Posted in HS4CC

Let’s CLEP Out of Western Civilization

Is your teen currently studying high school Western Civ.? Beyond just awarding high school credit, you can also allow them to attempt to earn college credit (for free!) by including a CLEP exam at the end of this school year. This post includes some of my favorite CLEP Western Civ. resources.

CLEP exams offer people of any age the opportunity to pass a multiple-choice exam that could end up saving time and money later! CLEP exams can be taken at home or a testing center 24/7/365 and when you use the resources below, there is no (or very low) cost to take the exam!

My family and I have passed at least 25 CLEP exams through the years, and the best prep has always been when we used a layering technique. (if you have Homeschooling for College Credit, refer to Chapter 5)

My philosophy differs significantly from most who will caution you to “check CLEP policies before taking an exam.” I couldn’t disagree more strongly!! I urge your teen to take EVERY exam that lines up with their homeschool classes! Do this EVERY semester and EVERY year until they finish high school.

The cost is $0 (when you follow the voucher program below). The risk is $0. The retake for failed exams is $0. Failed scores are never sent to future colleges. I have yet to hear a single good reason NOT to take a CLEP! Even if the credit ends up not being part of a degree, there is absolutely no harm in having this credit “in the bank” for later. Passed exams are held for 20 years or until used. Get that credit!

Western Civilization is broken into 2 exams. You can take one or both, and you can take either one first. The exams are chronological. Both exams contain a LOT of information.

Western Civilization 1: Ancient Near East – 1648

Western Civilization 2: 1648 to the Present

Layer 1: Official Exam Guide

A new exam guide is published by The College Board every year, and while you don’t need your own copy, if you can find one used or online for ten-bucks, I highly recommend it. Buy the PAPERBACK so you can make photocopies of the tests for each of your kids. If you’re unsure, get a copy from your library. The Official Guide includes an exam outline for EVERY CLEP as well as a full-length practice test for EVERY CLEP. It’s very useful! 2022 CLEP Official Guide

Layer 2: Textbooks

This is your high school curriculum. If your student is currently studying Western Civilization, you’re already covered. Learning history slowly and carefully BEFORE layer 4 is important. If you’re looking for high school curriculum and haven’t started yet, my advice is to stick with the major homeschool textbook companies that have robust curriculum and if they have a lab, even better. There are probably a dozen brands that do an equally good job. I like Cathy Duffy’s review site when I’m trying to decide for myself.

Layer 3: Multimedia / Video

Wondrium The History of Western Civilization

Use the free online videos to reinforce your high school curriculum is always my preference, and there are some well done playlists on YouTube, but I wanted to share the course I think is excellent and have used myself. The History of Western Civilization is a full video-based course that used to be offered as a DVD (The Great Courses) and then went to streaming (The Great Courses Plus) and now is offered on the yet again newly named Wondrium. You may be able to find a 1-free month code or discount, but what I really like is that you can binge watch these on your Roku / TV as a family. The video series does a wonderful job. There are 48 lectures in the course, so 1-2 months should be plenty ($13/month).

Layer 4: Test Prep

Modern States

In order to get your CLEP exam cost and proctoring fee covered, you have to have your teen complete the Modern States Western Civ course (course 1 for the first exam, course 2 for the second). Not only will this give your teen targeted test prep, but the voucher means your out of pocket cost for this CLEP is $0! My recommendation is waiting until they are finished or nearly finished with their high school course before jumping over into the test prep program. Learning is slow, test prep is fast. Your teen can do their Modern States course in a week or so, but it should be done close to their test. Modern States: How to Take a CLEP for Free!

Layer 5: Practice Tests

REA Guide for Western Civilization 1

REA Guide for Western Civilization 2

At one time, I had REA Guides for every CLEP on my homeschool shelf! REA Guides have the best practice tests because they are the only company that has a comprehensive “why” next to every answer. In my opinion, knowing “why” you missed a question is more important than getting a question right but not knowing why! REA Guides are also targeted exactly to the most current version of any exam.

REA Guides, when purchased new, include an online code that can add an extra layer of prep by giving you access to a diagnostic. If budget is not a concern, buy new. It will cost about $30 and you’ll get the diagnostic in addition to the practice tests. You can resell your book when you’re finished in the HS4CC Marketplace, save it for your other kids, give it to a friend, or use it to study yourself!


Executive Director of Homeschooling for College Credit