CLEP Humanities Exam

The CLEP: Humanities 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 Humanities exam, students will need to master the following topics and skills: factual information, including authors, artists, and works (50%); techniques such as rhyme scheme, medium, and matters of style (30%); and the interpretation of unfamiliar literary passages and art reproductions (20%). The content of the exam is broken down as follows: dramatic literature (10%); poetry (10-15%); fiction (15-20%); nonfiction, including philosophy (10%); painting, sculpture, and the plastic arts (20%); architecture (5%); music (15%); and film and dance (10%). The Humanities exam consists of 140 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 Humanities Practice Questions

1. Which of the following ideas is expressed in Rousseau’s Emile?
A: Children should be left alone to pursue their own unique development.
B: Language developed because of economic necessity.
C: Human relations are inevitably marked by violence.
D: Napoleon Bonaparte represented a superior version of humanity
E: The laws of a state must be enforced with the consent of the governed.

2. Which scandal inspired Zola’s essay J’Accuse?
A: the Teapot Dome scandal
B: the Tulip controversy
C: the Dreyfus Affair
D: Watergate
E: Marian Persecutions

3. In Dante’s Divine Comedy, who is the poet’s guide?
A: Homer
B: Aeschylus
C: Catullus
D: Virgil
E: Sappho

4. What is the name of the Doric structure built on the acropolis as a temple to Athena?
A: Parthenon
B: Pantheon
C: Coliseum
D: Pythagoras
E: Arch of Peace

5. Which of the following is NOT true of the 17th and 18th century Neoclassicists?
A: They emphasized order and symmetry.
B: They used autobiographical themes in their work.
C: They eschewed the style of the Romantics.
D: They kept their emotions in check.
E: They largely ignored the natural world.

6. What did the Romantics consider their movement to be a reaction against?
A: the wars of Napoleon
B: the analytical approach of the French philosophes
C: the scandals of the Catholic Church
D: the subversion of the middle class
E: the obsession with detail in the works of the Realists

7. Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House was an early precursor to _____.
A: communism
B: postmodernism
C: socialism
D: feminism
E: Nazism

8. Which play, Shakespeare’s last, features a half-man, half-monster named Caliban?
A: A Midsummer Night’s Dream
B: Othello
C: Cymbeline
D: The Tempest
E: Measure for Measure

9. Which artist’s Guernica depicted the bombing of a Spanish town during World War Two?
A: Klimt
B: Manet
C: Picasso
D: Braque
E: Miro

10. Modernism was in large part a reaction to _____.
A: King Henry VIII
B: Shakespeare
C: the American Civil War
D: World War One
E: Neoclassicism

CLEP Humanities Answer Key

1. A. Rousseau argued that each child should be given the freedom to develop in his or her own idiosyncratic manner.
2. C. Albert Dreyfus was a Jewish French soldier wrongly accused of treason.
3. D. Virgil leads the poet through hell, purgatory, and heaven.
4. A. The Parthenon is considered to be the height of Doric architecture.
5. B. The Neoclassicists used themes from literature and history in their work.
6. B. The principles of the Enlightenment felt restrictive to the Romantics.
7. D. The heroine of the play leaves an unhappy marriage and thereby indicates the possibility of autonomy for women.
8. D. In The Tempest, Shakespeare explored the idea of colonialism as well as his declining powers as an artist.
9. C. Through his cubist style, Picasso was able to capture the slaughter of aerial bombing.
10. D. Modernist writers and artists sought a new means of expressing the horrific experience of the Great War.

CLEP Humanities Test Breakdown