These are my favorite 10 BEST resources you can use during your resourceful high school planning years.
There are so many excellent experts, products, and resources, and new players enter the market every day – but these are the BEST of the BEST.
1. The BEST Curriculum Review Guide
102 Top Picks by Cathy Duffy. Cathy Duffy is the guru of curriculum reviewing- if you are considering a brand, she’s done a review. Her reviews are on point and detailed. Parents who are looking for specifically Christian or specifically secular material will find her reviews exceptionally helpful! She is 100% my “go-to” when I’m researching curriculum.
2. The BEST Test Prep Flashcards
InstantCert I’ve been a subscribing member of InstantCert for OVER 10 years, and am a HUGE FAN. Many of our Homeschooling for College Credit moderators “cut our teeth” by learning and contributing over at InstantCert first. InstantCert 2 things. First, it is an online flash card test prep site, and second, it is a community. The first resource (flash cards) are targeted directly to a credit by exam product (CLEP, DSST, etc). The pass rate among IC members who use the flash cards is exceptionally high – over 90%. Subscribers get access to their whole catalog and then share feedback in a special folder called “Specific Exam Feedback.” This is where you’ll find the latest about questions, topics, and what was/wasn’t covered. This fuels a steady stream of exam analysis. Enter code 100150 at checkout for a $5 off coupon.
The second resource (free) is their forum and community page. There, members share tips for earning credit by exam and preparation books/ websites. In addition, they are the BEST support community for those pursuing a degree from one of the Big 3 colleges.
You’ll find me (Jennifer) there as “cookderosa” so be sure to say “hi!” Though I’m the top contributing poster in that community, discussions there are not specific to homeschooling or teens- the population there is mostly adult learners. Still, if you’ve gone through a curriculum with your teen and are ready to focus on testing, I highly suggest giving IC a month’s investment- you might end up staying on for 10 years!
3. The BEST Free CLEP Prep Site
Free CLEP Prep You may not know that there is an excellent and completely free prep site for CLEP and DSST exams. They even give a suggested ranking of “difficulty” for certain tests, provide simple study guides, and even have a few practice tests. I hope they eventually develop content for all the exams, but until then, there are excellent guides for most of the popular ones!
4. The BEST Site to Check a College’s Accreditation
Department of Education Database Accreditation is so very important, but colleges that aren’t legitimate will lie or stretch the truth on their websites, so you should never trust a college’s own website! There are different types of accreditation, and while there are situations that don’t require it, my recommendation is to always choose a REGIONALLY ACCREDITED college unless you can make a strong argument for not doing so. Within this link, click on the first option (“Get data for one…”) and then you can choose to search by institution or search by accrediting agency. Pan down and choose from their list. Note: Regional accreditation is superior to national accreditation.
5. The BEST Selection of Audio Books
Loyal Books Loyal Books (formerly called Books Should Be Free) is so incredible that you should stop reading right now and check it out. I can’t even do them justice. Phenomenal. You don’t even have to download- just click play.
6. The BEST Selection of Massive Open Online Courses
edX I realize that free classes are sometimes poor quality, but that’s exactly why edX is such a big deal. edX is a nonprofit collaboration that started in 2012 between Harvard and MIT. This collection of completely free and completely open (no application) courses are taught by Harvard, MIT, Columbia, Princeton, and dozens more elite universities from all over the world. In the past year or so, they’ve also expanded to offer college credit options, certificates, transfer classes. In cases where you’re seeking credit or a credential, they’ve added a cost. Learning remains free.
7. The BEST Official CLEP Book
CLEP Official Study Guide There are a lot of CLEP books, but if you only buy one book, this is the one. It runs about $15 new and contains specific exam information for all 33 exams. Each exam’s outline, base content, and then practice questions. It also explains how scoring and testing works. Since it’s very likely that all exams will undergo revision in late 2018, you’ll want to get a new edition for 2019, but until then, used is fine. My edition is from 2006!
8. The BEST ACT Prep
ACT has an official course that aligns perfectly with their exams. Currently, it’s about $40 and allows access to course materials for 6 months. The prep course has a mobile app and will give a pre-test to your teen before they study. From that, it develops a learning program customized to your teen. All of this is done online from your home computer/phone. Official ACT Prep Course
9. The BEST SAT Prep
If you’re planning an SAT exam this semester, check out the official collaboration between Khan Academy and The College Board – they’ve put together an interactive study program that’s totally free and open access! In addition, it includes 6 adaptive practice tests, which correct and target questions toward your weaknesses. Before you pay for an expensive SAT Prep program, try this first. Khan Academy SAT Course
A tip: The SAT was redesigned in 2016, so be sure any prep materials you plan to use are for the new test format!
10. The BEST CLEP Prep Guides
- They include content that is an identical distribution match to the exam. For example, if the exam will test you on 15% of a specific topic, then 15% of that topic will be in the REA guide.
- They are not teaching guides, they are summaries. While this can be a disadvantage if you haven’t spent time on the subject, for those who have spent a whole semester or year in the topic, you really just need to go in and nail the key points – this is that.
- They include practice tests, at least 2 but sometimes 3.
- They give you a score “guesstimate” based on your practice test scores.
- There are fantastic explanations for every practice question – know why an answer is true is sometimes essential when preparing for the real exam.
Many exams were revised in 2015, so please watch publication dates. It won’t necessarily mean an older book won’t work, but just do your homework and check that the distribution in the book you use is on target or that you’ve added in updated content. These links take you to the newest edition of each book.