Praxis® Social Studies Content Knowledge Practice Test

What is the Praxis 5081 Social Studies: Content Knowledge Exam?

Taking the steps to become an educator can seem daunting; there are unique requirements based on what certification you need, and taking a Praxis test is an important part of the process. If you have decided to work in secondary education, you will most likely choose a specific subject area that you would like to teach. If you enjoy humanities, politics, history, or behavioral science, social studies may be for you. Social studies in the American education system is a broad field that highlights the complex relationships between governments, countries, communities, and individuals. The Praxis 5081, or Praxis social studies exam, tests your understanding and interpretation of these concepts on both a general and specific level.

Practice tests give you a better idea of the topics you have mastered and those you should keep studying.

What is on the Praxis II Social Studies: Content Knowledge Exam?

The Praxis 2 social studies content knowledge test is broken up into six distinct sections with a variety of questions in each. It is a 2-hour-long, computer-delivered exam with 130 questions. You may see pretest questions that do not contribute to your score but introduce material that may be added to later versions of the test. These questions will also help you become familiar with the testing format prior to starting the exam.

Praxis 2 social studies questions are entirely selected-response (multiple choice). Historical documents, data, graphs, maps, and pictures can be included in the questions. It is important to read each question carefully to ensure you are selecting the answer that best describes the question. Correctly answering questions will require your interpretation of the provided materials and understanding of complex relationships between the areas of study. The table below will demonstrate the six sections, the approximate number of questions in each section, and their weight on your Praxis scores.

Test Content Table

United States History World History Government, Civics, Political Science Geography Economics Behavioral Sciences
Approximate Number of Questions 26 26 26 19 20 13
Approximate Percentage of Exam 20% 20% 20% 15% 15% 10%

United States History

The United States history section of the Praxis 2 social studies exam will ask for your understanding of the cause/effect, relationships between, and impact on the following topics specifically relating to North American history:

  • European colonization
  • Colonial Period
  • American Revolution
  • Bill of Rights and Constitution
  • Sectionalism and Reconstruction
  • Urbanization, industrialization, and immigration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries
  • Progressive Era and New Deal
  • World War I and II
  • Cold War
  • Counterculture, Globalization, and the Information Age
  • Race, gender, ethnicity, religion, economic status throughout history
  • Political process, and branches of government (executive, legislative, judicial)
  • Major economic transformations
  • Becoming a World Power and U.S. role around the world
  • Immigration
  • Civil rights

World History

Similarly to the United States history section of the Praxis 2 social studies exam, this section will test your knowledge and understanding of the following topics on a global scale:

  • Classical civilizations (Greece, Rome, Persia, India, and China) and their transformations
  • Trade exploration and colonization
  • Revolutions, nationalism, and imperialism
  • World War I and II
  • Religion, family structure, gender roles, and demographic trends
  • Conflict or cooperation
  • Economic transformations (spread of the market, industrialization, differing economies)

Government/Civics/Political Science

This section of the exam will focus on political theories and concepts in relation to individual governments/powers. Questions may include specific questions about the following subjects:

  • Types of governments
  • Comparative politics and international relations
  • The United States government
    • Constitutional underpinnings
    • Processes of political institutions
    • Political orientations
    • Civil liberties and rights
    • Political parties
    • Interest groups
    • Electoral process
    • Mass Media


The geography section of the Praxis 2 social studies exam focuses on analyzing, interpreting, and organizing spatial and geographic information in relation to the following topics:

  • Population density, literacy rates, infant mortality
  • Location, place, region
  • Climate and natural hazards
  • Earth's ecosystems, renewable and nonrenewable resources
  • Interaction between humans and the environment
  • Migration and settlement
  • Agriculture, industrialization, globalization
  • Demographic patterns
  • Political geography (borders, states, areas of conflict)


This section of the Praxis 2 social studies exam targets both macro and microeconomics. Macroeconomics covers the following topics:

  • Economic performance and growth
  • Unemployment
  • Inflation
  • Monetary policies and banking
  • Trade and exchange rates

While microeconomics includes:

  • Scarcity
  • Choice and opportunity costs
  • Production, supply, demand, and market efficiency
  • Taxes, subsidies, and price control
  • Distribution of income

Behavioral Sciences

The final section of the Praxis 2 social studies exam covers the social services field (anthropology, psychology, and sociology). These questions will test your general understanding of human behavior including:

  • Influence of society, groups, and expectations
  • Cultural impact
  • Human adaptation and diversity
  • Individual behavior-personality, identity, learning, and development

What is the Praxis Social Studies Exam Like?

The Praxis 2 social studies exam is unique because it consists entirely of selected-response (multiple choice) questions. You will be presented with a question, sometimes with a graphic, and a list of responses to choose from. The exam is computer-delivered and interactive, meaning that you choose an answer from the screen.

Selected Response Questions on the Praxis

In selected-response questions, you have the assurance that the answer is on the screen. Take your time, always read the question carefully, and look out for words like not, least, and except. This will also ensure you fully understand the question and you are answering with the best possible answer choice. When met with a graphic, it can be helpful to read the question first, so you know what you are looking for in the graphic. Remember there are no trick questions, this exam is formatted to test your knowledge in a straightforward way.

Praxis Question Types

There are different types of answer formats in selected-response questions. They may look like these:

  • Clicking one or more ovals from a list
  • Clicking checkboxes instead of an oval
  • Clicking on parts of a graphic
  • Clicking on a sentence or parts of a sentence
  • Dragging and dropping answer choices to a designated area on the screen
  • Selecting choices from a drop-down menu

Studying for the Praxis Social Studies Content Knowledge

Once you have decided to take the Praxis 2 social studies exam, studying the information can be intimidating, luckily there are a number of resources available to help you along the way! A good starting point for Praxis test preparation is determining what content areas you are confident in, which need work, and which you are new to. Taking a Praxis social studies practice test is a good way to measure where you are at, so you will know what to study. Depending on when you are taking the exam, you can create a study schedule or plan to help you stay on track and attain the most information before your Praxis test day.

Praxis Social Studies Practice Test Materials

ETS, the company that produces the exam, has a Praxis 5081 study companion that gives you an overview of test content, tips for taking the exam, and practice questions to familiarize you with the formatting. They also created an in-depth study plan for the social studies Praxis that allows you to input how well you know the material, resources to help you learn, and a self-made schedule of when you would like to study the content.

ETS also has an interactive Praxis social studies practice test available for purchase. This test simulates the official exam providing actual questions and in-depth answers to accurately measure your knowledge of specific topics.

What is the Praxis 2 Social Studies Passing Score?

Praxis tests for teachers are graded by taking the raw points you earn on each question and transitioning them into a 100-200 point scale. On this scale 100 is equal to 0% and 200 is equal to 100%.

Each state institution or agency has the ability to create the standards of certification, thus the Social Studies Praxis passing score for your state may differ from someone in another state. The range of praxis 2 social studies passing scores is between 148-162, with 150 being the most common. On the ETS website, there is a helpful scores tool where you can input the test you took or your state/agency to see the passing Praxis score for your area.

Expert Contributor

Amanda Carpenter

Amanda Carpenter, M.S. is an ESL Teacher with 5 years of experience teaching English to students in China. She has also worked as a 5th Grade Teacher in Alabama. Amanda completed an M.S. in Curriculum & Instruction at Western Governors University.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do I pass the Social Studies Praxis?

    Passing any exam is reliant on your knowledge of the subject. The best way to pass the Praxis Social Studies exam is to:

    • Explore what is on the test
    • Get a baseline of what information you already know and what information you still need to learn
    • Create a study plan
    • Develop resources to help you study
    • Complete practice questions/test to prepare you for the actual exam

    Most importantly, read the questions carefully and trust your knowledge!

  • What do I need to study for the Social Studies Praxis?

    There are six general content areas on the Praxis Social Studies exam, each area is broken down into specific questions. Use the ETS study companion to determine what information you are comfortable with and what you need to practice. Then, focus on the information you still need to learn first. This will help you cover more information and do better on the test.

  • How many questions are on the Social Studies Praxis?

    There are 130 questions on the Praxis Social Studies exam. Some are not graded, as they are pretest questions to introduce content that could appear on future exams. The questions are broken up among sections with 26 in the United States History, World History, and Government, Civics, Political Science sections; 19 in the Geography section; 20 in the Economics section; and 13 in the Behavioral Sciences section.

  • What does the Social Studies Praxis cover?

    The Praxis Social Studies exam focuses on your general and specific knowledge of history, politics, economy, geography, and social/behavioral sciences. Questions will ask for your understanding, interpretation, and organization of this information.


Take a Praxis Social Studies Content Knowledge Practice Test Online

Exam Instructions:

Complete the practice test below to test your knowledge of Praxis Social Studies Content Knowledge.
Choose your answers below. Complete the 15 questions then click "See Results."

You have answered 0 out of 15 correctly.

The correct answers are highlighted with green below.

  1. What is imperialism?

    • Correct Answer
  2. Which of the following was the second highest-ranking caste in traditional Indian society?

    • Correct Answer
  3. How does the unemployment rate differ from the labor force participation rate?

    • Correct Answer
  4. What caused the Dot Com crash of the 1990s?

    • Correct Answer
  5. Who immediately succeeded Andrew Jackson as the President of the United States?

    • Correct Answer
  6. A "boycott" is best described as

    • Correct Answer
  7. Which of the following was the first battle between the Cavaliers and the Roundheads starting the English Civil War that lasted from 1642 to 1649?

    • Correct Answer
  8. Which of the following is true about Martin Luther?

    • Correct Answer
  9. Which of the following is the best-known polling organization in the US?

    • Correct Answer
  10. Which of the following forms of government exercise authority over every aspect of life, use terror to force people to follow their orders, and have a specific ideology?

    • Correct Answer
  11. Country Z has only been independent for three years. The table shows its major economic output sources prices and quantities over the three years it has been in existence. What is Country Z's real GDP for Year 3?

    • Correct Answer
  12. Visual illusions, where the elements that make up the illusion lead you to perceive something greater that is not actually there, would be of most interest to a psychologist from the _____ school of thought.

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  13. What written language did the Vikings use?

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  14. Which 13th century political activist who linked Aristotelian philosophy with Christian teachings is seen here?

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  15. In which of the following years did the Bolshevik Revolution occur?

    • Correct Answer