History of the United States I & II CLEP Exam Free Study Guide

The History of the United States I & II CLEP exams covers the entire history of the United States from early colonization to the present. Over 500 years of history is quite a bit to study, but, with our free guide, you are going to be able to pass it. 


The Questions You Are Asking

How hard are the History of the United States I & II CLEP exams?

These tests are averagely difficult. I rate both of these tests as 3's out of 5. On InstanCert's website, 94% of reporting users passed the first US History CLEP, and 93% passed the second one. Others have ranked the first test as slightly easier than the first one, suggesting that it is perhaps the better one to begin with. 


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


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


  • We recommend College Board's study guide for the first exam and for the second one because they will show you exactly what each test is about ($10 each). 
  • Peterson's practice tests will help you to assess your readiness to take each test and show you specific subject areas you need to study more ($19.95 each).
  • The REA book and practice tests for History of the United States I and History of the United States II will give you a broad overview of the subject and more opportunities to assess your knowledge of specific subject areas ($34.95 each).
  • 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 each


 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 each

My Experience with the History of the US CLEPs

History of the United States II

I actually took the the US History CLEP exams in the wrong order. I started studying for the second one in November of 2010 and the first one in June of 2011. I think, if students do this, most parents will worry that their students will lack context and will not understand what had happened before 1865 (when the second US History exam picks up) and how that led to what was to come. This can be overcome by going through a strong curriculum for US History in high school. If students have access to this, they should be able to understand the progression of US History and have a proper context for whatever comes in either test.

Studying for History of the United States II CLEP was a bit of an adventure. I scored 38 on my first Peterson's practice exam, a score similar to one that had prompted me to give up on the Natural Sciences CLEP. I did stick with this one, however, and brought my second practice score up to 50. My third practice score, however, went back down to 45. I had read the REA book and used InstantCert religiously to study for this exam, but nothing seemed to work. 

So, I went to DegreeForum and read what others had said about this exam. Most agreed that this test was much easier than its practice tests, and several mentioned that they had scored much higher on the actual exam than on the Peterson's tests. 

I decided to risk it and passed with a 68. 


I started studying for this test six months after I passed the US History CLEP. I remember taking the REA book with me to my church's summer camp and studying it while other students played basketball. That lasted about two hours, and then I could not help myself and forgot about studying for the rest of the week. 

I scored a 60 on the first Peterson's practice exam and a 56 on the second. I used the REA book and InstantCert and went for it. Looking back, this seems a little bit reckless to me, especially since I did not take the third Peterson's practice exam, but I must have decided that if the practice tests were especially inflated for the History of the United States II CLEP, they must be for this one as well.

Whatever the case, I passed with a 69, one of my higher scores. 


  1. Often the Peterson's practice tests are MUCH harder than the actual CLEP tests. If you are doing well with all of your other study resources but Peterson's still does not seem to show that you are ready, you may want to try taking the test anyway.
  2. DegreeForum can be an excellent resource for getting other people's feedback on tests and how difficult or easy they are or what you should use to study for them. I am not sure I would have ever taken History of the United States II if it had not been for that message board. 
  3. Sometimes, when you are frustrated or feel like you have studied as much as possible, you should just take your CLEP exam even if you are not sure you will pass. Compared to the money you are saving, you will only have to spend a little bit extra to take it again if you fail, and you will only have to wait three months (the waiting period for failed CLEP tests) to do so. Plus, if you do fail, you will know better what you should study for next time. Just be certain that you are not relying on this exam for application for graduation within the next few months; if you fail, you may have to delay graduation.


History of the United States I & II CLEP Exam Details 

These exams will test your knowledge of the United States, its history, and its government. These exams will cover constitutional history, wars, social developments, international relationships, and more. Once you are finished with the US History CLEPs, you are going to know as much as you have ever needed to know about the United States of America. 

The specifications below apply to each US History CLEP.

Length: 120 questions

Time90 minutes

ACE Recommended Score: 50

ACE Recommended Credit: 3


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

History of the United States I CLEP Topical Specifications

History of the United States I Chronological Specifications

(Go to College Board's website for more detail on US History I.)

History of the United States II Topical Specificaitons

History of the United States II Chronological Specifications

(Go to College Board's website for more detail on US History II.)

College Acceptance Examples

History of the United States I

  • Thomas Edison State University requires a score of 50 and accepts it as HIS-113, a 3 credit class.
  • Liberty University requires a score of 50 and accepts it as HIUS 221, a 3 credit class. 
  • University of Phoenix requires a score of 50 and accepts it for 3 credits

History of the United States II

  • Thomas Edison State University requires a score of 50 and accepts it as HIS-113, a 3 creditclass.
  • Liberty University requires a score of 50 and accepts it as HIUS 222, a 3 credit class. 
  • University of Phoenix requires a score of 50 and accepts it for 3 credits.

Example Questions

History of the United States I

1. Which early Spanish explorer of North America went looking for the "Fountain of Youth"?

2. What were factors in early American colonial population growth?

3. Which state did not attend the Constitutional Convention?

4. What book did Harriet Beecher Stowe release in 1851 that sentimentalized slaves and helped to sway public opinion against slavery?

5. Where did General Robert E. Lee surrender his forces in 1865, effectively ending the war?

(Answers below)



1. What era in American history took place approximately from 1900-1920?

2. Which president was responsible for the New Deal?

3. Who were the United States' two primary enemies in World War II? 

4. What year was President John F. Kennedy assassinated? 

5. What new military threat began to become a serious issue in the early 1990's?

(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 Notes - Free - The Cliff's Notes website contains a surprisingly large amount of information on different topics related to both of the US History CLEP exams. On this site, you will find complete and detailed study guides and explanations for both exams. 
  • Textbooks for US History I and US History II - 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 US History CLEP exams share overlap with three other tests:

  1. Civil War and Reconstruction DSST is 100% about developments in US History, but the US History CLEP exams will not be solely focused on the Civil War or Reconstruction. The History of the United States I CLEP will be approximately 25% related. The History of the United States II CLEP will be approximately 15% related. 
  2. American Government CLEP is 100% about political institutions, behavior, and public policy, which the History of the US CLEP exams are each 35% about. 
  3. Social Sciences and History CLEP is 17% about US History and could contain questions about anything from the colonial period to the present.
  4. A History of the Vietnam War is approximately 70% about US involvement in the Vietnam War and 30% about purely Vietnamese and Asian affairs. The portion of the History of the United States II CLEP that this will relate to will be very small, an estimated 5% or less. 

If you need to pass the US History CLEP exams and any of these other tests, we recommend you take them in this order (removing tests you do not wish to take):

  1. American Government CLEP
  2. A History of the Vietname War DSST
  3. Civil War and Reconstruction DSST
  4. History of the United States I CLEP
  5. History of the United States II CLEP
  6. Social Sciences and History CLEP.

Generally, we recommend that students take the most specific tests first because that will ensure excellence on a portion of future more broad tests and because much information will not apply when transitioning from a broad to a specific exam.

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

History of the United States I

  1. Juan Ponce de Leon was the earliest Spanish explorer of North America and was looking for the "Fountain of Youth." 
  2. Low infant mortality, younger ages of marriage, higher life expectancy, and large volumes of immigrants contributed to high colonial population growth. 
  3. Rhode Island did not attend the Constitutional Convention. 
  4. Uncle Tom's Cabin helped to ignite anti-slavery passions in the North.
  5. Lee surrendered in Appomattox, Virignia.


  1. The Progressive Era was the time in American history between 1900 and 1920. 
  2. Franklin D. Roosevelt was responsible for the New Deal.
  3. Japan and Germany provided two fronts on which the United States had to fight World War II, Japan to the west and Germany to the east. 
  4. President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.
  5. With the rise of Islamic terrorism and the domestic terrorism of Timothy McVeigh, terrorism became an important issue and a powerful threat to the American way of life. 

How Do I Take It in High School?

If you are a high school student trying to take the History of the United States CLEP exams, you are going to be able to easily incorporate it into the classes that you are already taking. Most high school students take US History in their 10th grade year of high school, so as soon as your curriculum teaches you up to the year 1877, you can take the first US History CLEP. After you finish the school year, you can take the second one. I took both US History CLEP exams after I had finished my high school equivalent course, and that helped me tremendously in studying for them. The process was still a little difficult, but it would have been much harder without having taken the high school course first.  

We 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 these CLEP exams in coordination with your high school course, even asking your teacher or parent if passing these exams can count as your midterm and final respectively. 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 these exams while you are in high school. Either finish the necessary high school study for each 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. With this second option, you will likely find that your high school grades improve dramatically, and you will be well prepared to take the CLEP exams.



The US History CLEP exams are excellent tests to plan to take as you prepare for college. They often apply to general education requirements that most colleges consider necessary, and they are averagely easy to study for and pass. With the study resources and information we have given you, passing will be no problem, and we think you will have your six credits sooner than you expect.