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Graduation Home Stretch

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.  🙂

How to Schedule a CLEP Test

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.


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!

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!

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!


Back to the Beginning

Back to the Beginning

CLEP has once again changed it’s policy on IDs.  You no longer have to have 2 photo IDs to take a CLEP exam.  Just one, government issued, ID is all you need.


However, most test centers haven’t switched back yet.  So call your test center and ask what they need right now, and plan on taking a second ID.

How I Pass CLEPs

How I Pass CLEPs

I have taken quite a few CLEPs and, with the exception of Macroeconomics last spring, I have passed them all.   When I share that with people, they usually want to know how I pass that many tests.  And to be perfectly honest, it is nothing that I do.  It is totally the Lord and my mom.  I was homeschooled all twelve years and the skills I learned there are the reason I can go take college level tests and pass them.  Here are a few things that might help you pass your tests.

Be Disciplined

My mom was always there for me, if I needed her.  But with 7 other children, she couldn’t hold my hand the whole time.  Especially when I hit high school.  So I basically did my Junior and Senior year of high school on my own.  Admittedly, I wish I could have had that special time with my mom, but it taught me a lot about self discipline!  If I didn’t get my work done, guess who’s fault it was?  Map out your goals and hold yourself accountable!

Set a date

Take a practice test and gauge where you are.  Then call your test center and schedule your test.  And then write it onto your calendar in red ink and let it stare at you when you don’t want to study!  Here’s a rule of thumb I use with the Official CollegeBoard practice test.  Less than 40% correct, schedule test 4 weeks from now.  40-55% correct, schedule test 2 weeks from now.  55-60%, schedule test one week from now.  60% or up, go take that test!

Save money

Nothing like a limited bank account to put a fire under you!  Being aware that I have no money to spare when it comes to school really pushes me to know the topic.  I literally can’t afford to fail a test.  That will make you study like nobody’s business!  And remember, that a failed test means 6 months before you can retake.  You’re saving time and money!

Be willing to move the date

But, be wise about when you take your test.  I have canceled a test the day before.  Why?  Because I couldn’t get my score up.  I’d rather postpone than fail and have to wait 6 months!  You have to know when to shoot and when to be still.


And the last two are best summed up by quotations.

Be willing to fall

“If you learn from defeat,  you haven’t really lost” Zig Ziglar.

Blame yourself

A man can fail many times, but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame somebody else. – John Burroughs

3 Ways to Befriend Your CLEP Proctor

3 Ways to Befriend Your CLEP Proctor

There are rules to every game, even taking tests. Some of the rules are un written, but they still exist.  And, if you follow them, your proctor will love you.

Here are 3 Ways to Befriend Your CLEP Proctor.

1. Be on Time

One of the best ways to make a good impression is to be on time to an event or appointment.  And I don’t just mean the first time, I mean every time.  Figure out how long it takes you to go from your house to your test center and arrange your schedule accordingly.  If this was a movie, you would probably arrive early to get a seat, a CLEP exam is no different.  It is courteous to the proctor to know that you will show up and with plenty of time to sign in.

And remember that, in the business world, 15 minutes early is “on time”.  If your test is at 10:00 and you arrive at 10:00, you are late.  Arrive at 9:45.

2. Be Prepared

To take a CLEP exam you need: 2 forms of photo ID, a valid registration ticket from you CollegeBoard, and your administration fee.  Come with all of this.  Don’t get into your test center (on time!) and then realize you left your wallet in the car.  Before exiting your vehicle, double check that you have all of your needed information and IDs.

One way I implement this is writing my check beforehand.  I proctor fee by check, but I don’t wait until I’m standing at her desk to write it out.  My proctor fee is $20 every time.  Every time.  So that morning, before I leave, I write and sign a check for $20.  Then I stick it in my purse.  When I arrive at my test center, I pull it out and hand it to her.  Done.  I’m prepared.  Than while she runs that through, I sign in and prepare for my exam.  One less thing I have to think about.

3. Be Personable

Being kind never makes you feel bad.  On the contrary, it can make you feel really good.  Being somber and silent in the test center doesn’t make you feel any better, and it isn’t kind to your proctor.  Walk in with a smile and be personable.  Ask questions and listen to their answers.  My proctor has been with me for 14 tests, and she’s going to be there for a whole lot more!  By now, I know when she has surgery and I prayed for her.  It made us better friends.

Okay, fine, I was really quiet and nervous for my first exam.   But after that, I got better about smiling.  🙂


Meet the Test: Social Sciences and History CLEP

Meet the Test: Social Sciences and History CLEP

Social Sciences and History CLEP

The Social Sciences and History CLEP is exam is one of the General Five CLEPs.  Which means that it is a very broad test, but you are also awarded 6 credit hours for this test.  Unlike the Subject Exam CLEPs, this test worth an entire semester’s worth of study.  That is the bad news and the good news.  On one hand it is a very broad exam that covers a lot of information, but on the other hand, it is so broad that it doesn’t go into much detail.

This test has a basic CLEP format, 120 questions to be answered in 90 minutes.  There is no essay.

CollegeBoard gives the following breakdown for the Social Sciences and History CLEP:

  • 40% History
  • 13% Government and Political Science
  • 11% Geography
  • 10% Economics
  • 10% Psychology
  • 10% Sociology
  • 6% Anthropology

Obviously the largest part of this exam is the History section.  Of this section, 17% is American History, 15% is Western Civilization, and 8% World History.

While CLEP has done a fairly good job of being neutral in this test, some politically correct stuff has made it’s way onto the exam.  For instance, b.c.e (before common era) is used, instead of B.C (Before Christ).