History

History is one of those repeating subjects that we enjoy teaching our students. If fact, it is one of the few subjects that students are taught several times during K-12 and again in college. Consider having your student study it well in high school, pass a CLEP, and earn college credit. There are several history exams available within US and World History. My oldest really enjoyed history, so took them all! By “stacking” or ordering them, his studies for one overflowed into the next. Students who don’t share this passion will want to focus on completing one or two exams, which may fulfill their college general education requirements. Here is the order we took them in:

  • US History I – Early Colonization to 1877
  • American Government
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction DSST (or move to after US II if this is where your studies are for The Reconstruction)
  • US History II – 1865 to the Present
  • A History of the Vietnam War DSST
  • Western Civilization I – Ancient Near East to 1648
  • Western Civilization II – 1648 to the Present

And then …

  • History of the Soviet Union DSST
  • Social Science and History CLEP

Here are some tips to consider:

The easiest exam for most students is US History I. It is fact-based and often the material studied repeatedly (Columbus sailed the ocean blue, through the Civil War and Reconstruction). It also seems many high school curricula have more pages devoted to this period and are light on the second half of history.

Make it easier for students and choose curricula that separates US History from World History. Interwoven or classical literature-based studies can be more difficult to separate into the topics covered within each exam.

Review the exam content outline as provided by CollegeBoard or Prometric. Note the percentage of the test dedicated to each topic and time period.

Interweave test-prep materials within your student’s studies. For example, create a syllabus that combines reading in the REA Study Guide that corresponds to the Table of Contents in your student’s history curriculum. Read the pages from the REA, teaching study skills as you go along, such as how to “read a textbook“, outline a chapter, make a timeline, create flash cards, then have him read the related chapters in his history curriculum.

Consider selecting your student’s literature readers, speech topics, and essay writings with the history periods he is studying. Choose family movies that support his studies. He won’t even know you were this intentional, but your efforts will help him dive deeper by building this cross-curricula method.

Consider jumping over middle-school curricula and have your student study a high school-level course. This provides the depth he needs and, more importantly, it frees up an entire study block between grades 7 – 12 where, instead of repeating history, he can study something else, such as economics, psychology, personal finance, business writing, etc.

When planning out your student’s studies, teach subjects that overlap together. Year 1: US History and American Government. Year 2: World History and World Religions.

History Material We Studied

We added CLEP as a final exam to our studies. It is not what I based my choice of curriculum on. I was also learning as I went along. Though I’ve included what we used as a help, there are so many great choices for studies and you should select what works best for your students.

US History CLEP: My choice of curriculum shows you that it really is not about the curriculum. Choose what works for your student! We deviated from the standard homeschool curriculum for this one using the PASS curriculum developed by the Florida Dept. of Education. The curriculum is free and available on CD upon request while supplies last. We also used their text for American Government and studied these two subjects side-by-side since there is so much overlap. From the teacher guide, I chose projects that helped enforce CLEP must-knows like memorizing the amendments. We are also big fans of Netflix so I coordinated historical fiction films and books into the syllabus. Another mom shared her list of videos that looks to be well done. If you want another great choice, check out the publisher we used for Western Civ.

American Government CLEP: See note above. This is considered one of the more difficult social science exams.

Western Civilization CLEP: We enjoyed the World History curriculum from Ray Notgrass.  I changed up the readers from those assigned in the curriculum. To study for Western Civ II, we used Spielvogel’s Human Odyssey. Other students have used this text for both exams and were well prepared for both I and II. Over lunch, we also watched a very engaging DVD series with Professor Linwood Thompson presented by The Great Courses World History: The Fertile Crescent to the American Revolution.

The Civil War and Reconstruction DSST: Have your student prepare for this exam during his study of US I. Mine read A Short History of the Civil War and watched Ken Burns Civil War Series. If time, watch Gods and Generals, and Gettysburg. If you want more resources for this and other DSST exams, Free-CLEP-Prep is a helpful website.

A History of the Vietnam War DSST:  If interested in history, take this exam during study of US II. My son wrote a research paper on this topic for National History Day so didn’t need to do additional studying.

Social Science and History CLEP: For history buffs who have taken Western Civ and a few other history courses, my oldest studied the REA for this exam along with completing practice exams.

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