Sample Exam: History


Read the following two multiple choice exams and compare and contrast the questions and answers. Which exam targeted higher level thinking? Which one made it easier to get a correct response by guessing? Both exams test students? knowledge and understanding of Cold War origins.

Form A

  1. Which statement is false regarding the Cold War?
  2. a. It was a conflict that generated no armed conflicts
    b. It is often characterized as a clash of ideologies
    c. It lasted from about 1945 to 1991
    d. It has been credited with fueling the arms and pace race

  3. This event indicated to anti-communists in the west that the USSR was intent on expanding their control over Poland once World War II was over:
  4. a. The signing of the Atlantic Charter
    b. The occupation of Baltic states
    c. The Katyn Forest Massacre
    d. The Battle of Stalingrad

  5. To help secure democracy in Italy after World War II, the United States:
  6. a. Negotiated with Stalin to create an Italian constitution
    b. Sent ambassadors to Rome to pray with the Pope
    c. Had the CIA spread propaganda and buy votes
    d. Appointed an Italian-American as Secretary of State

  7. Why was Germany the crucible of the Cold War between 1945 and 1949?
  8. a. It was located in central Europe which was a good location for trade
    b. It showed strong signs of wanting a return to Nazism after the war
    c. The US wanted it to resume its place in the global economy and the USSR wanted it to be crippled so it would never again attack eastern Europe
    d. It was highly scientifically advanced

  9. Which country?s political fate after 1945 seemed to indicate the collapse of Yalta agreements?
  10. a. Turkey
    b. Poland
    c. Iran
    d. Czechoslovakia

  11. This term refers to restricting the expansion of communism by way of force and diplomacy
  12. a. Proliferation
    b. Appeasement
    c. Revisionism
    d. Containment

  13. Which document is mismatched with its author?
  14. a. Long Telegram/ George Kennan
    b. Two Camp Speech/ Joseph Stalin
    c. Iron Curtain Speech/Vyacheslav Molotov
    d. Speech on the Truman Doctrine/Henry Wallace

  15. The Soviet response to the Marshall Plan was to:
  16. a. Revive Eastern European nations with the Molotov Pan
    b. Invade North Korea with China?s support
    c. Increase its proliferation of atomic bombs
    d. Cancel plans for popular elections in Poland

  17. This Czechoslovakian leader was able to secure his role as Prime Minister because he capitulated to Moscow?s directives and repression of dissent
  18. a. Edvard Benes
    b. Jan Masaryk
    c. Andre Zhdanov
    d. Klement Gottwald

  19. Which of these was not a member of the Eastern Bloc?
  20. a. East Germany
    b. Bulgaria
    c. Hungary
    d. Austria

Form B

  1. Which statement most objectively describes the cause of the Cold War?
  2. a. The Cold War was a natural result of the competition between capitalism and communism that required little to no initiatives to perpetuate
    b. The Cold War was essentially caused by the inability of the United States? military forces to secure Eastern Europe following the defeat of Nazi Germany
    c. The Cold War evolved as the USSR and western allies deployed their own strategies and policies to rebuild the post-war world according to their own needs and values
    d. The Cold War was caused by the failure of Europeans to abandon communism which allowed the USSR to create a world-wide communist threat

  3. What was the significance of the Katyn Forest Massacre from the western Allies perspective?
  4. a. It paved the way for the Soviets to secure puppet governments in the Balkan peninsula
    b. It suggested that the Soviets wanted to crush Polish military potential to oppose Soviet incursion
    c. It provided evidence that the Nazis had committed genocide in the Soviet Union
    d. It proved that The Soviets had the technology to take Berlin before Britain and the US could

  5. What was the significance of the Italian election of 1948?
  6. a. It demonstrated the power of the CIA on one hand while on the other demonstrated Italian communist?s willingness to oppose Moscow on the matter of the Marshall Plan
    b. It underscored the fact that the Catholic Church was losing its ability to influence politics and that the communists were improving their ability to influence voters
    c. It revealed the overwhelming mistrust of democracy among the working class while revealing the extreme confidence in democracy held by the upper class
    d. All of the above are true
    e. Only b and c are true

  7. The Berlin Airlift was the result of ______, which was in turn the consequence of ______
  8. a. The Soviet blockade of West Berlin/the Allied reunification of West Germany
    b. Threats to Polish officials/Soviet sabotage of democratic elections
    c. The Soviet occupation of East Germany/Soviet army advances during World War II
    d. American interest in German science/the US desire to create a super bomb

  9. US reaction to the establishment of a Soviet-friendly government in Poland in 1946 implied:
  10. a. The US was prepared to go to war to protect democracy in Eastern Europe
    b. The US did not see the difference between a puppet regime and independent communist leadership
    c. The US had no grand plan to orchestrate and secure democratic governments in Eastern Europe
    d. The US blamed the Poles for their fate because they had failed to repel the Soviets on their own

  11. Containment was predicated on the idea that ___ and pursued by way of ____
  12. a. Atomic science must not be shared/Legislation and security measures
    b. Western European stability came before that of Eastern Europe/espionage
    c. Communism must not spread/propaganda, economic agreements and alliances
    d. Colonialism should end/manipulating the US and USSR to secure independence

  13. What did the Truman Doctrine and the Two Camp Speech have in common?
  14. a. Both charted a potential course for foreign relations based on beliefs about ideological and political adversaries
    b. Both rallied Western European allies around the idea that unless democracy speaks with one voice, it will be overcome by communist propaganda
    c. Both called for massive amounts of money to be invested in economic recovery and weapons production simultaneously
    d. Both a and c are true

  15. The Soviet reaction to the Marshall Plan and creation of NATO suggest that:
  16. a. The USSR created its policies in reaction to US initiatives rather than a master plan
    b. The USSR was confident in its capacity to build atomic weapons
    c. The USSR and China were about to form an alliance against the West
    d. The USSR was prepared to negotiate the status of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania

  17. Why was Czechoslovakia?s transformation into a Soviet satellite provocative to the US?

    a. It proved that Stalin had intended to absorb Czechoslovakia throughout World War II
    b. It illustrated the ineffectiveness of the CIA operations in Eastern Europe
    c. It demonstrated Stalin?s determination to force all communists to conform to Soviet will
    d. It proved that Moscow could insert communism where it had never existed before

  18. Which statement misrepresents events in the Eastern Bloc?
  19. a. While communism was popular in Eastern Europe after World War II, it often retained a nationalist element as seen in Italy and Czechoslovakia
    b. Yugoslavia?s brand of communism led to a break with Moscow which the US supported by opening military bases on Yugoslavian territory
    c. The USSR regarded Eastern Europe as a buffer zone and a source of materials with which to improve Soviet technology and industry
    d. The needs of East Germany and the needs of Romania were distinctly different due to the degree to which each of its economies depended on agriculture and trade

Reading Comprehension

Read the following passages and answer the questions that follow.

Throughout history, technology has played a significant role in the outcome of conflict and the ability of nations to accomplish political and economic objectives. Just as the invention of the railroad enabled the industrial nations to penetrate the interiors of Asia, Africa, and Latin America from which it could extract raw materials and to which it could bring finished goods, modern machine guns and submarines gave to those who possessed them the advantage in armed competition for land and markets. During the Cold War, the relationships between government, industry, and the scientific community were radically altered. Changes in these relationships were pronounced in the United States, which by 1945 had emerged from World War II as a global, political and economic power.

The United States realized even before the war was over that technology and science were essential to national security and its ability to orchestrate and implement its economic and political agendas. In 1944, Dr. Vannevar Bush, an engineer who developed computer analogs (early protocols for what became the World Wide Web), and organizer of the Manhattan Project (which produced the atomic bomb), articulated a compelling rationale for government investment in science. Bush?s publication, Science, The Endless Frontier, asserted that science and technology was the hope of the future as it provided not only for the defense of the country, but for modern communication, improvements in disease control, and improvements in production. Bush argued that government should steadily increase its investment in scientific and technological research.

By 1950, the United States was spending approximately $10 billion dollars annually on scientific research and development. Its commitment to scientific research and development increased dramatically following the Soviet?s launching of Sputnik, an unmanned satellite, in 1957. Sputnik alarmed Americans who perceived the potential military utility of satellites. In 1960, the United States spent about $40 billion dollars on scientific research and development, which did not include funding for facilities and equipment. In 1957 and 1965, the United States passed legislation that awarded schools and universities millions of dollars to promote and enhance education in math, science, engineering and technology. During the peak of the Cold War, 1958-1968, federal spending on research and development represented almost 3% of the United States? Gross Domestic Product, with more than half dedicated to national defense.

  1. How do the first two sentences of the essay function?
  2. a. They establish a rationale for and justify the use of military interventions
    b. They illuminate the causes of the Cold War
    c. They provide a context for the main points of discussion
    d. They dispel the reader?s assumptions that technology is bad

  3. The passages about Sputnik clearly suggest that:
  4. a. The Soviet achievement was a catalyst for American investment in research
    b. The Soviet?s achievement was largely expected and so uneventful
    c. The Soviets were at the time the only nation capable of satellite production
    d. The Soviets deliberately launched a satellite to frighten the Americans

  5. An appropriate title for the essay would be:
  6. a. How Vannevar Bush Saved America
    b. The Role of Technology in Imperialism
    c. The Military?s Shopping Spree
    d. Cold War and Scientific Research

  7. The last sentence of the second paragraph implies that:
  8. a. The United States had billions of dollars reserved for scientific research
    b. That United States up to 1944 had not perceived scientific research with much urgency
    c. That Vannevar Bush was highly influential in political circles and Congress
    d. That the United States owed it to stockholders to invest in research and development

  9. The fourth sentence in the third paragraph evidences that:
  10. a. Americans understood the relationship between education and scientific advancement
    b. American schools and universities were behind the Soviets in terms of funding
    c. American curriculum was too heavily saturated with liberal arts and humanities
    d. Americans wanted to shift scientific studies from schools to government institutes

  11. What is the purpose of the parenthetical information in the second paragraph?
  12. a. It offers evidence that justifies Bush?s objectives
    b. It clarifies the significance of Bush?s accomplishments
    c. It proves that Bush?s request is credible and reasonable
    d. It illuminates the relationship between values and science

  13. The use of the world ?compelling? in the second paragraph suggests that:
  14. a. The reader may not understand what Bush is arguing
    b. The author of the essay doubted Bush?s assertions
    c. The author saw merit in what Bush was claiming
    d. The audience Bush addressed was scientifically ignorant

    Discussion Points

    1. Form A contains more questions aimed at lower level thinking than Form B. Lower level thinking, according to Blooms taxonomy, targets the student?s ability to recall and explain information.
    2. While Form B asks more questions that are aimed at higher level thinking, such as cause-effect relationships, implications, comparisons and contrasts, and significance of events, it is still possible for students to guess the correct answers and earn a passing grade on the exam.
    3. The multiple choice test does not require students to articulate their understanding with original writing, but when coupled with writing exercises, might provide instructors with some sense of how well students think critically and comprehend the complexity of the subject.
    4. Short essay prompts that require one to five paragraphs and that target a particular cognitive task, such as the student?s ability to evaluate or to synthesize (in the context of this module) might include:
    5. a. Critique the revisionist perspective of Cold War origins from both a traditional and post-revisionist perspective.
      b. Would there have been a Cold War if Franklin Roosevelt had lived and been re-elected? Provide evidence to support your claims.
      c. What was the most significant event that established the Cold War as the dominant geo-political struggle of the 20th century and why is this so?

    6. Multiple choice questions can be used in conjunction with short readings. By doing so, the instructor may detect the degree to which students read comprehensively and critically. Multiple choice questions stemming from a reading may target the student?s ability to draw inferences, identify implications, perceive bias or perspective, discern main and peripheral ideas, detect lacunae, assess the strength or credibility of assertions and evidence, and recognize themes and patterns.
    7. Following up with students after the test is important to learning. A careful review of the exam will reveal not only how well students performed in general, but allow for students to examine the rational for each test question, why some plausible answers are incorrect, and to discuss the significance of a particular idea or discrete information. Reviewing the test provides an opportunity for instructors to clarify information and deepen students? understanding. The process also alerts instructors to potential revisions that need to be made in order to proceed with the course in ways that will improve student learning.

Return to the Top of the Document...