The Civil War and Reconstruction

Discussion in 'CLEP, DANTES, and Other Exams for Credit' started by bceagles, Sep 10, 2006.

  1. bceagles

    bceagles Member

    The Civil War and Reconstruction – DSST-
    3 Upper Level Credits – 43% Pass Rate

    With This thread I’m going to attempt to document my preparation for this DSST Exam. I have no prior “Knowledge” of the Civil War. Seriously, I know basically nothing about this subject. My “Plan of Attack” will be:

    1. Get an overview of the subject
    2. Order the exam to the test center
    3. Attempt to obtain some of the recommended readings from my local library
    4. Check out what my local library does have on the Civil War
    5. Research every topic on the Outline (DSST Fact Sheet)
    6. Report back to this thread my findings
    7. Get feedback from members of this forum
    8. Sit for the exam!

    My hope is that with the DSST outline, my local library and the support of the people on this forum I can pass this exam. I also hope that this thread will help others prepare for this exam.

    For those of you who have either sat for this exam or has knowledge of this subject, please share your knowledge in this thread. Thanks!

    Step One: Get a brief overview of the subject

    From the library today I checked out a DVD titled “The American Civil: A Union Divided” ISBN 0-9743-1940-6. This is a 3 Hour 2 DVD Set. The back cover definitely reads like a study guide. I’ll give it a go and report back.
  2. TCord1964

    TCord1964 New Member

  3. Tylin

    Tylin New Member

    I took a Civil War course at my university and it was really challenging. The Ken Burns film was absolutely wonderful for the Civil War portion. I also watched this DVD on the Reconstruction portion instead of reading the required books and got an A in the course.
  4. bceagles

    bceagles Member


    Thanks for the info. My local library has that DVD. I'll go and get it tomorrow.


    Thanks for the Spark Notes tip.

    I ordered the Ken Burns DVD on Netflix.

    Normally I wouldn't watch 3 different sets of DVD's, b/c of my lack of knowledge on this subject I will watch all 3.

    Thanks for all your help.
  5. Jonathan Whatley

    Jonathan Whatley Well-Known Member

    James M. McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era is outstanding, the definitive history of the period, and among the test's recommended books. The one problem is that you can easily absorb political, social and economic context and environment from the book but gloss over the military happenings, so careful notes or additional resources might help. Conversely, though, many books and media you'll find on the Civil War are meant for the military buff market, and way overplay those relative to the body of knowledge on the DANTES test.

    Its scope doesn't include Reconstruction. Eric Foner's Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863–1877 is the title of record there, or I'm sure you'd do well with his abridgement A Short History of Reconstruction. I watched the Reconstruction DVDs from PBS' American Experience from my local library; they were well-enough-made, but really didn't have much time to work within, and wouldn't have added a thing if you'd read either book.

    The books are widely available from bookstores, and every general-interest library in America should have both.

    Good luck!
  6. bceagles

    bceagles Member

    I just finished watching “The American Civil: A Union Divided” DVD I got out of my library. I found the 2 DVD set to be interesting and entertaining. I know a lot more about the subject now, than I did before the DVD's. I hope the information on the DVD will help on the exam. Worst case senario, I have some idea (instead of No Idea) about the events of the Civil War. I'm going to begin my review of the DSST Outline. I'll post my results. Wish me luck!
  7. bceagles

    bceagles Member

    After watching the 2 DVD set from the library, I took the multiple choice test on the DSST fact sheet. I only got 2-3 questions right. The DVD’s alone did not prepare me enough! I still think that the DVD’s were a great into to the subject.

    Next I’m going to watch the Ken Burns DVD’s. I’ll let you know how it goes! Wish me luck!
  8. billp

    billp New Member

    I took that exam last January and passed with a 73.

    I found McPherson's Battle Cry of Freedom and Foner's Reconstruction to be extremely valuable sources. You might also consider this book:

    I used NLC/Jack Rudman study guides for all four of the DANTES history exams I took and I passed all four of them with 70+

    If you have any questions feel free to email.
  9. Tireman44

    Tireman44 member

    Battle Cry of Freedom is good. So is David Potter's Impending Crisis. Amazing book. Not sure if it will help Civil War and Reconstruction, but it has a great lead up from the Mexican War to Fort Sumter.
  10. hey i got the sparknotes for the civil war and for the reconstruction, pm me and ill email them to you if you want.
    I havent taken the exam but i think it should be useful.
  11. Ted Heiks

    Ted Heiks Moderator and Distinguished Senior Member Staff Member

    James Garfield Randall and David Herbert Donald's The Civil War and Reconstruction is an older classic which used to be considered the "standard textbook" in the days before Jim McPherson. BTW - James M. McPherson also has written Ordeal by Fire, an account that includes both the Civil War and Reconstruction.
  12. Tireman44

    Tireman44 member

    Realizing Ted and I are historians, let me build on this as well. Interpretations of American History Volume 1 is great. Taking historians views on different subjects allows the individual (reader) to see where historiography has come from and where it is now. Another book I recommend is from one of my doctoral professors, Joseph Glatthaar's Forged In Battle. This book is about the black and white soldier alliance during the Civil War.
  13. Orson

    Orson New Member

    Another option!

    All of the reading anc video options listed above are fine.

    Another option you ought to consider is

    "American Civil War
    (48 lectures, 30 minutes/lecture)
    Course No. 885

    Taught by Gary W. Gallagher
    University of Virginia"

    THESE aren't currently on sale. But you local public library ought to be able to get these 24 hours of university level lectures.

    Otherwise, you can try ebay. You might be able to get it used for about sale price of $100.

    The great advantage of Teachco lectures are the lecture outlines themselves. Annotate these to cover the questions on the exam. They are a great study resource when preparing for Dantes. (Although I haven't used these for this one, I did use Teaching Company lecture on the Soviet Union to prep for that one.)

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