Do you feel confident to give the practice test a try? The format of the test will be nice and familiar for most as it will be multiple-choice with only one correct answer. When you write your answer make sure to tap (or hover over) the question to give you the answer and an explanation.
All test questions are in a multiple-choice format, with one correct answer and three incorrect options. The following are samples of the types of questions that may appear on the exam.
WarningPlease do keep in mind that we can’t guarantee the accuracy of this quiz, so we do recommend you also run through a full-length practice exam. We’ll recommend some good options in the resources section at the bottom of this page.
Question 1: Following Russia’s defeat in the Russo-Japanese War, Tsar Nicholas II was
pressured to create a(n) ___________________________, which he did in 1906.
a. centrally planned economy
b. a democratic constitution
c. representative legislature
d. independent judiciary
After Russia’s defeat to Japan in 1905, widespread protests broke
out across Russia’s major cities, advocating further reforms to hold the Russian imperial government more accountable. The most important of these was the establishment of the State Duma, a legislature that would be elected by voters. Ultimately this reform stopped far short of establishing a democratic government. A centrally planned economy was not introduced until Stalin introduced the first 5-year plan in 1929. An independent judiciary was not created at that time.
Question 2: In the months preceding the Bolshevik (October) Revolution of 1917, Lenin and the Bolshevik Party focused on gaining control of the
a. provisional government
c. schools and universities
d. major news outlets
The Soviets were worker-controlled councils within factories and
other places or production. The Bolshevik strategy for coming to power was to get as many of its supporters as possible and then claim that these councils were the only legitimate authority to represent the interests of the Russian people. They did not try to take control of the other institutions but rather to discredit them. They did attempt to take control of armories and recruit members of the military to their side but did not try to gain control of these organizations but sought to replace them with their own institutions.
Question 3: After Lenin’s death in 1924, the primary struggle for power within the Soviet Union was between…
a. Russians and non-Russians
b. Bolsheviks and Mensheviks
c. Stalin and Trotsky and their respective supporters
d. Nazi sympathizers and devout Marxists
Trotsky was assumed to be the heir apparent to Lenin as leader of
the Communist Party, but Stalin used his position as General Secretary of the Communist Party to install loyal supporters in key positions. With his allies in place, Stalin was able to outmaneuver Trotsky for control of the CPSU, eventually having Trotsky exiled to Mexico. Answer B reflects an earlier tension and Answer A was a tension that emerged primarily in the 1980s. The Nazis never had substantial support in the Soviet Union and the Nazi movement was not strong anywhere until the 1930s.
Question 4: Which of the following was the primary goal of Stalin’s first Five Year Plan?
a. To revive Soviet agriculture and increase the food supply.
b. To encourage greater harmony in Soviet society by reducing government control over
c. To promote rapid industrialization by shifting resources from the agricultural sector to industrial production.
d. To compensate victims of the tsarist regime and civil war with reparations.
The first Five Year Plan sought to take the gains made in agriculture in the preceding decade and use those agricultural surpluses to help finance rapid industrialization. Centralized planning greatly increased state control over economic activity and led to food shortages, resistance, and repression.
Question 5: By 1937, Stalin’s primary focus during the purges and show trials was to ______.
a. capture and execute spies that were working for the US and its allies.
b. demonstrate the power of the Soviet regime to Hitler and other potential foreign aggressors
c. remove Communist Party officials who were too extreme in implementing Soviet economic policies.
d. eliminating all opposition within the Communist Party to Stalin’s rule.
Preoccupied with the Great Depression and the rise of the Nazis, the
US and other western countries were not focused on events in the USSR and Stalin was not focused on them. Hitler was not acting aggressively toward the Soviet Union at that time. Stalin favored those who were extreme in implementing his policies. His primary concern was on eliminating potential rivals to his power within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
Question 6: The pivotal battle between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany during WWII was
a. the Battle of the Bulge
c. the Battle for Berlin
The Battle of the Bulge and D-Day were both fought on the Western
front and did not directly involve the Soviet Union. By the time Soviet troops captured Berlin, the war had been effectively over. Stalingrad was the bloodiest battle in WWII and was crucial because the Soviets, at great cost, were able to stop the Nazi advance into Soviet territory.
Question 7: In the decade following the end of World War II, the Soviet Union considered all of the following to be within its “sphere of influence” EXCEPT
c. East Germany
Stalin’s primary focus was on securing the western border of the Soviet Union against aggression from either Germany or other western powers. He considered Poland, East Germany, and Hungary, along with other Eastern European countries as “buffer states” under indirect Soviet control. China was mostly an ally of the Soviet Union after Mao and the Chinese Communist Party came to power in 1949, but Stalin did not want to become formally involved in any conflict in Asia and did not intervene directly in Chinese domestic politics.
Question 8: The Soviet leader during the Cuban Missile Crisis was
a. Josef Stalin
b. Nikita Khrushchev
c. Leonid Brezhnev
d. Yuri Andropov
Stalin preceded Khrushchev, whereas Brezhnev and Andropov came later. After succeeding Stalin and pushing through a de-Stalinization program, Khrushchev felt that he needed a high profile public victory over the United States to save credibility at home. After being forced to back down and remove Soviet nuclear weapons from Cuba in 1963, he was soon removed from power by the Soviet leadership.
Question 9: The Brezhnev era was characterized by all of the following EXCEPT
a. the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
b. efforts to reduce Cold War tensions with the United States.
c. a reform program that sought to make Soviet society more open and the Soviet economy more productive.
d. economic stagnation as production dropped and the Soviet Union fell behind technologically.
The reform program of glasnost and perestroika was initiated by Mikhail Gorbachev after 1985. Brezhnev did preside over a period of detente, or thawing of Cold War tensions which lasted until 1979 when they invaded Afghanistan. The Soviet economy struggled throughout the 1970s due to stagnant production and the failure to upgrade its technology.
Question 10: During the late 1980s, the “nationality question” emerged most strongly in…
d. the Baltic Republics
About 60% of the population of the USSR was Russian, which left a large minority of non-Russians within its borders. In response to Gorbachev’s glasnost policy, many non-Russians began demanding better treatment, more political control, and eventually independence from the Russian-dominated Soviet Union. The Baltic republics of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, which had only been incorporated into the Soviet Union during World War II, were the first to challenge Soviet sovereignty over them.
Question 11: Boris Yeltsin was a
a. a former member of the Communist Party, and president of Russia, that led opposition
to the hardliners trying to stop Gorbachev’s reforms.
b. a leader who helped bring down the communist government in Poland
c. the General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union who instituted the
glasnost and perestroika reform programs
d. a Soviet dissident who defected to the United States and wrote a series of books
criticizing the Soviet government
Lech Walesa was the leader who helped bring down the communist government in Poland. Mikhail Gorbachev was responsible for the perestroika and glasnost reform initiatives. There were a number of Soviet dissidents, most of whom did not defect, that were critical of the Soviet government but this description does not match Yeltsin. Yeltsin was a former communist party official who advocated reform and was elected president of Russia in 1991. He publicly resisted an attempted coup d’etat by communist hardliners trying to remove Gorbachev in 1991.
More DSST Study Resources
Are you at the beginning of your study process, or just looking for a couple more practice questions to finish prepping for your exam? In either case, you can find some of my favorite resources below. Some of the links below are affiliate (Amazon for instance), which means they’ll pay us a few bucks for every purchase through the link. Feel free to use those links if you want to support the site, but you can also just Google the title or pick the book up at your local library.
Official DSST Practice Test: Ok, so the DSST website isn’t the most inviting, but it will give you the best approximation of the real exam experience. Also, the official practice test is quite affordable (currently just $5 per practice exam).
Passbooks – DSST Rise And Fall Of The Soviet Union: Textbooks are great as far as they go, but I’d generally recommend you opt for this exam guide instead. It tends to cut through the confusion and help you accelerate your learning process.
InstantCert Academy: Another website with a very dated design, but as ancient as it looks, this is actually an incredibly valuable resource. Basically, you get a massive set of flashcards that you can use to learn Soviet Union history and to really solidify that knowledge so you’re ready for the exam.
Plenty of other resources exist – just do a quick internet search – but these are a fantastic start, and probably all you really need. I’ve personally done some exams with just InstantCert and the official practice test.