Get Me Started… College Algebra CLEP

Get your highschooler ready to earn 3 college credits after graduation with the College Algebra CLEP!!!!


Ready to be done with high school algebra, once and for all?  Ready to get those math credits under your belt and move on?  Most high school students are prepared to take the College Algebra CLEP after finishing the high school level of Algebra 1 and 2.  That means you could graduate from high school prepared to go test out of an entire semester of college credit!  Sound like a good plan?

Well let me help you get started on the College Algebra CLEP!

1) Stock your bookshelves

There are two resources that you *have* to have on your bookshelf for the College Algebra CLEP.  The first one is the CollegeBoard CLEP Official Guide and the second is the REA College Algebra Guide.  CollegeBoard makes the CLEP exams, so their test guide is the best one to have on your shelf, no matter which test you’re taking.  And REA guides are the perfect test prep guide, to make sure you are covering all the problems you will meet on the test.

2) Get to know the College Algebra CLEP

The College Algebra CLEP has 60 questions to be answered in 90 minutes.  A passing score is usually awarded 3 college credits, depending on the policy of your institution. Approximately 50% of the exam is solving straightforward problems, the remaining 50% of the exam is application of the concepts learned in a college algebra course.  A scientific calculator is provided for you, in the test taking software.

3) Take the CollegeBoard practice test

Take the CollegeBoard practice test for College Algebra and figure what percentage of the questions you got *correct* (i.e. divide number correct by total number of questions).  If your total is 60% or above, go take the test!  If not, move on to step 4.  Note that I usually only take the CollegeBoard practice test when I’m assessing my knowledge of the subject.  That allows me to reuse this practice test many times.

4) Study, study, study

This is the perfect time to pull out your handy, dandy REA College Algebra Guide!  I use my REA guide as the backbone of my study time, and then supplement with some other resources.  I use Khan Academy, Wikipedia, and Texas A&M.  I also use the Algebra I For Dummies and College Algebra DeMYSTiFieD books.  Feel free to use the practice tests in the back of the REA guide to measure your progress as you study.

5) Retake the CollegeBoard practice test

Take the CollegeBoard practice test for College Algebra and figure what percentage of the questions you got correct.  If your total is 60% or above, go take the test!  If not, repeat step 4.

Graduation Home Stretch

Time to dust off the books and finish this degree!  Once you’ve hit the graduation home stretch it’s a little easier to slow down, but you have to finish strong.  You have to run as fast across the finish line as you started out.

So here’s what I have left to accomplish before I can graduate:

[ ] Western Civ 1 (CLEP)

[ ] Western Civ 2 (CLEP)

[ ] World Religions (DSST)

[ ] Organizational Behavior (DSST)

[ ] Soviet Union (DSST)

[ ] Substanance Abuse (DSST) 

[ ] Vietnam War (DSST)

[ ] Technical Writing (DSST)

[ ] Public Speaking (DSST)

[ ] Human Growth and Development (CLEP)

[ ] Human Geography (DSST)

[ ] Capstone Project (TESC)


And here are my goals to reach before August 28 (which happens to be the 6th Plants and Pillars Film Festival):

  1. Technical Writing
  2. Western Civ 1
  3. Western Civ 2
  4. Human Growth and Development
  5. Substance Abuse
  6. Organizational Behavior
  7. The SAT

Oh yeah, I’m going to take the SAT on June 6 – which is just a few short weeks away.

Yes, I have a lot to do.  I’ll be studying and reading and writing and testing – and trying to blog when I get that chance.  :-)

Control Your Wasted Time


It’s going to happen to all of us.  No matter how great your intentions are (or how long your “to do” list is or how many time management apps you have installed on your phone) you will waste time throughout your day.  Instead of living in denial that it is happening, you need to spend your time working to control your wasted time.


How do you currently waste time?  I know that sounds funny to think about, but your time goes somewhere.  When you aren’t working or studying what do you turn to?  Where does your mind go?  Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram are quick and easy to get to, so they can turn into huge time wasters.  I’m not saying social media is horrible – on the contrary, I study social media as a part time job – but it might not be the best avenue to always turn to when you have a spare minute.

In addition to those common wasters, we have watching television, surfing the internet, or any other way you can dream up to waste your time.  What we are worried about is passive activities.  When your brain turns off and you cease to have worthwhile thoughts.


Now retrain yourself to control your wasted time.  To reach for challenging activities when you have a free moment to spare.  Start by searching for things that will challenge you and grow you in new ways.

Here are a few ideas to get you started…

  • Read a book
  • Play a musical instrument (or learn to play one)
  • Memorize Scripture
  • Go for a run
  • Play a mentally stimulating game (like chess or checkers)
  • Draw/paint
  • Write a letter to a friend or family member
  • Cook or bake something
  • Learn a new skill (changing your oil or sewing on a button)

And certainly, last but not least, sometimes just sitting and being quiet is good.  Good thinking only occurs when we are quiet and still with no distractions.  Sit on your front porch or hike somewhere.  Leave your phone and find a quiet place.  Think and pray.

There’s a reason God tells us to “be still and know He is God”.  Find some time to be still and know God.  That is never wasted.

Get a Normal Email Address!


Welcome to your life, wherever this finds you.  Still in high school, venturing through college, finding yourself in the work place, or diligently at home.  Wherever you are, you probably have an email address and this piece of your life is a huge key to how you view life and what you make of yourself.

Besides your Social Security number you will probably use your email address more than any other piece of identification.  And, unlike other generic piece of ID, this is personalized and a peek into who you are.  Make sure you take your time on it.

Job applications, college admission forms, resumes… the list goes on and on.  Each of these will ask for your email address because it’s one of the best ways to contact people in the 21st century.  And on each of these many professional men and women will be looking at your email address.  Where you live is standard, your phone number is standard, but your email will stand out.

You may have a Bachelor’s in Accounting.  You many have a GPA of 3.7.  You may have been valedictorian in high school.  But if your email address is ““, none of that will matter.

Believe it or not, your email address can be the determining factor in getting a job.

Take the time, invest the extra energy, and create a simple, professional, normal email address.  It’ll get you much farther.

The One State with Low Student Debt


There is only one state where the average college student has less that $20,000 of debt when they graduate.  In all 50 United States, we can only find one state with this statistic and that award goes to the western state of New Mexico.  Student debt is becoming a bigger and bigger issue in America.

In a study released in November 2014, New Mexico was found to be the only state where the average college student graduates with less than $20,000 in debt.  

They weren’t far below that mark though, their average came in at $18,656.  New Hampshire came in with the highest ranking student debt, at $32,795.  As more students borrow and borrow more, it drives the cost up – leading to more and more students borrowing.

One of the biggest problems with student debt is it holds the graduate back from their full life potential after graduation.  Having over $30,000 in student loans leads to putting off buying a house, getting married, saving for your own children’s education, starting a business, or saving for retirement.  This delays the benefit that these adults could be to our economy.

Rethinking the traditional college route is becoming more and more of a necessity in our world today.  Testing out of courses and taking online courses can help shorten your time spent on campus and decrease your total college cost.  In addition, the average CLEP prep book is $30 – compared to the average $300 textbook for a traditional classroom course.

There are other options out there, besides binding yourself to thousands of dollars in student debt.  Let’s step back and look at the conveyor belt way of college.  Maybe there is a different way to do it.

How to Schedule a CLEP Test

schedule_CLEPScheduling a CLEP exam used to be as easy as calling your proctor, telling her what exam you were going to take, and picking a day.  Now, thanks to some revisions by CollegeBoard, there are a few more steps to take before you can go CLEP a class.  So here is a basic rundown on how to schedule a CLEP exam.

Visit the CLEP CollegeBoard website 

Once there, register for your chosen exam.  Note that you will need to create a free account with CollegeBoard.  You will fill out all your personal information (once!) and it will save for future exams.  Also, you will need to go find your exam and “add it to cart”.  This is just registering for the exam.  You will go ahead and purchase the exam there ($80.00).  Print your ticket and save the PDF copy to your computer.  I had to reprint once and was very glad I had saved it!  :-)

Call Your Proctor

This part doesn’t really change.  Just work out a date with your proctor and put it on your calendar.  Don’t forget!

Go Take Your Exam

Take your ticket with you when you head off to take your exam.  It has a code on it that you will need and your proctor will need to see your ticket as well.  You will also need to pay the proctor fee – usually around $20.00.  You don’t prepay that because it is going to your center, not CLEP.


There are a few more steps now, but nothing major.  Once I had done it a few times it was no big deal.  Just make sure you pre-register and take your ticket with you!  For more information on CLEP exams in general, visit my page: CLEP Exams.


Skills for College Students


Skills for College Students: Reading, Writing, and Keyboarding

There are several skills that everyone should learn.  Not only will they help you succeed in school, they can help you be successful in the rest of your “normal” life.  Having these skills not only allows you to study and communicate effectively, they can help prove to prospective employers that you care about learning and that you have the ability to learn.  These are skills that you can’t be taught, you have to teach them to yourself.  You have to have the desire and the discipline to sit down and learn them.  So, without further delay, here are a few skills for college students to learn and develop – in class, their personal life, and the workplace.


In our technological age, this skill is becoming more and more vital for students to know.  Being able to type well and quickly will save you time in class, as you type out notes.  It is also an asset in a job hunt.  Make sure you include your typing speed on your resume!

Figure out how fast you type with a fun typing game!

And learn how to type or improve your skills with a free, online program!

Speed Reading

We can all read, but being able to read quickly for information is a skill most of us have to learn.  I highly suggest that all college students take a speed reading course.  It probably won’t make you the fastest reader in the world, but just improving your speed a little bit is a good thing.

See how fast you read with this fun, quick test!

 Writing to Share Information

Writing is becoming a lost art.  Texting, with it’s short bursts of information, has become the only way many people communicate.  And now with autocorrect, we don’t even have to know how to spell anymore.  Being able to write clearly and effectively is a skill that professor and employers are looking for.

For a fun course in writing, try Institute for Excellence in Writing.  I’ve taken multiple courses from them and love them!

What is the College Composition CLEP?



So just what is the College Composition CLEP?  In July of 2010 the College Comp CLEP replaced the English Composition CLEP with Essay.  The College Composition CLEP contains 50 multiple choice questions to be answered in 50 minutes, and 2 mandatory essays to be written 70 minutes, for a grand total of 120 minutes testing time.

I know English and writing scare people.  Most people assume that they can not write and so they could never take this test.  However, with dedication, anyone can pass this test. Why?

You can pass this test because – it uses skills you should know from highschool.

This isn’t rocket science, and this isn’t psychology!  This is English.  The grammar, writing, and editing skills used on this CLEP exam are the same skills you used in highschool.  This test is nothing new.

You can pass this test because – the multiple choice questions use common sense.

Nothing here is trying to trick you.  Unlike some standardized tests that use more logic than fact, the CLEP exams are straightforward tests of your knowledge on one subject.  If you take your time, read the questions, and read the answers, you should know what the answers are.  When something is wrong in the sentence, it is very wrong. For instance here is a question from a practice test: “Studying plants in the laboratory under strictly controlled conditions providing a useful but limited view of the way that these plants function in an ecosystem.”  What is wrong in the sentence?

You can pass this test because – the essays are typed into the computer

The most common reason I hear for not taking the essay portion of the ACT is because of having to handwrite it.  Whether your handwriting is messy or slow, there’s no need to worry with the College Composition CLEP.  It’s typed on the computer!

Here’s the list of my favorite resources for the College Composition CLEP.  All of these books are highly recommended and a great addition to your shelf as you study.

  1. CLEP Official Study Guide 2012 (practice test and essay prompts)
  2. CLEP General Exams w/ CD-ROM (CLEP Test Preparation)  (practice tests)
  3. The Elements of Style (4th Edition) (grammar and punctuation reviews; common errors to look for)
  4. Writer’s Inc (helpful information in writing essays; general grammar information)
  5. Write Source 2000 (same as above)
  6. The Curious Case of the Misplaced Modifier (general grammar crimes that are committed)
  7. Wordsmith Craftsman (how to write an essay)


I took the College Composition CLEP in March 2011, and scored a 63.  

The Drama of a CLEP Transcript Request

I had “request transcripts” on my to do list for Tuesday.  It would be a very simple, straightforward task I was sure.  I needed to contact three different places to collect the transcripts for all my testing of the last three years.  And have them each send two transcripts: one to Liberty University and one to Thomas Edison State College.

ACE for my ALEKS math credit:  This was all online.  Very simple and straight forward.  I entered my account information, ordered two transcripts, selected the colleges they were going to, entered my payment information, and pushed “order”.  I received a receipt in my inbox a few moments later. Total: $30 ($15 per transcript).

CLEP:  You have to call CLEP to order transcripts.  I spent 6 minutes on the phone listening to menu options.  Wow.  Finally got to a person and explained to her what I wanted to do.  She had to process two separate orders.  Which means she had to take my payment information twice!  Total: $40 ($20 per transcript).

DSST: Called DSST, only to be told that I have to fill out a form and mail that in.  Then they will process it and mail in my transcripts to the colleges.  I am working on that form now.  Total: $60 ($30 per transcript).

Why can there not be a standard system?  Why can CLEP and DSST move their transcript system to online so this would be so much easier?  Why do I have to give my Social Security number over the phone, but they can’t give me my CLEP score?  Why do each of them have to charge different amounts?

Ah, I don’t know.  This is just me ranting… the drama of a CLEP transcript request!

Love Story

Just because everyone needs a good love story for Valentine's day.



They met in a small town.  A mutual friend introduced them and they started talking.  She was quiet, he’s more outgoing.  She could not figure out why he kept hanging around, he wondered if she liked him.  Back and forth, back and forth.  Their paths kept crossing (funny how that works), then they started dating (officially), and then they fell in love.  

But he had a dream, and he took a job far away.  She stayed behind to finish school and try to move on.  He worked, many miles away, during the day and stayed up thinking at night.  She studied, many miles away, during the day and cried herself to sleep at night.  But her trust in God became stronger because of the distance and silence.  And he listened to God and started thinking, “why did I leave her?”  

One day she looked out her window and saw his dog in her yard.  

She is his memory, when he forgets mentally postpones something.  He is her steady when she has crazy ideas.  He has never met a stranger, she hides from new people.  She can speak in public, he gets nervous in a crowd.  He loves cheese cake, and she loves chocolate.  She orders online, he loves to go shop. He wants to travel and see new places, she would never leave home.  She gives words, he gives time.  He’s the computer guy, she writes everything on a piece of paper.  She wants to plan everything, he wants to just go try it.  He is the daredevil, she is the one that worries.  She loves the beach, he wants the mountains.  He drinks his coffee very black, she drinks it with lots of sugar and milk.  Delightfully at odds with each other, it is a love that had to work.

They have both changed in the past (almost) 25 years.  She still has green eyes, and he still has blue; she still has a beautiful smile, and he still loves to hug her.  It is the other things that have changed.  Her hands are worn with the care of running her home, but she still looks just as lovely to him.  His blond hair is replaced with grey, but he is just as handsome to her.  They are raising eight children, and learning just how weak they really are.  Their date nights now consist of a trip to the grocery store, usually in the family van.  But their faith is deeper and stronger now.  And their love is fuller and richer, founded on Christ.

True love stories are not about the kind of love that we have been conditioned to think of.  That’s the shallow, cheesy Hollywood love.  This is a deep rooted, self sacrificing love.  Their love has not always been easy, it has sometimes been really, really hard.  But love is never about easy, it’s about hard.  Life is not easy, love is not easy.  They are two sinners, struggling to live together.  That’s why their faith is stronger, they have had to reach for God that much more.


When you read the beginning of their love story it is romantic and sweet.  But later on, when the story is full of struggles and heartache and bills to pay and losing babies and broken cars and raising kids, it is hard to see the romance and sweetness.  But it is still there.  And it is even more romantic and sweet, because they have poured 25 years of themselves into each other and their marriage.  It is a real love story, the kind everyone wants to have.  If you want to see true love, I suggest you look to your parents.  It’s a great place to start.