HIST 2020
American History II
Preparation Guide for Final Examination
Spring 2006


The final examination in HIST 2020 comprises:

(1)   twenty-five multiple-choice questions (50%);

(2)   three essay questions out which students would answer two (50%).

Required materials

(1)   Two sharpened #2 pencils for recording answers to the multiple-choice section.

(2)   A blue or black ballpoint pen.

(3)   At least one examination booklet (blue book) for writing the essays (Examination booklets are available in the bookstores on both campuses).


(1)   The time duration for the examination is one hour and fifteen minutes: 25 minutes for the multiple-choice section and 50 minutes for the essay section.

(2)   No books, notes, or other materials may be consulted during the examination.

Date and Time

The final examination will be administered at the date and time indicated on the official examination schedule of the University. This schedule is printed in the class schedule book each semester and is also available on the University’s web site.

Studying Guidelines

The final examination is designed to test the learning outcomes stated in the syllabus for the course.  The multiple-choice questions test students' familiarity with historical persons, institutions, and events (course learning outcome #1), and the essay questions assess the ability of students to use this knowledge in making connections, analyzing arguments, and presenting their own ideas (learning outcomes #2-5).

The terms listed below for each topic are provided to assist students in preparing for the multiple-choice questions on the examination.  Multiple-choice questions on the test are based on these terms. For each term, students should know basic factual information (who, what, when, where) and recognize significance (why is the term important).  Although it is important to be thoroughly familiar with the terms, the multiple-choice questions are not designed to confuse prepared students or test the memorization of trivial details. Students who can identify a term and explain its importance should be able to answer a related multiple-choice question correctly.

The three essay questions on the examination will be taken directly from the questions below. Students are required to answer any two of the three questions. Because the selection is not published in advance, students should prepare for all seven questions.  Essays should comprise five to eight full paragraphs (at least four or five sentences each), including an introduction and a conclusion.  As indicated in the syllabus, responses to essay questions are graded on the basis of factual accuracy, relevance to the topic, clarity, presentation, and organization.  Students should devote a significant portion of their test preparation to constructing thorough, organized, and reasoned responses to the essay questions.


1.  The Second World War


Identification Terms:

Pearl Harbor, War Production Board (WPB), Nisei, Fair Employment Practices Committee (FEPC), “Rosie the Riveter,” Operation Overlord, United Nations, Manhattan Project.


Essay Question:

Why did the United States become involved in World War II, and how did the war affect the nation’s vision of its role in the world? Also, evaluate the changing status of women, African Americans, and Japanese Americans during the war.


2.  Postwar America and the Cold War


Identification Terms:

The Sun Belt, Dixiecrat, the Fair Deal, Brown v. Board of Education, “long telegram,” National Security Act, Mao Tse-tung, Douglas MacArthur, Sputnik, Joseph McCarthy.


Essay Question:

To what extent were the 1950s, as is often suggested, a time of well-being and contentment in American history? In answering this question, examine both the cultural conformity of the period and the perspective of those who dissented from it.


3.  Civil Rights          


Identification Terms:

Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Little Rock Nine, Sit-In Movement, James Meredith, Eugene “Bull” Connor, Freedom Summer, Voting Rights Act of 1965, Stokely Carmichael, Malcolm X.


Essay Question:

What were the methods and goals of the civil rights movement during the 1950s and early 1960s, and to what extent, if any, did they differ from the issues of the movement during the latter 1960s?


4.  The U.S. and the World in the 1960s


Identification Terms:

Bay of Pigs, Cuban Missile Crisis, Berlin Wall, Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, Viet Cong, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), “counterculture,” 1968 presidential election


Essay Question:

How did the United States get involved in Vietnam, and why was it so difficult to withdraw from the conflict? What roles did the Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations play in the war?


5. Disorder and Discontent


Identification Terms:

My Lai Massacre, Pentagon Papers, “plumbers,” “Imperial presidency,” 25th Amendment, CREEP, Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities,  Ford’s pardon of Nixon


Essay Question:

What led to the serious abuses of power during the Nixon presidency? Examine the abuses characteristic of Nixon’s White House with specific reference to the Watergate scandal. How did Watergate impact the political issues of the 1970s?


6.  Conservatism in a Post-Cold War World


Identification Terms:

“Service economy,” Immigration Act of 1965, Moral Majority, “Star Wars,” Jesse Jackson, Clarence Thomas, Bush v. Gore, Operation Desert Storm, Clarence Thomas


Essay Question:

Did American society become more conservative in the last two decades of the twentieth century? Consider both political developments and changes in the social and cultural landscape of the country.