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Section 3: Overview and Exam Framework
Social Studies 4–8 (118)

Exam Overview

Table outlining the exam format, number of questions, time, and passing score.
Exam Name Social Studies 4–8
Exam Code 118
Time 5 hours
Number of Questions 100 selected-response questions
Format Computer-administered test (CAT)

The TExES Social Studies 4–8 (118) exam is designed to assess whether an examinee has the requisite knowledge and skills that an entry-level educator in this field in Texas public schools must possess. The 100 selected-response questions are based on the Social Studies 4–8 exam framework and cover grades 4–8. The exam may contain questions that do not count toward the score. Your final scaled score will be based only on scored questions.

The Standards

Standard I

The social studies teacher has a comprehensive knowledge of the social sciences and recognizes the value of the social sciences.

Standard II

The social studies teacher effectively integrates the various social science disciplines.

Standard III

The social studies teacher uses knowledge and skills of social studies, as defined by the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), to plan and implement effective curriculum, instruction, assessment and evaluation.

Standard IV

History: The social studies teacher applies knowledge of significant historical events and developments, as well as of multiple historical interpretations and ideas, in order to facilitate student understanding of relationships between the past, the present, and the future.

Standard V

Geography: The social studies teacher applies knowledge of people, places, and environments to facilitate students’ understanding of geographic relationships in Texas, the United States and the world.

Standard VI

Economics: The social studies teacher knows how people organize economic systems to produce, distribute and consume goods and services, and uses this knowledge to enable students to understand economic systems and make informed economic decisions.

Standard VII

Government: The social studies teacher knows how governments and structures of power function, provide order and allocate resources, and uses this knowledge to facilitate student understanding of how individuals and groups achieve their goals through political systems.

Standard VIII

Citizenship: The social studies teacher understands citizenship in the United States and other societies, and uses this knowledge to prepare students to participate in our society through an understanding of democratic principles and citizenship practices.

Standard IX

Culture: The social studies teacher understands cultures and how they develop and adapt, and uses this knowledge to enable students to appreciate and respect cultural diversity in Texas, the United States and the world.

Standard X

Science, Technology and Society: The social studies teacher understands developments in science and technology, and uses this knowledge to facilitate student understanding of the social and environmental consequences of scientific discovery and technological innovation.

Domains and Competencies

Table outlining test content subject weighting by domain.
Domain Domain Title Approx. Percentage of Exam Standards Assessed
I Social Studies Content 71% Social Studies 4–8: IV–X
II Social Studies Foundations, Skills and Instruction 29% Social Studies 4–8: I–III
Pie chart of approximate test weighting, detailed in the table above.

The content covered by this exam is organized into broad areas of content called domains. Each domain covers one or more of the educator standards for this field. Within each domain, the content is further defined by a set of competencies. Each competency is composed of two major parts:

Domain I—Social Studies Content

Competency 001 (History)—The teacher understands and applies knowledge of significant historical events and developments, multiple historical interpretations and ideas and relationships between the past, the present and the future, as defined by the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).

The beginning teacher:

  1. Understands traditional historical points of reference in the history of Texas, the United States and the world.
  2. Analyzes how individuals, events, and issues shaped the history of Texas, the United States and the world.
  3. Analyzes the influence of various factors (e.g., geographic contexts, processes of spatial exchange, science and technology) on the development of societies.
  4. Knows common characteristics of communities, past and present.
  5. Applies knowledge of the concept of chronology and its use in understanding history and historical events.
  6. Applies different methods of interpreting the past to understand, evaluate, and support multiple points of view, frames of reference and the historical context of events and issues.
  7. Understands similarities and differences among Native American groups in Texas, the United States and the Western Hemisphere before European colonization.
  8. Understands the causes and effects of European exploration and colonization of Texas, the United States and the Western Hemisphere.
  9. Understands the impact of individuals, events and issues on the exploration of Texas (e.g., Cabeza de Vaca, Alonso Álvarez de Pineda, Francisco Coronado, la Salle, the search for gold, conflicting territorial claims between France and Spain).
  10. Identify important events, issues and individuals related to European colonization of Texas; Mexico becoming an independent nation, including the establishment of Catholic missions, towns and ranches (e.g., Fray Damián Massanet, José de Escandón, Antonio Margil de Jesús, Francisco Hidalgo, the Mexican Federal Constitution of 1824, and the State Colonization Law of 1825).
  11. Understands the foundations of representative government in the United States; significant individuals, events and issues of the revolutionary era; and challenges confronting the U.S. government in the early years of the republic (e.g., Mayflower Compact, Virginia Houses of burgesses, John Adams, Abigail Adams, George Washington, Crispus Attucks, Battle of Saratoga, winter at Valley Forge, Battle of Yorktown, the arguments of the Federalists and Anti-Federalists, Articles of Confederation, United States Constitution, War of 1812).
  12. Demonstrates knowledge of the individuals, events and issues related to the independence of Texas, the founding of the Republic of Texas and Texas statehood (e.g., Moses Austin, Samuel Houston, Erasmo Seguín, Antonio López de Santa Anna, the Fredonian Rebellion, the Battle of the Alamo, the Battle of San Jacinto, the annexation of Texas, the U.S.-Mexican War).
  13. Understands westward expansion and analyzes its effects on the political, economic and social development of the United States and Texas, including its effects on American Indian life (e.g., Louisiana Purchase, Monroe Doctrine, building of U.S. forts, the destruction of the buffalo, Indian Removal Act, Trail of Tears, Red River Indian War).
  14. Analyzes ways in which political, economic and social factors led to the growth of sectionalism and the Civil War (e.g., nullification crisis, Compromise of 1850, the roles of John Quincy Adams, John C. Calhoun, Henry Clay and Daniel Webster).
  15. Demonstrates knowledge of individuals, issues and events of the Civil War and analyzes the effects of Reconstruction on the political, economic and social life of the nation and Texas (e.g., Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, John Bell Hood, Vicksburg Campaign, Battle of Gettysburg, Emancipation Proclamation, Battle of Galveston, Battle of Palmito Ranch).
  16. Demonstrates knowledge of major U.S. and Texas reform movements of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (e.g., abolition movement, women suffrage movement, temperance movement, Civil Rights movement, agrarian groups, labor unions, James L. Farmer, Jr., Jane Addams, Hector Pérez García, Oveta Culp Hobby, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the evangelical movement).
  17. Understands important issues, events and individuals of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries that shaped the role of Texas in the United States and the world (e.g., Great Depression, First and Second World Wars, Civil Rights movement, Lyndon B. Johnson, emergence of a two-party system, political and economic controversies, immigration, migration).
  18. Understands and traces the impact of boom-and-bust cycles of leading Texas industries (e.g., railroads, cattle, oil and gas, colon, real estate, banking, computer technology).
  19. Understands the contributions of people of various racial, ethnic and religious groups in Texas, the United States and the world.
  20. Analyzes ways in which particular contemporary societies reflect historical events (e.g., invasions, conquests, colonizations, immigrations)
Competency 002 (Geography)—The teacher understands and applies knowledge of geographic relationships involving people, places and environments in Texas, the United States and the world, as defined by the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).

The beginning teacher:

  1. Understands and applies the geographic concept of region.
  2. Knows how to create and use geographic tools and translate geographic data into a variety of formats (e.g., grid systems, legends, scales, databases, construction of maps, graphs, charts, models).
  3. Knows the location and the human and physical characteristics of places and regions in Texas, the United States and the world.
  4. Analyzes ways in which humans adapt to, use and modify the physical environment.
  5. Knows how regional physical characteristics and human modifications to the environment affect people's activities and settlement patterns.
  6. Analyzes ways in which location (absolute and relative) affects people, places and environments.
  7. Demonstrates knowledge of physical processes (e.g., erosion, deposition, and weathering; plate tectonics; sediment transfer; the flows and exchanges of energy and matter in the atmosphere that produce weather and climate) and their effects on environmental patterns.
  8. Understands the characteristics, distribution and migration of populations in Texas, the United States and the world.
  9. Understands the physical environmental characteristics of Texas, the United States and the world, past and present, and how humans have adapted to and modified the environment (e.g., air and water quality, building of dams, use of natural resources, the impact on habitats and wildlife).
  10. Analyzes how geographic factors have influenced the settlement patterns, economic and social development, political relationships and policies of societies and regions in Texas, the United States and the world (e.g., the Galveston hurricane of 1900, the Dust Bowl, limited water resources, alternative energy sources).
  11. Analyzes interactions between people and the physical environment and the effects of these interactions on the development of places and regions.
  12. Understands comparisons among various world regions and countries (e.g., aspects of population, disease and economic activities) by analyzing maps, charts, databases and models.
Competency 003 (Economics)—The teacher understands and applies knowledge of economic systems and how people organize economic systems to produce, distribute and consume goods and services, as defined by the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).

The beginning teacher:

  1. Understands that basic human needs are met in many ways.
  2. Understands and applies knowledge of basic economic concepts (e.g., goods and services, free enterprise, interdependence, needs and wants, scarcity, economic system, factors of production).
  3. Demonstrates knowledge of the ways in which people organize economic systems, and similarities and differences among various economic systems around the world.
  4. Understands the value and importance of work and purposes for spending and saving money.
  5. Demonstrates knowledge of occupational patterns and economic activities in Texas, the United States and the world, past and present (e.g., the plantation system, the spread of slavery, industrialization and urbanization, transportation, the American ideals of progress, equality of opportunity).
  6. Understands the characteristics, benefits and development of the free-enterprise system in Texas and the United States.
  7. Analyzes the roles of producers and consumers in the production of goods and services.
  8. Understands the effects of government regulation and taxation on economic development.
  9. Demonstrates knowledge of how businesses operate in the U.S. free-enterprise system and international markets (e.g., government regulation, world competition, the importance of morality and ethics in maintaining a functional enterprise system).
  10. Applies knowledge of the effects of supply and demand on consumers and producers in a free-enterprise system.
  11. Demonstrates knowledge of categories of economic activities and methods used to measure a society's economic level.
  12. Uses economic indicators to describe and measure levels of economic activity.
  13. Understands the causes of major events and trends in economic history (e.g., factors leading societies to change from agrarian to urban, economic reasons for exploration and colonization, economic forces leading to the Industrial Revolution, processes of economic development in world areas, factors leading to the emergence of different patterns in jobs, economic activity in Texas, the United States, and the world.
  14. Analyzes the interdependence of Texas, United States and world economies.
  15. Understands how geographic factors such as immigration, migration, location, climate and limited resources have influenced the development of economic activities in Texas, the United States, and the world.
  16. Applies knowledge of significant economic events and issues and their effects in Texas, in the United States and the world.
Competency 004 (Government and Citizenship)—The teacher understands and applies knowledge of government, democracy and citizenship, including ways in which individuals and groups achieve their goals through political systems, as defined by the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).

The beginning teacher:

  1. Demonstrates knowledge of the historical origins of democratic forms of government, such as ancient Greece.
  2. Understands the purpose of rules and laws; the relationship between rules, rights and responsibilities; and the individual's role in making and enforcing rules and ensuring the welfare of society.
  3. Knows the basic structure and functions of the U.S. government, the Texas government and local governments (including the roles of public officials) and relationships among national, state and local governments.
  4. Demonstrates knowledge of key principles and ideas in major political documents of Texas and the United States (e.g., Articles of Confederation, Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution, Texas Constitution) and relationships among political documents.
  5. Understands early United States political issues, including those surrounding Alexander Hamilton, Patrick Henry, James Madison, George Mason; the arguments of the Federalists and Anti-Federalists; states’ rights issues; and the nullification crisis.
  6. Knows how American Indian groups and settlers organized governments in precolonial America, and during the early development of Texas and North America.
  7. Demonstrates knowledge of how state and local governments use sources of revenue such as property tax and sales tax, and the funding of Texas public education.
  8. Demonstrates knowledge of types of government (e.g., constitutional, totalitarian), and their effectiveness in meeting citizens’ needs and the reasons for limiting the power of government.
  9. Knows the formal and informal process of changing the U.S. and Texas constitutions and the impact of changes on society.
  10. Understands the impact of landmark Supreme Court cases (e.g., Marbury v. Madison, Dred Scott v. Sandford, McCulloch v. Maryland, Gibbons v. Ogden).
  11. Understands components of the democratic process (e.g., voting, contacting local and state representatives, voluntary individual participation, effective leadership, expression of different points of view) and their significance in a democratic society.
  12. Demonstrates knowledge of important customs, symbols, landmarks and celebrations that represent American and Texan beliefs and principles and that contribute to national unity (e.g., Uncle Sam, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the San Jacinto Monument, “Texas, our Texas”).
  13. Demonstrates knowledge of the importance, accomplishments and leadership qualities of United States and Texas leaders (e.g., Presidents Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Lincoln; U.S. senators Calhoun, Webster, Clay; Texas governors and local Texas representatives).
  14. Analyzes the relationship among individual rights, responsibilities and freedoms in democratic societies.
  15. Applies knowledge of the nature, rights and responsibilities of citizens in Texas, the United States, and various societies, past and present.
  16. Understands the contributions and importance of political figures, members of Congress, military leaders and social reformers who modeled active participation in the democratic process in Texas and in the United States (e.g., Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, Sam Houston, Barbara Jordan, Henry B. González, Kay Bailey Hutchinson, Audie Murphy, William Carney, Philip Bazaar).
Competency 005 (Culture; Science, Technology and Society)—The teacher understands and applies knowledge of cultural development, adaptation and diversity, and understands and applies knowledge of interactions among science, technology and society, as defined by the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).

The beginning teacher:

  1. Understands basic concepts of culture and the processes of cultural adaptation, diffusion and exchange.
  2. Analyzes similarities and differences in the ways various peoples at different times in history have lived and met basic human needs.
  3. Applies knowledge of the role of families in meeting basic human needs and how families and cultures develop and use customs, traditions and beliefs to define themselves.
  4. Demonstrates knowledge of institutions that exist in all societies and how characteristics of these institutions may vary among societies.
  5. Understands how people use oral tradition, stories, real and mythical heroes, music, paintings and sculpture to create and represent culture in communities in Texas, the United States and the world.
  6. Demonstrates knowledge of significant examples of art, music and literature from various periods in U.S. and Texas history (e.g., John James Audubon, Henry David Thoreau, transcendentalism, the painting American Progress, “Yankee Doodle,” “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” Amado Peña, Diane Gonzales Bertrand, Scott Joplin).
  7. Understands the universal themes found in the arts and their relationship with the times and societies in which they are produced, including how contemporary issues influence creative expressions and how the arts can transcend the boundaries of societies (e.g., religion, justice, the passage of time).
  8. Understands the contributions of people of various racial ethnic and religious groups in Texas, the United States and the world.
  9. Demonstrates knowledge of relationships among world cultures and relationships between and among people from various groups, including racial, ethnic and religious groups, in the United States and throughout the world.
  10. Analyzes relationships among religion, philosophy and culture, and the impact of religion on ways of life in the United States and throughout the world.
  11. Understands the concept of diversity within unity.
  12. Analyzes the effects of race, gender, socioeconomic class, status and stratification on ways of life in the United States and throughout the world.
  13. Understands the various roles of men, women, children and families in cultures past and present.
  14. Understands how the self develops and the dynamic relationship between self and social context.
  15. Demonstrates knowledge of the discoveries, technological innovations and accomplishments of notable inventors and individuals in the field of science from the United States, Texas and the world (e.g., Benjamin Franklin, Eli Whitney, Cyrus McCormick, Thomas Alva Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Michael DeBakey, Millie Hughes-Fulford, Walter Cunningham, Denton Cooley, Michael Dell).
  16. Applies knowledge of the effects of scientific discoveries and technological innovations on political, economic, social and environmental developments and on everyday life in Texas, the United States and the world in the past, present and future.
  17. Analyzes how science and technology relate to political, economic, social and cultural issues and events.
  18. Demonstrates knowledge of the origins, diffusions and effects of major scientific, mathematical and technological discoveries throughout history.
  19. Knows how developments in science and technology have affected the physical environment; the growth of economies and societies; and definitions of, access to and use of physical and human resources.
  20. Knows how changes in science and technology affect moral and ethical issues.


Domain II—Social Studies Foundations, Skills and Instruction

Competency 006 (Social Studies Foundations and Skills)—The teacher understands the foundations of social studies education and applies knowledge of skills used in the social sciences.

The beginning teacher:

  1. Understands the philosophical foundations of the social science disciplines and knows how knowledge generated by the social sciences affects society and people's lives.
  2. Understands how social science disciplines relate to each other.
  3. Understands practical applications of social studies education.
  4. Relates philosophical assumptions and ideas to issues and trends in the social sciences.
  5. Knows characteristics and uses of various primary and secondary sources (e.g., databases, maps, photographs, media services, the Internet, biographies, interviews, questionnaires, artifacts) and uses information from a variety of sources to acquire social science information and answer social science questions.
  6. Knows how to formulate research questions and use appropriate procedures to reach supportable judgments and conclusions in the social sciences.
  7. Understands social science research and knows how social scientists locate, gather, organize, analyze and report information using standard research methodologies.
  8. Evaluates the validity of social science information from primary and secondary sources regarding bias issues, propaganda, point of view and frame of reference.
  9. Understands and evaluates multiple points of view and frames of reference relating to issues in the social sciences.
  10. Knows how to analyze social science information (e.g., by categorizing, comparing and contrasting, making generalizations and predictions, drawing inferences and conclusions).
  11. Communicates and interprets social science information in written, oral and visual forms and translates information from one medium to another (e.g., written to visual, statistical to written or visual).
  12. Uses standard grammar, spelling, sentence structure, punctuation and proper citation of sources.
  13. Knows how to use problem-solving processes to identify problems, gather information, list and consider options, consider advantages and disadvantages, choose and implement solutions and evaluate the effectiveness of solutions.
  14. Knows how to use decision-making processes to identify situations that require decisions, gather information, identify options, predict consequences and take action to implement decisions.
  15. Knows how to create maps and other graphics to present geographic, political, historical, economic and cultural feathers, distributions, and relationships.
  16. Analyzes social science data by suing basic mathematical and statistical concepts and analytical methods.
  17. Knows how to apply skills for resolving conflict, including persuasion, compromise, debate and negotiation.
  18. Understands and uses social studies terminology correctly.
Competency 007 (Social Studies Instruction and Assessment)—The teacher plans and implements effective instruction and assessment in social studies.

The beginning teacher:

  1. Knows state content and performance standards for social studies that comprise the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).
  2. Understands the vertical alignment of the social sciences in the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) from grade level to grade level, including prerequisite knowledge and skills.
  3. Understands the implications of stages of child growth and development for designing and implementing effective learning experiences in the social sciences.
  4. Understands the appropriate use of technology as a tool for learning and communicating social studies concepts.
  5. Selects and uses effective instructional practices, activities, technologies and materials to promote students’ knowledge and skills in the social sciences.
  6. Knows how to promote students’ use of social science skills, vocabulary and research tools, including technological tools.
  7. Knows how to communicate the value of social studies education to students, parents/caregivers, colleagues and the community.
  8. Knows how to provide instruction that relates skills, concepts and ideas in different social science disciplines.
  9. Provides instruction that makes connections between knowledge and methods in the social sciences and in other content areas.
  10. Demonstrates knowledge of forms of assessment appropriate for evaluating students’ progress and needs in the social sciences.
  11. Uses multiple forms of assessment and knowledge of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) to determine students’ progress and needs and to help plan instruction that addresses the strengths, needs and interests of all students, including English Language Learners.

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