Saturday, February 12, 2011

Western Europe Since 1945 DSST

Took this today and got a 71 -- good enough for an A at Excelsior. Every post in this thread was helpful, but I have to especially thank Studyhard, Two Socks, Perrik, and Tvelasquez (who I think took the exact same test I did). I was worried about this test due to the lack of either a decent practice test or a specific, targeted book published more recently than 20 years ago. But in the end, I was only a deer in headlights on 2 or 3 questions.

There was very little on the Cold War and not much on the history of the evolution of the European Union -- more about how it works currently. Also surprisingly little on specific people. There's DeGaulle, of course, and I think Willy Brandt, and the king of Spain. No mention of Adenauer, Monnet, Churchill, Attlee, de Gasperi, MacMillan, or any of the other scores of people I made it a point to learn about.

While it's still fairly fresh in my mind, here's what I remember:
  • Ostpolitik
  • What kept Spain out of the mainstream of the west and how they got in.
  • Why DeGaulle returned to power in 1958 and how he disagreed with the USA about the USSR.
  • DeGaulle's ambitions for France.
  • Schuman Plan
  • British, German, and Italian parliamentary systems -- how they work and how they're chosen. Be able to compare and contrast them against each other.
  • Understand how German federalism works (it's unique in Europe and not quite the same as the American brand, either).
  • How the French president and British prime minister are selected.
  • How the British cabinet (regular and "shadow") are assembled.
  • How the EU and its main bodies work (European Commission, Council of Ministers, European Parliament, Court of Justice, Europol) and where they meet.
  • Know a little about the European Council and the Council of Europe.
  • The EU's aid program -- how it works, who it helps, and what its purpose is.
  • EU's Common Foreign & Security Policy
  • Effects of decolonization
  • Labor relations, especially in Germany
  • Immigration, especially in Germany
  • Power sharing arrangements implemented to ease ethnic tensions
  • The most contentious aspect of EU policy
  • Which EU member state's citizens object the most to EU policies and why.
  • What East Germany was especially infamous for.
As others have noted, there were many questions where more than one answer seems to fit at first. But if you go back and reread the question more carefully, usually one answer choice will seem to stand out more than the others. Shades of meaning are important.

The main materials I used to study were:

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