American Government CLEP Exam Free Study Guide

The American Government CLEP exam is one of the most difficult CLEP exams you will pass on your journey to your degree. But you are going to pass it, and we are going to help.

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The Questions You Are Asking


It is mildly difficult. On InstanCert's website, 86% of reporting users passed the test, other test-takers rank it as a 4 out of 5 for difficulty, and I got my lowest CLEP exam score on that test.

This does not mean the American Government CLEP exam is impossible, but it will take a strong application of helpful study resources to pass.

Are there practice tests? 

Yes, there are. Peterson's offers the best practice tests we know of. And REA has dependable practice tests you can use too. 

Will this exam fit into my degree plan?

Very possibly, but it depends on your college. Our MyCollege Online Workshop will train you in how to know which exams you can use.

What are the easiest study resources to use for the American Government CLEP exam?

  • We recommend College Board's study guide because they will show you exactly what the test is about ($10). 
  • Peterson's practice tests will help you to assess your readiness to take the test and show you specific subject areas you need to study more ($19.95).
  • The REA American government book and practice tests will give you a broad overview of the subject and more opportunities to assess your knowledge of specific subject areas ($34.95).
  • We recommend SpeedyPrep's flashcards to you because they 100% guarantee that you will pass your CLEP test, and they are very easy to use ($19.95/month). SpeedyPrep also includes comprehensive video lectures on most of the topics their flashcards cover. Plus, we have a $10 off discount code for your first month: MYCOLLEGE.

Total Cost: $74.85

How can I save money on study resources for my CLEP exam?

 If you are on a tight budget, we recommend three study resources: College Board's free informationSpeedyPrep with a MYCOLLEGE discount code, and Google. College Board will give you general information about the test, SpeedyPrep will guarantee that you pass, and Google will help you to research things you need to learn more about. 

Total Cost: $ 9.95

My Experience with the American Government CLEP

When I studied for the American Government CLEP, I was 15 months from graduating college and had just returned home with my family after we traveled to get treatments for mom's cancer. I was distracted by that close brush with losing my mom as well as imminent graduation from high school (and a terrible season of basketball for my homeschool co-op). 

But, my CLEP study system was in place, and I faithfully stuck to my process of using Peterson's practice tests, the REA study book, and online flashcards. I scored 56 on my first Peterson's test and immediately started reading the REA book and going through flashcards. After three weeks of averagely intense study, I took the next Peterson's test and scored 66. That was good enough for me, and I signed up for the actual test. 

I passed with a 57.

Things I Learned

  1. I learned that this test may be harder than the Peterson's and that I should continue to keep margins between Peterson's test scores and the required scores large on all of my tests. Fifty-six probably was not a high enough score to risk taking the test after, especially since, as you can see, I scored 9 points lower on the actual test than on the second Peterson's test. It is a good thing I did not count that first 56 practice score as good enough.
  2. American Government is one of the harder CLEP tests. It took me three weeks to study for, and I still got closer to not passing than with any other CLEP test I took. 
  3. This test is very possible to pass for high school students (even if it is difficult). I did not take a government class in high school (only in middle school), and I was still able to pass at age 17, though the lack of that class may explain my low score.

You will hear all about the best CLEP study resources and ways to save money on college. You will not be sorry. We promise.

American Government CLEP Exam Details 

This exam will test your knowledge of the United States government and its history. The exam not only tests your knowledge of the Constitution and other important documents, but also includes questions about the practical applications of government principles in our current political environment. 

Length: 100 questions

Time: 90 minutes

ACE Recommended Score: 50

ACE Recommended Credit: 3


(Move your mouse over the charts below to see what's required for the exam.)

American Government CLEP Skills

American Government CLEP Subject Matter

(Go to College Board's website for more detail.)

College Acceptance Examples

  • Thomas Edison State University requires a score of 50 and accepts it as POS-110, a 3 credit class.
  • Liberty University requires a score of 50 and accepts it as GOVT 220, a 3 credit class. 
  • University of Phoenix requires a score of 50 and accepts it for 3 credits

Example Questions

1. Approximately how much of the U.S. Senate is up for re-election every two years?

A. One-half
B. All
C. One-third
D. One-quarter
E. Impeached members

2. Which branch of the government has veto power?

A. Financial
B. Executive
C. Judicial
D. Local
E. Legislative

3. Electing a number of representatives for each state based on population of that state can be best attributed to . . .

A. states' desires to represent the United States' population proportionally
B. slavery advocates' desires to keep slavery legal
C. a large and steady itinerant population in the early American colonies
D. larger state's desires for proportional representation for larger populations
E. southern Civil War leaders' desires to have their more agricultural states represented equally

4. Congress's composition of two houses, the Senate and the House of Representatives, was effected by the . . . 

A. Connecticut Compromise
B. Missouri Compromose
C. Two-Fifths Compromise
D. The Articles of Confederation
E. The Virginia Plan

5. Which amendment limited presidents to two terms a few years after Franklin D. Roosevelt was historically elected to four?

A. 15th Amendment
B. 22nd Amendment
C. 3rd Amendment
D. 21st Amendment
E. 16th Amendment

(Answers below)

Other Top Study Resources You Can Use

  • DegreeForum - Free - This is the best discussion board out there for MyCollege students. The board members give helpful advice on planning one's degree and passing specific CLEP and DSST exams.
  • InstantCert - $20/month - When you sign up for InstantCert using our discount code 48990, you save money and get access to flashcards for 55 CLEP and DSST exams as well as locked portions of the DegreeForum message boards. 
  • Cliff's Quick Review: American Government - $5 - Cliff's Quick Review includes a broad overview of American government in just 222 pages. While not focused directly on the CLEP test, it is much cheaper than the REA and still very much focused on the same study material. You can use this book to gain a thorough overview knowledge of the topic.
  • Textbooks - varies - College Board recommends and so do we that you study with the textbooks you will find on their website. The CLEP tests are often written with certain textbooks in mind or by professors who have written some of the suggested textbooks.
  • Free-CLEP-Prep - $15.99 and Free - Free-CLEP-Prep is run by Justin Orgeron and contains helpful study guides for MyCollege students. Justin's study resources include personal advice about the test, links to important topics in the test, a free practice test, and a study package sold for $15.99 that includes two more practice tests and a well-researched prep sheet that covers "every topic that our visitors had told us that they had a question about."

Overlap with Other CLEP and DSST Exams

The American Government CLEP shares overlap with three other tests:

  1. Social Sciences and History is 13% about government and political science, a brief sample of what you might find in the American Government CLEP. 
  2. History of the United States I is 35% about political institutions, behavior, and public policy that happened before 1865, exactly what most of the American Government CLEP covers.
  3. History of the United States II is 35% about political institutions, behavior, and public policy that happened after 1865, exactly what most of the American Government CLEP covers.

If you need to pass the American Government CLEP and any of these other tests, we recommend you take American Government first since it is more niche than any of these and will make a portion of studying for these other tests significantly easier.

The MyCollege Study Plan

  1. Begin by taking the first Peterson's practice test and studying the answers. If you score 80%, skip to step 5. If 70%, skip to step 4.
  2. Read the REA study book and other textbooks you are using. 
  3. Take your second Peterson's practice test, studying the answers. If 80%, skip to step 5.
  4. Use SpeedyPrep flashcards.
  5. Take your third Peterson's practice test, studying the answers. If you score less than 80%, return to step 4.
  6. Take your test.

*We cannot guarantee that you will pass if you follow this study guide, but it will increase your chances greatly and help you to thoroughly learn the material. If you want a guarantee of passing, SpeedyPrep's flashcards and video lectures can help you.

    Example Questions Answers

    1. C - Since elections are held every two years and senators serve for six years at a time, approximately one third of them must run for re-election every two years.
    2. B - The President has the power to veto a bill passed by the House and Senate. But they can overturn his veto if they can each gather a two-thirds majority.
    3. D - At the Constitutional Convention of 1787, larger states were worried that their larger populations would be underrepresented if every state sent the same amount of delegates.
    4. A - The Connecticut Compromise combined the need for equal representation and representation based on population, creating two separate chambers that had different responsibilities.
    5. B - In 1951, the 22nd Amendment limited presidents to two terms though it did not go into effect until after the current Presidential term was over.

    How Do I Take It in High School?

    If you are a high school student trying to take the American Government CLEP exam, you are going to be able to easily incorporate it into the classes that you are already taking. Most high school students take a half credit government class in their second-to-last semester of high school, so you can take this test during the Christmas break before you graduate. I took the American Government CLEP before I had taken high school level American Government, so you may even not need to take the high school class yourself. 

    That being said, we do recommend that you take the high school class because your learning process will be enhanced, and you will be more prepared for this CLEP when you do begin studying. We also suggest you take this CLEP exam right after you pass your high school American government class or (if your teacher will let you) as a final exam for that class. After all, if you can pass a college level exam, you can pass a high school one, right? 

    There are two ways you can study for this CLEP while you are in high school. Either finish the high school course first and then begin using the study guide we described above, or incorporate those study resources throughout your school year, following along at the college level with resources like REA or SpeedyPrep while you learn similar material in your high school textbook. Likely, you will find that your high school grades improve dramatically, and you will be prepared to take the CLEP exam when you are ready to take your final exam for your high school course.

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    The American Government CLEP may take you a little bit of work, but it is a perfect test for applying to many colleges' government general education requirements, and you are certainly able to pass it. With a little bit of study and the use of the resources we have mentioned above, we are confident you will pass.