NYSTCE 115 Social Studies Study Guide

Understanding the NYSTCE 115 Social Studies Exam

The New York Teacher Certification Examinations (NYSTCE) are a suite of exams that are required of all aspiring educators in New York. Created by a team of educators and experts in the field, the NYSTCE ensures all teaching candidates are held to the same state-approved standard, and that all New York educators possess the necessary pedagogical and content knowledge to successfully serve students. Most prospective teachers will be required to take and pass the Educating All Students (EAS) test and the edTPA exam, as well as the Content Specialty Test (CST) in their area of specialization in order to obtain a teaching certificate. Candidates for the NYSTCE Social Studies 115 test should be sure to confirm that they are taking the correct test in the correct order before finalizing their exam registration.

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

NYSTCE 115 Social Studies Exam Format

The NYSTCE Social Studies exam is a computer-based test (CBT) that consists of 90 selected-response questions and 1 constructed-response question. Candidates for the NYSTCE 115 will spend approximately 3.5 hours at their testing appointment. 15 minutes are allotted to a pre-test tutorial for using the CBT and for the candidate to sign a nondisclosure agreement that prohibits them from discussing test content with others. Once they begin testing, candidates have 3 hours and 15 minutes to complete the exam.

NYSTCE 115 Social Studies Exam Content

The NYSTCE Social Studies 115 exam consists of seven competency areas that evaluate the following content knowledge:

  • US History (14%) - Knowledge and analysis of key events and eras in US history through various perspectives and contexts
  • Global History (14%) - Knowledge and analysis of key historical events on a global scale using a variety of viewpoints
  • Geography (12%) - Command of geographical theories, skills, and concepts and ability to make inferences about the past and future based on this knowledge
  • Economics (12%) - Familiarity with essential economic theories and concepts and ability to apply economic skills to make predictions and guide day-to-day behavior
  • Civics, Citizenship, and Government (13%) - Knowledge and application of core political science concepts and issues
  • Literacy (15%) - Application of textual analysis skills to social studies texts and vocabulary
  • Pedagogy (20%) - Command of critical teaching skills for achieving student growth and learning

NYSTCE 115 Social Studies Scoring Information

The passing score for the NYSTCE Social Studies test is 520.

Exam scores are released on a specific schedule that is available to view on the NYSTCE website. Depending on the date of the testing appointment, candidates can expect to receive their scores in roughly 2-6 weeks. Scores for the NYSTCE 115 will be available on the candidate's NYSTCE account. Score reports are typically released at 10PM EST.

When registering for the NYSTCE Social Studies test, candidates also have the option to select email delivery for their exam scores. Individuals who choose this option will receive an email with their score report on the designated score report date. Examinees will also have the option during registration to select an institution(s) to send their scores to. Scores will be sent to the New York State Education Department (NYSED) as well.

Score reports are stored on the test-taker's NYSTCE account for 2 full years. It is important to note that tests that have recently undergone development or changes may have a delay in score reporting.

Understanding the NYSTCE 115 Social Studies Results

When candidates receive their score report for the NYSTCE Social Studies exam, it is important to review the information carefully and in full. Candidates will see the total possible score for the exam, which ranges from 400 to 600. Examinees will also see their score on the test, as well as an indication of whether or not they passed the exam. A score of 520 or higher is required to pass the NYSTCE 115 test. It is worth noting when reviewing the score report, that there is no penalty for incorrect answers and that all selected-response questions are weighted the same. Constructed-response questions are graded by at least two trained educators who manually read and score the responses.

Candidates will also notice a large section of the score report is dedicated to a performance evaluation for each competency area covered in the exam. This can be an excellent tool for examinees to determine which areas need more preparation or attention. The level of performance for each section is indicated by one to four plus signs (+). Four plus signs indicate above-average performance, while a single plus sign indicates performance far below the necessary standard.

NYSTCE 115 Social Studies Preparation Advice

Before taking the NYSTCE Social Studies 115 exam, candidates should take time to develop a study plan. Thorough, consistent studying is the best way to increase the odds of achieving a passing score.

Utilizing an NYSTCE Social Studies CST Practice Test

One of the primary ways for candidates to study is to utilize an NYSTCE Social Studies CST practice test. Practice tests provide prospective test-takers with a means to assess not only their level of competency with the exam content, but also the types of questions they are likely to encounter on the official test.

Creating a Study Schedule

In order to study effectively, it is best practice to create a realistic, consistent study schedule that balances studying with breaks to allow information to sink in. The schedule should ideally conclude two to three days prior to the day of the exam appointment in order to avoid last minute cramming.

NYSTCE Social Studies CST Study Guide

Another helpful resource for exam applicants are NYSTCE Social Studies CST study guides. Study guides are useful for establishing a baseline understanding of what content will be covered on the exam. Candidates can then focus on each content area when locating other resources to aid in their studying.

Computer-Based Tutorials

For candidates who have not taken a computer-based test (CBT) before, there are resources available on the NYSTCE website for applicants to become more familiar with the format and navigation of the exam to avoid confusion or delays during the actual test. This includes both the on-screen tutorial that is shown at the testing center before the exam begins, and an interactive tutorial that allows test-takers to practice with the exam controls beforehand.

Test-Taking Strategies

Below are several strategies that candidates for the NYSTCE Social Studies 115 exam can utilize to improve their testing performance, separated by question type:


  • Use the process of elimination to disqualify answer options that are incorrect
  • Skip the more difficult questions and do the easier questions first
  • Read the question and all answers in full before answering
  • Use additional time at the end of the section to check answers
  • Know in advance the approximate amount of time that can be allotted to each question


  • Read the prompt/question carefully and underline the key parts. Reread if necessary.
  • Jot down a quick outline before starting to write to ensure all parts of the question are answered
  • Allot a few minutes at the end of the section to make quick edits and corrections

Registration for the NYSTCE 115 Social Studies Exam

Before an applicant can schedule their NYSTCE Social Studies exam, they must first register online on the NYSTCE website and complete payment for the exam. The test fee is $122 and can be paid with a credit/debit card. Visa and MasterCard are the only accepted forms of credit/debit card.

In order to receive a full refund for the exam fees, candidates must cancel at least 24 hours in advance of their test appointment. Failure to do so may result in forfeiture of these fees. Refunds typically process within one week.

The Day of the NYSTCE 115 Social Studies Exam

On the day of the NYSTCE 115 test, examinees should arrive at the test center at least 15 minutes in advance of their scheduled appointment time. Layers and quiet shoes are advised attire for maintaining a comfortable temperature during the exam and for avoiding distraction. All candidates are required to present a valid ID to the test center staff before being admitted for testing. A valid ID is one that:

  • Is original (photos or digital forms of ID are not accepted)
  • Contains a clear photo and signature
  • Is government-issued
  • Matches the name under which the candidate has registered for the exam

Prohibited Items at the Test Site

Candidates should leave the following items at home, or be prepared to store them in an approved, secure area in the test center, per the instructions of staff:

  • Electronic devices of any kind (phones, fit trackers, smart watches, tablets, computers/laptops, etc.)
  • Handbags, backpacks, wallets, etc.
  • Hats, non-religious head coverings, or large hair accessories
  • Study materials, notes, books, or textbooks
  • Watches
  • Food/drink

Retaking the NYSTCE 115 Social Studies Exam

If a candidate does not achieve a passing score on their first attempt at the NYSTCE 115, they are able to retake the exam as many times as necessary. There is a 30-day waiting period before an examinee can retake the NYSTCE Social Studies, which can be used for additional preparation time.

Additional NYSTCE 115 Policies

  • Late Arrival Policy - In order to keep the test center schedule on track, it is vital that candidates arrive on time for their exam. Test-takers who arrive any later than 15 minutes after their scheduled appointment time may be denied entry to the test. In this event, all exam fees are forfeited by the candidate, and they will not receive a refund.
  • Absentee Policy - In the event that a candidate is unable to attend their exam appointment and is unable to reschedule/cancel at least 24 hours in advance, there will be no refunds issued to the candidate. If a candidate is able to provide documentation of an emergency or illness that precluded them from taking the test, they may make a request to Evaluation Services for a voucher to reschedule their exam at no cost.
  • Test Cancellation Policy - In the event that inclement/emergency weather or other unforeseen event forces the closure of a test center, candidates will be contacted by the test provider via phone/email to notify them of the closure. Examinees will then be able to reschedule their exam for a later date without penalty.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How many questions is the Social Studies CST?

    The NYSTCE Social Studies CST contains two types of questions: selected-response questions and constructed-response questions. There are 90 selected-response questions and 1 constructed-response question. Candidates can find examples of both types of questions in NYSTCE Social Studies CST practice tests.

  • How do I study for social studies CST?

    NYSTCE Social Studies CST study guides are an excellent resource for prospective test-takers to utilize in their preparation. Study guides provide a helpful look into the content that will be covered on the exam and the skills an examinee needs in order to do well. Practice tests for the NYSTCE Social Studies 115 are an additional resource that candidates can use to evaluate their skill level in each competency area and determine which areas they should spend the most time studying.


Take a NYSTCE Social Studies Practice Test Online

Exam Instructions:

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  1. The coalition response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait exemplified:

    • Correct Answer
  2. A country opts to sell several of its toll roads to foreign investors to gain immediate funds that will be used to help improve the country's foreign trade deficit. Economists might suggest that:

    • Correct Answer
  3. Students are learning about plate tectonics and required to label the different parts of the inner layers of Earth. In doing this activity, students will place the asthenosphere:

    • Correct Answer
  4. Funding groups known as 527 groups function primarily to:

    • Correct Answer
  5. The concept of consumption within the Keynesian Theory emphasizes that the most important influential factor thereof is:

    • Correct Answer
  6. Use this material to answer question #6

    The labor of a human being is not a commodity or article of commerce. Nothing contained in the antitrust laws shall be construed to forbid the existence and operation of labor, agricultural, or horticultural organizations, instituted for the purposes of mutual help, and not having capital stock or conducted for profit, or to forbid or restrain individual members of such organizations from lawfully carrying out the legitimate objects thereof; nor shall such organizations, or the members thereof, be held or construed to be illegal combinations or conspiracies in restraint of trade, under the antitrust laws.

  7. Read the following 1814 legislation below; then answer the question that follows.
    The details established in the passage as the result of:

    • Correct Answer
  8. A social studies teacher gives the following scenario.
    In the prior year, the population within country X increased 6%. That same year, the GDP per capita increased 5.75%. How would you define the economic situation of that country for that year?
    An appropriate student response would be that:

    • Correct Answer
  9. Use the map of a portion of New York below to answer the question that follows.

    The circled region shown in the map most likely experiences which of the following weather patterns?
    <b>Use the map of a portion of New York below to answer the question that follows.</b><br clear="all" /> <br clear="all" />The circled region shown in the map most likely experiences which of the following weather patterns?
    • Correct Answer
  10. The Battle of Tannenberg was a significant battle in World War I because it proved that:

    • Correct Answer
  11. A social studies teacher could use the Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986 to most effectively and directly demonstrate:

    • Correct Answer
  12. A historian analyzing archival data associated with the Protestant Reformation is likely using this methodology to:

    • Correct Answer
  13. Use the partial map of Africa below to answer the question that follows.

    In the map during the time of European imperialism in Africa, which does the circled region exemplify?
    <b>Use the partial map of Africa below to answer the question that follows.</b><br clear="all" /> <br clear="all" />In the map during the time of European imperialism in Africa, which does the circled region exemplify?
    • Correct Answer
  14. Use this material to answer question #13

    ''. . .a man who claims to be elected by the people, will not be if he is dishonoured; whereas at the court he could easily obtain a place, in accordance with a great prince's maxim, that in order to succeed a courtier should have neither honour nor character. As regards virtue, one must be prodigiously virtuous to dare to say the truth. The virtuous man is much more at his ease in a republic; he has no one to flatter.''


    ''In what state, under what domination, would you like best to live?'' asked the councillor.

    ''Anywhere but where I do live,'' answered his companion. ''And I have met many Siamese, Tonkinese, Persians and Turks who said as much.''

    ''But, once again,'' persisted the European, ''what state would you choose?''

    The Brahmin answered: ''The state where only the laws are obeyed.''

    ''That is an old answer,'' said the councillor.

    ''It is none the worse for that,'' said the Brahmin.

    ''Where is that country?'' asked the councillor.

    ''We must look for it,'' answered the Brahmin.

  15. Read the excerpt below from Voltaire's Philosophical Dictionary; then answer the question that follows.
    Based on the excerpt, the conversation supports Voltaire's views enlightened absolutism in which of the following ways?

    • Correct Answer
  16. A social studies teacher could most effectively introduce patriarchal systems and the cultural significance of shamans in the 17th century by focusing on:

    • Correct Answer
  17. Using the core-domain-sphere model, a social studies teacher could explain the domain of culture by using the example of:

    • Correct Answer