Posted in CLEP, DSST, Math

DSST Math for the Liberal Arts vs. CLEP College Mathematics

What is the difference between the DSST Math for the Liberal Arts and CLEP College Mathematics exam?

~a question asked by MANY homeschool moms

Exam Information

DSST Math for the Liberal Arts

This exam was developed to enable schools to award credit to students for knowledge equivalent to that learned by students taking the course. This exam covers topics such as real number systems; sets and logic; metric system, conversions and geometry; algebra, graphs and functions (as applied to real-life applications); linear systems and inequalities; exponents and logarithms including financial literacy and counting, probability theory and statistics. The exam contains 80 questions to be answered in 2 hours. The use of a non-programmable calculator is permitted in this exam.

Passing Score for Math for the Liberal Arts
ACE Recommended Score: 400
Semester Hours: 3

CLEP College Mathematics

This examination covers material generally taught in a college course for nonmathematics majors and majors in fields not requiring knowledge of advanced mathematics.

The examination contains approximately 60 questions to be answered in 90 minutes. Some of these are pretest questions that will not be scored. Any time candidates spend on tutorials and providing personal information is in addition to the actual testing time.

Questions on the College Mathematics examination require candidates to demonstrate the following abilities in the approximate proportions indicated.

  • Solving routine, straightforward problems (about 50% of the examination)
  • Solving nonroutine problems requiring an understanding of concepts and the application of skills and concepts (about 50% of the examination)

The subject matter of the College Mathematics examination is drawn from the following topics. The percentages next to the main topics indicate the approximate percentage of exam questions on that topic.

A scientific (nongraphing) calculator, the TI-30XS MultiView™, is integrated into the exam software and available to students during the entire testing time. Students are expected to know how and when to make appropriate use of the calculator.

Information about the scientific calculator, including opportunities to practice, is available here.

Passing Score for College Mathematics
ACE Recommended Score: 50
Semester Hours: 6

Overlap Between the CLEP and DSST Exams

The following information is taken from the DSST Math for the Liberal Arts fact sheet and the CLEP College Mathematics information page. This was my best attempt to match up the content of each test, however, I do not guarantee 100% accuracy! If you see any errors, please leave a comment and I will update the chart.

Blue indicates content overlap between the DSST and CLEP math exams. In some instances, the overlap is assumed because it is a foundational concept.

DSST Math for the Liberal Arts

CLEP College Math

Real numbers: Natural Numbers, Integers, Rational Numbers, Irrational Numbers, The real number line. Operations with real numbers and their properties (including the distributive properties) Properties of numbers and their operations: integers
and rational, irrational, and real numbers (including
recognizing rational and irrational numbers)
Percentages; Fractions and reducing fractions; conversion between decimal numbers and fractions; operations with fractions (including distributive property)
Prime and composite numbers; divisibility rules; prime factors of composite numbers Elementary number theory: factors and divisibility, primes and composites, odd and even integers, and the fundamental theorem of arithmetic
Absolute value
Systems of Numeration: Place value or positional value numeration, Base 10 expanded forms; base 2 numbers; conversion between base 10 and base 2; (Including Roman Numerals)
Introduction to metrics and U.S. customary unit systems
Conversions between metric and U.S. customary unit systems, including Dimensional Analysis Measurement: unit conversion, scientific notation, and numerical precision
Properties of lines and angles Parallel and perpendicular lines; Properties of circles: circumference, area, central angles, inscribed angles, and sectors;
Perimeter and area of 2D geometric objects; Area, Surface area and volume of 3D solid objects Properties of triangles and quadrilaterals: perimeter, area, similarity, and the Pytharorean theorem
The Nature of Sets
Subsets and Set Operations, (setbuilder notation; roster form, using sets to solve problems) Set relationships, subsets, disjoint sets, equality of sets,
Using Venn Diagrams to Study Set Operations  and Venn diagrams
Infinite sets
Operations on sets: union, intersection, complement, and Cartesian product
Simple and compound statements; qualifiers “and” and “or” and their symbols; conjunction and disjunction; conditional and biconditional statements including Qualifiers Logical operations and statements: conditional statements, conjunctions, disjunctions, negations, hypotheses, logical conclusions, converses, inverses, counterexamples, contrapositives, and logical equivalence
Truth value of a compound statement including Truth Tables
Types of Statements ( Negations of Conditional Statements and De Morgan’s Laws
Logical Arguments including Euler Circles
Fundamentals of Probability including the Counting Principle
Permutations and Combinations Counting problems: the multiplication rule, combinations, and permutations
Events Involving Not and Or
Odds and Conditional Probability Probability: union, intersection, independent events, mutually exclusive events, complementary events, conditional probabilities, and expected value
Mean, Median and Mode; Range Numerical summaries of data: mean (average), median, mode, and range
Variance and Standard Deviation Standard deviation and normal distribution (conceptual questions only)
Graphical representation (including Bar graph, pie chart, histogram, line graph, scatterplots etc.) Data interpretation and representation: tables, bar graphs, line graphs, circle graphs, pie charts, scatterplots, and histograms
Properties of Logarithms
Logarithmic and Exponential Functions
Percents, percent change, markups, discounts, taxes, profit, and loss
Simple Interest; Compound Interest Interest: simple, compound, continuous interest, effective interest rate, effective annual yield or annual percentage rate (APR)
Present value and future value
Installment Buying
Student Loans and Home Buying
Investing in Stocks and Bonds
Order of operations
Simplifying expressions; equations with one variable; proportion problems
Evaluation of formulas
Solving Linear Equations including applications and systems Solving equations, linear inequalities, and systems of linear equations by analytic and graphical methods
Interpretation, representation, and evaluation of functions: numerical, graphical, symbolic, and descriptive methods
Graphs of linear equations in the rectangular coordinate system; Graphing and solving Linear
inequalities; Graphing and solving systems of
Graphs of functions: translations, horizontal and vertical reflections, and symmetry about the x-axis, the y-axis, and the origin
Linear and exponential growth
Functions including polynomials (not to include rational, exponential and logarithmic Functions)
The Rectangular Coordinate System and Linear Equations in Two Variables


Posted in DSST, Math

Resource for DSST Math for the Liberal Arts

A very common question that parents ask is, “What should we use to study for the CLEP or DSST test?” A great way to find resources is to go directly to the source – the CLEP and DSST websites. That is exactly what I did to find the following resource for the DSST Math for the Liberal Arts test. This is a new test that came out January 2017 so there are no “tried and true” resources recommended by others. In fact, I couldn’t find any recommendations which propelled a search of my own.

A search of the DSST website led me to their Exam Facts Sheets. One of the resources listed on the DSST Math for the Liberal Arts Exam Sheet is Thinking Mathematically, Sixth Edition. The sixth edition (2014) of this book costs over $200 on Amazon. However, the fifth edition (2011) costs less than $10.


You do not need the most current edition of textbooks. Older editions have much of the same content with generally only minor updates. You will also find more free resources available on the internet with older editions. Search for lectures on YouTube using the textbook title.

Thinking Mathematically, Fifth Edition

Robert Blitzer

ISBN 978-0-321-64585-2

Image result for thinking mathematically blitzer

How the Book is Organized

Each chapter is divided into several sections. Each section contains Examples (problems with solutions) and Checkpoints (problems for the student to work out). Answers to all Checkpoints are found in the back of the book. Additionally, there is an inexpensive DVD-Rom available with videos showing the solutions (more on that later).

At the end of each section is an Exercise Set that contains the following:

  • Practice Exercises
  • Practice Plus (additional practice)
  • Application Exercises (word problems)
  • Writing in Mathematics (essay questions)
  • Critical Thinking Exercises
  • Technology Exercises (not in every chapter, using a calculator, etc)
  • Group Exercises

The answers for all of the odd problems in the Exercise Set are located in the back of the book.

At the end of each chapter is a Chapter Summary, Review, and Test. Answers to all review questions are in the back of the book. Answers and step-by-step solutions for the tests are found on the Blitzer ThinkingMathematically youtube channel.

Helpful Resources in the Book

Answers abound! A cheap, used math textbook is of no value without the answers, but in this situation, answers and solutions are readily available.

  • Answers for Checkpoints, odd-numbered problems from the Exercise Set, and Review Questions are located in the back of the book.
  • ThinkingMathematically youtube channel has answers and step-by-step solutions to the Chapter Tests. See the example below.

  • An inexpensive (around $6) DVD-Rom (ISBN 978-0-321-64640-8) is available that features a set of complete lectures covering every Checkpoint and answers and step-by-step solutions to the Chapter Tests. WARNING: This is an older  DVD (2011) and is intended for use on Windows XP or Vista or Mac OS 10.4. Using Windows 10, I was only able to access the Checkpoint videos. I copied the ones that worked into a file on my computer for easy access because the DVD menu didn’t work. Even though I was not able to access everything on the DVD, there were still 822 Checkpoint videos which will be very helpful!

Correlation Btw DSST and Thinking Mathematically

Completing a college textbook might seem daunting to your high schooler. But do they need to finish the whole textbook? No! As you can see from the chart below, 4 out of the 15 chapters do not cover content in the DSST exam. You would not need to work through them. In addition, chapters 6-12 cover 75% of the exam’s content so you would want to spend the bulk of your time in those seven chapters.

DSST Math for the Liberal Arts Thinking Mathematically chapters
1. Real Number Systems 11%* 4, 5
2. Sets and Logic 16% 2, 3
 3. Metric system, conversions, and geometry 12% 9, 10
4. Algebra, graphs, and functions 11% 6, 7
5. Linear Systems and Inequalities 8% 7
6. Exponents and Logarithms including Financial Literacy 22% 8
7. Counting, Probability Theory, and Statistics 20% 11, 12
* Percentages indicate the approximate amount of the exam devoted to this content area.

The following chapters have content not tested on the DSST:

     1 Problem Solving and Critical Thinking

     13 Mathematical Systems

     14 Voting and Apportionment

     15 Graph Theory

The total that I paid for the book and DVD was $18.23! When you consider the teaching resources available – answers in the textbook, YouTube videos, and DVD-Rom – this could be a very inexpensive, self-teaching resource for the DSST Math for the Liberal Arts test.