Free American Government CLEP* Exam Study Guide

General Exam Description

The American Government CLEP exam covers the material you would normally learn in a first year US Government class. You will need to learn how the American Government system works, including the division of powers, the political powers, and the Constitution. There is a lot to take in, but just think – when it’s over, you can impress your friends by quoting the constitution.

The exam contains approximately 100 questions that you will need to answer in 90 minutes.

Test questions require you to do the following:

  • Know US government and politics (about 55%–60%)
  • Understand typical patterns of political behavior and processes (including the components of the behavioral situation of a political actor), as well as the principles used to justify or explain various governmental procedures and structures (about 30%–35%)
  • Analyze and interpret simple data that are relevant to American government and politics (10%–15% of the exam)

Mark Allocation

The American Government CLEP exam is broken down into five main sections that then are broken down into subsections. The five main sections are as follows:

Institutions and policy processes: Presidency, Bureaucracy, and Congress – 30-35%

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

Federal courts, civil liberties, civil rights – 15-20 %

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

Political parties and other interest groups – 15-20%

  • Political parties (including their historical development, organization, function, mobilization, and effects on the political process)
  • Interest groups (including their typical actions and activities and their effects on the political process)
  • Elections (including the electoral process)

Constitutional Underpinnings of US Democracy – 15-20%

The development of such concepts as:

  • Federalism (with a focus on intergovernmental relations)
  • Minority rights
  • Majority rule
  • Separation of powers
  • Checks and balances
  • Considerations that influenced the creation and adoption of the Constitution
  • Theories of democracy

Political beliefs and behavior – 10-15%

  • Political participation (including voting behavior)
  • Processes by which citizens learn about politics
  • Public opinion
  • The influence of public opinion on political leaders
  • Beliefs held by citizens about their government and its leaders
  • Political culture (the different factors that predispose citizens to differ from one another in terms of their political perceptions, attitudes, values, and activities)

How to Study for the American Government CLEP Test

We hope to bring some American Government information onto this site shortly, but for now you will need to count on outside sources for your studying. Most first year books on US government will teach you all you need to know about the subjects. You can also check out some of the american government guide reviews we have rated in our review section.

InstantCert is the guide that we most recommend, as it is the one that consistently receives the highest ratings from test-takers that have used it to prepare for their CLEP tests. We would like to fully disclose that we will make a few dollars if you decide to sign up for InstantCert or the other study guides through our links. However, rest assured that the reviews are honest and unaltered, and that the money we make from the site is reinvested in creating free CLEP content for you to use.