Western Civilization II: 1648 to the Present

The Western Civilization II exam covers European history from the mid-17th century through the post-Second World War period.

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The Western Civilization II: 1648 to the Present exam covers material that is usually taught in the second semester of a two-semester course in Western civilization. Questions cover European history from the mid-17th century through the post-Second World War period including political, economic, and cultural developments such as scientific thought, the Enlightenment, the French and Industrial Revolutions, and the First and Second World Wars. Test takers may be asked to choose the correct definition of a historical term, select the historical figure whose political viewpoint is described, identify the correct relationship between two historical factors, or detect the inaccurate pairing of an individual with a historical event. Groups of questions may require candidates to interpret, evaluate, or relate the contents of a passage, a map, a picture, or a cartoon to the other information, or to analyze and use the data contained in a graph or table.

The exam contains 120 questions to be answered in 90 minutes. Some of these are pretest questions that will not be scored.

Knowledge and Skills Required

Questions on the Western Civilization II exam require test takers to demonstrate one or more of the following abilities:

  • Understanding important factual knowledge of developments in Western civilization
  • Ability to identify the causes and effects of major historical events
  • Ability to analyze, interpret, and evaluate textual and graphic materials
  • Ability to distinguish the relevant from the irrelevant
  • Ability to reach conclusions on the basis of facts

The subject matter of the Western Civilization II exam is drawn from the following topics. The percentages next to the main topics indicate the approximate percentages of exam questions on those topics.

Absolutism and Constitutionalism, 1648–1715 (7%–9%)

  • The Dutch Republic
  • The English Revolution
  • France under Louis XIV
  • Formation of Austria and Prussia
  • The "westernization" of Russia

Competition for empire and economic expansion (4%–6%)

  • Global economy of the 18th century
  • Europe after Utrecht, 1713–1740
  • Demographic change in the 18th century

The Scientific View of the World (5%–7%)

  • Major figures of the scientific revolution
  • New knowledge of man and society
  • Political theory

Period of Enlightenment (7%–9%)

  • Enlightenment thought
  • Enlightened despotism
  • Partition of Poland

Revolution and Napoleonic Europe (10%–13%)

  • The Revolution in France
  • The Revolution and Europe
  • The French Empire
  • Congress of Vienna

The Industrial Revolution (7%–9%)

  • Agricultural and industrial revolution
  • Causes of revolution
  • Economic and social impact on working and middle class
  • British reform movement

Political and cultural developments, 1815–1848 (6%–8%)

  • Conservatism
  • Liberalism
  • Nationalism
  • Socialism
  • The Revolutions of 1830 and 1848

Politics and diplomacy in the Age of Nationalism, 1850–1914 (8%–10%)

  • The unification of Italy and Germany
  • Austria-Hungary
  • Russia
  • France
  • Socialism and labor unions
  • European diplomacy, 1871–1900

Economy, Culture, and Imperialism, 1850–1914 (7%–9%)

  • Demography
  • World economy of the 19th century
  • Technological developments
  • Science, philosophy, and the arts
  • Imperialism in Africa and Asia

The First World War and the Russian Revolution (10%–12%)

  • The causes of the First World War
  • The economic and social impact of the war
  • The peace settlements
  • The Revolution of 1917 and its effects

Europe Between the Wars (7%–9%)

  • The Great Depression
  • International politics, 1919–1939
  • Stalin's five-year plans and purges
  • Italy and Germany between the wars
  • Interwar cultural developments

The Second World War and contemporary Europe (8%–10%)

  • The causes and course of the Second World War
  • Postwar Europe
  • Science, philosophy, the arts, and religion
  • Social and political developments

Score Information

ACE Recommendation for Western Civilization II: 1648 to the Present

Credit-granting Score 50
Semester Hours 3

Note: Each institution reserves the right to set its own credit-granting policy, which may differ from the American Council on Education (ACE). Contact your college to find out the score required for credit and the number of credit hours granted.

Add Study Guides

CLEP Western Civilization II Examination Guide

The Western Civilization II exam covers European history from the mid-seventeenth century through the post-Second World War period.

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Study Resources: Western Civilization II

A study plan and list of online resources.


ACE Credit Recommendations

Recommendations for credit-granting scores from the American Council on Education.