US History II

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by the Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” (the Declaration of Independence, 1776) . . . With these words, the Continental Congress set in motion what has become the great American democratic experiment . . . the structured, purposeful establishment of a new nation. 200 years of exploration by many countries and British colonization has been followed by over 240 years of nationhood.

The History of the United States II: 1865 to the Present exam covers material that is usually taught in the second semester of what is often a two-semester course in United States history. The exam covers the period of United States history from the end of the Civil War to the present, with the majority of the questions being on the twentieth century.

Following the Civil War, the United States experienced tremendous growth as more states joined the union. Rapid rise in industrialization and materials output soon exceeded that of all other world nations. The U.S. rise to world power status occurred during the decades that followed the 1890s.

The exam contains approximately 120 questions to be answered in 90 minutes. Some of these are pretest questions that will not be scored. The College Board sets the parameters of the exam which we have listed below.


  • Identification and description of historical phenomena
  • Analysis and interpretation of historical phenomena
  • Comparison and contrast of historical phenomena

The subject matter of the History of the United States II exam is drawn from the following topics.


  • Political institutions and public policy: 35% of the exam
  • Social developments: 25% of the exam
  • Economic developments: 10% of the exam
  • Cultural and intellectual developments: 15% of the exam
  • Diplomacy and international relations: 15% of the exam


  • 1865 – 1914: 30% of the exam
  • 1915 – present: 70% of the exam

The following themes are reflected in specific questions on the exam.

  • The impact of the Civil War and Reconstruction upon the South
  • The motivations and character of American expansionism
  • The content of constitutional amendments and their interpretations by the Supreme Court
  • The changing nature of agricultural life
  • The development of American political parties
  • The emergence of regulatory and welfare-state legislation
  • The intellectual and political expressions of liberalism, conservatism, and other such movements
  • Long-term demographic trends
  • The process of economic growth and development
  • The changing occupational structure, nature of work, and labor organization
  • Immigration and the history of racial and ethnic minorities
  • Urbanization and industrialization
  • The causes and impacts of major wars in American history
  • Major movements and individual figures in the history of American arts and letters
  • Trends in the history of women and the family

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.