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Social Sciences and History



The Social Sciences and History Exam content will be changing starting on Sept. 18, 2016.* On this date, the new Social Sciences and History exam content will no longer cover anthropology, psychology, and sociology.

The new exam weights for the remaining subjects will be as follows:

• 40% History (United States History, 13-15%; Western Civilization, 13-15%; and World History, 13-15%)

• 20% Economics

• 20% Geography

• 20% Government/Political Science

If you are planning to take the Social Sciences and History exam before Sept. 18*, you can continue to prepare for your test based on the current exam information listed below. If you will be taking the test on or after Sept. 18*, you will no longer have to focus on Anthropology, Psychology, and Sociology content areas.

If you are interested in additional practice materials, the Social Sciences and History section of the 2017 CLEP Official Study Guide has been revised to only include sample questions based on the new exam weights for the subjects listed above. The Official Study Guide is now available for purchase.

* Please note this date may be subject to change.

Description of the Examination (current exam details until Sept. 17, 2016)

The Social Sciences and History examination covers a wide range of topics from the social sciences and history disciplines. While the exam is based on no specific course, its content is drawn from introductory college courses that cover United States history, Western civilization, world history, government/political science, geography, sociology, economics, psychology, and anthropology.

The primary objective of the exam is to give candidates the opportunity to demonstrate that they possess the level of knowledge and understanding expected of college students who meet a distribution or general education requirement in the social sciences/history areas.

The Social Sciences and History examination contains approximately 120 questions to be answered in 90 minutes. Some of them are pretest questions that will not be scored. Any time candidates spend on tutorials and providing personal information is in addition to the actual testing time.

Note: This examination uses the chronological designations b.c.e. (before the common era) and c.e. (common era). These labels correspond to b.c. (before Christ) and a.d. (anno Domini), which are used in some textbooks.

Knowledge and Skills Required

The Social Sciences and History examination requires candidates to demonstrate one or more of the following abilities.

  • Familiarity with terminology, facts, conventions, methodology, concepts, principles, generalizations, and theories
  • Ability to understand, interpret, and analyze graphic, pictorial, and written material
  • Ability to apply abstractions to particulars and to apply hypotheses, concepts, theories, and principles to given data

The content of the exam is drawn from the following disciplines. The percentages next to the main disciplines indicate the approximate percentage of exam questions on that topic.


Requires general knowledge and understanding of time- and place-specific human experiences. Topics covered include political, diplomatic, social, economic, intellectual, and cultural material.

17% United States History

Covers the colonial period, the American Revolution, the early republic, the Civil War and Reconstruction, industrialization, the Progressive Era, the First World War, the 1920s, the Great Depression and the New Deal, the Second World War, the 1950s, the Cold War, social conflict-the 1960s and 1970s, the late twentieth century

15% Western Civilization

Covers ancient Western Asia, Egypt, Greece, and Rome as well as medieval Europe and modern Europe, including its expansion and outposts in other parts of the world

8% World History

Covers Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, and South America from prehistory to the present, including global themes and interactions

Government/Political Science, including

  • Comparative politics
  • International relations
  • Methods
  • United States institutions
  • Voting and political behavior

Geography, including

  • Cartographic methods
  • Cultural geography
  • Physical geography
  • Population
  • Regional geography
  • Spatial interaction

Economics, including

  • Economic measurements
  • International trade
  • Major theorists and schools
  • Monetary and fiscal policy
  • Product markets
  • Resource markets
  • Scarcity, choice, and cost

Psychology, including

  • Aggression
  • Biopsychology
  • Conformity
  • Group process
  • Major theorists and schools
  • Methods
  • Performance
  • Personality
  • Socialization

Sociology, including

  • Demography
  • Deviance
  • Family
  • Interaction
  • Major theorists and schools
  • Methods
  • Social change
  • Social organization
  • Social stratification
  • Social theory

Anthropology, including

  • Cultural anthropology
  • Ethnography
  • Major theorists and schools
  • Methods
  • Paleoanthropology

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