Posted in Credit by Exam, Curriculum, DSST

Ken Burns Documenatries & DSST

Ken Burns.  Ever hear of him?  He’s an American filmmaker.  Specifically, he is a history documentary legend.  His trademark is to use a lot of actual photos, video and audio clips from the time period, and create these really long multi-hour films.  These aren’t just boring educational films, these are award-winners.  Even adults who aren’t really “into” history usually enjoy Ken Burns’ work.

Today, I want to highlight 2 of his films: The Civil War (1990), and his newest release The Vietnam War (2017).  These two films just happen to align well with the two upper-level DSST exams  and fit in perfectly with a US History curriculum.   If your teen has studied US History, or better yet- taken either US History CLEP exam, the Civil War is a perfect fit right in between the US History 1 and US History 2.  For those who just studied US History 2, you’ve probably already covered a bit about the Vietnam War.   Either subject can be studied as an “Advanced US History” course, taken separately or as part of a year-long course.

If your teen has studied or is currently studying US History, the Civil War and Reconstruction DSST is a perfect fit right in between the US History 1 and US History 2 CLEPs.  For those who just studied US History 2, you’ve probably already covered a bit about the Vietnam War.   Either subject can be studied as an “Advanced US History” course, taken separately, or as part of a year-long course.

For those who haven’t started teaching US History yet, you can do it over 1 or 2 years.

If you were studying over 1 year, you’d cover the content like this:

United States History  (1 year / 1 high school credit/12 college credits)
1st Quarter 2nd Quarter 3rd Quarter 4th Quarter
United States through Civil War Civil War and Reconstruction United States from Reconstruction The Vietnam War
CLEP: US History 1

(3 college credits)

DSST: Civil War

(3 college credits)

CLEP:  US History 2

(3 college credits)

DSST: Vietnam War

(3 college credits)

If you were studying United States history over 2 years, it would look like this:

United States History  (2 years / 2 high school credits/12 college credits)
1st Semester 2nd Semester 3rd Semester 4th Semester
United States through Civil War Civil War and Reconstruction United States from Reconstruction The Vietnam War
CLEP: US History 1

(3 college credits)

DSST: Civil War

(3 college credits)

CLEP:  US History 2

(3 college credits)

DSST: Vietnam War

(3 college credits)

I’ve included the documentary content and DSST exam help for both subjects.   In each section, you’ll also find a few selected study resources so you can DIY a course for your teen.  An upper-level exam credit by exam is rare.  If you have selected a target college and know that they accept DSST exams for college credit, these 2 exams will yield a total of 6 college credits in history / social sciences.  For those earning a degree in Liberal Studies, History, or Social Sciences, these two exams are very valuable because they won’t simply fill the “general education” but may fill part of an area of study or major!

If your teen hasn’t selected a target college, but you’re studying these subjects in high school anyway, I strongly encourage you to consider adding these to the schedule anyway.  The potential upside is very good since the average cost of upper-level credit is over $500-$1,000 per credit. In other words, these exams could save you somewhere around $3,000 – $6,000 in tuition if accepted by a target college.  You’ll save another $500-$2000 if you add in the two lower level US History CLEP exams.

If you don’t end up getting to use the exams for college credit, you’re only out the cost of the exams ($80 each).  All high school credit earned is ALWAYS counted on your homeschool transcript – regardless of whether or not the exam was passed or a college awards credit in the future.  That’s the way Advanced Placement (AP) works, and that’s a good model to follow.

Personal side note:  He also executive produced The Emperor of All Maladies (film) that is a knock-your-socks-off documentary about cancer. In 2011, the book was required reading in my graduate biology course at Harvard University.  I took a course called Newsworthy Topics in the Life Sciences through their Extension campus.  The book was nothing like I expected.  It was phenomenal.  When the documentary came out in 2015, I didn’t expect it to be great, after all, movies are never as good as books….I was wrong.  While I recommend the book, honestly, the movie “added” so much more to the book.  I recommend both!  The link above takes you to PBS site, but it is also to instant stream on Netflix and Amazon Prime.


The Civil War

NOTE:  I tried really hard to find a free source for this documentary, but haven’t been successful.  I hope you can find it at your library since it is a little pricey to purchase.  If you find a free (legitimate) source, please let me know so I can share it here.    

Link to the documentary on PBS (check your local programming)

Link to the box set (digital) and tons of reviews on Amazon

Link to Amazon Prime (pay per episode)

“The Civil War is a 9-part, 11-hour American television documentary miniseries created by Ken Burns about the American Civil War. It was first broadcast on PBS on five consecutive nights from September 23 to 27, 1990. Approximately 40 million viewers watched it during this broadcast, making it the most-watched program ever to air on PBS. It was awarded more than 40 major television and film honors. A companion book to the documentary was released shortly after the series aired.” –Wikipedia

The Wikipedia chart is helpful planning curriculum because it breaks out the date range covered in each episode!

No. Episode Original air date
1 “The Cause” (1861) September 23, 1990[8]
All Night ForeverAre We Free?; A House Divided; The Meteor; Secessionitis; 4:30 a.m. April 12, 1861; Traitors and Patriots; Gun Men; Manassas; A Thousand Mile Front; Honorable Manhood
2 “A Very Bloody Affair” (1862) September 24, 1990[9]
Politics; Ironclads; Lincolnites; The Peninsula; Our Boy; Shiloh; The Arts of Death; Republics; On To Richmond
3 “Forever Free” (1862) September 24, 1990[9]
StonewallThe BeastThe Seven Days; Kiss Daniel For Me; Saving the Union; AntietamThe Higher Object
4 “Simply Murder” (1863) September 25, 1990[10]
Northern Lights; Oh! Be Joyful; The Kingdom of Jones; Under the Shade of the Trees; A Dust-Covered Man
5 “The Universe of Battle” (1863) September 25, 1990[10]
Gettysburg: The First DayGettysburg: The Second DayGettysburg: The Third DayShe Ranks MeVicksburg; Bottom Rail On Top; The River of DeathA New Birth of Freedom
6 “Valley of the Shadow of Death” (1864) September 26, 1990[11]
Valley of the Shadow of Death; GrantLeeIn the WildernessMove By the Left Flank; Now, Fix Me; The Remedy
7 “Most Hallowed Ground” (1864) September 26, 1990[11]
A Warm Place in the FieldNathan Bedford Forrest; Summer, 1864; Spies; The Crater; Headquarters U.S.A.; The Promised Land; The Age of Shoddy; Can Those Be Men?; The People’s Resolution; Most Hallowed Ground
8 “War Is All Hell” (1865) September 27, 1990[12]
Sherman’s March; The Breath Of Emancipation; Died Of A Theory; Washington, March 4, 1865; I Want to See Richmond; Appomattox
9 “The Better Angels of Our Nature” (1865) September 27, 1990[12]
AssassinationUseless, Useless; Picklocks Of Biographers; Was It Not Real?

DSST:  The Civil War and Reconstruction Resource List

InstantCert DOES have flashcards for this test ($5 off use code 100150)

Official DSST Exam Content  (link to pdf)

Free CLEP Prep Study Guide and Practice Test 

Civil War Trust (a MUST SEE site)

History of the United States: The Great Courses Plus 

DSST officially suggests the following textbooks for your consideration when studying for this exam (the two with links are books that I own.  Both are excellent.)
1. Foner, Eric (2011). Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877. New York, NY: Harper and Row, current edition.
2. Goodwin, Doris Kearns (2005). Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. Current edition.
3. McPherson, James (1988). Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, current edition.
4. McPherson, James & Hogue, James K. (2010). Ordeal by Fire: The Civil War and Reconstruction. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 4 th Ed.




 

The Vietnam War

This is available for instant streaming now for free on PBS to watch on any device!

You can’t currently watch it using Amazon Prime, but they are selling the box set.

“The Vietnam War is a 10-part, 18-hour documentary television series by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick about the Vietnam War. The documentary premiered on the Public Broadcasting Service on September 17, 2017.” –Wikipedia

The Wikipedia chart is helpful planning curriculum because it breaks out the date range covered in each episode!

Episode Original airdate
1 “Déjà Vu” (1858 – 1961) 90 minutes September 17, 2017
After a century of French occupation, Vietnam emerges independent but divided into North and South.
2 “Riding the Tiger” (1961 – 1963) 90 minutes September 18, 2017
As a communist insurgency gains strength, President Kennedy wrestles with American involvement in South Vietnam.
3 “The River Styx” (January 1964 – December 1965) 2 hours September 19, 2017
With South Vietnam near collapse, President Johnson begins bombing the North and sends US troops to the South.
4 “Resolve” (January 1966 – June 1967) 2 hours September 20, 2017
US soldiers discover Vietnam is unlike their fathers’ war, while the antiwar movement grows.
5 “This Is What We Do” (July 1967 – December 1967) 90 minutes September 21, 2017
Johnson escalated the war while promising the American public that victory is in sight.
6 “Things Fall Apart” (January 1968 – July 1968) 90 minutes September 24, 2017
Shaken by the Tet Offensive, assassinations and unrest, America seems to be coming apart.
7 “The Veneer of Civilization” (June 1968 – May 1969) 2 hours September 25, 2017
After chaos roils the Democratic Convention, Richard Nixon, promising peace, narrowly wins the presidency.
8 “The History of the World” (April 1969 – May 1970) 2 hours September 26, 2017
Nixon withdraws US troops but when he sends forces into Cambodia the antiwar movement reignites.
9 “A Disrespectful Loyalty” (May 1970 – March 1973) 2 hours September 27, 2017
South Vietnam fights on its own as Nixon and Kissinger find a way out for America. American POWs return.
10 “The Weight of Memory” (March 1973 – Onward) 2 hours September 28, 2017
Saigon falls and the war ends. Americans and Vietnamese from all sides search for reconciliation.

DSST:  The Vietnam War Resource List

InstantCert DOES have flashcards for this test ($5 off use code 100150)

Official DSST exam content (link to pdf)

Free CLEP Prep study guide and practice test

History of the United States: The Great Courses Plus  (lecture 76)

National Military Archives (government resource page)

DSST officially suggests the following textbooks for your consideration when studying for this exam: 
1. Frankum, Ronald B., Jr. (2011). Historical Dictionary of the War in Vietnam. Toronto: Scarecrow Press. Current Edition.
2. Goldfield, David (2011). The American Journey: A History of the United States. New York: Pearson. Current edition.
3. Karnow, Stanley (1983). Vietnam: A History. New York: Viking Press. Current edition.
4. Lawrence, Mark Atwood (2010). The Vietnam War. USA: Oxford University Press. 
5. Sheehan, Neil (1989). A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam. New York: Vintage. Current edition.
6. Tucker, Spencer C. (ed).(2001), Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War: A Political, Social, and Military History. Current edition

Posted in Credit by Exam, DSST, Self-Paced Learning

DSST: the “other” CLEP test

DSST isn’t a CLEP test, but it is a competing brand with CLEP – and similar in almost every way.  Since CLEP is more widely accepted than DSST (2,900 institutions accept CLEP vs only 1,900 accept DSST), is there any reason to take a DSST?  For some of you, yes!  In this post, we’ll cover the basics of DSST as well as the pros and cons of this exam.

DSST Official Website

DSST is a registered trademark of Prometric, a test development company.  In contrast, CLEP is a registered trademark of The College Board, also a test development company, but in this case, you’ve probably heard of The College Board’s other brands- SAT and AP. Most high school students take one or the other at some point, and resourceful high school students take CLEP.  But Prometric is less known for their tests and more known for their testing centers.  There are about 8,000 Prometric testing centers in 160 countries, making it the largest testing company you’ve probably never heard of.

A quick back-story:  DSST is formerly known as Defense Activity for Non-traditional Education Support (DANTES) so some of you with military knowledge may be familiar with this exam. For a number of years, only our military could take a DANTES exam, but in 2004, Prometric took over the exam process and opened up testing to everyone.  So, while our military can still take DANTES / DSST exams (for free) so can anyone else.  This is a great opportunity to those seeking credit by exam because the DSST catalog contains 36 exams covering topics that CLEP doesn’t cover (with one exception).  In other words, between DSST and CLEP, you have almost 70 different college subjects that can be completed by exam.

Tip:  when asking a college about DSST exams, you may want to refer to them as DSST/DANTES since some schools are more familiar with the DANTES name.

What’s The Test Like?

Like CLEP, the test is a multiple choice format.  In a CLEP exam, the student selects the best answer out of 5 possible choices, but DSST only lists 4 choices.  Technically, the probability of getting a correct answer is better with DSST (25%) than CLEP (20%).


What Subjects are There?

1. A History of the Vietnam War boy
2. Art of the Western World
3. Astronomy
4. Business Ethics & Society
5. Business Mathematics
6. Criminal Justice
7. Computing & Information Technology
8. Environmental Science
9. Ethics in America
10. Foundations of Education
11. Fundamentals of College Algebra
12. Fundamentals of Counseling
13. Fundamentals of Cybersecurity
14. General Anthropology
15. Health & Human Development
16. Human Cultural Geography
17. Human Resources Management
18. History of the Soviet Union
19. Introduction to Business
20. Introduction to Law Enforcement
21. Introduction to World Religions
22. Lifespan Developmental Psychology
23. Management Information Systems
24. Math for Liberal Arts
25. Money & Banking
26. Organizational Behavior
27. Personal Finance
28. Principles of Advanced English Composition
29. Principles of Finance
30. Principles of Physical Science
31. Principles of Public Speaking
32. Principles of Statistics
33. Principles of Supervision
34. Substance Abuse
35. Technical Writing
36. The Civil War and Reconstruction


Scores

Like CLEP, the exams are pass/fail.  Also like CLEP, a school may choose to impose a higher cut score than is recommended by ACE.  The following table shows the cut scores for “B” grades as well as “C” grades.  For most schools, the “C” grade score is sufficient.

Table of B and C scores


Upper-Level Credit

When college credit is earned, it’s generally grouped into “lower level” or “upper level” categories.  The lower level credits consist of 100 and 200 level courses, also often called “General Education” courses by most colleges.  There are exceptions, but most 100/200 level courses will meet the requirements of an associate degree or the first two years of a 4-year degree.

An edge that DSST has over CLEP, is that all CLEP exams are 100/200 level, while 7 DSST exams are classified as “upper level.”  It is always harder to find economical credit alternatives in the upper-level category, so it’s worth pointing out that this small list is the least expensive upper-level credit currently available.

A History of the Vietnam War

History of the Soviet Union (formerly The Rise and Fall of the Soviet Union)

Introduction to Law Enforcement

Substance Abuse (formerly Drug and Alcohol Abuse)

The Civil War and Reconstruction

Fundamentals of Cybersecurity

Money and Banking


Test Preparation

Like CLEP, the best way to prepare for a DSST exam is to have your teen complete a full semester of study using a curriculum, and then follow up with dedicated exam prep.  Good resources for curriculum and test prep can be found in my The 10 BEST Resources tab.  Since companies that assemble online curriculum are always adding resources, I encourage you to always check edX for classes being offered in these subjects.  EdX courses are always free!

In addition, for those who enjoy the Great Courses (amazing, but expensive) their streaming service (think: Netflix for education), there are a TON of courses you’ll find that align really well to the DSST exams.  The Great Courses Plus

Unlike CLEP, my favorite prep company (REA) doesn’t have DSST prep books.  You can find prep books on Amazon, but you may want to check the customer feedback to assure you’re getting a book that actually aligns with the DSST exam.  DSST exams are refreshed on 3-year cycles, so it’s best to look for current publications or use the prep material distributed by DSST.  

Finally, my favorite online practice test company (Peterson’s) does have the full catalog of practice exams, so if you want to check your teen’s readiness, you can purchase a set of 3 online timed practice exams for $20.  They are considered by most to be a bit harder than the real thing, so solid scores on the Peterson’s tests (60%+) are a really good indicator of readiness.  The Free CLEP Prep site offers one free exam for several DSST exams, so it’s worth a visit too.

 

Posted in Community college, Credit by Exam, Distance Learning, Straighterline

BOG AAS Pierpont Community and Technical College

This is the follow-up post you’ve been waiting for!  Last week I told you about the West Virginia Community College System’s little secret:  CHEAP and FAST associate degrees for adults with at least 12 previously earned college credits from a Regionally Accredited college (I mistakenly said 15 in my original post, you only need 12!). The cost?  Nothing….. but wait.  Let’s talk.

First, know that this is a totally legitimate Regionally Accredited Associate’s degree through a community college in West Virginia.  Pierpont Community and Technical College is not the only college in the country that offers a Board of Governor’s Associate of Applied Science degree – many do. In fact, your local community college may.  A Board of Governor’s degree is simply a traditional college’s way of going around a college’s traditional requirements to encourage adult learners to return to school, or to allow those with non-traditional credit to complete a degree.

Since I’m organizing a degree plan through Pierpont for a friend, my research is specific to Pierpont.   We had a lot of interest on the Facebook group about this degree, so I’m thrilled to bring this to you!

I am told that all of the West Virginia Community Colleges offer BOG – AAS degrees, however, not all are as easy to complete as this one, which is why I selected Pierpont.  There are many adults pursuing this specific degree over on InstantCert, so you can also visit that forum and read some first-hand experiences. 


Is Pierpont’s BOG – AAS a good fit for you?

  1. Did you graduate high school /earn a GED at least 2 years ago?
  2. Do you have at least 12 graded college credits earned through a Regionally Accredited college?  They can be online or in-seat, but if you don’t have them, you’ll have to complete them somewhere.  You can do it anywhere or Pierpont.

As you can see, this is a program focused on attracting the adult learner who may have left college or the military and wants to finish their degree.  So, what’s the catch?

Not a “catch” but a limitation.  This is an Associate’s of Applied Science degree- which means it’s not meant to transfer perfectly into a 4-year program, however, if you attend a West Virginia-based public 4-year college or university, they have an articulation agreement that allows a perfect block transfer.  In other words, if your goal is to earn a 4-year degree, you’re going to want to look at West Virginia public colleges.  If you intend on attending in a different state or a private college, a transfer may be limited or significantly restricted and not result in a 60 credit transfer.   This degree is best suited to someone who is satisfied with only an Associate’s degree, or who wouldn’t object to attending a WV public university.  (Yes, online is an option too).


Cost

The cost to complete this degree through Pierpont is $0.  Meaning, they don’t charge you anything to apply, anything to transfer, or anything to graduate.  You can literally transfer in 100% of your credits and be awarded a degree.

If you don’t have all of the credits you need, you’ll have to pay for them yourself, but the good news is that you can control those costs and cash flow the whole thing for very little out of pocket cost.  Since they accept all military, CLEP, DSST, AP, and ACE credit, you can choose the way you earn those credits.  As an example, you can use Straighterline (a program my 10th grader used last school year to earn 39 credits for $1200)  For someone that only needs 3 or 4 courses, you could simply take CLEP exams ($100 each).

Since there is no way for me to know what credit you already have or where they will fall on the degree template, it’s hard to estimate costs that apply to all of you, but, you can use this generic tool to help give you an idea.  (YOUR COSTS may differ)

60 credits REQUIRED for this degree

Subtract the number of credits you already have from all sources including CLEP, ACE, etc.  Be sure you already have at least 12 college credits from a Regionally Accredited college!

Subtract 11 10 (the number of free credits you’ll earn from the options below)

= the number of credits to pay for.  

If you use the resources in this post, you can earn the rest of your college credits for about $33 per credit, so multiply the number left to earn x $33 to get a rough idea.

If you have 12 left to earn = $396

If you have 24 left to earn = $792

If you have 36 left to earn = $1188

The cost examples you see are the “all in” costs from application to graduation.  You can see why this is so exciting!!  The average Associate’s Degree in the United States can cost between $10,000 and $30,000.

If you do not already have 12 college credits from a Regionally Accredited College, your costs will be more.  If you live outside of West Virginia and want to take classes at Pierpont, their tuition is $432 per credit, which is the LEAST cost effective way to complete this degree.  Look at your local community college first, where you may be able to complete your courses for closer to $100 per credit.


Program Information Page Pierpont Board of Governors AAS Degree


Credit Distribution

A credit distribution explains where your credits have to fall in order to meet a degree’s requirements.  In other words, the degree requires 60 credits, but you don’t meet that requirement by simply having 60 credits.  You have to distribute credit into the right slots.  it doesn’t matter where your existing 12 credits fit into this distribution, only that you have them in there somewhere.   NOTE: You have to have English 101 credit, either by course or exam.  Everything else is undesignated.  In other words, you can choose ANY course from a category.

NOTE 1: It doesn’t matter where your pre-existing 12+ credits fit into this distribution, only that you have them in there somewhere.

NOTE 2: You have to have English 101 credit, either by course or exam.  Everything else is undesignated.  In other words, you can choose ANY course from a category.

6 Credits Communication English 101 (or similar)

AND

Any 3 cr. English or Communication

6 Credits Math or Science Any 3 cr. Math or Science

AND

Any 3 cr. Math or Science

6 Credits Social Sciences Any 3 cr. Social Science

AND

Any 3 cr. Social Science

3 Credits Computer Literacy Any 3 cr. Computer Literacy
39 College Credits Any subject*

COOL THING TO NOTE:  If you have 15 or more credits in one subject, you’ll be awarded an Area of Study on your transcript.  


WARNING:  I need to emphasize that the courses below meet all of the specified requirements set by the college and should transfer seamlessly.

Still, it is a wise investment of your time to reach out to the program advisor and discuss your degree plan in advance of earning tons of credit independently.

Parks, Nancy W.

Director of Assessment, Advising & Testing
Associate Professor of Academic Studies
304-367-4990

Ways to Earn Free ACE Credit

If you have enough space in the “39 credit” category, you can pick up 11 10 college credits totally free through the following ACE sources open to anyone!

This list was generously assembled by the members of InstantCert.    Members there have successfully applied these 11 10 credits to this degree.  NOTE:  You will have to open an ACE account to collect and hold your ACE credit.  ACE is a third party credit evaluator, it’s necessary in order to turn your work into actual college credit.

Don’t be intimidated by this step –  I made a video to walk you through the process.

(2 Credits) The Institutes

The American Institute For Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters (commonly referred to as “The Institutes”) offer a free ethics course that is ACE recommended for 2 credits.

  • 312N-H Ethics and the CPCU Code of Professional Conduct (2 credits) – an upper level ethics/philosophy course that meet’s TESU‘s General Education “ethics” requirement (you might have to ask for an exception to be made for the last credit, but typically this is automatically granted. The 3rd credit is to be made up as a general ed elective).

To signup, use the following link: http://www.theinstitutes.org/comet/learning_modules/cpcu_ethics.htm

Select the FREE option. You should not do the $5 option. The paid option is for “Continuing Education credit,” which is different than college credit. The free version is ACE approved for college credit.

(2 Credits 1 Credit) National Fire Academy

The National Emergency Training Center/National Fire Academy (NFA) offers two free courses that are ACE-recommended for 1 credit each.

  • Q0118 Self-Study Course for Community Safety Educators  (1 credit) currently not available for college credit, but if it is renewed, I’ll add it back in.
  • Q0318 Fire Service Supervision: Self Study (1 credit)

To signup, use the following link and find the course code in the list, Q0318: http://apps.usfa.fema.gov/nfacourses/catalog/search?&&forget=true&courseCode=Q

After you are enrolled, use this login URL to take the classes: https://nfa.plateau.com/learning/user/login.jsp

(1 Credit) Sophia – Developing Effective Teams

Sophia offers a number of paid ACE-approved courses that are fairly expensive. However, they do offer a free 1 credit course:

  • SOPH-0021 – Developing Effective Teams (1 credit)

You can sign up for the course at https://www.sophia.org/online-courses/developing-effective-teams

(6 Credits) TEEX Cybersecurity

Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) offers three ACE-approved courses recommended for 2 credits each. These are DHS/FEMA funded and therefore free for the general public to take.

  • Cyber 101 – Cybersecurity for Everyone (2 credits)
  • Cyber 201 – Cybersecurity for IT Professionals (2 credits)
  • Cyber 301 – Cybersecurity for Business Professionals (2 credits)

To signup, use the following link and make sure you sign up for all classes under these three headings, there are multiple courses per heading: Cyber 101, 201, 301: https://teex.org/Pages/Program.aspx?catID=607

After you are enrolled, use this login URL to take the classes: https://my.teex.org


Ways to Earn Low-Cost ACE Credit

There are a handful of popular ACE credit sources. You may have already heard of a few of them:  Saylor Academy, Study.com, Straighterline, Sophia, Shmoop, Davar/Tor, ed4Credit, EdX, and Pearson.   Honestly, it’s impossible for me to go through each of these and provide a full list of options, but know that there are MANY and if the course is ACE evaluated, it’s accepted.  For the sake of keeping this post concise, I want to emphasize 2 providers:  Saylor Academy and Straighterline.

 Saylor Academy

If you can pass a really tough exam, Saylor Academy is THE cheapest option for Communications, Math, Science, Social Science, and Other.   I don’t know the exact pass rate for each, but I know a lot of good testers who couldn’t pass these exams or barely passed- still, I want to tell you about them because they only cost $25 each (proctored at home via webcam) and for $25, that’s only $8.33 per credit – without leaving your house! So, if your budget is tighter than tight if you’re a good test taker, and you’re up for a challenge, I think you should give one a try.    You can choose courses from this list that have an ACE# next to them.  Note, I don’t suggest their Sociology or Psychology since they are not a full 3 credits each.  But, you can still use them, but you’ll need to make up the difference with another course.

Saylor Coures Matched to the Credit Distribution

COMMUNICATION:

  • COMM001: Principles Of Human Communication

MATH or SCIENCE:  

  • BIO101: Introduction to Molecular and Cellular Biology
  • CHEM101: General Chemistry I
  • MA001: College Algebra
  • MA005: Calculus I
  • MA121: Introduction to Statistics
  • PHYS101: Introduction to Mechanics
  • PHYS102: Introduction to Electromagnetism

SOCIAL SCIENCE:

  • ECON101: Principles of Microeconomics
  • ECON102: Principles of Macroeconomics
  • POLSC101: Introduction to Political Science
  • POLSC221: Introduction to Comparative Politics

OTHER:

  • ENVS203: Environmental Ethics, Justice & World Views (while this does have a science prefix, it has been ACE evaluated a philosophy course – not science)
  • BUS101: Introduction to Business
  • BUS103: Introduction to Financial Accounting
  • BUS105: Managerial Accounting
  • BUS203: Principles of Marketing
  • BUS206: Management Information Systems
  • BUS205: Business Law and Ethics
  • BUS208: Principles of Management
  • BUS210: Corporate Communication
  • BUS303: Strategic Information Technology
  • CS102: Introduction to Computer Science II
  • CS302: Software Engineering
  • CS402: Computer Communications and Networks
  • PHIL103: Moral and Political Philosophy

 

Straighterline

Straighterline is cost-effective when you work quickly, and the way to work quickly is to skip the lessons.  I would never suggest that to my teens (I make them do every lesson!) but the tests and quizzes are what make up your grades, and all of the test content comes from the free ebook – not the lesson.  Really, it’s your decision.

I wrote a really long post on how to select Straighterline courses.  The strategy I use is a good one, and I highly suggest you read it before signing up.   Also, Straighterline ALWAYS has coupon codes running.  You can find my coupon list here.

To keep things simple, any Straighterline course can be used.  Most of the courses cost $59 before coupon and require a $99/month membership fee.  An adult focused on the tests (skipping the lessons) can complete 1 course per week comfortably.  If you really grind, you can complete 2 per week, but you won’t have a social life.   Since you’re paying a monthly fee, you want to try and complete ALL your Straighterline courses in 1 month (or 2 at the most).

TIP:  when using coupons at Straighterline, purchase your courses in individual transactions.  This allows the “1 coupon per transaction” to reset with each purchase. 

Cost for Straighterline:  $99 (1-month membership) plus course ($59 average with a $50 off coupon = $9 per course)  The minimum cost for 1 course will be $108, but every course AFTER that initial membership fee is whatever you pay for the class! So, if you can use 3 more coupon codes, you can get 3 more courses for $9 each = $27!

TIP:  You can start and stop your Straighterline membership without losing your place in your courses.  My oldest son took a 2-year hiatus and picked up where he left off! 


 

Credit by Exam

Credit by exam allows you to study for a subject on your own using whatever resources you can pull together, and then take a multiple choice exam on the subject.  If you pass, you earn college credit in the subject.  The two big exam brands you’ll want to look at are CLEP and DSST.  If you follow Homeschooling for College Credit on Facebook or this blog, you’ve probably seen my What is CLEP?  video and my suggested study resources.  If not, it’s worth looking at, because it will open an entire world of credit earning options to you!  In short, I want to help you assign CLEP and DSST exams to their proper category.  See the table below:

CLEP DSST
Other Financial Accounting

Introductory Business Law

Principles of Management

Principles of Marketing

American Literature

Analyzing and Interpreting Lit.

English Literature

Humanities

French

Spanish

German

Business Ethics and Society

Introduction to Business

Money and Banking

Organizational Behavior

Personal Finance

Principles of Finance

Principles of Supervision

Ethics in America

Introduction to World Religions

Communications College Composition Advanced English Composition

Technical Writing

Social Sciences American Government

History of the United States I

History of the United States II

Human Growth and Development*

Introduction to Educational Psychology

Introductory Psychology

Introductory Sociology

Principles of Macroeconomics

Principles of Microeconomics

Social Sciences and History

Western Civilization I

Western Civilization II

A History of the Vietnam War

Art of the Western World

The Civil War and Reconstruction

Criminal Justice

Foundations of Education

Fundamentals of Counseling

General Anthropology

Human/Cultural Geography

Lifespan Developmental Psychology*

History of the Soviet Union

Substance Abuse

Math & Science Biology

Calculus

Chemistry

College Algebra

College Mathematics

Natural Sciences

Precalculus

Fundamentals of College Algebra

Math for Liberal Arts

Principles of Statistics

Astronomy

Environmental Science

Principles of Physical Science I

Computer Literacy Information Systems

 

Computing and Information Technology

Management Information Systems

Cybersecurity

*choose one but not both


How Do I Begin?

You can contact Pierpont directly to begin the process.  Since I know many of you have questions about your credit and will want to connect with others working this plan, I have created a Facebook group for this specific purpose.

Pierpont BOGgers will be a special group specifically for Homeschooling for College Credit members who are working on the Pierpont BOG Associate degree.  In the group, you’ll be able to ask questions of others and contribute to the working body of knowledge that is shared here and passed out to the other members who would like to complete this degree.  The group will “open” for membership on 9/10/2017 and will remain active as long as we have an interest.

 

Posted in ACE, AP Advanced Placement, CLEP, Credit by Exam, DSST, Foreign Language, Saylor Academy

Single Exam Options

College classes usually require a lot of homework. Some college classes require a little bit of homework, but for some students, earning college credit by exam means skipping homework in college! If your teen is the type of learner who can read a book and pass a test, is a strong independent learner, likes to deep dive into a subject, then credit by exam is probably something to consider.  In addition, parents who plan credit by exam options are the teachers and selectors of the curriculum (because it happens in highschool at home) and there is no worry about what the college may or may not teach.

There are many alternative credit sources out there, and many require passing a series of tests or quizzes, but this post will focus on the single-exam option.

A single-exam option:  one test determines whether or not you receive college credit in a subject.  

Now, to be clear, I’m not advocating skipping a high school class.  Rather, I’m telling you that learning in homeschool can prepare your teen well enough to skip a college class.

Let’s look at this example:

Paul has studied German since middle school and is starting 10th grade.  His parents have used a variety of curriculum options, and he’s done fine, but last year he really had a breakthrough after his family went to Germany to visit family.  When they returned home, Paul was very motivated and put is heart into his German class.  He completed the 4th and final level of his Rosetta Stone German course.  Paul can speak, read, and write German pretty well!  Paul took the German CLEP exam and scored a 70.  That is an exceptionally high score and will qualify him for 9 college credit at most of his target colleges.  With such a high score, his homeschool advisor suggested he attempt the ACTFL  exam too.  His score resulted in 14 college credits.  Though the first 9 credits of his ACTFL exam will duplicate the CLEP exam credits he has (you can’t count them twice), the additional new 5 credits will give him upper-level credit at his top choice university.  At $900 per credit, Paul saved at least $12,000  by taking a single exam and getting 14 credits for his fluency in German.  (If the university tuition price goes up before he graduates high school, his savings will be even more impressive!)

It’s important to point out that not all colleges accept credit by exam, but you’re not going to send your teen to all colleges- you can be strategic in the schools you choose and consider whether or not it is worth your family’s time and money to use credit by exam.

To inject a personal note, when I first read about credit by exam, I was very skeptical.  In addition to thinking it was possibly untrue, I wasn’t sure that I was smart enough to test out of a college course.   Since I was working at a college at the time, I went down the hall and asked about CLEP.  Despite working there for 10 years, I had no idea that we accepted CLEP, we were an official testing center, and that we allowed our students to complete 75% of their degree through CLEP!!!  So, yeah, it’s a real option.

Using my employer’s testing center, I proceeded to test out of class after class. I found a college with better CLEP policy than my employer and tested out of an ENTIRE AA degree.  This was a test, I didn’t even need the degree.  But, that event changed my children’s lives forever, and it led me to start this community.  So, I share that story because it’s TRUE.  (And my IQ is unimpressively average)


List of single-exam options

CLEP College Level Exam Program:  33 different exams.  All credit is considered lower level (100/200) and all exams (except College Composition) are multiple choice pass/fail.  Cost:  about $100 each.  Accepted by about 2,900 colleges. Taken at a testing center.

DSST (formerly known as DANTES):  36 different exams.  Exams are lower and upper-level (100/200/300/400) and all exams are multiple choice pass/fail.  Cost:  about $100 each.  Accepted by about 1,400 colleges.  Taken at a testing center.

Saylor Academy:  31 different exams.  Exams are lower level (100/200) and all are multiple choice and require 70% to pass.  Cost:  $25 each.  Accepted by about 200 colleges.  Taken at home via webcam proctor.

American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages:  Exams in over 100 languages.  Exams are lower and upper level (100/200/300/400) and credit is awarded based on the strength of your score.  Cost and requirements vary.  Accepted by at least 200 colleges for college credit.  (This exam is also accepted for government employment and teacher certification)

Advanced Placement:  38 different exams.  Exams are lower and upper-level (100/200/300/400) and all exams are a combination of multiple-choice and essay.  Exams are scored 1-5, and colleges generally award credit for a score of 3 or above.  Cost:  about $100 each.  Accepted by about 3,200 colleges.  Taken at a designated AP high school.

New York University Foreign Language Proficiency Exam:  Exams in over 50 languages.  Exams are lower and upper level(100/200/300/400) and credit is awarded based on the strength of your score – up to 16 credits.  Cost ranges from $150 – $450.  Accepted by at least 200 colleges for college credit. (This exam is also accepted for government employment and teacher certification).  Taken at a testing center.

UExcel (Formerly known as Excelsior) Exams:  61 different exams.  Exams are lower and upper-level (100/200/300/400) and all exams are mainly multiple-choice.  Credit is awarded as a letter grade (A, B, C, or F).  Cost is about $100.  Taken at a testing center.

helping

 

 

Posted in CLEP, Credit by Exam, High School

Sample High School CLEP Schedule

I love making schedules for our homeschool – I actually love making them more than I like following them.  But, in reality, I think most of us get a sense of satisfaction when we check things off of a list.  I often have a few “leftovers” that get pushed to the next day, which makes me feel so unaccomplished.  If that ever happens to you in your homeschool (can you say 7 out of 10 Lifepacs?) I would suggest you are careful planning your teen’s CLEP schedule.  It’s so easy to get carried away.  (16 CLEP exams next year?  Yeah, that’s too many.)  Additionally, if this is your first year injecting college credit into your homeschool, whatever you were thinking about adding…. cut it way back.  Early success will be like rocket fuel later.  Early failure will be like sugar in the gas tank.


Jennifer’s recommendation:  no more than 2-3 CLEP exams during your first year of earning college credit – no matter what grade your teen is in.

My guinea pig (AKA oldest son) helped me learn that my knowledge and motivation about something is not enough to push everyone to the finish line. I share my mistakes so you can hopefully prevent them with your own kids.  A quick story:  I had just finished CLEP-testing out of an Associate’s of timeArts degree. Over the course of 6 short months, I averaged one CLEP exam every 10 days – while homeschooling my kids-  I had a schedule that worked perfectly (for me) and I was ready to implement CLEP tests into our homeschool immediately.  They weren’t really that hard.  But, my enthusiasm was tempered with homeschooling reality:

LEARNING TAKES TIME

So, before we dive into a schedule, I want to tell you the difference between my CLEPping out of an exam, and the experience of my teens CLEPping:

As an adult, I’d already attended and graduated, from high school.  I had 4 years of slow learning – learning that included lots of reading, writing, researching, quizzes, studying, critical thinking, group discussion, reflection, and TONS of test-taking experience.  I also had about 30+ years of life experience that helped me pass many exams.  (Heck, I was present for some of the content on the US History II exam!)   An adult going into a CLEP exam prep process is pretty straight forward:  memorize, recall, use the process of elimination and life experience, choose the best answer.  It was simple.  But, NOT that simple for my son, and probably not for yours.  (I’ll spare you the disaster that resulted in a lot of frustration,  tears,  yelling, and a failed exam.)  So, when I started our schedule for my son’s second year of homeschooling for college credit, it went SO MUCH BETTER, because I followed a VERY SUCCESSFUL model used in high schools all over the country. I first learned this model as a high school student back in the 80’s, and it’s still in use today. I followed the Advanced Placement model.

Advanced Placement (AP), is a class followed by a college credit exam available to high school students.  Not surprisingly, it’s written by the same makers of the CLEP exam.  Students take it in the spring after about 2/3 of that year’s curriculum has been covered.  The student takes almost an entire course before they ever think about exam prep.  And, students who aren’t successful in the course don’t even have to attempt the exam if they don’t want to.   The exam, if the student takes it, has nothing to do with their AP course grade or high school credit earned.  In fact, AP credit by exam grades don’t even come in until July – well after the student has received their course grade. So, whether or not the student takes, passes, or fails the AP exam has nothing to do with the course grade or credit that led up to that moment.  It is that model that I follow in our homeschool and one that I’d encourage you to consider as well.

100% curriculum + CLEP test prep = Success


WRITE YOUR HIGH SCHOOL SCHEDULE FIRST 

Don’t worry, you can change it – but this really is where you should start.  If you have no idea whatsoever of the subjects you’re going to plan for high school, you can use this very general rule of thumb* as a starting point.  This plan doesn’t include any technology, electives, or other fun stuff – but this is a good starting point.  Adjust as you see fit.

4 years of English  (ex. Language Arts, Composition, Literature)
2–4 years of Math (ex. Algebra, Geometry, Consumer Math, Statistics, Trigonometry)
2–4 years of Science (ex. Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Environmental Science)
2–4 years of History (ex. American, Western Civilization)
at least 2 years of a Foreign Language (ex. Spanish, German, French)

*if your state has a specific high school graduation requirement or subject taught laws, you’ll want to follow those instead.  Some states also distribute a “college-bound” suggested course of study.


CHOOSE YOUR CLEP EXAMS

With a generalized high school schedule, you can start picking specific subjects within each subject area. This is the point where you may want to match your teen’s high school subjects with CLEP subjects!  Here is a current list of all 33 CLEP exams:

English & Literature Exams

Math Exams

Science Exams

History and Social Sciences Exams

Foreign Language Exams

It’s worth noting that some learning is singular, while other learning is cumulative.  To give you an example, singular learning starts and stops within the subject.  You and I could learn everything we needed to know for Introductory Psychology without any prior exposure to the subject.  On the other hand, if we wanted to take the Calculus exam, we would have had to complete all of the math levels leading up to and including Calculus.  That exam requires significant foundational knowledge before learning that subject.  As you select subjects for your high school plan, you can use singular subjects anywhere you want, but cumulative subjects would be saved for later.  The exam links above take you to that exam’s content page so you can peek at what each test’s makeup.

Singular Subjects

Cumulative Subjects

American Literature

English Literature

Biology

Chemistry

American Government

History of the United States I

History of the United States II

Human Growth and Development

Introduction to Educational Psychology

Introductory Psychology

Introductory Sociology

Principles of Macroeconomics

Principles of Microeconomics

Western Civilization I: Ancient Near East to 1648

Western Civilization II: 1648 to the Present

Analyzing and Interpreting Literature

College Composition (w/ essay)

College Composition Modular (w/o essay)

Humanities

College Algebra

College Mathematics

Precalculus

Calculus

Natural Sciences

Social Sciences and History

French Language: Levels 1 and 2

German Language: Levels 1 and 2

Spanish Language: Levels 1 and 2

 

A NOTE ABOUT FOREIGN LANGUAGE EXAMS:  even though it says “Level 1” and “Level 2” it is only one exam that you take one time.  When you take the exam, the strength of your score determines the number of college credits awarded,  so don’t take this exam until AFTER you have significant fluency – multiple years of study.


SAMPLE 9th GRADE SCHEDULE

9th Grade
Subject Area Semester 1 Semester 2 CLEP Exam
ENGLISH 9th Grade English 9th Grade English (N/A)
MATH Algebra 1 Algebra 1 (N/A)
SCIENCE Survey Science Survey Science (N/A)
HISTORY United States History United States History U.S. History 1

U.S. History 2

FOREIGN LANGUAGE Spanish 1 Spanish 1 (N/A)
ELECTIVE Typing Photography (N/A)

In this sample, we are laying a foundation for future exams in English, Math, Spanish, and Science….but we’re not there yet.  We are going to allow some foundational learning to happen first, and then we’ll inject college credit when our teen is better prepared.  Instead, in this year, we are using a full year curriculum for United States History, and taking the U.S. History 1 exam at the half-way point, and then U.S. History 2 at the conclusion of the school year.  These two exams work perfectly together!


SAMPLE 10th GRADE SCHEDULE

10th Grade
Subject Area Semester 1 Semester 2 CLEP Exam
ENGLISH 10th Grade English 10th Grade English (N/A)
MATH Algebra 2 Algebra 2 (N/A)
SCIENCE Biology Biology Biology CLEP
HISTORY World History World History (N/A)
FOREIGN LANGUAGE Spanish 2 Spanish 2 Spanish -maybe?
ELECTIVE Physical Education Health (N/A)

In this year, we continue to develop English and Math skills but are attempting two very big CLEP exams.  Both Biology and Spanish cover a full year of content, so we’ll play this by ear.  If our teen isn’t a solid “A” student, we may wish to eliminate the exams from our girl4plan or wait until later to attempt the.  Spanish is a tough call because if you’re only allowing 2 years of study, it’s now or never.  On the other hand, a 3rd or 4th year of Spanish would be ideal since we’re aiming for a high score (Level 2).  On the other hand, if we stop now, we have time to learn a second language.  As we go into 11th grade, we may have the added option of taking college courses through dual enrollment, which throws a monkey wrench into things a bit.  For the purpose of this sample, we’ll assume you’re only using CLEP.


SAMPLE 11th GRADE SCHEDULE

11th Grade
Subject Area Semester 1 Semester 2 CLEP Exam
ENGLISH 11th Grade English 11th Grade English (N/A)
MATH College Algebra with PreCalculus College Algebra with PreCalculus College Math

College Algebra

SCIENCE Chemistry Chemistry Natural Sciences

Chemistry

HISTORY Western Civ. I Western Civ. II Western Civ. I

Western Civ. II

ELECTIVE American Literature American Literature American Lit.

Analyzing & Interpreting Lit.

ELECTIVE Music Appreciation Art Appreciation Humanities

We are experiencing major traction now.  In fact, while the CLEP exams all align perfectly to the subjects on the schedule, it may be too aggressive for all but the most motivated students.  I included them anyway so you could see how it fits together.  If you’ll take a moment to look at the SCIENCE row, the Natural Science CLEP exam would be perfect at the close of the 1st semester because that exam is 50% biology (taken last year) and 25% chemistry – a student with solid knowledge of biology and a cursory knowledge of chemistry can pass this exam without addressing the physics segment.  Chemistry, as its own exam, is difficult and should only be considered after a full year of robust chemistry study.  If I could also draw your attention to Humanities, that exam requires knowledge of music and art, but also a lot of the Western Civilization knowledge intersects with this exam, making it a perfect fit for this schedule.


NO SAMPLE 12th GRADE SCHEDULE

At this point, my advice is that you’ll select remaining courses and exams that align with a target college.  College policy, awarding of credit, and accepted exams should all make their way into the conversation when selecting a college.  It’s reasonable that a college might not take all your teen’s hard work, but if a college doesn’t accept most of it, you may want to reconsider!  An encouragement to choose wisely comes from my friend Carol.  She allowed me to share her story with you.   We just saved $96,780

And by the way, were you keeping count?  How many potential college credits does the 11th grader in the sample have?

60

Our teen also took a total of 13 exams (I included Spanish) over the course of 3 years. Since CLEP exams cost about $100 each, the total financial investment was about $1300. Since a family can pay as they go, it allows most people to budget and plan for a good portion of their teen’s college education well ahead of time!  Not to mention the savings associated with books, meals, dorms, etc. that happen later.

Assuming the sample student attends a college that accepts all 60 credits, our sample student will have 2 years completed toward their bachelor’s degree, may have already earned an associate’s degree.  (We still have 12th grade left, and can fill in courses for a degree if we want)

For those wondering about the cost savings, you may want to revisit my post listing the current Cost of Tuition in the United States and calculate your potential savings based on the kind of college your teen may attend.  In general, if a college credit costs $325, your teen earned 60 of them for $1,300 over 3 years instead of paying (or borrowing) $19,500.  Now THAT’S something to get excited about!kids

Posted in CLEP, Credit by Exam, DSST, Math

Testing out of Math

For the non-mathy majors, you’ll likely only need 3 credits (1 course) in math for an entire bachelor’s degree!  This makes testing out of math extremely appealing (does that mean NO MATH CLASS IN COLLEGE?  Yep! That’s exactly what that means!)  I’m going to list all of the test-out options by their level of difficulty from lowest to highest.

When you find the math your teen needs for their degree (ex. College Algebra) be sure to also grab the maths leading up to that level.  While lower maths may not meet their degree requirement, they’ll frequently count as general education electives!  One final tip, you usually can’t use exam credit to replace a course you’ve failed at a college, and you also won’t get to duplicate credit you’ve already earned at a college.

MATH

DSST Math for Liberal Arts

CLEP College Mathematics

DSST Fundamentals of College Algebra

CLEP College Algebra

CLEP Pre-Calculus

AP Calculus AB

AP Calculus BC

 

STATISTICS

Statistics can, but doesn’t always, count as meeting a math requirement.  It’s still a good exam to consider including anyway because it’s often a requirement for students heading off to graduate school.  Students who have completed Algebra 1 will be well-suited to tackle this material.  I used the Statistics DSST exam to meet my own grad school entrance requirement in 2012 (Thank you, Khan Academy.  They taught me everything I needed to know for that exam).

DSST Principles of Statistics   (all multiple choice)

AP Statistics   (multiple choice and free response)

(these two exams are considered duplicates, so choose one or the other – not both)


 

If this post makes your head spin and stomach drop, you might like my previous math post a little better:  Math Success 4 Math Averse

graph

Posted in CLEP, Credit by Exam

6 Credit CLEPs

There are 33 CLEP exams.  Most of them are worth 3 college credits, but did you know that 9 of them are worth 6 or more college credits! 

6 credit CLEP exams

College Composition (essay required)
College Mathematics
French Language (up to 9 credits)
German Language (up to 9 credits)
Spanish Language (up to 9 credits)
Social Sciences & History
Biology
Chemistry
Natural Sciences

Benefits of 6 credit exams

  • One advantage of taking a 6 credit exam is that it costs the same as a 3 credit exam.  All CLEP exams, no matter their credit worth, are the same fee.  ($85 effective July 1, 2017)
  • Your budget goes farther.  If you allocate $200 per year of high school for college credit earned, students who selected 6 credit exams will have 54 credits, while students who selected 3 credit exams will have 27 credits.
  • 6 credit exams are worth larger tuition saving.  If your target college charges $350 per credit, each 6 credit exam your teen passes saves you $2,100.
  • 6 credit exams allow you to “max out” on CLEP credit more quickly.  If your target college allows up to 30 CLEP credits, you can accomplish that using only 5 exams vs using 10 of the 3 credit exams.
  • 6 credit exams equate to 1 year of a course, so you have more than 1 year of a subject to complete, you can enter at level 2 (Foreign language is a good example).

    testing

6 credit exams cover more content

6 credit exams cover 1 year of a subject (3 credit exams cover 1 semester) so there is more content to study, but for those students working at the college-prep high school level (as opposed to general or remedial) you’ll find your high school text covers the same content to a lesser degree.

While I don’t want to suggest specific curriculum companies, I do want to use a couple examples that help you understand “how hard” an exam might be, or the scope of it.

Rosetta Stone Spanish (Levels 1 and 2) —> Spanish CLEP exam

Apologia Biology followed by Advanced Biology —> Biology CLEP exam

Saxon Algebra 2 & Khan Academy Probability —> College Math CLEP exam


Not all colleges award 6 credits

Despite these exams covering more content and being ACE evaluated for 6 credits, some colleges still only award 3 credits (of course, some may award none!) It’s your call, but if my teen accumulated 1/2 of a bachelor’s degree in high school by taking CLEP exams, we’d be really motivated to choose the college that awarded him credit for his work.   


Before attempting a 6 credit exam, be sure your student:

  • has an advanced understanding of the basics and a basic understanding of the advanced.
  • has experience reading college level material (usually through textbooks).  Some students find the wording of a CLEP question a little tricky.  They tend to ask a lot of negative questions such as “which one of the following would not be the…..”
  • has taken no fewer than 2 practice tests.   Sources of practice tests include:
    • CLEP Official Guide (1 paper practice test with answer key)
    • REA CLEP (2-3 practice paper / online tests with explanations)
    • FreeCLEPprep.com (1 online practice test with answer key for some exams)
  • Peterson’s  (3 online timed practice tests with instant grading)

    It is my opinion that you’ll need to score 60% -70% on at least 2 TIMED practice tests (3 tests would be better) before attempting the real exam. Never use the same test twice- it won’t be a true score.  Practice tests will not have the actual questions but are representative of the kinds of questions you can expect.


secret

Insider Tip:  many 6 credit exams overlap each other

Experienced college credit test-takers will tell you to get the maximum return on investment (brain investment, that is) you should study for exams that share or overlap content, and then take both exams.  Many of the 6 credit exams lend themselves to this technique, which I’ll share below.

SCIENCE  

Take high school chemistry and high school physics before college-level biology (CLEP). Follow the CLEP Biology test with CLEP Natural Sciences.  The Natural Sciences exam is 50% biology!  The other half includes some essential chemistry and physics that you already covered in high school.

MATH

If your teen is studying for or has passed College Algebra, go back and pick up College Math too.  Even if it’s not the math they need for their degree, it will probably land as a general education elective.

FOREIGN LANGUAGE

If your teen passes one of the foreign language exams with a high enough score, she’ll likely walk away with 9 credits instead of 6!  (cut scores vary by college).  In addition, if your teen earns foreign language credit early enough, or has a knack for languages, there may be time for a second language!  If you’re very sure your teen can master one or more foreign languages in high school, take a moment to read my post about Foreign Language for College Credit

SOCIAL SCIENCE & HISTORY

In the Social Sciences and History exam, it’s really a combo of history, economics, and government.  This exam is a mile wide and an inch deep, so it’s a challenging exam to study for.  Rather than study for this exam directly, my suggestion is to use it after your teen has already taken some or all of these other subjects.  Completing these other exams first will all but assure a solid passing score on Social Science and History with little to no test prep.  NOTE:  this plan below yields 3-4 high school credits and 27 college credits.

YEAR 1

(1) United States History —> CLEP United States History 1 & 2

(2) American Government —> CLEP American Government

YEAR 2

(1)  Western Civilization —> CLEP Western Civ 1 & 2

(2)  Economics —> CLEP Macroeconomics and CLEP Microeconomics

CLEP Social Science and History exam


Downgraded Exams

If you’ve used CLEP in the past with other teens, you may notice a few exams “missing” from the 6 credit list!!  It’s true, in 2015, the following exams were “downgraded” from 6 to 3 credits.

If you happen to have taken one of these exams while it was worth 6 credits, it’s still worth 6 credits for you.  Exam values are determined by the date you took it, not the date you use it. But, for students who take it now, expect 3 credits unless your college awards a different amount.  (Thomas Edison State College still awards 6 credits for all of these)

Humanities  (worth 3 credits now, worth 6 credits before 3/1/2015)

American Literature (worth 3 credits now, worth 6 credits before 3/1/2015)

English Literature (worth 3 credits now, worth 6 credits before 3/1/2015)

Analyzing and Interpreting Literature (worth 3 credits now, 6 credits before 3/1/2015)

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