Year 11

The Tet Offensive

I can describe key features of the Tet Offensive and explain its significance.

Year 11

The Tet Offensive

I can describe key features of the Tet Offensive and explain its significance.

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Lesson details

Key learning points

  1. American engagement in Vietnam escalated through the use of advanced technology and increased numbers of troops.
  2. Americans believed that victory was sure to come soon.
  3. The Vietcong and NVA launched a huge surprise attack across South Vietnam during the Tet national holiday.
  4. The Tet Offensive failed to make any gains and resulted in significant losses for the communists.
  5. However, it shocked America and made them doubt whether they could win the war.

Common misconception

Wars are only won on the battlefield.

A variety of factors influence the outcome of a war, such as a nation's economy, geography, and popular sentiment towards the war.


  • Offensive - an offensive is an attacking military campaign

  • Strategy - a strategy is a plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall goal

  • Hotspot - a hotspot is a place of significant activity, danger or violence

Encourage students to identify or create other acronyms in this and other topics, as they are useful mnemonic devices.
Teacher tip

Content guidance

  • Contains subject matter which individuals may find upsetting.
  • Contains conflict or violence.


Adult supervision suggested.


This content is © Oak National Academy Limited (2024), licensed on Open Government Licence version 3.0 except where otherwise stated. See Oak's terms & conditions (Collection 2).



6 Questions

Complete the sentence with a year: The Tonkin Gulf Resolution was passed on 7th August ...
Correct Answer: 1964
What happened during the Gulf of Tonkin incident?
American ships were bombed by Chinese planes
Correct answer: American ships were attacked by North Vietnamese patrol boats
American ships were sunk by Soviet submarines
American ships were damaged after they collided with each other
What is meant by the term 'gulf'?
a game played with clubs and a small ball
a peninsula mostly or entirely made up of desert
an area of water between an island and the mainland
Correct answer: a deep inlet of a sea almost surrounded by land
What was the name given to the retaliatory bombing raid carried out by the US on a North Vietnamese petrol storage facility?
Correct answer: Operation Pierce Arrow
Operation Eagle Claw
Operation Desert Storm
Operation Overlord
What percentage of US citizens supported Johnson's response to the Gulf of Tonkin incident?
Correct answer: 85%
Place the events in the order in which they occurred.
1 - Kennedy is assassinated, Johnson replaces Kennedy as US president
2 - OPLAN 34A missions take place to assist ARVN raids
3 - Gulf of Tonkin incident
4 - Operation Pierce Arrow
5 - Tonkin Gulf Resolution
6 - Johnson wins presidential election

6 Questions

What does the 'B' stand for in Johnson's BEAST approach to the war in Vietnam?
Correct Answer: Bombing, bombing
What name was given to the bombing campaign by the US against North Vietnam?
Operation Passage to Freedom
Operation Pierce Arrow
Correct answer: Operation Rolling Thunder
Operation Market Time
What acronym was given to the South Vietnamese Army?
Correct Answer: ARVN, arvn
What is 'Tet'?
an important town in South Vietnam
Correct answer: the Lunar New Year, an important national holiday in Vietnam
the Vietnamese word for a surprise attack
the name given to the South Vietnamese parliament
In what ways can the Tet Offensive be seen as a loss for the communists? Choose two answers.
Correct answer: 50 000 Vietcong fighters were lost
Correct answer: all territorial gains were lost within a few weeks
Ho Chi Minh was killed during the offensive
not enough equipment and ammunition was provided for the fighters
it made China and the USSR question their support for North Vietnam
In what ways can the Tet Offensive be seen as a victory for the communists? Choose two answers.
the US embassy in Saigon was completely overrun
Correct answer: US public opinion turned sharply against the war
Correct answer: the bombing of North Vietnam ended
General Westmoreland was killed in the fighting
the South Vietnamese people rose up in support for the communists

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