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US/GA History Exam

The University of Georgia United States and Georgia History Exam

A passing grade on an examination on the history of the United States and Georgia is required of all persons receiving a baccalaureate degree from the University unless exempted by one of the following courses: HIST 2111, HIST 2111E, HIST 2112, HIST 2112E, HIST 2111H, HIST 2112H, HIST 3080H.

For all course options on university-wide requirements on U.S. and Georgia history and constitution requirements, check the university bulletin.

The exam is not a substitute for an education in U.S. and Georgia history; it is a diagnostic to determine whether a student is already proficient in the subject. Students planning on taking the exam should take it within the first year to give themselves sufficient opportunity to take a course if they do not pass the exam successfully.

This test is administered by University Testing Services at Clark Howell Hall. Please contact University Testing Services to register for the test. There are multiple versions of the exam.

Students may NOT receive course credit for this exam.

The exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions. The minimum passing score for the exam is 60% or more correct answers in each section of the exam. The sections and minimum passing scores break down as follows:

Georgia History: 20 questions Minimum Passing Score: 12
U.S. History to 1877: 40 questions Minimum Passing Score: 24
U.S. History since 1877: 40 questions Minimum Passing Score: 24
Total: 100 questions Total: 60

How to Prepare for the Exam

The United States and Georgia History Exam tests historical literacy, that is, an awareness and knowledge of the basic facts of American and Georgia history. All of the examination questions are factual and deal with the people, events, movements, relationships, and trends that have shaped the state and the nation. Facts are actually miniature arguments based on historical evidence and correct answers will show an understanding of the underlying historical context and meaning of the facts.

A reading of any one- or two-volume U.S. history text or synopsis will provide the basic information you need for the U.S. portion of the exam. See the bibliography at the end of this guide for a list of such texts. The list is not exhaustive, but a college text is preferable to one used in high school. For the Georgia portion, students may read James C. Cobb’s Georgia Odyssey, or follow the entries in the online Georgia Encyclopedia. The brief guide is online for reference (below).

This Study Guide for the United States and Georgia History Exam is not a substitute for reviewing a textbook or Georgia Odyssey. The Guide will assist you as you read to identify the more important people, events, and episodes in U.S. and Georgia history. The Guide alone will NOT provide the information you need to pass the exam. The Guide may be found below.

When and Where to Take the Exam

Students may take the exam on an individual basis at University Testing Services in Clark Howell Hall. The cost is currently $30.00 (check with Testing Services for any updates). Appointments are preferred. The testing center is open M-F 8:30-5pm. For questions about individual testing, call 706-542-3183.

Reexamination is permitted.

History Study Guide

The Georgia history section of the study guide includes brief commentaries and lists of important people, places, events, and concepts. These lists are not inclusive. They are intended to give students an idea of what they should know and understand.

Colonial Georgia

The land and the people of what is now Georgia has a vital history long before the colony of Georgia was created. That history is part of the examination. Under the Trustees who oversaw Georgia’s settlement and early growth, colonial Georgia was initially a land of high expectations and strict rules. Colonial leaders provided for a colony free of slaves and capable of producing luxury items like silks and wine. Georgia’s early image and character changed as the colonial period continued. Royal governors replaced the Trustees, and white Georgians disregarded the advice of the early leaders. Georgians adopted slavery and single-crop plantations of rice like their Carolinian neighbors. By the eve of the Revolutionary War, Georgia was quite different from what its founder, James Edward Oglethorpe, had foreseen. 


Georgia from 1783 to 1865

In the period between the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, slavery increased dramatically in Georgia and affected every facet of life. Georgia’s land area also grew for several reasons. Native people were thrust from their ancient homes. Students should be familiar with the reasons and events behind this growth and how slavery shaped Georgia and its people.

Georgia played an essential role in the Civil War. As the most populous southern state and as the state with the most slaves, Georgia’s decision to secede was crucial to the secessionist movement. To answer questions about Georgia and the Civil War, students should know the details behind Georgia’s secession; the effect of the Northern invasion; the different perspectives black and white Georgians had on the war’s outcome; and how this outcome affected both groups.


Georgia from 1865 to 1890

After the defeat of the Confederacy, white Georgians were eager to regain many aspects of the world they had known before 1860. Despite different phases of Reconstruction, by 1871, Democrats again controlled the state government and, using a combination of violence, intimidation, and legislation, effectively controlled and disfranchised black Georgians. Nevertheless, life in Georgia changed considerably with the end of the Civil War. The loss of millions of dollars in slave capital pushed many whites into poverty, and the crop-lien system created a cycle of debt for white and black farmers alike. To answer questions about late nineteenth-century Georgia, students should know how white Georgians attempted to thwart Reconstruction; the economic and social difficulties that plagued the freedmen in the late nineteenth century; and how whites and blacks responded to these problems.


Georgia from 1890 to 1940

As Georgia entered the twentieth century, white Georgians attempted to institutionalize and strengthen the system of racial discrimination that developed after the end of Reconstruction. Segregation by law replaced segregation by custom, and restrictions on black voting rights became even more stringent. As cotton prices plummeted and Georgia felt the effects of the Great Depression, the state’s economic and agricultural problems increased. Urbanization and industrialization seemed to some to provide answers, but others resisted the call to modernize the state. To answer questions about Georgia from 1890 to 1940, students should be familiar with the "Jim Crow" era and with the important political figures of the day. Students should also know how Georgians responded to the New Deal and how the New Deal affected the state and its populace.


Georgia from 1940 to the Present

Georgia experienced an unprecedented transformation during and after the Second World War. Agriculture became less central to the state’s economy, and industry, manufacturing, and urbanization greatly increased. The efforts of Martin Luther King, Jr. and other Civil Rights activists brought legalized racial segregation to an end, and black Georgians gained the opportunity for the first time since Reconstruction to wield political power. In the last quarter of the twentieth century, Georgia also entered the world stage. The American people elected former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter to the White House in 1976, and Atlanta hosted the Olympic Games twenty years later. In addition, a tremendous shift occurred in the political loyalties of many white Georgians, as they increasingly joined or voted for the Republican Party in the 1990s. In the twenty-first century, Georgia had become a transportation and educational center of the Southeast. To answer questions about Georgia from 1940 to the present, students should know the history behind these events and changes.


United States History

There are eight sections in the United States History portion of the study guide. Each section includes a brief commentary, a list of themes with which students should acquaint themselves, including events or concepts similar to those that will be on the exam. They are intended to give students an idea of what they should know and understand after reviewing a one or two-volume U.S. history text or synopsis. See the bibliography at the end of this guide for a list of such texts.


Prehistory to 1754

The history of the First Peoples in America is not a prelude to the chronicle of our nation. It is a vital part of that story, and that is reflected in the first questions of this exam. In the two and a half centuries between Christopher Columbus’ landing in the Bahamas and the North American outbreak of the French and Indian War, the area that was to become the United States underwent an extraordinary transformation. Explorers from numerous European nations encountered a wide variety of native peoples, and European colonies eventually dotted the Eastern seaboard and Southwest among older native settlements. Colonists came to the New World for religious freedom, profit, adventure, and a variety of other reasons. Some Native Americans resisted European settlement, but trade, disease, and warfare undermined their efforts. As the colonies matured, they became more entrenched in the economic systems of their mother countries and experienced the religious, social, and cultural dynamism and conflicts of complex societies.


Themes to study:

To answer questions about American history to 1754, students should be familiar with the origins of the native populations of the Americas and their interaction with Europeans; the major early explorers of the Americas and the first settlements in the future United States; the origins and early leaders of the colonies, particularly those on the east coast; the differences among the governments and the economies of the colonies; the political relationship between the colonies and the Old World; indentured servitude and slavery in the colonies; and the principal elements of colonial society and culture, including religion, family, and social conflict.


From Colonies to Nation: 1754 to 1800

From the French and Indian War to 1800, some of the British mainland colonies gained their independence and formed the United States of America. Tensions between these British colonies and the British Parliament increased in the 1760s and 1770s, erupting into war in 1775 and leading to the Declaration of Independence in 1776. The revolutionaries wished to be rid of the political and economic burdens they felt as taxpaying members of the British Empire who received little or no voice in its government or policy-making. After defeating the British, the states forged a weak central government under the Articles of Confederation but soon replaced it with a federal system under the Constitution. The young nation had its share of controversy over economic development, political rights, and international relations. By the election of Thomas Jefferson to the presidency in 1800, however, a two-party political system had emerged to channel these differences.


Themes to study:

To answer questions about American history from 1754 to 1800, students should be familiar with the political and economic relationship between the colonies and England; the significance of the French and Indian War; the political ideas of the revolutionary era; the events and issues that led to the Revolutionary War; the major figures and battles of the Revolutionary War; the principal documents of the early nation; the struggle to ratify the Constitution; the impact of the Revolution on the American social structure; and the different beliefs and events that led to the emergence of the two-party system.


The Young Republic: 1800 to the 1840s

The young republic grew and developed rapidly in the first several decades of the nineteenth century. As Americans moved westward, the United States purchased vast amounts of land from France and fought wars with both Britain and Mexico. The Market Revolution began in this period, slowly transforming buying and working patterns in the Northeast. In the South, slavery remained a principal source of labor as well as a defining element of southern society, and planters moved westward to cultivate lands recently occupied by Native Americans. This westward movement of slavery led to several compromises that attempted to forestall the growing differences between the North and the South. Reform movements emerged in large numbers in the 1830s and 1840s. Advocates of abolition, temperance, education reform, and women’s rights pleaded their cases with a newfound vigor. Simultaneously, Andrew Jackson and his presidency gave American politics a new democratic spirit, exacerbated several controversies such as states’ rights and the National Bank, and resurrected the two-party political system.


Themes to study:

To answer questions about American history from 1800 to the 1840s, students should be familiar with the physical growth of the United States; the causes and outcomes of the War of 1812; the influential Supreme Court cases of the era; the key components of the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution in America; the origins and results of the Mexican-American war; the place of slavery in southern society; conflict with Native Americans; the demise and rebirth of the two-party system in American politics; and the reform movements of the 1830s and 1840s.


Sectionalism, The Civil War, and Reconstruction: 1840s to 1877

From the 1840s to 1877, trends such as industrial growth, westward expansion, and social reform continued in the United States, but in the 1860s and 1870s, the nation suffered through a brutal Civil War and bitter periods of Reconstruction and Redemption. The expansion of slavery into western territories and the rise of the abolition movement increased tensions between the slave states of the South and the free labor states of the North. Despite numerous compromises in the 1850s, eleven southern states seceded in the winter of 1860-1861, and a civil insurrection raged for four years. By 1865, portions of the former Confederacy lay in ruins, ex-slaves tried to find their families and build lives as free men and women, and Northern troops occupied the Southern states. The readmission of the Southern states into the Union was a hotly contested issue. Several “plans” guided Reconstruction, aiming either quickly to reunite the nation or to reform the South. Reconstruction ended in 1876 with the compromise election of Rutherford B. Hayes, but by then, most southern states had already returned to white control and begun the slide toward the disfranchisement of blacks, the legal institutionalization of racism, and the crippling arrangements of the crop-lien system and sharecropping.


Themes to study:

To answer questions about American history from the 1840s to 1877, students should be familiar with America’s movement westward in the 1840s and 1850s; the women’s rights movement; the growth of the abolition movement; the compromises and the eventual breakdown of compromise over slavery and sectionalism; the proximate causes, the major figures, and the important battles of the Civil War; the fate of slaves and slavery during the war and freedmen after the war; the central issues of Reconstruction; the various phases of Reconstruction; white opposition to Reconstruction in the South; and the end of Reconstruction.


Industrial America: 1877 to 1929

The United States transformed itself form a rural-agrarian society into an urban-industrial one in the decades around the turn of the twentieth century. Immigrants and rural Americans flooded old and new cities to work in manufacturing and processing businesses, and large corporations, modeled on the railroad industry, dominated the economy. Labor unions organized workers to fight for better wages and working conditions, as the American society and nation adjusted to changes in work, living, and leisure patterns. In the South and West, farmers organized in Farmers’ Alliances and eventually formed the Populist Party in 1890 to defend themselves in the new economic environment. At the same time, America emerged on the world stage with considerable overseas involvement, eventually entering World War I in 1917. The customary segregation between the races that had emerged after the Civil War became a legal institution in the form of Jim Crow laws, and continued westward expansion led to the creation of reservations for Native Americans. It was during this period that large numbers of blacks left the South in search of jobs in the North. In the early decades of twentieth century, multiple reforms coalesced into the Progressive movement. Corrupt ward bosses in some cities gave way to city managers, the prohibition and women’s rights movements secured amendments to the Constitution, and the federal government began regulating the economy and establishing standards in food and health. Big business flourished in the 1920s, stimulating vigorous economic growth for much of the decade. The Republican presidents of the era were content to leave the economy alone. Prohibition, fear of communism, the return of the Ku Klux Klan, and controversies over evolution and creationism were some of the ways Americans responded to the new urban and modern society that had emerged in America by the 1920s


Themes to study:

To answer questions about American history from 1877 to 1929, students should be familiar with the rise of big business and changes in the workplace; the diverse labor organizations that emerged in this time period; immigration, Jim Crow, and conflicts concerning Native Americans; the rise and fall of the Populist Party; the migration of African Americans to the North; America’s growing international engagements in the Caribbean, the Pacific, and Asia; Woodrow Wilson and America’s involvement in World War I, the Treaty of Versailles, and the League of Nations; the various reformers and reforms of the Progressive Movement and the social conflicts amid the prosperity of the 1920s; and the popular culture of the 1920s.


 Depression, and World War: 1929 to 1945

America experienced nearly a decade of severe Depression, and a stunning victory in a global war in the twenty-five years between 1929 and 1945.In 1929, the Stock Market crashed, ushering in a Depression of immense proportions. Looking for an alternative to the Republicans of the 1920s, Americans elected Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1932. Experimenting widely with the powers of the federal government, Roosevelt’s ‘New Deal’ was a collection of social programs designed to solve or ease the economic crisis. The Supreme Court declared some of his measures unconstitutional, but other programs like social security survive today. The Great Depression was not limited to the United States. In Europe, Adolf Hitler rose to power in Germany aided by discontent over the harsh penalties laid on Germany after World War I and the dismal economy. World War II broke out in Asia in 1937 and Europe in 1939, but the United States did not enter until the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Before then, the United States had been supplying the British and Chinese in their efforts to contain Germany and Japan. By August 1945, the Allied nations had defeated the Axis powers and the United States had dropped two atomic bombs on Japan.


Themes to study:

To answer questions about American history from 1920 to 1945, students should be familiar with the origins and essential facts of the Great Depression, including its major causes and challenges to Franklin Roosevelt’s solutions; the most prominent New Deal programs and the legacy of the New Deal; American economic, political and military involvement in World War II; and American society during the war, including internment camps, victory gardens, and the increased number of women in the workforce.


The Cold War, Affluence, and Anguish: 1945 to 1974

After World War II, the United States experienced phenomenal economic and population growth. American affluence was on the rise, as more people moved to the suburbs, creating a middle class lifestyle for the twentieth century. This prosperity was accompanied, however, by increasing tensions abroad and mounting unrest at home. The Cold War pitted the Soviet Union and the United States in a nuclear arms race that heated occasionally with events like the erection of the Berlin Wall, a war in Korea, and the Cuban Missile Crisis. One of the most complex manifestations of this American struggle against international communism was the Vietnam War. Thousands of American soldiers went to Vietnam in the 1960s. Over 50,000 of them lost their lives, America unceremoniously withdrew from the war, and the war caused massive disruption and dissent in the United States. Fueled by the youth movement, the Free Speech Movement, and the civil rights movement, antiwar protests shook the nation throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s. The war effectively destroyed the presidency of Lyndon Johnson who had hoped to run again in 1968 to continue his Great Society programs. These programs, like Medicare and Medicaid, continued the efforts of the New Deal to make the federal government more economically and socially responsible for its citizens, creating an economic safety net and challenging racism and discrimination. The civil rights movement made incredible strides in the 1950s and 1960s. Leaders like Martin Luther King and countless unknown heroic youths marched in parades, participated in boycotts and sit-ins, and suffered abuse to demand the equal rights for African Americans that were already protected by the Constitution. Women also agitated for equal rights with organizations like NOW, the National Organization of Women that unsuccessfully campaigned for an equal rights amendment to the Constitution. As president, Richard Nixon opened American relations with China and worked to maintain peace in the Middle East, but in 1974, he became America’s first president to resign from office after the exposure of the Watergate break-in and his attempts to conceal his involvement in various illegal activities. Watergate decreased American’s already low confidence in the government and the nation after decades of tensions with the Soviet Union, impossible foreign entanglements, and domestic strife.


Themes to study:

To answer questions about American history from 1945 to 1974, students should be familiar with the origins of the Cold War; the major ideas, people, and events of the Cold War; American culture in the 1950s, including sex roles, the impact of the baby boom and Word War II, and the fear of communism; America’s involvement in the Korean War; the principal issues, people, and events of the civil rights movement; America’s experience in Vietnam; the protests, assassinations, and youth movement that rocked the 1960s; the strengthening women’s movement of the 1970s; and the details and impact of the Watergate scandal.


Contemporary America: 1974 to the Present

Gerald Ford assumed the presidency after Richard Nixon resigned in August 1974, pardoning Nixon of any wrongdoing. Ford continued many of Nixon’s foreign and domestic policies but failed to win election in his own right in 1976 when he lost to Jimmy Carter. While he scored a diplomatic success with the Camp David Accords, Carter was unable to resolve several economic and international crises. This helped Ronald Reagan win the presidential election of 1980. Reagan worked to lift government regulations, reduce taxes, and reduce domestic spending by drastically curtailing social welfare. He also launched the largest peacetime military buildup in American history, while pursuing détente with the Soviet Union in his second term. In 1988, Reagan’s vice-president, George Bush, was elected president, and European communism collapsed in 1989, marking the end of the Cold War. During Bush’s administration, the United States and other United Nations members attacked Iraqi forces that had invaded Kuwait, liberating the oil-rich nation. Despite the stunning success of the Gulf War, Bush lost the 1992 election to Bill Clinton. Clinton’s more liberal policies, like his national health-care, plan fell under a barrage of lobbying and partisan attacks, and Republican victories in the 1994 congressional elections forced him to shift toward the political right. This growing national conservatism has led to challenges of affirmative action and partially reflects the expanding political voice of the religious right that had helped elect Reagan in 1980. Clinton scored numerous diplomatic successes in the 1990s, presiding over a new settlement in the Middle East and visiting China in 1998. American society changed considerably in the last three decades of the twentieth century. Women constitute much of the workforce, are increasingly becoming senior-level managers, and are over half of the students in college today. Immigration levels in the 1980s rivaled those of the 1900s and 1910s, and the face of immigration has changed, with most immigrants coming from Latin American and Asian countries. Computer technology has changed and will continue to change workplaces and lifestyles. America was struck by terrorism in the 9/11 attacks and went to war once again in Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2008, Barack Hussein Obama was the first African-American president chosen to lead the nation, a feat he repeated in a second term. 


Themes to study:

To answer questions about American history from 1974 to the present, students should be familiar with the hostage and oil crises of the 1970s; the international successes and disasters of the Carter administration; the rise of the religious right in the late 1970s and early 1980s; the impact of the sexual revolution; Ronald Reagan’s policies at home and abroad; the last gasps of the Cold War; important post-Cold War economic and military treaties and actions; the transformation of the American economy in the last decades of the twentieth century; challenges to affirmative action; the changing American workplace; the new immigration into the United States; and the introduction of the internet and wireless culture.


Suggested Reading

Georgia History

James C. Cobb, Georgia Odyssey

United States History

Any recent one- or two-volume history text or synopsis such as a recent one- or two-volume edition of one of the following:

Alan Brinkley, The Unfinished Nation

Robert A. Divine, et al., America, Past and Present

Jacqueline A. Jones, et al., Created Equal

Gary B. Nash et al., The American People

Mary Beth Norton, et al., A People and a Nation

George B. Tindall and David E. Shi, America, A Narrative History

This Study Guide for the United States and Georgia History Exam is not a substitute for reviewing a textbook or Georgia Odyssey. The Guide will assist you as you read to identify the more important people, events, and episodes in U.S. and Georgia history. The Guide alone will NOT provide the information you need to pass the exam.

Rev. 2018

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