Content of the SAT II U.S. History
Content of the SAT II U.S. History
The SAT II U.S. History Test covers 600 years of United States history, beginning with the period before Columbus’s discovery of the New World and continuing to the present. There are two ways to organize and think about the 600 years of U.S. history covered on the test: by chronological eras, and by different aspects of history, such as political, social, or economic history.
Chronological Eras
ETS breaks down the content of the test into three chronological eras, and tells us how much of each the test covers:
Pre-Colombian to 1789 20%
1790–1898 40%
1899–present 40%
Unfortunately, these categories are too broad to be very helpful—the Pre-Colombian to 1789 category alone contains three distinct historical periods, each with its own characteristics: the Pre-Columbian period, the Colonial Period, and the American Revolution.
Below, we’ve created a test breakdown of smaller, more manageable categories.
Pre-Columbian 1–3%
Colonial Period 10–14%
American Revolution and Constitution 8–12%
First Years of the New Nation 6–10%
Age of Jackson and Jacksonian Democracy 3–7%
Westward Expansion and Sectional Strife 6–10%
Civil War and Reconstruction 3–7%
Industrial Revolution 13–17%
American Imperialism 1–3%
Progressive Era 3–7%
Word War I 3–7%
The Roaring ’20s 3–7%
The Great Depression and the New Deal 6–10%
World War II 5–9%
1950s: Cold War, Civil Rights 6–10%
1960s: Vietnam, Civil Rights, Social Movements 4–8%
1970s–Present 1–3%
This book is organized according to these seventeen categories, allowing you to focus on each time period to whatever degree you feel necessary. Also, each question in the practice tests at the back of this book has been categorized according to this breakdown, so that when you take practice tests, you can very precisely identify your weaknesses and then use this book to address them.
Aspects of History
The second way to think about the content covered by the SAT II U.S. History is in terms of different aspects of history, regardless of time period. The test targets five types of historical knowledge:
Political history 32–36%
Economic history 18–20%
Social history 18–22%
Intellectual, cultural history 10–12%
Foreign policy 13–17%
In our opinion, this categorization is not as helpful as the chronological breakdown. For example, studying the economic history of the Industrial Revolution would be pointless without knowing any political history of the period. You can’t really understand one without the other. Instead, use this breakdown to get a sense of where you need to focus while studying a chronological era. This list is a good reminder tht you need to do more than just memorize key facts; you must really understand the context in which each piece of history fits.
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