If you want to learn more about how the United States became a global superpower, why did the Space Race happened, or what caused the Cold War, then this is the course for you!
This exam is made up of approximately 120 questions and has been designed to be like the second semester of a freshman course. It’s a basic rundown of of American history after the Civil War until the present the day. 70% of the course is based on events that happened in the Twentieth century. This course will try to reflect on some big themes in modern American history by examining how the United States interacts with the world at large, but also at home.
This course has been developed so it will give you a broad sketch of the United States after the Civil War and to get you thinking about how America has changed with each passing decade. A lot of the course content will feel very familiar even if you’ve never studied American history before because you may have lived through some of it!
The exam content is divided into these 5 main sections:
Although this might not sound like the most interesting of sections, it actually is the most important! This section will deal with everything from political parties to the basic electoral process and an awful lot of policy. The beliefs behind government policies like the Reconstruction of the former-confederate states to the development of the welfare-state to international Communism will all be examined. Although on the surface this may seem like a boring topic, public policy is actually one of the most relatable parts of modern American history because we can see how it directly affected people’s lives from the passing of child labor laws or the creation of the first national parks or the introduction of income tax.
This is another important section of the course. It is also a section that you will most likely already be familiar with. You’ll examine the reaction to the end of slavery immediately after the Civil War but also the Civil Rights movement a century later as African Americans struggled to get the same basic rights as their white neighbours. Another massive social development in American society was that of Women’s rights as generations of feminists fought for equal pay and recognition under the law. Immigration is another vital part of the American story and it won’t be neglected here as you will examine how large scale immigration of ethnic minorities changed the face of the US. Other important topics in this section include the urbanisation and the later suburbanisation of America and the effect of the Vietnam War on US society and culture
The US has long been an economic powerhouse but it was not always the case. After the Civil War most of America was still agricultural and rural. But with the start of the Industrial Revolution this was reversed which caused dramatic consequences that made the US the world’s largest economy. Economics has often impacted on legislative policy and you will examine how the American economy reacted positively to changes in the market like with the 1970s Oil Crisis which boosted the domestic oil production industry, and also negatively in various recessions over the century. Again, although there may be specialised terminology for this section, a lot of it will feel very familiar!
America has been massively influential when it has come to worldwide culture; every corner of the world has heard about Coca-Cola and Big Macs. There have been huge changes in American culture in the 20th century. Music has often been at the forefront of these changes with the creation of groundbreaking genres like rock and roll and rap. You will also study how art has evolved from the traditional portrait paintings of the end of the 19th century to the introduction of popular photography and the development of modern artists like Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol. You’ll also take at look at America’s impressive literature accomplishments. American innovations haven’t just been confined to the arts, the US has also been hugely influential in the world of science and research. Did you know that the US has the most Nobel Prize winners in the world?
The US spent much of its history very reluctant to get involved in international conflicts. This all changed with the First World War when the United States declared war on Germany in 1917. American involvement in WWII helped turn the tide of the war in the Pacific. Certainly ever since the defeat of Nazi Germany and the Axis Powers, America has been on the forefront of international relations. You will study how America emerged from isolation and quickly became a global superpower with the support of most of the western world. Ideology has often been a big influence on international relations and diplomacy, and you will also explore the ideologies of countries and groups that opposed the US as well as the driving force behind American political ideology too. Keep it in mind that the most important part of the section of the course will be the Cold War and how it influenced nearly every corner of American private and public life.
Correct Answer: A journal article that described how Soviet insecurity impacted on international diplomacy.
Explanation: The ‘X-Article' was given its name as it was written under the pseudonym ‘Mr. X' for the journal Foreign Affairs. It was written by George F. Kennon and described the reasons why Soviet Russia behaved the way it did. He argued that the Soviet felt a deep sense of insecurity as a result of their violent rise to power, but also due to the manner in which many western countries attempted to topple them and restore a capitalist government.
Correct Answer: Abstract expressionism
Explanation: Jackson Pollock is famous for his drip paintings which were a form of abstract expressionist art. This style of art attempted to deal with the uncertainty and difficulty of life after the devastation and brutality of the First and Second World Wars. It is often said that Pollock's paintings were an attempt for him to deal with his own struggle with alcoholism and anger issues.
Correct Answer: It granted citizenship to all people born or naturalized in the United States.
Explanation: The 14th Amendment was one of the amendments to the US Constitution that was passed during the Reconstructionist Era after the Civil War. It granted citizenship to everyone born in the US which meant that it made former slaves US citizens. It has also been very important as a basis in other constitutional cases in the 20th century.
Correct Answer: It showed that the Viet Cong were well organised and would not be easily beaten
Explanation: The Tet Offensive was the turning point in popular support for the war in Vietnam. It was named for the Vietnamese New Year which was when the first attacks took place. Up until the Tet Offensive, the American public had been led to believe by the US government that the Viet Cong were losing and America would soon win. The Tet Offensive showed that they were much more organized that they had been led to believe and that it was very unlikely that the war would end anytime soon.
Correct Answer: Richard Nixon
Explanation: The Watergate scandal was a major political scandal that resulted in the resignation of President Richard Nixon. It revealed that the Nixon administration attempted to steal information from the Democratic National Convention at the Watergate Hotel in 1972 and also attempted to cover up the incident.
Correct Answer: The appeasement of foreign powers to avoid war.
Explanation: Ronald Reagan took a much more hardline approach to international relations than his predecessors. Reagan referred to the USSR as the ‘evil empire' and increased military and weapons spending after a period of disarmament and warming up of relations on both sides.
Correct Answer: The Chinese
Explanation: The Chinese were prohibited from entering the US due to the Exclusion Act of 1882. In the second half of the 19th century, Chinese immigrants began to settle on the east coast of the US as a result of wars and famine in mainland China. Their language and culture singled them out for discrimination on a federal level.
Correct Answer: The Germans believed that it was was carrying munitions.
Explanation: The Germans believed that the Lusitania was carrying ammunition to be used for the British war effort and so it was considered a legitimate target. The British government denied this and argued that it was an illegal act. It wasn't until 1982 that the British government admitted the ship did actually have munitions and so would be dangerous for salvage teams to investigate.
Correct Answer: To help Europe recover economically.
Explanation: The Marshall Plan was named after US Secretary of State George Marshall. After the Second World War it was believed that the only way to stop Europe from starting another devastating war was to make it economically prosperous again. A second goal of the plan was to make Communism and the USSR less attractive to Europeans.
Correct Answer: To regulate industry for fair wages and prices that would help economic recovery.
Explanation: The NIRA allowed the President to regulate wages and prices in the hopes that it would help the American economy to recover during the Great Depression. It also helped to introduce public works programs to give work to the large number of unemployed Americans.
While quite short on the study side of things, the official CLEP book is the go-to final practice test. Since this is the only official practice test available, I normally use it as my final spot check before taking the test.
REA offers a great combination of CLEP study tips, exam study materials, and detailed practice tests. This book functions well as the central pillar of a strong CLEP prep strategy, with resources like the Official CLEP Study Guide (above) providing a great final practice test at the end.
The website looks like it was made before the internet, but it’s legitimately the single most useful study guide I’ve found yet. Basically it’s a series of flashcards that help you study in a fast paced and fun way.