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A HISTORY OF THE VIETNAM WAR


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Whether you’re a history buff who’s been reading about the Vietnam War for years or you’re just starting to learn about it today, this DSST test provides a fantastic opportunity to learn a little history while earning some college credit.

As you probably already know, DSST can help you get college credits without going through a course in a traditional classroom setting. Thus in addition to saving you money, it can also save you time and boredom by allowing you to study at your own pace and in your own way. So prepare well and ace your DSST!

A History of the Vietnam War Study Guide


vietnam war dsst

Before we get into the exam specifics, let me quickly share a study “formula” that’s worked well for me. I like to call it FORMULA ABC:

FORMULA A: Allot Your Time Wisely
Acknowledge your strengths and Allot your time wisely in reviewing for the subject.
You may have read and heard a lot about the History of Vietnam war, so what you need to do is to review what you know then try to learn a lot more. Remember that your sharpest tool in any examination is your knowledge of the subject.

FORMULA B: Breathe and Relax
Before, during, and after the exam, Breathe in to Relax your Body and Brain!
No matter how well you reviewed, or how long you prepared, you have to be physically and emotionally ready in your exam day. Be sure to GET READY!

  • Get a good sleep
  • Exercise and eat healthy
  • Trust yourself
  • Read the questions carefully
  • Enjoy the experience
  • Accept the results
  • Do not quit

You have what it takes to get DSST college credit!

FORMULA C: Confidently Rely on Your Preparation
Convince yourself that you CAN ace your DSST exam! Formula C will give you the Confidence to take and pass your DSST. Never let any fear or insecurity bar you from improving yourself. Remember that you are worthy of the dream you work and hope for.

Now, let’s run through the twelve categories in the exam. The sub-topics are chronologically presented according to occurrence. You are advised to visualize the events while reading then relate what you know about each essential point provided.

  • Vietnam Before 1940 – 5%

    The topic will cover everything about the geography, political and social culture and tradition of Vietnam. Be sure to take note of Pre-historic Vietnam where you will learn that red river valley geographic and economic units form the first Vietnamese States. The rule of dynastic epochs and the invasion and resistance to Chinese and French colonialism are sub-topics under this category.
    FUN FACT: Vietnamese history includes myths, similar to many countries around the world. You will come across interesting stories about Vietnam’s origin according to their mythology.

  • World War II, the Cold War, and the First Indochina War (1940-1955) – 9%

    These topics should excite you as they will bring you to the era where you will witness how the courage of war combatants lead us to experience a peaceful and free country today. The significant events are Japanese invasion after the fall of France in World War II, Ho Chi Minh’s Communist forces control where Emperor Bao Dai try to regain power for France. Also take note of the Battle at Dien Bien Phu and how United States stepped up for military assistance to France against Viet Minh forces. Recall the American Domino Theory of Eisenhower and finally, the Geneva accords which provided the 17th parallel dividing North and South Vietnam.
    FUN FACT: Vietnam War intensified with the events which transpire in World War II and Vietnam war agitated the Cold War.

  • Diem and Nation-State Building (1955-1963) – 10%

    This is the era where U.S. presence in Vietnam infuriate Ho Chi Minh and his communist group. Series of attacks between South and North Vietnam took place. Significant events are U.S. backing Ngo Dien Diem as leader of South Vietnam; Ho Chi Minh’s death and the founding of North Vietnamese National Liberation Front; U.S. recognition of Viet Cong; Buddhist crisis; and military coup replacing Diem and his brother Ngo Dinh Nhum.
    FUN FACT: You often hear about Viet Cong in History of Vietnam War. Do you know who they are? They are the Communist group who maintained domination of North Vietnam.

  • L.B. Johnson Americanizes the War (1964-1965) – 10%

    You will learn the difference of JFK’s leadership with his successor LBJ. North Vietnamese forces attack USS Maddox in Tonkin Gulf including Operation Flaming Dart and Operation Rolling Thunder are things you need to remember in this category.

  • America Takes Charge (1965-1967) – 10%

    Americanization and how it intensified the conflict including Westmoreland’s strategy of attrition, and Central Highlands Battle of Dak To are things you need to know. Americanization’s impact to Vietnamese society and the stabilization of Saigon regime should also be studied.
    FUN FACT: Americanization of war a gradual process. The escalation began with the Gulf of Tonkin incident and continued by the stiff resistance of North forces.

  • Home Front USA – 8%

    Be sure you know that LBJ in his policies about Vietnam war lost support of the U.S. Congress and his constituents. Why? Find out by recalling Johnson’s Guns versus butter, the Credibility gap where U.S. Congress opposed U.S. involvement on war, how media influence in shaping American perception on Vietnam war, the latter’s effect on American Civil rights movement, the New Left and their Draft Resistance.

  • Tet Offensive (1968) – 9%

    This is the largest military campaign of the North Vietnam forces that shocks U.S. Be familiar with the Objectives of Tet Offensive, the combined assault of Viet Minh and North Vietnam armies, Battles at Hue and Saigon and ARVN victory against Viet Cong. There is also a need to review events like the Mai Lai massacre which is a search-and-destroy operations and how the 1968 U.S. Presidential Elections where Richard Nixon won changed American involvement on war.

  • Vietnamizing the War (1969-1973) – 10%

    By the change of administration, U.S. involvement in war is modified. While LBJ wanted direct participation of U.S. forces, his successor Nixon wanted U.S. troop withdrawal. Never forget the role played by U.S. Secretary of State and National Security Advisor Kissinger, and Operation Menu. In Vietnamizing the war, Phoenix program and 1969 – 1971 Secret Negotiations took place. The Final North Vietnamese campaign Spring Offensive, Christmas Bombing, and signing of Paris Peace Accords are important events in this topic.

  • The War at Home – 8%

    Learning the effects of Vietnam war to United States shall be your primary consideration in this topic. Included here are key terms such as Vietnam War Protest, Campus Unrest, Peace Activist and National Conventions for Peace, and the popular Pentagon Papers.

  • Cambodia and Laos – 8%

    During the war, the geographic location of Cambodia and Laos make it impossible to resist participation in Vietnam war although they tried to remain neutral. Be sure that you know what Ho Chi Minh trail is, the Communist victory in the Laotian Civil War, and the role played by King Sahanouk, Marshal Lon Nol, Khmer Rouge or Cambodian communist in Vietnam war. Then, study about the Fall of Phnom Penh and U.S. Secret Bombing of Laos and Cambodia.
    FUN FACT: Ho Chi Minh trail which passes through Cambodia and Laos were used by North Vietnam to infiltrate troops and supplies to South Vietnam.

  • “A Decent Interval” – 8%

    Here, you will learn that promises are made to be broken. Yes, the peace agreement and ceasefire were violated. Refresh your mind on the Watergate Scandal, Nixon’s resignation, and succession of President Gerald Ford. Read how President Ford rules out U.S. military involvement on war, his administration’s War Powers Act and the Great Spring Offensive.

  • U.S. Legacies and Lessons – 5%

    The Fall of Saigon ended the war. This last category is everything about the impact of Vietnam war on American foreign policy, its economy, and defense.

A History of the Vietnam War Practice Quiz


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.

This quiz shall test what you already know and challenge you to learn more. If you do not get a good score, don’t give up, but instead dive into more reading, flashcards, and videos.

Good Luck, and give it your best shot!

Warning
Please 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: The earliest civilization of Vietnam dates back to 3rd century BC which in the Red Valley according to records. However, according to mythology, the nation was founded in 2879 B.C. If the myth refers to Hung Vhoung as the first ruler of Vietnam, who is the first President of Democratic Republic of Vietnam?

a) Bao Dai
b) Ngo Dinh Diem
c) Ton Duc Thang
d) Nguyen Sinh Cung

ANSWER: D
Nguyen Sinh Cung is the original name of Ho Chi Minh. Yes, I knew you are familiar that Ho Chi Minh is the DRV’s first President, but do you know his original name? Now you do. Most of the time, the choices will confuse you so know the process of elimination.Assuming you know Bao Dai was an emperor, Ngo Dinh Diem was Prime Minister of South Vietnam and Ton Duc Thang was the successor of Ho Cho Minh, it leaves you with Nguyen Sinh Cung.

Question 2: Vietnam succumbed to foreign rule but eventually resist. As a result, political upheavals against French dependency and Japanese occupation, and communist insurrection were held. What significant change in the political aspect of Vietnam happen following the end of monarchy after World War II?

a) Japanese empire gained control over Vietnam
b) Vietnam was proclaimed a republic
c) Chinese dynasties began to govern the Vietnamese
d) The first election in Vietnam was held

ANSWER: B
So use your visuals here, when do these events took place? Well, after the end monarchial regime in Vietnam, the Republic of Vietnam was finally established. For this type of questions, your familiarity with the significant events will give you the right answer. Before World War II, Vietnam is under domination of the French. It falls on the hands of Japanese forces during the war but through the resistance of communist group founded by Ho Chi Minh, he freed the country from colonialism and proclaimed establishment of Republic of Vietnam.

Question 3: Despite the American training and weapons, the Army of the Republic of Vietnam fall short to resist the insurgency of Viet Cong. With growing influence and power, Viet Cong announced the formation of NLF or the National Liberation Front which serve as…

a) Regular army of Viet Cong
b) Guerilla combatants of Viet Cong
c) Political arm of Viet Cong
d) Augment from US military forces

ANSWER: C
The National Liberation Front served as political arm of the communist Viet Cong to put an end to Diem regime. Yes, NLF is not an army or combatants. And, no, this is not the National Football League in the USA.

Question 4: French Indochina to defend her allies and maintain its forces launched ___________ on the broad valley of Dien Bien Phu after Viet Minh attack Lai Chu.

a) Cold War
b) World War II
c) T’ai Maquis Defense
d) Operation Castor

ANSWER: D
In 1953, Viet Minh forces attacked Lai Chu, capital of T’ai Federation which deliver opium to French. Seeing that its forces are weakening to defend Lai Chu, French Commander General Navarre launched Operation Castor on the broad valley of Dien Bien Phu. This battle in Dien Bien Phu settled the fate of French Indochina as its forces were mauled by Viet Minh.

Question 5: The policy of U.S. President Richard Nixon involves withdrawal of American armed troops in Vietnam. This Nixon doctrine is also known as…

a) Vietnamization
b) Vulture Operation
c) Operation Rolling Thunder
d) Commando Hunt

ANSWER: A
President Nixon in convincing that he is capable of ending Vietnam war imposes the policy of Vietnamization. This involve withdrawals of US troops while expanding, equipping, and training the South Vietnamese forces.

Question 6: Vietnam war escalated when USS Maddox was attacked in the Gulf of Tonkin by North Vietnamese. As a result, this President issued orders for the systematic bombing of North Vietnam.

a) President John F. Kennedy
b) President Richard Nixon
c) President Lyndon Johnson
d) President Ronald Reagan

ANSWER: C
The question’s challenge here is to recall when USS Maddox was sent. Remember that the vessel was sent for an intelligent mission following the assassination of John F. Kennedy. So the answer will be his successor President Lyndon Johnson.

Question 7: Which of the following statement describes the policy of attrition pursued by General Westmoreland?

I. They aim to kill as many enemy troops as possible
II. They try to secure many territories
III. The policy involves a search and destroy operations of enemy units
IV. The policy involves a quest for resources to maintain forces

a) I and III
b) II and IV
c) All of the above
d) None of the above

ANSWER: A

The policy of Attrition was a military strategy aimed at killing and destroying as many enemy troops as possible. The side with more remaining military and equipment win. It is opposed to other war strategies which goal is to conquest for resources and territories.


Question 8: The Tet Offensive declared by the Vietnamese communist failed in overthrowing the South Vietnamese government but considered strategic victory for the North because…

a) The coordinated surprise attack drove the final wedge in the unstable alliance between the South Vietnam and United States
b) It was a crucial turning point as the Communist Republic of China finally recognize North Vietnam
c) Subsequent treaties were signed splitting North and South Vietnam along the 17th parallel latitude
d) Viet Cong troops reoccupy their lost territory with workforce and supplies delivered via Ho Minh Trail through Cambodia and Lao

ANSWER: A
The massive surprise attack, Tet Offensive, by North Vietnamese was a turning point to the unstable alliance between U.S. and South Vietnam as Americans changed their perception on war drawing withdrawal of support to South Vietnam. Although the North was not successful in reacquiring territories and getting resources, it was a first step in changing the war.

Question 9: Which of the following is not contained under the provisions of the Paris Peace Accords?

a) Withdrawal of U.S. troops
b) Reunification of North and South Vietnam
c) South Vietnam government was to remain in place until next elections
d) North Vietnam forces to advance further and be reinforced.

ANSWER: D
From the name, Paris Peace Accords you can derive that the agreement aims to put an end to Vietnam war. Hence, to advance further forces and to be reinforced will never be a provision under the Peace treaty.

Question 10: Which of the following significant event marks the end of Vietnam War?

a) Signing of Paris Peace Agreement
b) Fall of Saigon
c) Vietnamization of War
d) Ho Chi Minh campaign

ANSWER: B
The collapse of South Vietnamese prompted Communist to launch final offense to called “Ho Chi Minh campaign” to conquer the country. This puts an end to Vietnam war following the Fall of Saigon.

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).

DSST A History of the Vietnam War | Mometrix: 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 study the Vietnam War 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.

Congrats on starting your DSST study journey! Study hard, earn credit, and most of all remember to have fun.