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2022 CLEP Official Study Guide

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This study guide provides practice questions for all 34 CLEP exams. The ideal resource for taking more than one exam. Offered only by the College Board.

CLEP® History of the United States I Examination Guide

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The History of the United States I exam covers U.S. history from early European colonization to the end of Reconstruction.

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CLEP Practice App for History of the United States I: Early Colonization to 1877

Practice for the History of the United States I: Early Colonization to 1877 exam with the new CLEP History of the United States I app from examIam. The app includes the same information and practice questions found in the Official Study Guide and subject-specific Examination Guide but offers the convenience of answering sample questions on your mobile device. The app also includes diagnostics to help you pinpoint strengths and weaknesses. To access the full version with sample questions, you'll need to create an account and purchase the premium app for $14.99.

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History of the United States I: Early Colonization to 1877


The History of the United States I: Early Colonization to 1877 exam covers material that is usually taught in the first semester of a two-semester course in United States history. The examination covers the period of United States history from early European colonization to the end of Reconstruction, with the majority of the questions on the period of 17901877. In the part covering the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, emphasis is placed on the English colonies. The exam includes a small number of questions on the Americas before 1500.

The exam contains approximately 120 questions to be answered in 90 minutes. Some of these are pretest questions that will not be scored. Any time test takers spend on tutorials and providing personal information is in addition to the actual testing time.

Knowledge and Skills Required

Questions on the History of the United States I exam require test takers to demonstrate one or more of the following abilities.

  • Identify and describe historical phenomena
  • Analyze and interpret historical phenomena
  • Compare and contrast historical phenomena

The subject matter of the History of the United States I exam is drawn from the following topics. The percentages next to the main topics indicate the approximate percentage of exam questions on that topic.

Topical Specifications

30% Political institutions, political developments, and public policy
30% Social developments
10% Economic developments
20% Cultural and intellectual developments
10% Diplomacy and international relations

Chronological Specifications

30% 1500–1789
70% 1790–1877

The following themes are reflected in a comprehensive introductory survey course:

  • The nature of indigenous societies in North America. The theme includes a small number of questions on the Americas before 1500.
  • The impact of European discovery and colonization upon indigenous societies. The focus is placed on the British colonies, but this theme includes a small number of questions on Spanish, French, and Dutch colonization, and the Columbian Exchange.
  • The origins and nature of slavery and resistance to it
  • Immigration and the history of ethnic minorities
  • The history of women, changing gender roles, and family structures
  • The development and character of colonial societies
  • British relations with the Atlantic colonies of North America
  • The changing role of religion in American society
  • The causes, events, and consequences of the American Revolution
  • The content of the Constitution and its amendments, and their interpretation by the United States Supreme Court
  • The development and expansion of participatory democracy
  • The growth of and changes in political parties
  • The changing role of government in American life
  • The intellectual and political expressions of nationalism
  • Major movements and individual figures in the history of American literature, art, and popular culture
  • Abolitionism and reform movements
  • Long term demographic trends (immigration and internal migration)
  • The motivations for and character of American expansionism
  • The process of economic growth and development
  • The causes and consequences of conflicts with Native Americans, the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, and the Civil War and Reconstruction

Study Resources


Most textbooks used in college-level United States history courses cover the topics in the outline given earlier, but the approaches to certain topics and the emphases given to them may differ. To prepare for the History of the United States I exam, it is advisable to study one or more college textbooks, which can be found in most college bookstores. When selecting a textbook, check the table of contents against the knowledge and skills required for this test. Additional detail and differing interpretations can be gained by consulting readers and specialized historical studies. Pay attention to visual materials (pictures, maps, and charts) as you study.

A survey conducted by CLEP found that the following textbooks are among those used by college faculty who teach the equivalent course. You might purchase one or more of these online or at your local college bookstore.

  • Carnes and Garraty, The American Nation (Longman)
  • Berkin et al., Making America (Wadsworth)
  • Boydston et al., Making a Nation (Prentice Hall)
  • Boyer et al., The Enduring Vision (Wadsworth)
  • Brinkley, American History: A Survey (McGraw-Hill)
  • Davidson et al., Nation of Nations: A Concise Narrative of the American Republic (McGraw-Hill)
  • Divine, et al., The American Story (Penguin/Prentice Hall)
  • Faragher et al., Out of Many: A History of the American People (Prentice Hall)
  • Foner, Give Me Liberty! (W. W. Norton)
  • Goldfield et al., American Journey (Prentice Hall)
  • Henretta et al., America's History (Bedford/St. Martin's)
  • Jones, et. al., Created Equal: A History of the United States (Prentice Hall)
  • Kennedy et al., Brief American Pageant: The History of the Republic (Wadsworth)
  • Martin, America and Its Peoples (Longman)
  • Murrin et al., Liberty, Equality and Power (Wadsworth)
  • Nash et al., The American People: Creating a Nation and a Society, Concise Edition (Prentice Hall)
  • Tindall and Shi, Essential America (W. W. Norton)

Online Resources

These resources, compiled by the CLEP test development committee and staff members, may help you study for your exam. However, none of these sources are designed specifically to provide preparation for a CLEP exam. The College Board has no control over their content and cannot vouch for accuracy.

Score Information

Credit Granting Score for History of the United States I: Early Colonization to 1877
ACE Recommended Score*: 50
Semester Hours: 3

Each institution reserves the right to set its own credit-granting policy, which may differ from that of ACE. Contact your college as soon as possible to find out the score it requires to grant credit, the number of credit hours granted, and the course(s) that can be bypassed with a satisfactory score.

*The American Council on Education’s College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE CREDIT) has evaluated CLEP processes and procedures for developing, administering, and scoring the exams. The score listed above is equivalent to a grade of C in the corresponding course. The American Council on Education, the major coordinating body for all the nation’s higher education institutions, seeks to provide leadership and a unifying voice on key higher education issues and to influence public policy through advocacy, research, and program initiatives. Visit the ACE CREDIT website for more information.