Praxis® Social Studies Content Knowledge (5081) Practice Test & Study Guide

What Is the Praxis Social Studies Content Knowledge (5081) Exam?

The Praxis Social Studies Content Knowledge Exam is a test designed by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) to assess the subject matter competency of those looking to teach social studies in a secondary education setting. To become a licensed or certified teacher, candidates generally need to demonstrate proficiency in their subject matter area. This is often done by passing a certification exam like the ones given out by the ETS. Many states require Praxis tests in their teacher certification process, others mandate different exams, and some offer multiple paths to certification. Individual states and licensing agencies set their own Praxis passing scores on the Social Studies Content Knowledge Exam. Each Praxis test can be identified by a unique code, which can be helpful when differentiating between exams within the same subject matter area. The code for this exam is 5081.

Praxis tests are generally taken on computers at Praxis testing centers, though accommodations can be made for those with disabilities or health-related needs. Those taking the Praxis Social Studies Content Knowledge Exam are given two hours to answer 130 multiple-choice questions that are spread across six sections or content categories.

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

What Content Is Covered on the Praxis Social Studies Exam?

The six content categories of the Praxis Social Studies Exam are as follows:

  • United States History
  • World History
  • Government/Civics/Political Science
  • Geography
  • Economics
  • Behavioral Sciences

Each of these sections consists of a number of questions that contribute to the exam's overall score. Up to sixty percent of these questions will require test takers to recall specific knowledge related to the content category, and at least forty percent will call for analyzing or interpreting tables, charts, maps, passages, photos, and other figures. Praxis tests sometimes contain questions that do not count toward the Praxis scores. When these questions appear, they are labeled as such. The ETS includes these questions to see whether or not they will be suitable for future versions of the Praxis exam. As for the questions that do count toward the examinee's final score, each is weighted equally, though some sections have more questions than others. Due to this, some sections count for a larger percentage of the exam's final score.

United States History

The United States History portion of the Social Studies Exam has approximately 26 questions and counts for twenty percent of the exam's total score. It covers the history of the United States prior to European colonization, the founding and development of the colonies, and the reasons for and outcomes of the Revolutionary War. Questions on the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights are also featured in this part of the test, along with the causes and effects of Westward Expansion. Urbanization and immigration in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries also appear. US involvement in World War I and World War II are tested in this portion of the exam as well. Beyond these events, would-be educators must also have a firm grasp on how race, gender, and ethnicity alter the experiences of different groups throughout US history.

World History

The World History section of the Praxis Social Studies Exam has about 26 questions and counts for twenty percent of the exam's final score. This includes questions on the classical civilizations of Greece, Rome, Persia, India, and China from 1000 BCE to 500 CE. One should also have an understanding of the forces that changed these civilizations, mainly: invasions, trade, and the spread of religion (from 300 CE to 1400 CE). Trade and colonization continue as major themes from 1200 CE to 1750 CE. The Enlightenment and the Renaissance are also highlighted in this part of the exam, as are more modern technologies and ideologies. In summary, social studies teachers have to understand the forces that shaped ancient, pre-modern, and modern societies. This requires an understanding of how individuals, groups, and countries influenced these changes domestically and abroad.

Government/Civics/Political Science

The Government/Civics/Political Science portion of the Social Studies Exam has around 26 questions and counts for twenty percent of the exam's overall score. This part of the exam looks at major political theories, concepts, and orientations. In addition to theory, this part of the exam also deals with the practices and structures of various forms of government. This attention is split between those found in the United States and those found around the world, such as parliamentarianism. Constitutional rights, elections, and international relations and organizations are also featured.

Geography

The Geography section of the Social Studies Exam has approximately 19 questions and counts for fifteen percent of the exam's total score. More than just knowing every country and its capital, geography focuses on the ability to understand the physical spaces we inhabit across the globe. This requires those interested in teaching social studies to be able to read and interpret data using various kinds of maps and census data. By being able to pair areas with data collected from them, one can get a deeper sense of who lives there and how different policies and events have shaped that population over time. Migration, agriculture, industrialization, globalization, and their impacts are also key themes touched on in this section.

Economics

The Economics portion of the Social Studies Exam has about 20 questions and counts for fifteen percent of the exam's final score. This part of the test goes into the basics of both microeconomics and macroeconomics. Teachers-to-be will have to familiarize themselves with the concepts of scarcity, choice and opportunity costs, supply and demand, product markets, and the interactions between businesses, economies, and governments. This last area involves taxes, subsidies, and price controls. Other topics covered include inflation, unemployment, fiscal policy, banking, and international trade. Understanding how local economies function, act upon, and are acted upon by the wider global economy is crucial when dealing with economics.

Behavioral Sciences

The Behavioral Sciences section of the Social Studies Exam has around 13 questions and counts for ten percent of the exam's overall score. The exam covers how individuals are shaped by the institutions they are brought up in and by the groups they are a part of. The behavioral sciences delve into the dynamics of these relationships and observe how people develop socially. The process of socialization also takes culture into account and looks at how different behavioral patterns can be related to various cultural contexts.

How to Register for the Praxis Social Studies Content Knowledge Exam

Those looking to take the Praxis Social Studies Content Knowledge Exam must register for the test in advance. This can be done online, by mail, or by phone. To register online, one first has to create a Praxis account. Once someone is logged in to their Praxis account, they can go to the Register for a Test page on the home screen. From here, they can view the Search and Select Tests page to register for Praxis exam. Next, they will be taken to the Schedule Tests page where they can schedule their test based on the Praxis test dates and locations available. Following this, registrants will be prompted to pay for their exam(s) with a credit card, debit card, eCheck, or via PayPal. Finally, those who chose to take their exam(s) at a testing center will be prompted to print out their admission ticket, which is to be presented at the testing center on the registered date.

For registration by mail, prospective test takers will have to fill out a Test Authorization Voucher Form. Once it is processed, the ETS registrants will be sent a voucher form that they can fill out and mail in to register for their desired exam(s). Registering by phone requires a Praxis account and that the test(s) be taken at a US testing center. Those who register for the Praxis examination via phone will be charged a certain fee on top of the Praxis test cost.

Keep in mind that testing centers also have guidelines that examinees must follow. Test takers will have to check in and sign a Confidentiality and Regulations Agreement before they can take their exam. Examinees should bring their photo ID, their admission ticket, and a mask (as the majority of the Praxis testing centers are currently requiring test takers to wear a mask while on the premises). Personal effects are to be left outside of the testing room unless an examinee has been approved of Praxis accommodations.

Registration Fees

The registration fees that ETS charges are not the same for all Praxis tests. Registration and other fees for the Social Studies Content Knowledge Exam are as follows:

Registration Fees
Test fee $130
Change a test center or date $40
Phone registration $35
Additional score reports $50 per report

Testing Dates and Locations

Praxis test dates for Social Studies Content Knowledge are available throughout the year at numerous locations. This wide range of availability and locations gives test takers the freedom to schedule their exams when it works for them. If in-person testing is not optimal, there is a good chance to take the Praxis test at home. At-home testing comes with its own rules and requirements that those interested in remote exams should become familiar with. For instance, test-takers must ensure that they are able to run the testing software on their desktop or laptop prior to their exam date.

How Is the Praxis Social Studies Content Knowledge Scored?

Every question that a test taker answers correctly on the Praxis exam for Social Studies Content Knowledge gives them a number of raw points. No single question is weighted more heavily than any other. The total amount of raw points gained from each content category is combined and then scaled to obtain the Praxis scores.

Passing Score for the Praxis Social Studies Content Knowledge Test

States and teacher licensing associations determine the passing scores. This means that Praxis state requirements for scores differ. Praxis passing scores range from 150 in states like Colorado and Mississippi to 162 in states like Connecticut and Rhode Island. For reference, after scaling all Praxis tests, scores fall between 100 and 200.

Test Result Availability

The Praxis Social Studies Content Knowledge Exam's results are typically available seven to ten days after the Praxis test dates. Test results can be accessed through one's Praxis account and are posted at 5:00 PM EST on Praxis scores release dates. Test takers will receive an email updating them once their scores are posted to their accounts. The institutions one has chosen to send their test results to will also receive them at this time.

Praxis Social Studies Test Retake Policy

Praxis tests for teachers can be retaken as many times as one needs to pass them, though they cannot be retaken immediately after failing. Each time an examinee wishes to retake Praxis test, they must wait at least 28 days before another attempt. The results of exams retaken during this period will be invalidated.

How to Prepare for the Praxis Social Studies Content Knowledge Exam

There are many ways to prepare for the Praxis Social Studies Content Knowledge Exam, and most of these methods complement one another. A good first step for readying oneself to take the exam is to find a study guide specific to it. A study guide geared toward the Praxis Social Studies Content Knowledge (5081) Exam will lay out the topics test takers are most likely to be questioned on. Having a structured resource like this during Praxis exam preparation allows one to focus their efforts and maximize their study time. Another great tool for future examinees is a Praxis practice test specific to Social Studies.

Praxis Social Studies Content Knowledge Practice Test

Practice tests are helpful guides throughout the studying process for the Praxis test. When used at the start, they can show prospective test-takers what content categories they have a handle on and which they should focus on more. Praxis practice tests always come with answers to the Praxis test sample questions, and some offer explanations for the correct answer, which is an added bonus that can steer the unsure in the right direction.

Practice tests taken toward the end of one's exam preparation can be used as a gauge of progress. If one is scoring well, then their studying has been successful, which is a good sign of achieving the Praxis passing scores on the test day. On the other hand, if someone is still missing certain questions, this can orient the end stages of their studying.

In addition, those who score highly on practice tests are likely to receive a boost in confidence that they can carry with them into the day of the Praxis examination. Beyond helping with questions, practice tests can also be used to judge one's time management. The Social Studies Content Knowledge Practice Test gives examinees two hours to finish the entire test. Test takers will have to pace themselves across each content category and not spend too much time on any one section. Keeping one's time while taking a Praxis practice test can show one if they are prepared for this aspect of the exam.

Expert Contributor

Daniel Bal

Daniel Bal, M.S. Ed. has over 12 years of experience as a high school English teacher. As an educator, he has developed and executed curriculum that revolves around the creative process and the practical application of reading and writing. He continues to focus on helping the educational community by working as a content developer and academic researcher. Daniel earned his M.S. in Secondary English Education at Duquesne University and his B.A. in English and Philosophy from Penn State University.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is the Praxis 2 Social Studies hard?

    The Praxis 2 Social Studies test is challenging in that it asks examinees to possess specific knowledge across several fields. These include history, politics, geography, economics, and the behavioral sciences. To pass the test, examinees will have to familiarize themselves with key events and ideas across hundreds of years of national and international history.

  • How many questions are on the Praxis 5081?

    There is a total of 130 multiple-choice questions on the Praxis 5081. There are 26 questions each for US History, World History, and Government/Civics/Political Science, 19 for Geography, 20 for Economics, and 13 for Behavioral Sciences.

  • How much is the Praxis 5081?

    The test fee for the Praxis 5081 is $130. If a candidate wants to register for the test by phone, they will have to pay an additional $35.

  • What is a passing score on the Social Studies Praxis?

    The passing score for the Praxis 2 Social Studies test can vary from one state to the next and from licensing agency to licensing agency. For example, the passing score in Rhode Island is 162, while the passing score in Colorado is 150.

Exam

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  1. Which of the following is an example of disaggregated data?

    • Correct Answer
  2. The biome seen in this image is characterized as being dry, with little to no precipitation throughout the year. Which of the following terms describe this biome?

    • Correct Answer
  3. Which clause establishes the Constitution of the United States as the law of the land?

    • Correct Answer
  4. Pragmatics refers to what?

    • Correct Answer
  5. What economic environment is identified after two quarters of negative GDP growth?

    • Correct Answer
  6. Which of the following describes a "civil war?"

    • Correct Answer
  7. Which of the following is NOT true about Article I of the U.S. Constitution?

    • Correct Answer
  8. Which of the following is an example of an advantage gained by having a unitary system?

    • Correct Answer
  9. The fractional reserve banking system is

    • Correct Answer
  10. Which event can best be described as the final catalyst to the fall of the Byzantine Empire?
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  11. Which of the following best describes the counterculture movement of the 1960s?

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  12. The natural rate of unemployment refers to what?

    • Correct Answer
  13. With which of the following statements identifies the role that the Rush-Bagot Treaty and Adams-Onis Treaty had on American perspectives?

    • Correct Answer
  14. The Eisenhower Doctrine persisted that aid be given to

    • Correct Answer
  15. After the Cold War the polarities of power largely shifted from which?

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