Saturday, February 12, 2011

A History of the Vietnam War DSST

The Vietnam exam today was very challenging. I am pretty certain that I passed, but I have no clue whether it will be a high score or a barely passing score. A lot of DANTES exams are like that. But this one especially so.

I can't believe that the Vietnam exam is only lower level credit. In my opinion, it was every bit as difficult and challenging as both the Soviet Union, and the Civil War exams. The questions they asked, and the knowledge they required, were just as deep and complex for this exam as they were on the two upper level exams.

Luckily, I had studied equally as hard for History of the Vietnam War as I had done for Civil War and Soviet Union. So I really do think I was able to pull it off. But there are definitely EASIER lower level history exams to be taken.

I don't recommend this exam to anyone who just needs 'filler credit' to boost their electives. Leave it for the history majors who NEED this credit, and/or certified history buffs who would gladly CHOOSE to take this exam.

I enjoyed studying for this exam, and I actually enjoyed how challenging the exam was (I'm always up for a good challenge)....I just wasn't expecting it to be comparable in scope and depth to the two upper level history exams I had already taken.

I don't think I failed it. I really did study hard for it, and I think I knew the answer to most of the questions, even though they were not quite as straightforward as I anticipated.

Cederic was right on the money when he said, "I would compare the difficulty level to the Soviet Union exam."

You absolutely cannot take this exam for granted. Approach it as if it is one of the more difficult upper level DANTES exams. Studying for it is especially problematic since Instancert does not cover this subject. You are basically on your own.

Here's my breakdown of the exam, for all who are undeterred by my words of caution!

To study I used ALL of the following sources:

SparkNotes: The Vietnam War (1945-1975)

Vietnam War - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(lots of links to follow if you want to get nice and deep into the subject)

Vietnam War Index

American Experience | Vietnam Online | PBS

The Vietnam War > University Without Walls Spring 2004

The Vietnam War > University Without Walls Spring 2004

Viet Nam War Overview

Vietnam War: 14 to 18 years Websites

Make sure you adequately study the early history of Vietnam, the French aspect, and Laos/Cambodia. Even after studying all the above sources, I was still thrown for a loop by a few of the questions in these areas and had to make educated guesses. These were the areas that I felt least prepared for. Together, they make up approximately 19% of the exam (about 20 questions). It's not a huge loss if you miss a couple of them, but be prepared for some challenging questions in these sections (1/5th of the exam). Certainly don't skip over these areas as you prepare for the exam.

The rest of the exam follows the DANTES factsheet to the letter. There were few surprises in the actual content of the questions. Rather, it was the depth of knowledge tested that caught me off guard.

There will be plenty of "simple" questions to boost your score too...if you have studied hard and prepared well, you might be able to answer ALL of these 'low hanging fruit' correctly.


Bao Dai
Ho Chi Minh
Le Duan
Le Duc Tho
Pham Van Dong
Vo Nguyen Giap
Duong Van Minh
Ngo Dinh Diem
Ngo Dinh Nhu
Madame Nhu
Nguyen Khanh
Martin Luther King, Jr.
King Sianouk
Lon Nol
Pol Pot
Sen Morse and Sen Gruening
Gerald Ford
Jimmy Carter
The Kingdom of Champa


First Indochina War
Versailles Peace Conference
Dien Bien Phu
Geneva Accords
Ap Bac
Gulf of Tonkin
1964 US Election
Pleiku and Flaming Dart
Rolling Thunder
Ho Chi Minh Trail
Ia Drang
Operation Cedar Falls and Central Office of South Vietnam (COSVN)
Phoenix Program
Khe Sanh
Tet Offensive
My Lai Massacre
Kent State
Strategic Hamlet
Spring Offensive
Quang tri
An Loc
Paris Peace Talks
The Killing Fields
Democratic National Convention in Chicago (1968)


Vietnamese Nationalist Party (VNQDD)
Viet Minh
Khmer Rouge
National Liberation Front
Pathet Lao
Students for a Democratic Society
Vietnam Veterans Against the War


Foreign Assistance Act
Self-immolation by Buddhist Monks
Gulf of Tonkin Resolution
Great Society
War on Poverty
Guns & Butter
Domino Theory
War of Attrition
Peace with Honor
Pentagon Papers
Fulbright Senate Hearings
Detente (USSR and China)
War Powers Act

I hope this helps! I know it's a lot but, like I said, this exam is no walk in the park. You WILL need to be familiar with each and every item listed above.

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