The CLEP: American Government examination was developed by the College Board as a way for individuals to demonstrate undergraduate-level knowledge and skills in this area. Almost three thousand American colleges give credit to students who pass a CLEP exam; for this reason, many college-bound students take a CLEP exam in order to skip over introductory courses.
To succeed on the American Government exam, students will need to master the following topics and skills: American government and politics (55-60% of the exam); the typical patterns of political processes and behavior, and the principles of various governmental structures and procedures (30-35%); and the analysis and interpretation of simple data that are relevant to American government and politics (10-15%). The content of the exam is broken down as follows: institutions and policy processes, including the presidency, bureaucracy, and congress (30-35% of the exam); federal courts, civil liberties, and civil rights (15-20%); political parties and interest groups (15-20%); political beliefs and behaviors (10-15%); and the constitutional foundations of American democracy (15-20%). The American Government exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions and must be completed within 90 minutes.
After the exam is complete, an unofficial score report will be made available. This score report will include the total score on a scale of 20 to 80; the American Council on Education recommends that students get credit if they score 50 or above. The total score is the raw score (number of correct answers) adjusted according to the difficulty of the exam version. The College Board does not distinguish between unanswered questions and questions answered incorrectly, so test-takers are encouraged to respond to every question. Some of the questions on the exam are pre-test questions, which are used to develop future versions of the exam and do not contribute to the raw score. It is impossible for test-takers to determine which questions are pre-test questions. The CLEP exams are administered in both computer and paper formats at over a thousand locations throughout the world. To register for an exam, visit the College Board website
CLEP American Government Practice Questions
1. What is the name of the type of federal grant that gives wide discretion to local officials?
A: fund grant
B: block grant
C: mandated grant
D: revenue-sharing grant
E: categorical grants
2. Whose power is the Bill of Rights intended to restrict?
A: the citizens
B: the President
C: the federal government
D: the Senate
E: the House of Representatives
3. Which amendment to the Constitution specifically outlines the powers delegated to the states?
4. How did political parties nominate presidential candidates until the early nineteenth century?
A: direct election
B: series of state primaries
C: selection by party chairman
E: congressional caucuses
5. Who is responsible for issuing a writ of certiorari?
B: Supreme Court
C: Attorney General
E: Chief Justice of the Supreme Court
6. According to the Constitution, the members of which body must be chosen by popular election?
B: House of Representatives
C: Supreme Court
E: Department of Defense
7. According to research, what is the primary determinant of political affiliation?
8. Which of the following strategies can Congress use to restrict the power of the federal courts?
A: Congress can take jurisdiction away from the courts.
B: Congress can repeal Supreme Court rulings.
C: Congress can force intransigent judges to retire.
D: Congress can petition the president to fire Supreme Court justices.
E: Congress can overturn controversial verdicts.
9. What is the name for the idea that states can declare a federal law void if it violates the Constitution?
10. What is the name for an elected official or party leader who does not have to pledge in advance to support a particular presidential candidate?
B: primary official
C: nominating official
E: delegate counter
CLEP American Government Answer Key
1. D. Revenue-sharing grants are basically dispersals of federal funds to local officials.
2. C. In the wake of the American Revolution, citizens were unwilling to allow a strong central authority.
3. D. A caucus is a closed meeting in which the members of a political party select a representative.
4. E. A caucus is a closed meeting in which the members of a political party select a representative.
5. B. A writ of certiorari is a higher court’s request of a trial transcript.
6. B. The districts represented by the House of Representatives are meant to be equal in population.
7. C. Children tend to adopt the political philosophy and affiliation of their parents.
8. A. Congress can attempt to influence future court decisions by altering jurisdiction.
9. B. Nullification was seen as the alternative to settling constitutional controversies formerly handled by the Supreme Court.
10. A. Superdelegates were first appointed in the 1970s by the Democratic Party.