College Composition CLEP

If your college accepts this exam for credit, expect it to replace English 101 and the more generous colleges will allow it to replace a second English as well.

What’s on the test?

  • 50 multiple-choice questions to be answered in 55 minutes
  • 2 essays to be written in 70 minutes

You have to pass both sections to pass this exam, and CLEP does not give you separate scores- so you’ll never know what you scored on either section individually. What you will see is a scaled final score pulled from your multiple choice and essay combined.

Passing: 50 (on a scale of 20-80)

Potential College Credit: 6 credits

Essay grading: this exam takes TIME to get your score since physical people will grade the exam. Exams are graded on this schedule.

Last Date for Transmission from Test Centers (11:59 p.m., ET)Exam Scoring DateScore Availability for Test TakersScores Mailed to Institutions
June 27, 2022June 29, 2022July 3, 2022July 12, 2022
July 14, 2022July 16, 2022July 20, 2022July 28, 2022
July 25, 2022July 27, 2022July 31, 2022August 8, 2022
August 11, 2022August 13, 2022August 17, 2022August 25, 2022
August 22, 2022August 24, 2022August 28, 2022September 6, 2022
https://clep.collegeboard.org/scores/college-composition-scoring-score-availability-dates

Who should take this exam?

Unlike the other 33 CLEP exams, this one takes some deliberation. Not everyone *should* test out using this exam because it is likely the ONLY time your college student will take English- so you may not want them to skip it. If your teen can get through their college program without any additional writing practice or instruction, then it’s worth considering. If your teen already knows MLA, APA, and Chicago manuals of style, they’re probably a candidate.

This is not an exam for struggling writers. Struggling writers will benefit from the practice they’ll get taking English in college. No matter the degree your teen earns, they’ll likely have to take 2 English Composition classes. Obviously English majors will take many more. If you think your teen needs those classes, don’t take the CLEP. If your teen is already proficient at writing AND can handle a basic 11th or 12th grade standardized type test on Language Arts, it’s probably fine.

I don’t always share my son’s experiences since I don’t want it to heavily influence anyone here, but this is a good example of how you have to look hard at your teen before you decide. As an example, my youngest son is getting a degree in Welding. His degree requires 1 English class and his occupation / degree won’t require any academic writing, so he’ll test out using CLEP. In my second son’s case, he was an excellent writer in high school, and though his bachelor’s degree did require a lot of writing, his existing skills allowed him to learn academic writing as he needed it and had no trouble. My first and third sons all needed (and took) English Composition in college as traditional classes with teachers in college. As you can see, it’s really something you want to think about.

Tips for passing this exam

  1. Earn the Modern States voucher. Besides getting to take the exam for free, you’ll get a good prep course that really helps with the multiple choice portion! Note that the sample questions in MS will come from the Official Study Guide
  2. Master the 5 paragraph essay. (Introduction, Point #1, Point #2, Point #3, and Conclusion). The best video for this step.
  3. Get a copy of the CLEP Official Study Guide. Even if it’s a super-old one. It gives good practice answering questions.
  4. ESSAYS
    • Practice writing a least a couple timed essays. You will NOT have access to a spell check or other word processor tools!!
    • Make an outline before you write.
    • Write your 3 points FIRST (it’s easier to write your intro and conclusion last)
    • Take a firm position and support it — don’t be wishy-washy.
    • If you’re asked to draw on personal experience, don’t be afraid to make stuff up.
    • They are not grading you on your position (“Which is really better, chocolate or vanilla?” There is no truth to find, just take a side) they are grading you on your ability to express your position using written words.
    • On test day, you’ll get 2 different kinds of essays.
      1. First Essay: Write an essay in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement provided. Support your discussion with specific reasons and examples from your reading, experience, or observations. Draw on your own experience to explain your position on a topic.
      2. Second Essay: This essay requires you to write a coherent essay in which you synthesize the two sources provided. Synthesis refers to combining the sources and your position to form a cohesive, supported argument. You must develop a position and incorporate both sources. You must cite the sources whether you are paraphrasing or quoting. Refer to each source by the author’s last name, the title, or by any other means that adequately identifies it. This is a controversial subject, and each of the two mini-articles will support a different side. You’ll be required to source both articles in your essay using inline citations.

Official College Board College Composition Exam Page

Official College Board College Composition Fact Sheet pdf (includes sample questions)


Sample Essay Prompts

(https://literacyideas.com/persuasive-writing-topics)

  1. Many schools now require teenagers to spend a certain number of hours each term doing volunteer work or community service. Some people believe this is an excellent idea as it promotes good citizenship and cultivates compassion. Others feel that forced volunteerism is not volunteering at all. How do you feel about this issue? Use specific reasons and examples to support your position.
  2. Some parts of the world allow people to get a driver’s license at age sixteen. Many feel this age is much too young for the responsibility that comes with driving a car and that teenagers should not be allowed to drive until the age of 18. In your opinion, at what age should people be allowed to drive, and why?
  3. What is your all-time favorite book or movie and why? Write an essay persuading readers to watch this film or read this book.
  4. Have you ever made a life changing action that has had a positive effect on you or the lives of others? Write an essay that convinces readers to make a change for the better.
  5. You have been asked to write a letter that would convince a organizers of a major event to be hosted in your hometown. Write an essay that convinces these delegates that your town would be great host.
  6. Top professional athletes often have salaries and bonuses in the tens of millions of dollars. Do you think these athletes deserve this type of income? Why or why not? Explain your position and use specific reasons and examples.
  7. Humans have always wondered about the possibility of life on other planets in the universe. Do you believe extraterrestrial life exists? Write an essay persuading others to share your point of view.
  8. If someone discovered the ‘Elixir of life’ that would enable us to live forever, would it be a blessing or a curse? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.
  9. If you have you ever traveled to a place that you found very meaningful and rewarding? Write an essay that persuades others to visit this important place.
  10. Nearly all private schools require students to wear uniforms. Should public school students wear uniforms too? Argue for or against school uniforms for public school students. Use specific reasons and examples to support your position.
  11. You are to select one item from the twenty-first century to place in a time capsule for future generations, what would you choose? Use specific reasons and examples to support your choice, explaining both the item’s significance and the reasons why it embodies the culture of the early twenty-first century.
  12. What would improve your town or city? Write an essay convincing officials to make a change that would improve your neighborhood.
  13. Some studies have shown students often perform better on exams if music is played softly in the background. However, some students may find the music distracting. Should schools play classical music during exams and/or allow students to listen to headphones whilst working? Take a position and explain your answer.
  14. Should parents be a child’s disciplinarian, or their best friend?
  15. Take a position and explain your answer using specific reasons and examples.
  16. Millions of people visit zoos around the world. But some people believe that zoos are inhumane and that animals should not be kept in captivity. Do you agree? Why or why not? Use specific reasons and examples to support your position.
  17. In most countries people pay taxes based upon how much they earn: the higher their income, the higher the percentage of that income they must pay in taxes. Many people argue that a flat tax, in which everyone pays the same rate regardless of income, would be a more equitable and desirable tax system. Which of these two tax systems do you think is best, and why? Use specific reasons and examples to support your answer.
  18. Is it wise to devote time and money to building a space station on the moon or Mars? Why or why not? Explain your answer.
  19. An ancient Greek proverb states, “All things good to know are difficult to learn.” Do you agree? Why or why not? Use specific reasons and examples to explain your answer.
  20. Imagine that you know someone who is unfamiliar with computers and has never been on the Internet. Write an essay convincing this relative to get a computer and get online.
  21. Imagine that you have made it to the final round of interviews for your dream job. Convince your prospective employers that you are the one who most deserves the position.
  22. Is there something that you believe is truly worth fighting for? Write an essay persuading others that this cause is worth a fight.

Author:

Executive Director of Homeschooling for College Credit