Specific information about this course and its requirements can be found below. For more general information about taking Saylor Academy courses, including information about Community and Academic Codes of Conduct, please read the Student Handbook.
Get an introduction to American politics: its constitutional foundations, the electoral process, political participation, the decision-making process in Congress, the executive branch, and federal courts.
The scope and emphasis of this course go beyond a general understanding of civics to incorporate the core concepts of the American system of government, the workings of its myriad of actors and agencies, the key components of "politics" in the American system, and how American government shapes and influences the individual freedoms and rights of its citizens.
In the first unit, you will consider the core concepts and theoretical underpinnings of the American system of government: American political culture, the Constitution, and federalism. A solid grasp of these concepts will help you better understand the underlying basis for the structure of the American political system. In the second unit, you will explore the processes citizens use to learn about politics, including public opinion, the mass media, political parties, interest groups, campaigns, elections, and electoral participation. In the third unit, you will discuss the organizations and processes that impact the political and electoral landscape and how candidates and voters are affected. In the fourth unit, you will analyze the major governing bodies in the United States: Congress, the presidency, the bureaucracy, and the courts. In the fifth unit, you will discover how the American government shapes and influences the individual freedoms and rights of its citizens. In the final unit, you will take a close look at US social, economic, and foreign policies and the ways in which the broad themes of constitutional principles, political behavior, and governmental institutions have intersected to shape them. By the end of the course, you will have a strong understanding of the American system of government.
This course includes the following units:
Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:
Throughout this course, you will also see learning outcomes in each unit. You can use those learning outcomes to help organize your studies and gauge your progress.
The primary learning materials for this course are articles, lectures, and videos.
All course materials are free to access and can be found in each unit of the course. Pay close attention to the notes that accompany these course materials, as they will tell you what to focus on in each resource, and will help you to understand how the learning materials fit into the course as a whole. You can also see a list of all the learning materials in this course by clicking on Resources in the navigation bar.
Only the final exam is considered when awarding you a grade for this course. In order to pass this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the final exam. Your score on the exam will be calculated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam on your first try, you may take it again as many times as you want, with a 7-day waiting period between each attempt. Once you have successfully passed the final exam you will be awarded a free Course Completion Certificate.
There are also end-of-unit assessments and checkpoint quizzes in this course. These are designed to help you study, and do not factor into your final course grade. You can take these as many times as you want until you understand the concepts and material covered. You can see all of these assessments by clicking on Quizzes in the course's navigation bar.
Saylor Academy provides these free materials as a means to help students prepare to take various CLEP exams. However, Saylor Academy cannot guarantee that anyone studying these materials or taking a Saylor Academy CLEP PREP course will pass a CLEP exam. As stated in the User Agreement, Saylor Academy makes no warranty, express or implied, on the ability of anyone to pass a CLEP exam after studying these materials. All risks are assumed by the test taker.
Knowledge and Skills Required: The American Government CLEP examination covers material that is most commonly taught in a college-level, introductory American government and politics course. Questions on the American Government examination require candidates to demonstrate one or more of the following abilities in the approximate proportion indicated:
The subject matter of the American Government examination is drawn from the following topics. The percentages next to the main topics indicate the approximate percentage of exam questions on that topic.
30%-35% Institutions and Policy Processes: Presidency, Bureaucracy, and Congress
15%-20% Federal Courts, Civil Liberties, and Civil Rights
15%-20% Political Parties and Interest Groups
10%-15% Political Beliefs and Behavior
15%-20% Constitutional Underpinnings of American Democracy
POLSC232: American Government is a self-paced course, which means that you can decide when you will start and when you will complete the course. There is no instructor or an assigned schedule to follow. We estimate that the "average" student will take 125 hours to complete this course. We recommend that you work through the course at a pace that is comfortable for you and allows you to make regular progress. It's a good idea to also schedule your study time in advance and try as best as you can to stick to that schedule.
Learning new material can be challenging, so we've compiled a few study strategies to help you succeed:
This course is delivered entirely online. You will be required to have access to a computer or web-capable mobile device and have consistent access to the internet to either view or download the necessary course resources and to attempt any auto-graded course assessments and the final exam.
For additional guidance, check out Saylor Academy's FAQ.
This course is entirely free to enroll in and to access. Everything linked in the course, including textbooks, videos, webpages, and activities, is available for no charge. This course also contains a free final exam and course completion certificate.