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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® Western Civilization II Examination Guide

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

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Western Civilization II: 1648 to the Present


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-seventeenth 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. 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 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 eighteenth century
  • Europe after Utrecht, 1713–1740
  • Demographic change in the eighteenth 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 nineteenth 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

Study Resources

Most textbooks used in college-level Western civilization 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 Western Civilization 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.

You may also find it helpful to supplement your reading with books listed in the bibliographies found in most history textbooks. In addition, contemporary historical novels, plays, and films provide rich sources of information. Actual works of art in museums can bring to life not only the reproductions found in books but history itself.

Many of the texts listed here are published in two-volume editions, with one volume covering Western Civilization I and the other covering Western Civilization II. Some also have one-volume brief or concise editions, designed for a less intensive review.


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.

  • Chambers et al., The Western Experience, (McGraw-Hill)
  • Coffin and Stacey, Western Civilizations, Brief Edition (W.W. Norton)
  • Goff, A Survey of Western Civilization (McGraw-Hill)
  • Greer and Lewis, A Brief History of the Western World (Wadsworth)
  • Hunt et al., The Making of the West (Bedford/St. Martin's)
  • Kidner et al., Making Europe: People, Politics, Culture (Wadsworth)
  • King, Western Civilization: A Social and Cultural History (Prentice Hall)
  • Kishlansky et al., Civilization in the West (Pearson Longman)
  • McKay et al., A History of Western Society (Wadsworth)
  • Merriman, A History of Modern Europe (W.W. Norton)
  • Noble et al., Western Civilization: Beyond Boundaries (Wadsworth)
  • Sherman and Salisbury, The West in the World (McGraw-Hill)
  • Spielvogel, Western Civilization (Wadsworth)

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 Western Civilization II: 1648 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.