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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 II Examination Guide

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The History of the United States II exam covers U.S. history from the end of the Civil War to the present.

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History of the United States II: 1865 to the Present


The History of the United States II: 1865 to the Present exam covers material that is usually taught in the second semester of what is often a two-semester course in United States history. The exam covers the period of United States history from the end of the Civil War to the present, with the majority of the questions being on the twentieth century.

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 II 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 of historical phenomena

The subject matter of the History of the United States II 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 and public policy
30% Social developments
10% Economic developments
20% Cultural and intellectual developments
10% Diplomacy and international relations

Chronological Specifications

30% 1865–1914
70% 1915–present

The following are among the specific topics tested:

  • The impact of the Civil War and Reconstruction upon the South
  • The motivations and character of American expansionism and imperialism
  • Legal history, including constitutional amendments and major Supreme Court cases
  • The role of the environment in United States history
  • The development of American political parties, movements, and realignments
  • The changing role of the federal government in the economy and American life
  • The intellectual and political expressions of liberalism and conservatism
  • Long-term demographic trends
  • The process of economic growth and development, including periods of depression and recession
  • The changing occupational structure, nature of work, and labor organization
  • Immigration and the history of racial and ethnic minorities
  • Urbanization and industrialization
  • The causes and effects of major wars in United States history and diplomacy and engagement with the world
  • Major movements and individual figures in the history of American arts and culture
  • Trends in the history of women and the family
  • Trends in education, science, and technology and their impact on United States society
  • Civil rights movements, the women’s rights movement, protest movements, and the expansion of individual rights and civil liberties


Study Resources

Most textbooks used in college-level United States history (post-1865) 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 II 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.

  • 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)
  • 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 II: 1865 to the Present

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.