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1. About this Course

It covers a wide range of topics from the social sciences and history disciplines, although is based on no specific college course. Its content is drawn from introductory college courses that cover United States history, Western civilization, world history, economics, geography, and political science. Our course, taught by Dr. Ethan Hawkley, from Wesley College, will review the fundamentals in the social sciences and history areas. 

"In these lectures we will go over 1) World History and Western Civilization, 2) US History, 3) Economics, 4) Geography, and 5) Political Science. You will also review additional readings and practice test questions to prepare for the test. I will keep reminding you throughout the course to review these other materials, and by the time we’re done you will be ready to take this CLEP exam and to move forward with the rest of your college education," explains our professor. 

The CLEP exam contains approximately 120 questions to be answered in 90 minutes.

The “Social Sciences and History” course is completely self-paced. There are no prerequisites to take this course, and it is entirely free. Any student who wants to save time and money while completing freshman year in college can take it. The goal of the creator of this course – Modern States Education Alliance, a non-profit organization – is to prepare you to pass the College Board's CLEP examination and obtain college credit for free.

Note: This examination uses the chronological designations b.c.e. (before the common era) and c.e. (common era). These labels correspond to b.c. (before Christ) and a.d. (anno Domini), which are used in some textbooks.

2. About Dr. Ethan Hawley

Ethan Hawkley is an assistant professor of Asian and world history at Wesley College. His teaching methods are informed by more than a decade of experience presenting various topics to diverse students.

He has taught handicapped adults in group home settings, rural farmers in the Philippines, and most recently undergraduate students at several post-secondary institutions including Northeastern University, Macalester College, the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and Wesley College.

His current book project, Crushed into Existence: The Philippines and the Pacific Origins of Modern Asia, explains how a collision of the Islamic, East Asian, and Western worlds both created a small island nation and also began to define modern Asia.

3. Required Knowledge and Skills

The CLEP exam requires you to demonstrate one or more of the following abilities:

  • Familiarity with terminology, facts, conventions, methodology, concepts, principles, generalizations, and theories.

  • Ability to understand, interpret, and analyze graphic, pictorial, and written material.

  • Ability to apply abstractions to particulars and to apply hypotheses, concepts, theories, and principles to given data.

  • Ability to assess evidence and data, to make comparisons, and to draw conclusions.

4. Course Modules

Following are the main topics and percentages of the exam’s questions, mostly based on the College Board's description of the course:


Module 1: World History and Western Civilization (20%)

  1.0 Introduction

  1.1 Pre Classical Era, 250,000 BP-600 BCE

1.1.1 Pre Classical Era

1.1.2 First Civilizations

  1.2 Classical Era, 600 BCE-600 CE

1.2.1 Classical Empires

1.2.2 Classical Wisdom Traditions

1.2.3 Origins of World Trade

  1.3 Post Classical Era, 600-1450

1.3.1 Post-Classical Empires

1.3.2 Wisdom Traditions Spread

1.3.3 World Trade Expands

  1.4 Early Modern Era, 1450-1750  

1.4.1 Early Modern Empires

 1.4.2 Origins of Modernity

1.4.3 Early Modern Global Trade

  1.5 Modern Era, 1750-1900   

1.5.1 Atlantic Revolutions

1.5.2 Industrial Revolution

1.5.3 Modern Ideologies

1.5.4 European Imperial Expansion

  1.6 Late Modern Era, 1900-Present  

1.6.1 World Wars

1.6.2 The Cold War

1.6.3 Decolonization

1.6.4 Globalization


Module 2: US History (40%)

  2.0 Introduction

  2.1 Colonial Era and Revolution (1607-1789)   

2.1.1 Colonial North America

2.1.2 Colonial North and Colonial South

2.1.3 Revolutionary Era

  2.2 Early Republic (1789-1850)   

2.2.1 Launching a New Government

2.2.2 Westward Expansion

  2.3 Nation Torn Asunder (1850-1877)   

2.3.1 A House Divided

2.3.2 The Civil War

2.3.3 Reconstruction

  2.4 Becoming Modern (1877-1929)   

2.4.1 The Gilded Age

2.4.2 Progressive Era

2.4.3 Imperialism, Immigration, and War

  2.5 Depression and War (1929-1954)   

2.5.1 The Great Depression

2.5.2 WWII

2.5.3 The Cold War

  2.6 The Long 60's (1954-1976)   

2.6.1 Ike, JFK, LBJ, and Nixon

2.6.2 Proxy Wars

2.6.3 Civil Rights and Social Movements

  2.7 A New World Order (1976-Present)  

2.7.1 The End of the Cold War

2.7.2 Globalization and Terror


Module 3: Economics (20%)

  3.0 Introduction   

  3.1 The Economic Problem   

  3.2 Supply and Demand   

  3.3 Economic Systems   

  3.4 The Public Sector in the American Economy   

  3.5 Money and Banking   

  3.6 The Federal Reserve System   


Module 4: Geography (20%)

  4.0 Introduction 

  4.1 Terms and Maps   

  4.2 Physical Geography   

  4.3 Political Organization of Space   

  4.4 Cultural Geography   

  4.5 Population   

  4.6 Rural Land Use   

  4.7 Urban Land Use   

  4.8 Spatial Interaction   


Module 5: Government and Political Science (20%)

  5.0 Introduction

  5.1 Comparative Government and Politics   

  5.2 International Relations (IR)   

  5.3 The US Constitution   

  5.4 US Government Structure   

5.4.1 The Legislative Branch

5.4.2 The Executive Branch

5.4.3 The Judicial Branch

5.4.4 Federal Bureaucracy

  5.5 US Civil Rights   

  5.6 US Elections and Political Parties   

  5.7 US Political Culture and Special Interests   



5. How CLEP Works

Developed by the College Board, CLEP (College-Level Examination Program®) is the most widely accepted credit-by-examination program.

CLEP’s credits are accepted by 2,900 colleges and universities, according to the College Board. These tests assess college-level knowledge in 33 subject areas.

Modern States Education Alliance is the non-profit organization behind these edX-style courses. Its project is called “Freshman Year for Free” and its mission is to make college more accessible and affordable through free, high-quality online education.

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