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DSST World Religions using Harvard edX

If you’re planning the DSST World Religions exam this year, you’ve probably been a bit overwhelmed but the massive amount of content!  If your teen learns well devouring a textbook, you won’t have any trouble – but for those who need more….Imagine how exciting it was to find a full selection of courses that match the content of this exam being offered by Harvard University on the edX platform.

Imagine how exciting it was to find a full selection of courses that match the content of this exam being offered by Harvard University on the edX platform.  EdX courses combine lecture, reading, activities, quizzes, and in some cases human interaction.  Of the many I’ve taken or assigned to my kids, I’ve always been impressed.

EdX is a free platform- it’s like the public library for online education, but there are sometimes opportunities to purchase certificates, credentials, and the like as well.  These courses are all free and do not require purchasing anything.  If you WANT to purchase certificates, that’s completely up to you!

DSST Introduction to World Religion   <– official exam content
This exam was developed to enable schools to award
credit to students for knowledge equivalent to that
learned by students taking the course. The exam
covers topics such as dimensions and approaches to
religion; primal religions; Hinduism; Buddhism;
Confucianism; Taoism; Judaism; Christianity; Islam;
Shintoism; Hellenic and Roman traditions; and  Scientology.

The DSST exam costs $80 and is worth 3 potential college credits.

This list of Harvard courses can be woven together into your own year-long World Religion course.  All are self-paced, but each course will range from 10-20 hours.  Your teen will have no trouble logging 120 hours.

Harvard University edX Religious Literacy

Harvard University edX Religion, Conflict, and Peace Course

Harvard University edX Hinduism Course

Harvard University edX Judaism Course

Harvard University edX Christianity Course

Harvard University edX Early Christianity

Harvard University edX Buddhism

Harvard University edX Islam


One of my favorite sites Free CLEP Prep also has a World Religion study guide and practice test.

There are InstantCert Flashcards for those who just want to zero in on the “need to know” facts for this exam.  Use coupon code 100150 for $5 off.


  • Religions of the World, 12th Edition, 2011, Lewis Hopfe and Mark Woodward
    • Expensive (over $50) look for used or rent
  • Living Religions, 9th Edition, 2014, Mary Pat Fisher
    • Expensive (over $50) look for used or rent


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.
1. In Hinduism, the term “karma” implies
a. duty
b. predestination
c. action and reaction
d. good action
2. Vedic religion originated with
a. people who were indigenous to India
Rev 3/2017
b. Aryans who came to India ca. 1500 B.C.E. from Central Asia
c. Persians who came to India ca. 700 B.C.E.
d. Greeks who came to India ca. 300 B.C.E. with Alexander the Great
3. Theravada Buddhism upholds liberation through
a. devotion to Brahman
a. one’s own moral efforts and spiritual discipline
b. divine intercession
c. worship of Buddha
4. Which of the following is NOT one of the Pillars of Islam?
a. Muslims are expected to go on a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in their lives, if
financially and physically capable.
b. Muslims have to seek the intercession of Muhammad to achieve paradise.
c. Muslims are expected to fulfill their charitable duties.
d. Muslims have to engage in prayer every day.
5. In the Four Noble Truths, the Buddha proclaims that the cause of suffering is
a. lack of proper teachers
b. aggression and violence
c. craving
d. original sin
6. In the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu indicates that the best way of living is a life of
a. passivity
b. assertiveness
c. natural simplicity
d. social commitment
7. The New Testament Gospels are primarily
a. complete biographies of Jesus of Nazareth
b. summaries of Christian ethics
c. proclamations of Jesus as Risen Lord and Messiah
d. eyewitness accounts of four apostles
8. The Covenant of Judaism refers to
a. ancient agreements between Israel and neighboring peoples
b. a pact initiated by Yahweh with a particular people
c. a contract among Jewish religious leaders
d. an agreement negotiated to be the Hebrew people and the Egyptians
9. A religious observance commemorating the Exodus is
a. Mishnah
b. Passover
c. Yom Kippur
d. Rosh Hashonah
10. Which of the following Chinese figures transmitted Confucian teachings?
I. Meng-tzu (Mengzi)
II. Hsun-tzu (Xunzi)
III. Mo-tzu (Mozi)
IV. Chu Hsi (Zhu Xi)
a. I and II only
b. III and IV only
c. I, II and III only
d. I, II and IV only
Answers to sample questions:
1-C, 2-C, 3-B, 4-B, 5-C, 6-C, 7-C, 8-B, 9-B, 10-D