Core Subjects EC-6 – Social Studies

Lately I have heard from so many people struggling to pass the Social Studies section of the Core Subjects EC-6 exam. There are 41 multiple choice questions, and you only have 35 minutes to answer! This is challenging, but it’s not impossible.

One thing that makes the Social Studies section of the Core Subjects EC-6 exam so difficult is the wide range of information you have to know – World History, United States History, Texas History, Geography and CultureGovernment and Economics. Here is a more detailed breakdown of what you have to know to pass the exam:

  • Competency 1 – Social Sciences Instruction – You have to understand social science, as well as how to teach it and assess students’ knowledge. My situational questions course is very helpful in learning how to correctly answer these questions. The situational questions course has scenario-based questions in all areas of the Core Subjects EC-6, including Social Studies. By watching videos, you will learn the “best” way to teach certain concepts and handle classroom situations. For example, they might ask you the best way to help students understand the best way to represent the Earth (map, globe, satellite view, etc). A detailed explanation of how to find the correct answer is included.
  • Competency 2 – History – You have to be able to correctly answer questions about world history, US history, and Texas history. In additional, you have to understand historical interpretations and ideas.
  • Competency 3 – Geography and Culture- In this section, you have to understand the geographic relationships between people, places, and environments not only in Texas, but also the United States and the world! Diversity, adaptation, and cultural development is also covered.
  • Competency 4 – Economics – In this competency, you have to understand the basics of economics and be able to answer questions about how people create economic systems to produce, distribute, and consume goods and services. There are even questions about the Texas economy. My digital course has all the content you need to know, and even has realistic sample test questions to help you monitor your comprehension.
  • Competency 5 – Government and Citizenship – This section will test your knowledge of how political systems work. You have to answer questions about government, democracy, and citizenship. It is important to know the historical development of political organizations, and be able to answer questions about both the US government and Texas government. You might see questions about the Texas Constitution, and you can be sure you will see questions about the US Constitution, especially the amendments.

It can be overwhelming to study for this section of the test! I recommend that you start with one thorough study guide or course. The main goal is to learn the CONTENT, and not to spend a lot of time answering practice questions. If you know the content, you will be able to answer almost any question. For example, if you “study” be answering questions and you learn that the Battle of Gonzales started the Texas Revolution, that won’t help you if your test question is about the Battle of San Jacinto! Instead, study the information you need to know so that you will be able to apply it to any test question. If you buy more than one study guide or course, you are likely to get overwhelmed and not know what to do first.

After you thoroughly study the information, take a sample test to check your comprehension. Then, when you miss questions, go back and study those topics and concepts more. For example, if you are missing questions about the US Constitution, go back and study that, paying close attention to the important amendments. My digital course and study guide have the information you need to know to pass, but sometimes it is helpful to do additional reading online to reinforce what you have already learned. If you enroll in my digital course, a full length test is included in a self-checking format. If you prefer my digital study guide, a full length sample test is available as a separate purchase.

After that, I recommend that you take released STAAR tests. The STAAR tests are the standardized assessments students in Texas take beginning in Third Grade. However, they only assess Social Studies in Eighth Grade and then they have end of course exams for high school. I recommend that you take some released STAAR tests from Eighth Grade, and then check your answers. Be sure to look up more information about the topics and concepts you don’t understand well. If you are missing questions about Supreme Court cases, go back to that section in your course or study guide, or do some additional reading. If you are a visual learner, watch some videos about those concepts. As you study, it is helpful to read out loud and record your voice. Later, while you are driving or cooking or any other convenient time, you can play back the voice clip to help you memorize that information. This is particularly useful for auditory learners.

As you go through the course or study guide, be sure to take notes and make flash cards. Use metacognitive strategies to check your understanding. Metacognition is self-evaluation, or thinking about thinking. Pause often to ask yourself if you understood the sentence or paragraph, and if not, go back and re-read it. Research shows this is what effective readers do, and if you want to optimize your study time, it is imperative to frequently check your comprehension.

Consistency is key. As Mark Twain said, “the secret to getting ahead is getting started.” Don’t get discouraged. Even if you have already taken it a few times, roll up your sleeves and start studying. Work on your goal daily. You might need a break after 20 or 30 minutes of studying, and that is fine! Just come back to it. Even when you only have 10 or 15 minutes, I encourage you to use that time productively to prepare for your exam instead of thinking it’s not enough time. If you have already taken the exam before, review your score report to know which areas you need to focus on the most to improve your score. If you email me your score report to schonefeldcourtney@gmail.com , I will be happy to give you customized feedback! A lot of people ask me how many hours they need to study, but that varies widely based on the person’s background knowledge, reading speed, and their reading comprehension level. Instead of focusing on an exact number of hours, make a plan to daily work on your study guide or course and give yourself enough time to finish it and understand it. For some people this might only be a couple of weeks, but for others it might take months.

Finally, many people benefit from tutoring. There are some programs that offer in person tutoring sessions or classes. I am available for phone or video tutoring. One benefit of working with me is that I have passed the Core Subjects EC-6 exam and have been tutoring for years. I hope to help you meet your goal this year of passing the test to become a certified teacher in Texas!

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