
Question 13 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). As stated by Ms. Gonzalez, the state has imposed a 4.5% sales tax. The discussion is about whether or not the local city government will create an additional 0.5% sales tax. Therefore, both the state and local governments are in the position to impose sales taxes.
Question 14
Questions 13–16 refer to the following information.

The following comments are from a public hearing in Metropolis:

Mr. Smith“I am the owner of the local professional football team and I am requesting that the Metropolis city council impose an additional 0.5 % sales tax in order to build a new stadium for our team. The team brings hundreds of thousands of visitors to Metropolis every year and they spend tens of millions of dollars in the local economy. The team also creates thousands of jobs and if Metropolis does not help us build a new stadium in the downtown area, I am sure another city would be very eager to offer us a new home.”

Ms. Gonzalez“I am opposed to the tax increase. Working families already have a very hard time making ends meet in the city because the state has imposed a 4.5 % sales tax. Increasing the tax rate will make the burden on working families even worse. The football team should pay for the stadium itself.”

Mr. McDonald“I live downtown. I love the football team but I do not want the stadium to be built downtown because construction will be loud and make traffic even worse. The stadium should be built outside the city where it will be less disruptive.”

Ms. Zhang“I am a long time resident of Metropolis and I love our football team. I feel so proud whenever the team wins. They have won a lot of championships and that has made Metropolis very famous. The football team is an important part of our history and I support the tax increase so that they can stay in Metropolis.”
 
Which of the speakers made an emotional appeal?

A
Mr. Smith
B
Ms. Gonzalez
C
Mr. McDonald
D
Ms. Zhang
Question 14 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). Ms. Zhang cites the pride that the football team has instilled in its fans and the city’s residents. She also offers the opinion that she feels the football team is an important and historical piece of the city. These are both emotional appeals rather than factual ones.
Question 15
Questions 13–16 refer to the following information.

The following comments are from a public hearing in Metropolis:

Mr. Smith“I am the owner of the local professional football team and I am requesting that the Metropolis city council impose an additional 0.5 % sales tax in order to build a new stadium for our team. The team brings hundreds of thousands of visitors to Metropolis every year and they spend tens of millions of dollars in the local economy. The team also creates thousands of jobs and if Metropolis does not help us build a new stadium in the downtown area, I am sure another city would be very eager to offer us a new home.”

Ms. Gonzalez“I am opposed to the tax increase. Working families already have a very hard time making ends meet in the city because the state has imposed a 4.5 % sales tax. Increasing the tax rate will make the burden on working families even worse. The football team should pay for the stadium itself.”

Mr. McDonald“I live downtown. I love the football team but I do not want the stadium to be built downtown because construction will be loud and make traffic even worse. The stadium should be built outside the city where it will be less disruptive.”

Ms. Zhang“I am a long time resident of Metropolis and I love our football team. I feel so proud whenever the team wins. They have won a lot of championships and that has made Metropolis very famous. The football team is an important part of our history and I support the tax increase so that they can stay in Metropolis.”
 
Which of the following statements provides the best summary of Mr. McDonald's views?

A
It would make the most sense to build the football stadium in a different city.
B
The existing football stadium should be renovated since this will avoid most of the disruptions that would be caused by new construction.
C
A new football stadium should be built in the suburbs.
D
The football stadium should be built outside of the city to avoid higher taxes on city residents.
Question 15 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). Mr. McDonald states that the new stadium “should be built outside the city where it will be less disruptive.” The area outside of a city is known as the suburbs. He does not express any concern about higher taxes.
Question 16
Questions 13–16 refer to the following information.

The following comments are from a public hearing in Metropolis:

Mr. Smith“I am the owner of the local professional football team and I am requesting that the Metropolis city council impose an additional 0.5 % sales tax in order to build a new stadium for our team. The team brings hundreds of thousands of visitors to Metropolis every year and they spend tens of millions of dollars in the local economy. The team also creates thousands of jobs and if Metropolis does not help us build a new stadium in the downtown area, I am sure another city would be very eager to offer us a new home.”

Ms. Gonzalez“I am opposed to the tax increase. Working families already have a very hard time making ends meet in the city because the state has imposed a 4.5 % sales tax. Increasing the tax rate will make the burden on working families even worse. The football team should pay for the stadium itself.”

Mr. McDonald“I live downtown. I love the football team but I do not want the stadium to be built downtown because construction will be loud and make traffic even worse. The stadium should be built outside the city where it will be less disruptive.”

Ms. Zhang“I am a long time resident of Metropolis and I love our football team. I feel so proud whenever the team wins. They have won a lot of championships and that has made Metropolis very famous. The football team is an important part of our history and I support the tax increase so that they can stay in Metropolis.”
 
If Ms. Gonzalez formed a community group that was dedicated to blocking the new stadium, this would be an example of a(n):

A
Interest Group
B
Labor Union
C
Political Party
D
Cost-Benefit Analysis
Question 16 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). An interest group is a group of people who have a common interest and work together to promote that interest by influencing the government. Attempting to influence government leaders is called lobbying.
Question 17
Questions 17–19 are based on the following chart.

What was the primary goal of the Confederacy in fighting the Civil War?

A
To rejoin the United States
B
To take control of the federal government of the United States
C
To remain an independent country where slavery was permitted
D
To wipe out the Union and destroy the northern states
Question 17 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). The Confederacy (South) never aimed to conquer the Union (North). The southern states were seeking to become an independent country with the ability to retain the laws and institutions they had come to rely upon (like slavery and the plantation economy).
Question 18
Questions 17–19 are based on the following chart.

What is the most likely reason that the Confederate States of America won several major battles early in the Civil War?

A
The Confederacy had a great supply line to fortify their troops with guns and ammunition
B
The Confederacy had a much larger army
C
The Confederacy had superior military generals who outmaneuvered the Union troops
D
The Confederacy had a stronger navy
Question 18 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). Under the leadership of General Robert E. Lee, the Confederacy produced many stunning victories over the Union Army. While the Union Army had most of the military and financial advantages of the war, President Abraham Lincoln could not find a general able to string together a series of wins for the Union. Eventually, General Ulysses S. Grant would command the Union Army to victory.
Question 19
Questions 17–19 are based on the following chart.

What would be the best title for the chart?

A
Comparing the advantages and disadvantages of the Union and Confederacy
B
Comparison of military supplies of the Union and Confederacy armies
C
Understanding why the Union won the Civil War
D
Understanding the advantages the Confederacy had over the Union
Question 19 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). Each column of the chart presents a list of facts relating to the economic and military advantages and disadvantages of the Union and the Confederacy. These facts enable a direct comparison of each region.
Question 20
The following map and table depicts the 1960 presidential election:

Democrat — John F. Kennedy — 49.72 percent of the popular vote with 303 electoral votes.

Republican — Richard Nixon — 49.55 percent of the popular vote with 219 electoral votes.
 
Why did Kennedy become president if he received less than 50 percent of the popular vote?

A
Kennedy won because he had the more popular votes than Nixon, even though this accounted for less than 50 percent
B
When no candidate receives more than 50% of the popular vote, the Supreme Court picks the winner (in this case Kennedy)
C
Kennedy won a majority in the Electoral College
D
Kennedy carried more states than Nixon
Question 20 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). The Electoral College selects the president, not the popular vote. Kennedy won the 1960 election, even though he did not receive a majority of the popular vote, because he won the Electoral College. Kennedy needed 269 votes in the Electoral College to win the presidency and he exceeded that by winning 303 votes.
Question 21
In which of the following cases did the Supreme Court declare segregation of schools unconstitutional?

A
Plessy v. Ferguson
B
Marbury v. Madison
C
Brown v. Board of Education
D
Korematsu v. United States
Question 21 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). In Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court unanimously declared segregation of schools unconstitutional. This ruling overturned Plessy v. Ferguson, which had upheld state segregation laws for public facilities under the "separate but equal" doctrine. The Brown decision stated that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal."
Question 22
What line divides hemispheres?

A
The Equator
B
The Prime Meridian
C
Both of these
D
Neither of these
Question 22 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). The Equator divides the northern and southern hemispheres, and the Prime Meridian (also known as the Greenwich Meridian) divides the eastern and western hemispheres.
Question 23
Questions 23–24 are based on the following information.

Blog 1
Nuclear disarmament should be an important national priority. As we saw during World War II, nuclear weapons cause massive destruction. The Japanese people suffered horrible deaths and injuries. Knowing that now, could we inflict such misery on our fellow man again for any reason? We hope not.

In addition, nuclear weapons are difficult to maintain. It is very expensive to keep them secure and there have been several accidents where warheads were lost. Terrorists could locate these warheads and use this material to build a weapon and attack the nation. Therefore, we should negotiate with other nuclear powers and encourage them to disarm.

Blog 2
Nuclear weapons are an important part of our national defense policy. Having a large arsenal of nuclear weapons will ensure that no nation will ever attack us for fear of being destroyed by our counter-attack. Nuclear weapons actually bring peace and security to the world. Disarmament is foolish and shows weakness to our enemies.

In fact, we should upgrade our nuclear arsenal to ensure that it is reliable. Our missiles are very old and if the need ever arises, we must be ready to defend ourselves.
 
The views expressed by Blog 1 are probably most similar to those of which of the following organizations?

A
The president of a nuclear power plant
B
The spokesperson for an anti-nuclear organization
C
The lobbyist for a defense contractor
D
The president of a veteran’s organization
Question 23 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). The opinions expressed in Blog 1 all support the reduction and/or elimination of nuclear weapons. The spokesperson for an anti-nuclear organization would likely be in favor of nuclear disarmament.
Question 24
Questions 23–24 are based on the following information.

Blog 1
Nuclear disarmament should be an important national priority. As we saw during World War II, nuclear weapons cause massive destruction. The Japanese people suffered horrible deaths and injuries. Knowing that now, could we inflict such misery on our fellow man again for any reason? We hope not.

In addition, nuclear weapons are difficult to maintain. It is very expensive to keep them secure and there have been several accidents where warheads were lost. Terrorists could locate these warheads and use this material to build a weapon and attack the nation. Therefore, we should negotiate with other nuclear powers and encourage them to disarm.

Blog 2
Nuclear weapons are an important part of our national defense policy. Having a large arsenal of nuclear weapons will ensure that no nation will ever attack us for fear of being destroyed by our counter-attack. Nuclear weapons actually bring peace and security to the world. Disarmament is foolish and shows weakness to our enemies.

In fact, we should upgrade our nuclear arsenal to ensure that it is reliable. Our missiles are very old and if the need ever arises, we must be ready to defend ourselves.
 
Blog 2 supports which of the following policies?

A
Using nuclear weapons in a pre-emptive strike
B
Nuclear disarmament
C
Maintaining and upgrading the nation’s nuclear arsenal
D
Reducing funding for the nation’s nuclear arsenal
Question 24 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). Blog 2 argues in favor of the advantages of a robust and modern nuclear arsenal. The author claims a strong nuclear arsenal serves as a powerful deterrent to foreign attack.
Question 25
The United States Constitution grants state governments the power to do which of the following?

A
Conduct elections
B
Regulate trade between states
C
Establish post offices
D
Make treaties
Question 25 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). Under the U.S. system of Federalism, there is a Constitutional division of power between the federal (national) government and the state governments, with each retaining significant authority. The power to conduct elections is reserved for states. The other powers listed are delegated to the federal government.
Question 26
Questions 26–28 refer to the following chart.

Which branch of government approves new judges to serve on the Supreme Court?

A
The Executive Branch
B
The Legislative Branch
C
The Executive Branch
D
The Voters
Question 26 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). As shown in the chart, the Executive Branch appoints judges and the Legislative Branch approves judicial appointments.
Question 27
Questions 26–28 refer to the following chart.

The chart illustrates which of the following principles?

A
Federalism
B
The Integration of Powers
C
Judicial Review
D
Checks and Balances
Question 27 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). The American government utilizes a system of checks and balances that enables each branch of government to oversee and exert some control over the actions of the other branches. This system is meant to prevent any single branch from acting autonomously, thereby preventing a centralization of power. The diagram shows that each branch of government is influenced by, and can influence, each of the other branches.
Question 28
Questions 26–28 refer to the following chart.

What is the purpose of checks and balances in our government?

A
To prevent any branch of government from overstepping its powers and to divide power across each branch
B
To write our bank deposits and withdrawals
C
To make the government operate more efficiently
D
To equally divide power between the national government and state governments
Question 28 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). The system of checks and balances enables each branch of government to restrict the power of the other branches of government. This principle of government ensures that no branch can over step the powers given to it by the Constitution, and that the government’s power is distributed across each branch.
Question 29
“On D-Day, June 6, 1944, Allied forces sustained more than 10,000 casualties.”
 
This statement is best classified as:

A
An opinion
B
A scientific conclusion
C
A fact
D
An inference
Question 29 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). The statement is a piece of evidence that can be verified using official records and documentation.
Question 30
_______________ describes temperature and precipitation over of a short period of time. _______________ describes temperature and precipitation over of a long period of time.

A
Biosphere, Climate
B
Climate, Weather
C
Weather, Biosphere
D
Weather, Climate
Question 30 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). Weather describes temperature and precipitation over of a short period of time. Climate describes temperature and precipitation over of a long period of time. The biosphere is the global ecological system.
Question 31
The following scenario describes an economic decision:

After graduating from high school, Malik applies to several job advertisements and receives an offer to work as a clerk in a retail store for $8 per hour. However, Malik decides to enroll in a community college and after two years he completes a technical training program that prepares him to become a welder. After completing the program, he finds employment as an apprentice welder and earns $20 per hour.
 
Which choice describes the opportunity cost of Malik’s decision to enroll in a community college?

A
The cost of tuition at the community college.
B
$12 — The difference between Malik’s wages as a welder and as a retail clerk.
C
$20 — Malik’s wages as an apprentice welder.
D
The total wages Malik would have earned in two years while working as a retail clerk.
Question 31 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). The opportunity cost of an economic decision is the gain that an individual sacrifices in making a particular decision. In this case, the opportunity cost is the total wages Malik would have earned while working at the retail job instead of going to school.
Question 32
Study the map and answer the question that follows.

According to this map, the majority of Australia exhibits what climate type?

A
equatorial and temperate
B
tropical and grassland
C
desert and temperate
D
grassland and desert
Question 32 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). It can be seen that orange, representing desert, makes up the largest portion of the continent. Yellow, representing grassland, makes up the next largest portion. No other combination covers as much of the continent.
Question 33
This excerpt is the 5th Amendment from the Bill of Rights.

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
 
Th 5th Amendment provides all of these rights EXCEPT:

A
The right against self incrimination.
B
The right of due process.
C
The right against unreasonable search and seizure.
D
The right to be tried only once.
Question 33 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). All of these rights are mentioned in the 5th Amendment except unreasonable search and seizure, which is in the 4th Amendment.
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