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The Introductory Sociology Exam

Introductory Sociology:
Study Guide & Test Prep

CLEP Introductory Sociology

"Sociology can be defined as the general science of society. While some sociologists conduct research that may be applied directly to social policy and welfare, others focus primarily on refining the theoretical understanding of social processes."*

The Introductory Sociology CLEP™ exam is designed to assess a person’s knowledge of the subject typically taught in a one-semester introductory sociology course. The exam emphasizes basic facts and concepts as well as general theoretical approaches used by sociologists.

The 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 we have listed below.


  • Identification of specific names, facts, and concepts from sociological literature
  • Understanding of relationships between concepts, empirical generalizations, and theoretical propositions of sociology
  • Understanding of the methods by which sociological relationships are established
  • Application of concepts, propositions and methods to hypothetical situations
  • Interpretation of tables and charts
The subject matter of the Introductory Sociology exam is drawn from the following topics.

INSTITUTIONS: 20% of the exam

Institutions are stable structures or mechanisms of social order. They govern the behavior of individuals within a given community. They are defined by their social purpose, which rises above individuals and their intentions to establish rules for behavior.

  • Economic
  • Educational
  • Family
  • Medical
  • Political
  • Religious

SOCIAL PATTERNS: 10% of the exam

The study of the trends and behaviors of people within large

  • Communities
  • Community
  • Demography
  • Human ecology
  • Rural/urban patterns

SOCIAL PROCESSES: 25% of the exam

Social processes are how individuals and groups interact, change and establish patterns of behavior which may change through continued interactions.

  • Collective behavior and social movements
  • Culture
  • Deviance and social control
  • Groups and organizations
  • Social change
  • Social interaction
  • Socialization

SOCIAL STRATIFICATION (Process and Structure): 25% of the exam

Social stratification is a society's categorization of people into socioeconomic strata, based upon their occupation and income, wealth and social status, or derived social or political power.

  • Aging
  • Power and social inequality
  • Professions and occupations
  • Race and ethnic relations
  • Sex and gender roles
  • Social class
  • Social mobility


  • History of sociology
  • Methods
  • Sociological theory
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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