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What is the College Composition CLEP?

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

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

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.

Update and a Restart

Update and a Restart

Hello everyone,

Where did my blogging drive go?  I have no idea!  Somewhere in between life and school and work I got too busy to keep up the blog.  I kept writing (couldn’t stop that!), but it never made it onto the blog.  But I have resolved to do better in 2015 and journal all the interesting things I am learning with school and work.  So here is an update and a map for the new year.  And I will begin getting more posts out here soon!

Life Update

School – I have applied to Thomas Edison State College (TESC) and Liberty Online.  I have been accepted to Liberty, still waiting to hear from TESC.  Yesterday I began the long and complicated process of mailing in my test transcripts (that story is coming on Friday).  I am ready to go take the Technical Writing DSST, but will wait until I am settled on a college.  Then I can just have my test scores sent straight there.

Work – There will be a new part of this blog, as we focus on working in an uncommon way.    As college students, many of us will be working for part time jobs and/or looking for full time work.  This is a great time to begin working on skills and qualities that will make you a better employee (and help you get hired in a competitive market!).  I recently started working as a Virtual Assistant.  I am self employed, and currently have four clients I am helping with their websites in various ways.

General – Life in general is good.  It rolls on whether I am taking tests or not.  I am still raising chickens (about to have more chicks arrive), still a big sister (to some incredible people), still playing soccer, still running a Film Festival, and still reading.  I have some new things going on that are teaching me how quickly life can change.  It has encouraged me to stop each day and take a breath, just to remember that God is in control.

Plan for 2015

School – I have 11 tests and 1 course standing between me and graduation.  It is my goal, Lord willing, to knock all those out this year and graduate with my Bachelors.  The biggest roadblock to that is finances, so I will also be applying for scholarships.  Stay tuned as I share test information, school updates, and scholarship help.

Work – To grow my Virtual Assistant (VA) work into a profitable business that provides me with the same amount of income as a full time job, but with more enjoyment and better hours.  This is a great job for me now, as a student with other interests.  And it is also perfect for a wife and mom, with children at home.  I will be hosting it off of Uncommon Student (which has its own domain now!), so there will be a new website soon!

Life – Some of the goals I have for 2015 are: do one thing that really challenges me to get out of my shell, read 50 books I have always wanted to read (but never have), run a 5k, start getting up at 5:30 each morning, memorize a book of the Bible, and buy my own car.

Haha, yeah, I know.  I’m crazy.  😉  Here’s to a great new year!  Let’s experience it together!


One Book for 2015

One Book for 2015

The one book…

Students ask me, parents ask me, everyone asks me.  They all ask the same question.  “What do I need to get started with CLEP exams?”

There is no magic formula, there is no skill set you have to have.  I have one, very simple book that I think is all you need to get started.  This one book is what I have always had on my shelf, and the only thing I always recommend to students and parents.

CLEP Official Study Guide 2015

How to use this book…

This book contains one practice test for each of the 33 CLEP exams that CollegeBoard offers.  Before you start studying, take the practice test for your exam.

60% or above – Go take the test!

45%-59% – Grab the REA guide for your CLEP exam, and study you’re weak areas.  Then retake the practice test.  I’m sure your score has gone up.

Below 45% – Maybe some good text books, pull up Wikipedia, and get the REA guide.  You’d better start studying.  🙂

3 Books for the American Government CLEP

3 Books for the American Government CLEP

In honor of November 4, 2014 – otherwise known as Election Day – let’s talk about the American Government CLEP.  Are you about to go take the American Government CLEP?  Well, you only need 3 books on your shelf, and you are ready to study!

CLEP Official Study Guide – This book has one practice test for every CLEP offered.  It is also published by CollegeBoard (who hosts CLEP), so the practice tests use “official” questions.  A quick rule of thumb is 60% on this test means you’re ready to take the exam.

CLEP REA Guide American Government– Consider the REA guides to be the CliffNotes for CLEP exams.  It’s not for teaching you the subject, it’s for reviewing and refreshing your memory.  Not only is the material good, the practice tests you receive are very helpful.  Also, with the new REA guides,  you get a short, diagnostic test that is a great way to pinpoint your weak areas.

American Government in Christian Perspective – As I studied for this exam, I found it fascinating to read this Abeka textbook along with the other material.  Not only did it dive deeper into topics for me, but it covered everything with a Christian worldview.  American Government was already interesting, but reading about the Christian values and men and women from our history was really fun!

There you go!  My recommended 3 Books for the American Government CLEP!

Yes, I'm Crazy!

Yes, I'm Crazy!

Yes, I know I promised a blog series on writing.  However, God had different plans, and last Sunday I broke my wrist.  So my dominant hand is in a cast for the next 5 weeks.   However, I do have the series all planned out and, as the pain continues to subside, I plan on typing out all the posts for you.  So stay tuned.

On another note, I was able to CLEP American Government the day after I broke my wrist.  I was just so ready to be done with it, that I got up Monday morning and my mom drove me in to the testing center.  My proctor put the computer mouse on the left side of the computer for me, I took my pain medicine, and then CLEPed Government.  Squeaked by with a 51, came home and slept for a couple of hours.

Yes, I’m crazy.  🙂  But I only have 3 tests now until I’m a Senior.

New Series Coming

New Series Coming

Next week we will be looking at Handwriting for Students – a week long blog series that I think you will all enjoy.  Notetaking, pens, notebooks, cursive, and all that fun stuff.  🙂

Join us next week for Handwriting for Students.

Another burst of energy…

Another burst of energy…

You know how when you’re running and you want to stop?  You really, really want to stop.  You’re not sure you can go one more step.   You have to dig down deep and find another burst of energy.

That’s what I did last Thursday.  Except I wasn’t running, I was taking two tests back to back.  🙂  And yes, I was tired.  Very tired and very sore.  That Monday I had gotten my wisdom teeth removed  and I was still recovering from that.

Like I said.  Tired, sore, and ready to quit.

But God has given me a really amazing group of friends to pray for me and encourage me.   Knowing they were praying was enough to give me that next burst of energy.

And I passed Introduction to Sociology CLEP with a 55 and Ethics in America DSST with a 433.

Credit Count: 78!!!

Why You Need to Fail

Why You Need to Fail

Okay everyone, I’m getting my blogs up and running again!  I’ve got life *somewhat* scheduled and planned out… and I’ve got some blog post ideas sketched out and ready to go.

With that said… Why You Need to Fail.

Everyone should fail at least one thing in your life.  You need to mess up, drop the Frisbee, fail the CLEP, miss the deadline, wreck the car, miss the goal, burn the food.  The list goes on and on.  Failure is tough and hard (trust me, I know!) but there are three reasons I think everyone should fail (and why every distance student should fail a CLEP).

We’re all human

If you succeed at everything, you get a little cocky.  Some of us more than others, but we all do it.  Your head gets a little big when you have a “perfect record”.  Failures are good reminders that you are human, I am human…  in fact, we are all human!   Failure is a reality check.  Take it and move on.

Failure teaches more than Success

I realized this when I was learning how to drive (I’m still learning, by the way).  I could drive in a parking lot, at the correct speed with the correct posture all day long.  But it wasn’t until I started doing hard things – like driving with other cars, going over bridges, merging onto the interstate – that I started making mistakes.  Some were uninformed mistakes, some were dumb, obvious mistakes.  But each one made an impression in me, and taught me a lot more than all the perfect driving ever did.

God shouts through pain

Let’s be perfectly honest, failure causes pain.  Last night, during a volleyball game at a local park, one of my friends messed up badly.  The ball went wide and far, and he hurt his shoulder.    He walked off the court and said, “That hurt.  My pride and my shoulder!”  Failure can hurt – physically or emotionally.  It causes a lot of pain.  But the good news is God shouts through our pain.  “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks to us in our conscience, butshouts in our pains: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”  C. S. Lewis

So, when I have kids and friends tell me they failed a test, I sympathize.  But I also think its a really good thing.  Whether they realize it or not, they just made a huge leap to being an better person in Christ!