history

American Government

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessing of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." . . . Preamble to the US Constitution

The American Government examination covers material that is usually taught in a college level, one-semester introductory course. Knowledge gained in an American Government course covers the origins, development, structure, roles and functions of American government. The framework and content of the constitution is studied along with federalism; the three branches of government which include bureaucracy; civil rights and liberties; political participation and behavior; and policy formation. Successful students will be able to demonstrate their knowledge of the participatory process of the American political system. The relationship between state and local governments to the federal government is also covered.

The CLEP exam contains approximately 100 questions to be answered in 90 minutes. Some of these are pretest questions that will not be scored. The College Board provides the parameters for the exam which are listed below.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT AMERICAN GOVERNMENT:

  • Basic knowledge of the functions of American government
  • Knowledge of the constitution, federalism, civil liberties, functions of the three branches of government and the role of government in American life
  • Understanding typical patterns of political processes and behavior
  • Ability to analyze and interpret simple data that are relevant to
  • American government and politics

The subject matter of the American Government CLEP exam is drawn from the following topics.

INSTITUTIONS AND POLICY PROCESSES- Presidency, Bureaucracy, and Congress—30-35% of the exam

  • The major formal and informal institutional arrangements and powers
  • Structure, policy processes, and outputs
  • Relationships among these three institutions and links between them and political parties, interest groups, the media and public opinion

FEDERAL COURTS, CIVIL LIBERTIES, AND CIVIL RIGHTS- 15-20% of the exam

A federal court is one established under the Constitution of the United States. Civil liberty and rights refer to the state of being subject only to laws established for the good of the community, especially with regard to freedom of action and speech.

  • Structure and processes of the judicial system with emphasis on the role and influence of the Supreme Court
  • The development of civil rights and civil liberties by judicial interpretation
  • The Bill of Rights
  • Incorporation of the Bill of Rights
  • Equal protection and due process

POLITICAL BELIEFS AND BEHAVIOR—10-15% of the exam

Includes factors that predispose citizens to differ from one another in terms of their political perceptions, values, attitudes and activities.

  • Processes by which citizens learn about politics
  • Political participation such as voting behavior
  • Public opinion
  • Beliefs that citizens hold about their government and its leaders
  • Political culture (factors that influence citizens to differ in beliefs and behavior)
  • The influence of public opinion on political leaders

CONSTITUTIONAL UNDERPINNINGS OF AMERICAN DEMOCRACY—15-20% of the exam

The form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.

  • Federalism (with attention to intergovernmental relations)
  • Separation of powers
  • Checks and balances
  • Majority rule
  • Minority rights
  • Considerations that influenced the formulation and adoption of the Constitution
  • Theories of democracy

Each college sets their own credit-granting policies for the exam, so check with your college admissions office, test center, or academic adviser before taking the test.

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