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Month: August 2012

The Top Three Books and Their Problems

The Top Three Books and Their Problems

“You should also read some of the other major novels that are mentioned… such as Hawthorne’s The Scarlett Letter, Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and Chopin’s The Awakening.” ~CollegeBoard 2012 Official CLEP Study Guide~

These are the three books that appear most often on the American Lit CLEP.  Questions involving their characters, settings, and influence in the culture abound on this test.  But just what is this literature?  This is the “cream of the crop” ?  This is as good as it gets?

Hawthorne’s The Scarlett Letter

What every good book should be.  An unfaithful wife, an adulterous pastor, an ending full of shame and bitterness.  That and the Puritans are made to all look like adulterous men and women who mock others.  Great story.  This is a “classic” that appears on EVERY practice test at least once.

Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

This is a book that the libraries banned because of foul language.  And other commentators complained that it was coarse and racist.  Schools today still ban and restore it through the years.

As if that weren’t enough, there is Mark Twin himself.  His view of Christianity alone is enough to make you get rid of all your Twain writings.  He didn’t believe in the Bible, or the goodness of God.  He didn’t believe that Jesus would be a Christian.  He wrote novels that ridiculed Christianity.  I could go on and on.  Here is a quote from his autobiography that says more than I can:

“There is one notable thing about our Christianity: bad, bloody, merciless, money-grabbing, and predatory as it is–in our country particularly and in all other Christian countries in a somewhat modified degree–it is still a hundred times better than the Christianity of the Bible, with its prodigious crime–the invention of Hell. Measured by our Christianity of to-day, bad as it is, hypocritical as it is, empty and hollow as it is, neither the Deity nor his Son is a Christian, nor qualified for that moderately high place. Ours is a terrible religion. The fleets of the world could swim in spacious comfort in the innocent blood it has spilled.”

Again, a “classic” that is tested continually.

Chopin’s The Awakening

No, I have not read this.  I would not be allowed too.  But here is what I have gathered.

Again, another banned book and author (is that the qualification for an American classic?).  This book was banned across the country and the author was banned from her local meetings.  This tells the story of a young wife and mother who finds she just wasn’t made to mother.  She doesn’t miss her children, in fact she finds their absence over the summer a relief.  She begins to search for herself as a human being in the universe.  (weird, right?) Her self righteous wanderings take her to a life of adultery and immoral relationships.

Once she has given up everything in her life to find herself, she, ironically, finds there is nothing to live for.  So, she does what every wonderful woman in a great American classic does… she walks into the ocean and kills herself.

Okay, now that’s a book every college student needs to read?  Why?

One of two things has happened here:

  1. The people who write the books and decide the classics are totally ignoring other, good, American Literature.  Which is sad.
  2. There is nothing better than this that has been written by Americans.  Which isn’t sad, it’s embarrassing.

This is a college test.  Why are we testing books like this?  Books that are routinely banned for immorality, language, and cultural comments?  Every young man and woman in a traditional college taking a American Literature exam needs to have read The Awakening?  Again, why?

Captain's Log 8.29.12

Captain's Log 8.29.12


On my last three practice tests I have scored: 66.77, and 72.  Not bad!!!  Considering.  🙂

The hardest thing about this test (for me) is the amount of names to memorize.  You need to know architects, painters, sculptors, authors, poets, composers, philosophers, dancers, singers, filmmakers, actors, actresses, and screenwriters.  See what I mean.  You also need to know their 5 most famous pieces. Unlike math, which gives you a problem to solve, this test requires you take a name and remember the time period, historical and political context, gender, and style of that person. But, I am enjoying it and learning a lot.  Especially about music which is great for a musician!

Studying and waiting for next Tuesday!

American Literature

I am reading the Complete Idiot’s Guide to American Literature (I got it from the library) for Humanities and American Lit.  It is good, but very rough.  From what I can tell the only American Literature that everyone likes to call the classics (and what the test is on) is anything involving social rights, promiscuous relationships, suicides, and horrible language.  It’s true!!!  All the books that are so shocking in their immorality that they were banned from reading and their authors run out of town, are the ones that they are praising in this book.  It’s ridiculous!!!

And I can’t find any practice tests.


What to Use?

What to Use?

I just discovered two very aggravating facts in the distance learning, self directed, college world. They both involve the American and English Literature CLEP exams:


1. The test material

There is no official test material by REA or Princeton Review for either of these exams.  CollegeBoard gives one practice test in their book, but that’s it.

After some research I discovered that most people use the Complete Idiot’s Guide to American Lit and the Complete Idiot’s Guide to English Lit. to prepare and they were very happy for it.  The only thing is, I’m trying to find a Idiot guide for American Lit that is the cost of a normal book.  So far all the copies I’ve found have been no less than $45.00.  Crazy, right?

2. The essay

I was shocked to find out that some college require you to take the optional essay (s), depending on the college.  However, I can’t figure out if Excelsior is one of those few who do require it.  I’ve searched and searched, but to no avail.  I called the college and the lady refused to answer my question.  I repeated it 3 times (very nicely, really) but she never answered it.  She kept trying to get me interested in a scholarship.

So, I am collecting books and asking people about the essay.  If you can help me out with either, let me know!!!




Should you take the PSAT?

Unlike the SAT or the ACT, the PSAT score is worth nothing unless you are a National Merit scholar.  On the whole, unless you think you can be a National Merit, don’t take the PSAT.  Save your money and take another, more worthwhile test.  (see below)

Why would I take the ACT?

Most colleges require you to have taken either the ACT or the SAT.  I opted for the ACT.

Also, and more importantly, if you plan on applying for any scholarships… most require you to have taken either the ACT or the SAT.

What makes CLEP different?

Positive: CLEP is private test taking.  Just you and the proctor.  ACT is you, two proctors, and 300 other kids.  It totally stressed me out.

Negative: CLEP is given on a computer.  Okay, for some people that might be good, but I LOVE handwriting.  Especially my essays.  It was a totally new experience to type my two essays for College Comp.  I spent a month practicing typing to get myself up to the highest speed and accuracy possible.


Captain's Log 8.17.12

Captain's Log 8.17.12


I am working on cleaning my room, packing away FF stuff, and dusting off school books.  I’ve always done school year round (lighter during the summer, but some school).  This is really the first time I remember putting away my books for a few months and not looking at them.   I really love pulling them back out now and getting ready to use them!  I am planning out my remaining CLEPs before I launch into course work in 2013.


The CLEP for August is Humanities.  The Humanities CLEP is one of the general five, it is worth 6 college credits, and it will fulfill my humanity requirement for Excelsior.  For this test I purchased the REA Humanities Test Guide, and I am using the Princeton Review.  For poetry review I am using the Treasure of Poetry for Young People.  That is really helpful because it goes through each poet, one at a time.  That way you can get used to their style.

I took my first real practice test and scored a 49.  Not good, but not bad either for fresh out of the gate.  I take all my wrong answers and group them together by kind.   That helps me find my weakest spots.  My weakest spots were:

  1. Poetry
  2. Literature
  3. Performance Arts (drama, film, etc)
  4. Music
  5. Architecture
  6. Philosophy
  7. Art

So, I am now tackling those in order of weakness and importance.  I hope to schedule my test today for August 31st.

Here I Come!

Here I Come!

The Film Festival is behind me, so I am returning this week with more CLEPing information.

This month:

  • What is CLEPing?
  • Humanities Prep
  • ACT and PSAT versus the CLEP

Stay with me!