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2021 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® Introductory Sociology Examination Guide

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The Introductory Sociology exam assesses knowledge of the material presented in a one-semester introductory sociology course.

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CLEP Practice App for Introductory Sociology

Practice for the Introductory Sociology exam with the new CLEP Introductory Sociology 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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Introductory Sociology


The Introductory Sociology exam is designed to assess an individual's knowledge of the material typically presented in a one-semester introductory-level sociology course at most colleges and universities. The examination emphasizes basic facts and concepts as well as general theoretical approaches used by sociologists on the topics of institutions, social patterns, social processes, social stratifications, and the sociological perspective. Highly-specialized knowledge of the subject and the methodology of the discipline is not required or measured by the test content.

The exam contains approximately 100 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 Introductory Sociology exam require test takers to demonstrate one or more of the following abilities. Some questions may require more than one of these abilities.

  • Identification of specific names, facts, and concepts from sociological literature
  • Understanding of relationships between concepts, empirical generalizations, and theoretical propositions of sociology
  • Understanding of the methods by which sociological relationships are established
  • Application of concepts, propositions, and methods to hypothetical situations
  • Interpretation of tables and charts

The subject matter of the Introductory Sociology exam is drawn from the following topics. The percentages next to the main topics indicate the approximate percentage of exam questions on that topic.

Institutions (20%)

  • Economic
  • Educational
  • Family
  • Medical
  • Political
  • Religious

Social Patterns (10%)

  • Community
  • Demography
  • Human ecology
  • Rural/urban patterns

Social Processes (25%)

  • Collective behavior and social movements
  • Culture
  • Deviance and social control
  • Groups and organizations
  • Social change
  • Social interaction
  • Socialization

Social Stratification (Process and Structure) (25%)

  • Aging
  • Power and social inequality
  • Professions and occupations
  • Race and ethnic relations
  • Sex and gender roles
  • Social class
  • Social mobility

The Sociological Perspective (20%)

  • History of sociology
  • Methods
  • Sociological theory

Study Resources

As you read sociology textbooks, take notes that address the following issues which are fundamental to most questions that appear on the test:

  • What is society? What is culture? What is common to all societies, and what is characteristic of American society?
  • What are other basic concepts in sociology that help to describe human nature, human interaction, and the collective behavior of groups, organizations, institutions, and societies?
  • What methods do sociologists use to study, describe, analyze, and observe human behavior?


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 college-level textbooks with content similar to that of the exam at your local college bookstore or online.

  • Alexander et al, A Contemporary Introduction to Sociology: Culture and Society in Transition (Routledge)
  • Anderson, Taylor, & Logio, Sociology: The Essentials (Cengage)
  • Ballantine and Roberts, Our Social World: Introduction to Sociology (Sage)
  • Benokraitis, SOC (Cengage)
  • Conley, You May Ask Yourself (Norton)
  • Croteau and Hoynes, Experience Sociology (McGraw Hill)
  • Ferrante, Sociology: A Global Perspective (Cengage)
  • Ferris and Stein, The Real World (Norton)
  • Giddens, et al. Introduction to Sociology (Norton)
  • Griffiths, Introduction to Sociology (
  • Henslin, Essentials of Sociology: A Down-To-Earth Approach (Pearson)
  • Kendall, Sociology in Our Times (Cengage)
  • Macionis, Society: The Basics (Pearson)
  • Schaefer, Sociology: A brief Introduction (McGraw Hill)
  • Thompson, Hickey, & Thompson, Society in Focus: An Introduction to Sociology (Rowman & Littlefield)

Online resources

These resources, compiled by the CLEP test development committee and staff members, may help you study for your exam. However, these sources may not be 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 Introductory Sociology

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.