CLEP Social Sciences and History Practice Test Questions
1. The Chou period in ancient China corresponds most closely to the period between the years of
(a) 1000 and 250 BC
(b) 1500 and 500 BC
(c) 500 and 150 BC
(d) 1200 and 200 BC
(e) 900 and 100 BC
2. Which of the following events occurred in China between 350 and 500 AD?
(a) Buddhism came to China via the Silk Road; during the Eastern Han Dynasty China flourished.
(b) Secret Taoist societies of poor peasants rebelled against taxes in the Yellow Turban Revolt.
(c) There existed a three-kingdom period consisting of the Wei, the Shu, and the Wu kingdoms.
(d) Following the three-kingdom period, China underwent temporary unification by the “Chin.”
(e) Sixteen Hunnish kingdoms in the North vs. six Chinese dynasties in the South separated China.
(a) between 1 and 100 AD
(b) between 400 and 500 AD
(c) between 250 and 350 AD
(d) between 100 and 200 AD
(e) between all of these years
4. Which of these occurred in Egypt between 3000 and 2000 BC?
(a) Predynastic cultures developed and began using agriculture.
(b) King Tutankhamen succeeded King Ikhnaton.
(c) The pharaohs began to rule Egypt.
(d) The alphabet with 24 characters began to be used.
(e) The New Kingdom succeeded the Middle Kingdom.
5. The Greek poet Homer is thought to have composed the epic poems the Iliad and the Odyssey around which of these time periods?
(a) 700-600 BC
(b) 500-400 BC
(c) 400-300 BC
(d) 900-800 BC
(e) 600-500 BC
6. Who wrote Oedipus Rex and, later, Oedipus at Colonus?
7. Who is credited with exclaiming “Eureka!” (“I have it!”), upon stepping into a bathtub and suddenly realizing the principle regarding the volume of displacement of water?
8. Who was involved in the construction of the Parthenon?
(d) none of these
(e) all of these
9. When did the Roman Republic begin to evolve?
(a) around 700 BC
(b) around 500 BC
(c) around 200 BC
(d) around 1 AD
(e) around 476 AD
10. Which of the following Roman emperors came first?
(e) Romulus Augustus
CLEP Social Science Practice Question Answer Key
- Between the years 1000 and 250 BC (a) is correct. The Chou period was specifically from 1050 to 256 BC. Around 1500 BC in China was the Shang period (b), which was then followed in 1050 by the Chou period. Between 500 and 150 BC (c), the Chou period was followed by the Han period. Between 1200 and 200 BC (d) were the Shang, Chou, and Han periods. Between 900 and 100 BC (e) were the Chou and Han periods. Therefore, the only answer that includes the entire Chou period and includes no other periods is (a). 1050 BC is after 1000 BC and 250 BC is just before 256 BC, so this answer corresponds most closely to the Chou period.
- Answer (e) is correct. Between approximately 350 and 500 AD, North and South China were separated. A Hunnish invasion resulted in 16 Hunnish kingdoms in North China, while in South China, the “six dynasties” continued to preserve Chinese tradition. Buddhism arrived in China via the Silk Road (a network of trade routes across Asia and connecting to Europe, Africa, and the Mediterranean) and the Chinese Empire flourished again under the Eastern Han Dynasty (a) between 25 and 220 AD. The Yellow Turban Revolt (b) occurred in 184 AD after unrest grew among peasants who were driven to poverty by increasing taxation from the North. The Han Dynasty fell in 220 AD. Following this there was no unified government in China for 300 years. The three-kingdom period of the Wei, Shu, and Wu kingdoms (c) followed the fall of the Han Dynasty in 220. Roughly around 300 AD, China had a short period of unification by the “Chin” (d). Between 350 and 500 AD, Huns, or Mongols, who had ruled central Asia five hundred years earlier, again invaded India and Asia. Huns established 16 kingdoms in North China while in South China the Six Dynasties continued Chinese traditions, so that the North and South were separated by these differences (e).
- Between 400 and 500 AD (b), Egypt became part of the Eastern Roman Empire. Between 1 and 100 AD (a), a Roman province was established in Egypt, but Egypt was not actually part of the Roman Empire at this time. Between 250 and 350 AD (c), monasticism evolved in Egypt as founded by the ascetic St. Antonius, who came out of a religious retreat to organize the hermits who emulated his practices around 305 AD. He built a monastery named Der Mar Antonios, which still stands between the Red Sea and the Nile River, in the desert. Between 100 and 200 AD (d) a Christian community was established in Alexandria, Egypt. Egypt was not a part of the Roman Empire from 1 to 500 AD, so answer (e) is incorrect.
- The period 3000-2000 BC was when the Pharaohs began to rule Egypt (c) and the Pyramids and the Sphinx were built. Predynastic Egyptian cultures developed and began using agriculture (a) between 5500 and 3000 BC, before the Pharaonic period. Tutankhamen succeeded Ikhnaton as king (b) between 1500 and 1000 BC. The 24-character alphabet began to be used in Egypt (d) between 2000 and 1500 BC. The New Kingdom in Egypt (e) followed the Middle Kingdom during 1500-1000 BC.
- Homer is estimated to have composed the Iliad and the Odyssey between 900 and 800 BC (d). Between 700 and 600 BC (a), the Greeks founded Byzantium and built the Acropolis in Athens; Solon (640-560 BC) developed his law code, and the poet Sappho of Lesbos (fl. c. 610-580 BC) wrote her poetry. Between 500 and 400 BC (b), the Greeks defeated the Persians at Marathon (490 BC), Thermopylae, and Salamis (both in 480 BC); Sparta won the Peloponnesian Wars against Athens (431-404 BC); Greek culture flourished in the Age of Pericles (450-400 BC); the Parthenon, a temple for the goddess Athena, was built in Athens (447-432 BC); the great Greek tragedian Sophocles lived and wrote (c. 496-406 BC); and Hippocrates, the “Father of Medicine” for whom the Hippocratic oath is named, was born in 460 BC. Between 400 and 300 BC (c), Alexander the Great (356-323 BC) ruled; the great philosopher Socrates was tried and executed for his ideas (399 BC); his student Plato recorded Socrates’ lessons in his Dialogues (c. 427-347 BC); mathematician Euclid developed Euclidian geometry (323 BC). The great philosopher Aristotle (384-322 BC), orator Demosthenes (also 384-322 BC), and famous sculptor Praxiteles (400-330 BC) also lived during this time period. From 600 to 500 BC (e), the Athenian concept of democracy developed; the great dramatist Aeschylus lived (525-465 BC); and Pythagoras (c. 582-507 BC), the philosopher and mathematician for whom the Pythagorean theorem was named, also lived.
- Sophocles (b) was an ancient Greek tragedian who was reported to have written 123 plays during his long life (he is said to have lived into his nineties). Only seven of these plays have survived into modern times. Perhaps the most famous of the seven is Oedipus Rex (Oedipus the King). As a tragedy, this play ends with Oedipus gouging his own eyes out and being exiled after he discovers that he has unwittingly killed his father and married his mother. When Sophocles was an old man, it is thought that he felt this fate too harsh, and to remedy it, he wrote Oedipus at Colonus, wherein Oedipus, though blind and exiled from his birthplace, becomes a much revered and loved king of Colonus. This later modification of an eventually happier ending to Oedipus’s story may have given Sophocles some more peaceful sense of closure in his old age. Aeschylus (a) was an ancient Greek playwright who lived earlier than Sophocles and is thought to have written 70-90 plays, only six or seven of which have survived (one is of disputed authorship). Among these surviving works is the Oresteia, a trilogy of plays (Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, and The Eumenides). Euripides (c) lived later than Sophocles and was thought to have written at least 90 plays, at least 18 of which have survived. He wrote Medea, Trojan Women, and The Bacchae among others. Aristophanes (d) was not a tragedian but a comedian. He wrote comic plays and was also a poet. Of 40 plays, 11 have survived. These include The Clouds, The Wasps, Peace, The Birds, and the famous Lysistrata. Demosthenes (e) was not a playwright at all; he was a famous Greek orator, speechwriter, lawyer, and statesman. All five of these men lived in ancient Athens between 500 and 300 BC, during the Classical Age of Greece.
- Archimedes (a) of Syracuse, a Greek physicist, engineer, mathematician, astronomer, and inventor, is credited with exclaiming “Eureka!” when he discovered in the bath that the volume of water displaced is equal to the volume of submerged solid. This discovery solved a formerly impossible problem: the exact calculation of the volume of irregularly shaped objects. Aristophanes (b) was not a scientist but a writer of comic plays and of poetry. Aristotle (c) was a famous Greek philosopher who developed a comprehensive system of Western philosophy. While he wrote on many subjects, including politics, physics, government, ethics, music, theater, poetry, and biology, one of the few things he did not do was mathematics. Aeschylus (d) was a Greek tragedian, one of the three whose works have survived, along with Sophocles and Euripides. Alexander the Great (e), or Alexander III of Macedon, was a student of Aristotle, and a king who created one of the largest empires of ancient times.
- All of these men (e) were involved in the construction of the Parthenon: The great sculptor Phidias (a) supervised the work and was also responsible for creating the Parthenon’s sculptures. The two architects who designed the temple were Iktinos (b) and Kallikrates (c). Therefore answer (d) is incorrect.
- The Roman Republic began to evolve around 500 BC (b) with the treaty between the Roman Republic and Carthage, the first public Roman treaty. Around 700 BC (a) was when Rome was ruled by the famous “seven kings.” Around 200 BC (c) was the second of the three Punic Wars. Around the year 1 AD (d) was the beginning of the Roman Empire. Around the year 476 AD (e) is when many historians consider the decline and fall of the Roman Empire to have culminated with the deposition of Romulus Augustus, the last of the Western Roman emperors, by Odocaer, the Visigoth king. The Roman emperors were replaced by Gothic kings, although the Eastern Roman Empire continued to exist until the fall of Constantinople in 1453 AD.
- Augustus (c) reigned from 27 BC to 14 AD and was considered the first emperor of the Imperial Period. Titus (a) ruled from 79 AD to 81 AD. Hadrian (b) was emperor from 117 to 138 AD. Nero (d) ruled from 54 to 68 AD. Romulus Augustus (e), son of Orestes, was in power from 475 to 476 AD, was deposed by Odocaer as Gothic invasions overtook Rome’s dominion, and was considered to be the last of the Western Roman emperors.