One of our readers, Ruthie, and I have had some discussion in the comment section of this blog about what we do to prepare for the College Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests. Most homeschoolers do not have access to the Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IP) programs available at many high schools. Kids in those programs have a leg up on other students when they go to college. We wanted something like that for our own children. The CLEP tests provide us with a mechanism to meet the testing part of that goal. College Board, the same company that makes the tests for the AP program and the SAT, make the CLEP tests. All the military branches provide the CLEP tests to their personnel for free. They are well established tests recognized by a broad spectrum of the higher education community. any colleges give credits to students who score 50 or above on the CLEP subject tests. Based on discussions with Ruthie and others, I have decided to write about how our kids prepare for the tests.
There are a number of reasons why we chose to include the CLEP tests in our homeschool activities. I will go into those reasons in more detail when I write the sections on the different subject tests because they vary. That being said, there are three reasons that hold true for us for all of the tests:
- The tests do a pretty good job of demonstrating mastery of materials often presented in freshman level college classes. Knowledge that the student has a grasp of the material is valuable to both the student and the teacher.
- The student receives credit for the material which advances them toward a degree more rapidly and less expensively than if they took the class in a conventional college setting.
- The textbooks and other study materials and the time to learn the material can be varied based on the needs of the student. In a conventional setting it is not possible to postpone the test for a month or switch textbooks midstream. We have done both.
Am I qualified to write about this? Maybe. Our daughter Kelly passed her first CLEP test, Freshman College Composition, when she was thirteen. That was almost exactly one year ago. Since then she has gone on to pass the Spanish, US History I, and Psychology tests. She plans to take the US History II, Sociology, and Biology tests before the end of our school year this June. Our thirteen year old son Christian passed the Freshman College Composition CLEP test last week. He plans to take Western Civilization I and either Psychology or Spanish this school year. Even though Kelly and Christian have passed all the tests they have taken so far, they did better on some than others. There were a couple very high scores, a couple mid-range scores, and a couple of squeakers.
While every parent rightly believes their children have exceptional qualities, this is not Lake Wobegon. All children are not above average. We have no illusions that our children have the raw intelligence of Newton or Einstein, but they have performed well on nationally normed standardized tests, read and write well, and enjoy studying. I think many homeschool students can do very well, even at an early age on these tests. I also have no illusion that the methods we used to prepare are the best way to prepare for the CLEP tests. The reality is that we did not do such a good job of preparation on a couple of tests so far. Maybe we learned something though. We will certainly try to prepare Christian differently for those tests where our preparation was not so great when Kelly took the test. This is made all the more challenging by the fact that Kelly and Christian have very different learning styles. What was not so good for Kelly might be great for Christian and vice versa. I will try to report on what we did, how we did it, and our results in a way that could help other homeschoolers who want to use the CLEP tests as part of their homeschool program.
CLEP Exam Links
The following is a preliminary list of the topics I will try to cover in this series of posts. I am sure it will change some as we go forward, but I will try to keep this page updated as an index to all the Homeschool CLEP preparation. My plan is to write three or four more posts on Wednesdays until I have covered everything we have done so far. I will write subsequent posts as we get to them. I will update this page with links and any modifications that make sense as I think of new things that might be helpful.