Study Guide

General Education Assessment
Sample Questions

Expand All | Collapse All

Domain I—Communications

Read the passage below; then answer the three questions that follow.

1     Although the recorded history of Scotland begins with the arrival of the Roman Empire in the first century CE, by that time what is now Scotland had known settled communities for more than 3,000 years.

2     The first people who came to Scotland at the end of the last ice age, around 12,000 BCE, were Mesolithic hunter-gatherers. But it was not until the Neolithic Revolution, and the development of farming, that permanent communities were established. Because of their ocean-influenced temperate climate and proximity to Scandinavia, the Orkney Islands off the north coast of Scotland attracted numerous Neolithic settlers. It has been estimated that between 3,600 and 2,500 BCE as many as 30,000 people occupied the islands. The remains of numerous settlements—including the Knap of Howar and Skara Brae—are still standing and demonstrate the sophisticated building skills, multifaceted patterns of living, and complex cultural life of the earliest inhabitants of Scotland.

3     Neolithic villages in the Orkney Islands featured spacious stone houses thatched with reeds and straw, stone sleeping chambers built into or extending out from the interior walls of each home, stone furniture for storing goods and displaying precious items, and roofed passageways connecting the houses in each community. From the archeological evidence they left behind, we know that the inhabitants of these villages farmed barley and wheat; gathered shellfish; fished in the nearby ocean waters; hunted wild animals; kept cattle, sheep, and pigs; stored their food in finely made and decorated pottery; wore a variety of rings, necklaces, and other adornments; and traded with villages on other islands in the archipelago and on the mainland.

4     But the most spectacular remnants of Neolithic culture in the Orkneys are the chambered burial cairns and standing stones, like Maeshowe, the Ring of Brodgar, and the Stones of Stenness—created at least 1,000 years before Stonehenge—that testify to both the extraordinary engineering capabilities of the Orkney villagers and the rich spiritual dimensions of Neolithic life. These structures, which were constructed of stones of enormous size and brought to the building sites from distant quarries, would have taken people drawn from numerous villages whole decades to complete. Yet these structures are found throughout the islands. They were clearly constructed to mark major seasonal events, like the winter solstice. Beyond their astronomical functions, however, their purposes, the ceremonies at which they were surely the center, and the meanings they had for the people who constructed them, remain a source of speculation and mystery to this day.

Competency 0001
Demonstrate literal and inferential understanding, and apply critical reasoning skills, to the analysis and interpretation of informational and literary texts.

1. Which of the following statements best expresses the main idea of the passage?

  1. Archaeologists have uncovered the remains of several Neolithic communities on the Orkney Islands.
  2. The material bases of life in Neolithic villages on the Orkney Islands were sufficient to support a large population for thousands of years.
  3. The purpose and rituals surrounding the monumental structures erected by Neolithic peoples on the Orkney Islands remain controversial.
  4. The Neolithic peoples of the Orkney Islands established and sustained a sophisticated culture for millennia before the first written accounts of Scottish history.
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Correct Response: D. While the passage charts the arrival and dispersal of Neolithic settlers on the Orkney Islands, and briefly touches on how the settlers sustained themselves and the places in which they lived and worshipped, the writer's purpose is clearly broader: to describe the interrelated and highly developed society the settlers created, including multiple settlements, functional and ritual structures, diverse patterns of living, and a rich cultural life.

2. Given the information and descriptions contained in the passage, the writer's point of view can best be described as one of:

  1. respect for the culture and achievements of Orkney's Neolithic peoples.
  2. skepticism about the claims made by archeologists based on the scattered remains of Neolithic villages and ceremonial sites on the Orkney Islands.
  3. conviction that Neolithic life in the Orkneys was superior to modern society.
  4. doubt about whether Neolithic villagers would have been able to construct the massive monuments found on the Orkney Islands.
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Correct Response: A. The writer's reference to the "sophisticated building skills, multifaceted patterns of living, and complex cultural life of the earliest inhabitants of Scotland", and descriptions of the "spectacular remnants of Neolithic culture" in the Orkneys today and the "extraordinary engineering capabilities of the Orkney villagers" all testify to the high regard in which the writer holds the Neolithic peoples of the Orkney Islands and their remarkable civilization.

3. Which of the following inferences can most reasonably be drawn from the information provided in Paragraph 4 of the passage?

  1. Neolithic villagers spent most of their daily lives engaged in ceremonial rituals.
  2. The ceremonial structures found on the Orkney Islands were of enormous importance to the Neolithic peoples who built them.
  3. Priests and other religious figures directed the lives of Neolithic villagers.
  4. The weight of the stones and the distances they needed to be transported required technologies equal to those used by later Roman engineers.
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Correct Response: B. Although, according to the passage, information about Neolithic rituals is limited and speculative, the number and size of the ceremonial structures the villagers erected, the amount of planning and effort that would have been required to do so, and the number of people that would have had to participate over lengthy periods of time to put such structures as the Ring of Brodgar in place all testify to the centrality of these ceremonial structures in Neolithic civilization and the importance that they had in people's lives.

Read the first draft of an essay below; then answer the three questions that follow.

1Montessori education takes its name from Dr. Maria Montessori. 2During the first decade of the twentieth century, she developed ideas grounded in a close study of human psychology and child development. 3Out of these ideas she created a student-centered process of learning and teaching that has since spread throughout the world. 4A physician by training, Montessori's theories were based on observation and experimentation with the environments in which children learned, the materials they used, and the lessons they were taught. 5 blank line

6Children in Montessori classrooms are given the maximum possible amount of freedom within learning environments that support childrens ability to educate themselves and to think about what they are learning. 7Key aspects of the Montessori learning environments are the arrangement of furniture and space to facilitate movement and activity; materials that support social and cognitive development; and a physical design that emphasizes beauty, harmony, order, and nature.

Competency 0002
Demonstrate knowledge of the principles of effective written expression and the ability to produce proficient writing.

4. Which of the following sentences, if inserted as Statement 5, would provide an effective conclusion that follows from the ideas presented in the first paragraph?

  1. Dr. Montessori was the daughter of a government official and an elementary school teacher.
  2. Her methods and practices were supported by scientific processes.
  3. Today, children in places as diverse as India and the Netherlands attend Montessori schools.
  4. She also became widely known for her efforts on behalf of world peace.
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Correct Response: B. The writer's description in the first paragraph of Maria Montessori's "close study of human psychology and child development" and the importance of "observation and experimentation" in the development of her ideas support a concluding sentence highlighting the "scientific" nature of the pedagogical concepts she developed.

5. Which of the following changes would most effectively emphasize the main idea of the passage?

  1. adding a sentence after Statement 1 describing Dr. Montessori's family, early life, education, and training in Italian schools
  2. deleting Statement 4
  3. adding a sentence after Statement 6 explaining Dr. Montessori's ideas of why freedom, self-directed study, and reflective learning are important
  4. placing Statement 7 before Statement 6
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Correct Response: C. After introducing three critical components of Montessori's ideas about education, the writer immediately begins describing important features of the Montessori learning environment. Adding a sentence in between that elaborates on the conceptual bases of her ideas would strengthen the writer's focus on the careful, thoughtful construction of the Montessori approach to childhood education.

Competency 0003
Demonstrate understanding of oral communications and the ability to engage in effective speaking and listening.

6. Which of the following statements should be revised to correct an error in punctuation?

  1. Statement 2
  2. Statement 4
  3. Statement 6
  4. Statement 7
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Correct Response: C. The word children is a plural noun. In order to make it into a plural possessive noun, the form in which it appears in Statement 6, an apostrophe must be placed before the s, so that it reads "children's."

7. The mayor of a small city is preparing to deliver a speech to the city council about a long-standing problem that the city has tried to deal with in various ways for over ten years, without success. The mayor wishes to propose a different approach to the problem but, because previous efforts have failed, is expecting to encounter considerable unwillingness to try something new. Which of the following strategies would likely be most effective in persuading the city councilors to consider the mayor's ideas?

  1. providing a chronological narrative of the city's attempts to deal with the problem in the past
  2. breaking the problem down into its constituent parts and discussing each factor that has made the problem difficult to solve
  3. analyzing each previous attempt at solving the problem and explaining why each was unsuccessful
  4. comparing the arguments made by previous mayors for adopting each of the prior attempts to deal with the problem
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Correct Response: C. The problem the mayor is discussing before the city council is a long-standing one, about which the city councilors are very familiar. Therefore, the mayor is most likely to overcome skepticism that a new approach will be more successful by beginning the presentation with an analysis of why earlier efforts have failed and then highlighting how the mayor's proposal is different.

Domain II—Mathematical Sciences

Competency 0004
Understand fundamental mathematical concepts and their applications to society.

8. Use the diagram below to answer the question that follows.

The diagram shows a parallelogram on the left and a rectangle on the right with a note below reading not to scale.

The parallelogram has a horizontal side dimensioned at 12 cm and a vertical side dimensioned at 10 cm. A dotted line extends from one horizonal side to the opposite side indicating where the parallelogram was cut to form a right triangle. A curved arrow appears above the parallelogram showing the transposition of the right triangle from one side of the parallelogram to the other.

A student converts a parallelogram to a rectangle by cutting off a right triangle with sides of length 6 cm, 8 cm, and 10 cm from one side and attaching it to the opposite side as shown in the diagram. What is the area of the parallelogram?

  1. 48 cm squared
  2. 96 cm squared
  3. 120 cm squared
  4. 180 cm squared
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Correct Response: B. The area of the parallelogram is equal to the area of the rectangle. To find the area of the rectangle, it is necessary to find the product of the two sides. One side is of length 12 cm, but the second side, or the height, needs to be determined. This height is equal to the third side of the right triangle with hypotenuse length 10 cm and side length 6 cm. The Pythagorean theorem states that a squared plus b squared equals csquared or a squared plus 6 squared equals 10 squared, or a squared plus 36 equals 100 which means that a squared equals 64 and a equals 8. The area of the rectangle is therefore 12 cm times 8 cm equals 96 cm squared.

Competency 0005
Demonstrate quantitative literacy and apply quantitative methods to make decisions and solve problems.

9. To estimate how many students regularly play a particular computer game, a middle school student interviews 40 other students at the school. Ten of the students who are interviewed say they like to play the game. The student who conducted the survey then concludes that 25% of all students in the school like to play the game. Which of the following assumptions is necessary in order to draw that conclusion from the data?

  1. All the students interviewed like to play computer games.
  2. The students interviewed play similar types of computer games.
  3. Most students tend to play only a single, favorite computer game.
  4. The sample of students interviewed is representative of the entire school.
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Correct Response: D. In this situation, a sample of 40 students is selected and interviewed, and the results of the interview are used to make an inference about the entire school population. Since 10 of the 40 students, or 25% of the sample, like to play the game, a conclusion is drawn that 25% of the entire school likes to play the game. This conclusion is only valid if the sample of 40 students truly represents the entire school. The best way to ensure that the sample represents the school population is to randomly select the members of the sample.

Domain III—Natural Sciences

Competency 0006
Understand fundamental concepts of the natural sciences.

10. A person throws a ball straight up into the air. Which of the following statements best describes the motion of the ball as it travels upward after leaving the person's hand?

  1. The net force on the ball decreases to zero at a steady rate.
  2. The kinetic energy of the ball is transformed to potential energy.
  3. The momentum of the ball is constant throughout its trajectory.
  4. The acceleration of the ball increases to a maximum value.
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Correct Response: B. The sum of an object's potential and kinetic energy equals its total energy. At the point when the ball leaves the hand of the person, the ball has velocity because it is moving in an upward direction. Kinetic energy is the energy that is dependent upon the mass and velocity of an object. As the ball changes position, the kinetic energy converts to gravitational potential energy. The stored potential energy is converted back to kinetic energy as the ball begins moving downward.

Competency 0007
Understand scientific processes.

11. Which of the following criteria is the most important consideration when designing an investigation related to a scientific question or hypothesis?

  1. The conclusion is consistent with previously conducted experiments.
  2. The process can be reproduced by other scientists to assess the results.
  3. The hypothesis is based on concepts that have been validated by earlier scientific research.
  4. The data collected is in numerical form and can be analyzed using mathematical techniques.
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Correct Response: B. A hypothesis or scientific question must address a phenomenon between one or more variables. Through the process of scientific inquiry, the hypothesis is tested by gathering and analyzing observable and measurable evidence to either support or refute the claim. Just one investigation is not enough to establish the validity of a hypothesis. The results need to be easily reproduced by other scientists using the same empirical methods to assess that the hypothesis and supporting data are reliable.

Domain IV—Social and Behavioral Sciences

Competency 0008
Understand social institutions and human behavior.

12. The federal structure of U.S. government has contributed most significantly to which of the following characteristics of American society?

  1. experimentation and innovation at the state and local levels
  2. the failure of radical political parties to win electoral majorities
  3. maintenance of civilian authority over military forces and resources
  4. the commitment of citizens and public officials to the rule of law
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Correct Response: A. The United States began as a confederation of independent former colonies with different geographic locations, climates, populations, and economic systems. To unite the new country while still preserving for each state a significant amount of self-determination, the authors of the U.S. Constitution divided political authority between the national and state governments. This "federalist" system made the states "laboratories of democracy" in which different solutions to common social, economic, and political problems could be tried, with those that were successful often being adopted by other states, or by the federal government itself.

Competency 0009
Understand historical settings, processes, and contexts.

13. The Industrial Revolution took place in different parts of the world at different times and in diverse historical and cultural contexts. Which of the following results of industrialization has generally been the same wherever that process has occurred?

  1. the emergence of democratic political systems
  2. the imposition of social and economic restrictions on women
  3. the migration of rural populations into urban areas
  4. the elimination of obstacles to individual social advancement
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Correct Response: C. Wherever it has taken place, the industrialization of a country's economy has created two central dynamics: the machines produced by industrialization have reduced the need for agricultural labor and the factories in which new products were being produced on an unprecedented scale required a large workforce. Together, these two developments acted to push people out of rural communities where jobs were disappearing and pull them into the burgeoning cities where their labor was in demand.

Domain V—Humanities and Fine Arts

Competency 0010
Understand literature, the arts, and philosophy.

14. Which of the following features are more characteristic of popular culture rather than formal culture?

  1. sudden and rapid changes of styles and genres
  2. agreed-upon standards of aesthetic merit
  3. institutions devoted to training and preparation
  4. customary and traditional forms of expression
Enter to expand or collapse answer.Answer expanded
Correct Response: A. At its most basic definition, popular culture encompasses those ideas, values, brands, styles, and literary and artistic works that are widely shared across a society (or multiple societies) and are frequently presented and readily available through a variety of communications media. The individual artifacts of popular culture—a song, a fashion, a style of cuisine—are also intensely focused on what is going on now and frequently appropriated for commercial use. For both those reasons, popular culture styles and genres are perpetually changing, and what was highly prized a year ago may well be considered tired and outmoded only a few months later.