Saturday, February 12, 2011

Western Civilization II: 1648 to the Present CLEP

I passed this one today with a 69. I thought I was going to do much better (closer to the 77 I made in Western Civ I), but I found that the REA book I used let me down in a few areas.

I used REA Western Civilization II by Dr. Preston Jones. This covers about 4/5 of what you'll need. I also studied this Web site, which added a bit to what the REA book had to say: WESTERN CIVILIZATION I I. (The all caps was super annoying, though!)

A few things I found worth remarking on:

There was a much bigger focus on eastern Europe than I was expecting. You really need to know what was going on with Austria, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and the Baltic States.

Know about enlightened despotism -- which rulers were enlightened despots and what they all had in common

Understand nationalism, nation-building, and the people and forces that influenced these trends and brought them about.

Understand socialism and the milieu in which it arose. Also the different types of socialism, including social Darwinism.

French Revolution & Napoleonic Europe -- various phases of the revolution and rise of Napoleon

Russian Revolution -- communist Russia, what Lenin and Stalin did and how they diverged from Marx's ideals

Enlightenment philosophers and scientists -- major accomplishments and schools of thought. Be able to identify quotations from philosophical writings. (You don't have to have read the works, but you will need a solid familiarity with how the writers thought.) (There were a couple of philosophers on the test that weren't covered by REA.)

Industrial Revolution -- how innovations spread across Europe beginning with England and how they changed society economically and otherwise

Birth of the modern German and Italian nations

Both world wars -- causes, events leading up, who fought with whom, who was neutral, how WWI led to the climate that gave rise to WWII

Treaties, pacts and alliances -- try to be familiar with pretty much all of them! I had at least one question about a pact I'd never heard of in any of my studies

Social trends -- marriage, rates of having children, illegitimacy, etc. This wasn't covered well in the REA book!

When and how suffrage was gradually extended to more and more people

Romanticism -- basic tenets, how it differed from rationalism and how it influenced nationalism

Absolutism, and in particular, how it worked with Louis XIV

Understand what happened with England's Glorious Revolution -- especially its aftermath

Know what NATO, the League of Nations, and the UN were/are, why they were started, and what really important country didn't join the League (hint, hint).

Know who colonized whom and what the objectives of colonization were.

Understand what mercantilism was and what it meant.

Know what schools of art, music, and architecture emerged and what they were basically. This aspect of the test is much simpler than with Western Civ II, partly because so much of that culture is still with us and familiar, and partly because there are a lot less of those questions this time around.

There were a few maps and photos, but they were among the easiest questions. (The maps in Western Civ I were much harder.) I was surprised how few questions there were on anything after WWII. If you run short of time, you could probably just learn the 1648-1950 period REALLY well and forget 1951-2008. Especially if you're old like me and lived through a sizeable chunk of those years! I didn't need a textbook to tell me what glasnost was, and I watched the Berlin Wall being torn down on TV.

The structure of the Western Civ II test is much like Western Civ I in that you have to memorize a bunch of facts, but then rather than just regurgitating them, you have to be able to use them reason out the answers to complex questions.

Whew. I hope this helps!

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