University of California, Santa Barbara

Political Science 12: Sample Midterm/Final Exam Questions

The following questions are typical of the questions asked on the midterm and final exams for this class. All these questions have been asked on previous exams. I will not know the exact number of questions or the points assigned to questions until I make up the exam. Please note that you will be offered choices about which essay question to answer, but you must answer all the questions in the other sections.

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Midterm Multiple Choice Questions

1.      According to Carmines and Stimson in the 1960's the issue of race transformed the American party system with:


a) The Republican Party embracing racial liberalism

b) The Democratic Party embracing racial conservatism

c) The Republican Party embracing racial progressivism

d) The Democratic Party embracing racial indifference

e) The Democratic Party embracing racial liberalism


2.      Which of the following expanded free speech in politics?


a)      Plessy v. Ferguson, and Brown v. Board of Education

b)      Brandenburg v. Ohio, and Texas v. Johnson

c)      The Espionage Act and the Sedition Act

d)      Miranda v. Arizona

e)      None of the above


3.      An example of a controversial issue dealing with material scarcity is:


a)      Prohibition of school prayer

b)      Adequate funding for public housing

c)      Homosexuals in the military

d)      Passage of anti-discrimination laws

e)      Term limits


4.      Which of the following does NOT affect the likelihood of voter turnout?


a)      The closing date, or number of days before the election by which a voter must register in order to vote in an upcoming election

b)  Education

c)  Age

d)  Literacy tests required to be allowed to register to vote

e)  All of the above affect voter turnout

Final Exam Questions

Note:  The final exam will have multiple choice questions, short answer questions, and an essay.

Short Answer Questions:

1. Would abortion better be described as a "prospective" issue or as a "retrospective" issue?

2. Does liberalism on economic issues increase or decrease with education?

3. In the last few decades, did the number of organizations represented by lobbyists in Washington increase, decrease, or remain the same?

4. Explain the spatial model of elections and the median voter hypothesis.

5. According to Dunlap (in the Lester Book), what is the "issue-attention cycle"?

6. Explain the difference between Madison’s concept of “instrumental self-interest,” and Stone’s concept of “cost-benefit self-interest.”


Part III. Please answer one of the two following essay questions. Develop your answer carefully, using evidence and citing class readings and lectures to support your statements wherever possible. In writing your essay, remember that you should be trying to answer in a way that demonstrates what you have learned in this course.  For example, if part of your answer is about Congress, you should tell us about how Congress is organized, how the committee and party systems work, etc.

Note:  The following question was asked when the theme of the course was civil rights.


A.     Suppose you were a political consultant assigned the task of designing a strategy to deal with a proposal to expand civil rights in an area that the American public regards as controversial—Drug use, HIV/AIDS, obesity, or sexual preferences.  Write an essay in which you describe and then analyze either:  (a) a strategy to expand civil rights in the area, or (b) a strategy to resist expansion of civil rights in the area.  You need not address all the major areas discussed in this class--public opinion, parties, interest groups, Congress, the President, the bureaucracy, and the courts--but you should address two or more of them.  In your essay, be sure to analyze your strategy as well as describe it.  That is, explain why it should work using theories.


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University of California, Santa Barbara