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Starting from 2015, the Geography as well as the Civics questions in the Social Studies portion of the General Scholastic Ability Test (GSAT Social Studies) will be based on the 2010 version of the Senior High School Curriculum Guidelines. The History questions, on the other hand, will be based on the 2012 version of the Senior High School Curriculum Guidelines.

The GSAT Social Studies covers three subjects: History, Geography, and Civics. High school History introduces a knowledge of history to students and to teach them how to do historical analysis. The aim of Geography is to understand how natural and human factors shape geographical space, and to equip students with the ability to analyze geographical issues and solve geographical problems. In high school Civics, students learn about psychology, society, culture, politics, ethics, law, economics and sustainable development to be modern citizens who respect diversity.


The GSAT Social Studies has three major objectives: (1) to test knowledge of basic facts, concepts, and theories in all subjects, as a foundation for students to pursue further studies; (2) to test knowledge and skills of basic analysis in social studies, to systemically collect, organize, and analyze information based on their understanding of (historical) information; and (3) to test ability to explain and to apply what they’ve learned to daily life. The focus is on the ability to develop arguments from (historical) information, to explain features of the environment of certain areas, and to know the approaches and procedures for tackling environmental issues. The three objectives can be further divided[1], as follows:

1. To evaluate basic social studies knowledge
  • H1a. To understand the big picture of an era through its political, social, economic, and cultural features
  • H1b. To understand political, social, economic, and cultural trends and changes in history
  • H1c. To understand the causes and effects of certain historical events or phenomena
  • G1a. To recognize important geographical facts and terms
  • G1b. To know important geographical facts, terms, concepts, principles, and theories
  • G1c. To analyze and evaluate geographical facts using geographical concepts, principles, and theories
  • S1a. To understand the theme and content of each unit in civics and society
  • S1b. To understand the relations between the themes of units in civics and society
2. To test knowledge and skills for doing basic analysis
  • H2a. To understand the content and meaning of historical texts
  • H2b. To analyze the form and arguments in historical texts
  • H2c. To understand the significance of historical texts against the historical backdrop
  • H2c. To understand the form, quality, features and limitations of a certain piece of historical information
  • H2e. To understand the connection between historical information and its interpretation
  • G2a. To utilize proper methods to observe important geographical phenomena and access geographical information
  • G2a. To process, organize, and sum up geographical information
  • G2c. To analyze, interpret and present geographical information
  • S2a. To explain and discuss current social issues using knowledge of humanities and social sciences
  • S2b. To explain and analyze information related to humanities and social sciences
3. To test ability to explain and to apply what is learned to daily life
  • H3a. To understand historical facts and interpretations of historical events
  • H3b. To compare and contrast two or more historical interpretations and the information and evidence behind them
  • H3c. To differentiate various historical interpretations in terms of historical background, evidence used, and historians’ personal preferences
  • H3c. To propose sensible arguments according to the question raised and the information given
  • G3a. To analyze the spatial features of certain geographical phenomena
  • G3b. To explain the relations between human beings and the environment
  • G3c. To explain regional features, differences, and interaction through analyzing natural and human factors
  • G3d. To explain influencing factors behind important geographical issues and analyze the correlations among them
  • G3e. To recognize certain geographical issues’ significance and impact on certain regions
  • G3f. To understand the procedures and protocols of solving geographical problems
  • G3g. To propose solutions to geographical problems
  • S3a. To make judgments based on the spirit of citizenship
  • S3b. To understand and reflect on the essence of being a citizen and one’s civic duties


The GSAT Social Studies covers 10th and 11th grade required History, Geography, and Civics courses. (See Table 1.) The test is designed based on the 2010 Curriculum Guidelines (for Geography and Civics) and the 2012 Curriculum Guidelines (for History) and according to the test objectives.

【Table 1. Scope of the GSAT Social Studies】

Subject Scope
History Taiwan History; Chinese History; World History
Geography General Geography; Regional Geography
Civics Self, Society, and Culture; Politics and Democracy; Morality and Law; Economy and Sustainable Development

Focus of the Questions

  1. All questions are based on the Senior High School Curriculum Guidelines.
  2. The test is designed to evaluate students’ ability to integrate concepts learned in class.
  3. The test focuses on students’ ability to organize, compare, contrast, and analyze data. Materials and articles that cover content or concepts listed in the Senior High School Curriculum Guidelines fall within the scope of the test.
  4. The test should provide context, data, and charts that are needed for students to answer the questions.
  5. Question types could include short answer questions as well as questions with long descriptions, charts, maps, photos, and statistical figures.
  6. Civics questions focus on students’ understanding of citizenship.

[1] Abbreviations: H--history; G--geography; S: civics and society