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Equifinality and a Degree

Ooooh, do you ever hear a new word and just fall in love with it?  As a middle-aged woman, I’ve got a decent vocabulary, so when I hear a word for the first time my ears perk up.  Last week I heard the word equifinality used in a sentence.  It wasn’t in my dictionary (a 1913 Websters hand-me-down from my mom) so I turned online to look it up.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, this word is worth a thousand ideas.

WOW!  Yes! I love this word.  Continue reading “Equifinality and a Degree”

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CLEP Spanish *Perfect Score*

It’s one thing to pass a CLEP exam, it’s another to crush it!  Homeschooling for College Credit parent Scarlett has agreed to share her feedback about the exam with you.  At the bottom of the post, I’ve added links and additional info you’ll find helpful if this test is on your schedule.  Don’t miss the link to Modern States – they are giving out free CLEP vouchers, allowing you to take this exam for free!

College Level Exam Program (CLEP)
Good transferability
Official CLEP Spanish page

Scarlett C.

“I took the Spanish exam and passed with an 80. [editor’s comment: 80 is a perfect score].  Even though I’m very happy with my score, I did find some pieces to be more difficult than expected.

I had two segments of listening questions followed by 72 written questions. The first listening segment was fairly easy basic comprehension. You’re asked to complete the phrase or provide an answer that makes the most sense. Here’s an example (in English)

Speaker: How will you be getting to the theater?
A) I’m watching a great movie at the theater
B) Pablo just went to the theater
C) I’ll take the bus
D) It’s cold outside

I found that a good majority of questions in the first section were like this, easy, but they would throw in a few tricky questions to confuse someone who barely understands Spanish. In the above example, the novice speaker would hear the word “Theater” which is first-year Spanish, and then be tempted to answer with the same familiar word. There would also generally be one ridiculous answer.

The second audio section was a challenge. To give you some background, I am a non-native speaker that lived in Mexico for six years. The last two years I was there I spoke almost no English, even at work.

In the second section, a paragraph or a dialogue was read and then we had to answer questions related to the discussion. The audio was very clear, but the accents in each piece were very different. I didn’t hear many Mexican accents, which made things a bit more difficult.

There were also a few tricky questions. My advice would be to take notes if you can possibly do this while still paying attention to what you’re hearing. I found that when items were listed such as “I went on vacation to England, France, and Germany,” you could guarantee that you would be asked which countries they went to. This doesn’t sound difficult, other than the fact that the dialogue would contain quite a bit of information and I had trouble remembering everything that they said even though my comprehension is almost perfect.

The written portion started off easy and then got progressively more difficult. You’ll really need to know your verb tenses and also be comfortable with lo, le, las, les…

There’s really not a lot that you can do to study for this if you don’t have a good grasp of the language. If you’re a good reader but have trouble listening, I would say to try and join a Spanish club or make a Spanish-speaking friend. Watching Spanish TV might help, but the listening was much easier and more clear than anything you’ll hear on TV. So, if you can watch Telemundo and understand, you’ll have no problems.

One last point: This was my first CLEP and I sat through the on-screen tutorial. My testing center guide mentioned that the tutorial was more important on the Spanish CLEP than for other tests. This is because there are many different types of test questions and you’ll need to know how to answer them. Watching the tutorials were very helpful and don’t take time away from your test.

Buena Suerte!  -Scarlett

Score Information

Credit-Granting Score for Spanish Language

Score range:  20-80

Level 1
ACE Recommended Score*: 50
College Credits Awarded: 6

Level 2
ACE Recommended Score*: 63
College Credits Awarded: 9

Each institution reserves the right to set its own credit-granting policy, which may differ from that above.

From the CLEP Official Spanish Page:


The Spanish Language exam is designed to measure knowledge and ability equivalent to that of students who have completed one to two years of college Spanish language study.

Material taught during both years is incorporated into a single exam, covering both Level 1 and Level 2 content.

Exam Structure

The exam contains approximately 121 questions to be answered in approximately 90 minutes. Some of these are pretest questions that won’t be scored. There are three separately timed sections. The three sections are weighted so that each question contributes equally to the total score. Any time that test takers spend on tutorials or providing personal information is in addition to the actual testing time.

There are two listening sections and one reading section. Each section has its own timing requirements.

Listening Sections

  • The two listening sections together are approximately 30 minutes long.
  • The amount of time you’ll have to answer a question varies according to the section and doesn’t include the time you spend listening to the test material.
  • Timing begins after the section directions are dismissed.
  • You can change the volume by using the Volume testing tool.
  • The audio portions of the listening sections will be presented only once.

Reading Section

  • The reading section is 60 minutes long.

Knowledge and Skills Required

Questions on the Spanish Language exam require test takers to comprehend written and spoken Spanish. The subject matter is drawn from the abilities described below. The percentages next to the main topics indicate the approximate percentage of exam questions on each.

Section I (15%)
Listening: Rejoinders

Listening comprehension through short oral exchanges. Choose the response that most logically continues or completes each conversation. You’ll have 10 seconds to choose your response before the next conversation begins.
Try sample questions

Section II (25%)
Listening: Dialogues and Narratives

Listening comprehension through longer spoken selections. You’ll hear a series of selections, such as dialogues, announcements, and narratives. Each audio selection is accompanied by a graphic or picture and is followed by one or more questions.

The questions have various formats. Some questions offer four possible responses, each with an oval to click to indicate your answer. Other questions ask you to select part of a graphic, fill out a table, or put a list in the correct order. For some of these questions, you’ll have to click in more than one place to complete your response. Be sure to follow the specific directions for each question.

You’ll have a total of 12 minutes to answer the questions in this section. Note: The timer is activated only when you’re answering questions.

In this section, you may adjust the volume only when a question is on your screen. It will affect the volume of the next audio prompt you hear. You can’t change the volume while the audio prompt is playing.
Try sample questions

Section III (60%)

16% Part A: Discrete sentences (vocabulary and structure)

Each incomplete statement is followed by four suggested completions. Select the one that is best in each case by clicking on the corresponding oval.
Try sample questions

20% Part B: Short cloze passages (vocabulary and structure)

In each paragraph, there are blanks indicating that words or phrases have been omitted. When a blank is shaded, four completions are provided. First, read through the entire paragraph. Then, for each blank, choose the best completion, given the context for the entire paragraph.
Try sample questions

24% Part C: Reading passages and authentic stimulus materials (reading comprehension)

Each selection is followed by one or more questions, incomplete statements, or commands. For each question or incomplete statement, select the best answer or completion. For each command, click the appropriate area of the screen according to the directions given.

Take this exam for FREE when you complete the FREE online CLEP Spanish course through Modern States.

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Transferability Key


Transferability Key

Excellent transferability means that nearly every regionally accredited
college in the country will accept these sources of credit at
schools where transfer credit is allowed. Assume that the provider is
regionally accredited or equivalent. In some instances, state laws and
articulation agreements guarantee transfer of these credits. Pursue
credit in this category with confidence.

Good transferability means at least 1,500 regionally accredited
colleges accept this credit regularly and are familiar with this
resource. You can generally find a specific college’s acceptance policy
for credit in this category on their website or catalog. Credit in
this category can be pursued with confidence, though limits usually

Limited transferability means fewer than 1,500 regionally accredited
colleges accept this credit regularly. Colleges may be unfamiliar
with this resource, and credit in this category may require a special
review from the college before a decision can be made. Pursue credit
in this category if credit-earning isn’t the only priority, if the price is
free or very low, or if you’ve researched ahead of time with certainty
that your target college does accept this credit.

Improbable transfer means it is unlikely that any regionally accredited
college will award credit for this option. Credit in this category
should not be assumed. Award high school credit instead.

Special transfer means that the business formally entered an agreement
with one or more colleges to guarantee transfer credit. The special
transfer is unique because inside of a special transfer agreement, pursue
credit in this type of agreement with confidence. That same credit, outside
of a special transfer agreement is not guaranteed and will almost
always default into the limited or improbable transfer category.

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ALEKS has problems…


ALEKS now has ACE approval through 2020!


You may wonder what all the fuss is about ALEKS math, and why I keep posting updates.

If you’ve never heard of ALEKS, you can get caught up to speed in a few minutes by reading my post here:  ALEKS Math…going, going,  At the time, we were sure ALEKS was expiring (credit “expires” when companies don’t renew or are denied renewal from ACE), but they kept getting short renewals – not in the 2+ year increments you commonly see by healthy companies, but in these short 30 day increments.

Thirty-day extensions left a lot of us confused about whether or not our teens could finish in time to get college credit- if they’d receive a regular renewal or none at all.  Mainly I felt hopeful that whatever paperwork or process that ALEKS needed sorting out, was probably being sorted out, and ACE was giving them the benefit of additional extensions- good faith.  In fact, ALEKS even sent emails to their subscribers indicating things were being worked out.   To read some of the highs and lows, you can read a summary of my comments regarding their extensions here ALEKS follow-up & shut-down.

Every time I post about ALEKS, I’m sure it will be my final post…. but 2 days ago, they received another 30-day extension.  I’m fortunate to have a little birdy at ACE share his breadcrumbs with me from time to time, and while he won’t give me 100% confirmation, I’ve had my suspicions about what the hold up was for some time.  Why?  Because ALEKS has loopholes.  Loopholes that everyone else has closed.  Loopholes that resourceful people can’t help but uncover in a short period of time.

What I can say on my own, is that there are a few issues ALEKS probably has to work out if they want their extension to continue after this month.   In other words, if “I” were in hired to identify problems with ALEKS MATH, and come up with solutions, these are the issues I would address immediately:

  • User’s identity/integrity is too weak.  In short, if I signed my cat up for an ALEKS account, there is never a follow-up process to check that my cat is who he says he is. A solution, used by most other ACE-Evaluated programs, is to require a government issued ID (or two) for verification.  The ID can be shown through the webcam to a live proctor.
  • Assessments aren’t proctored.  Like the user identity issue, there is never a verification that the assessment is being taken by the student.  The solution is to require ID verification before every assessment.
  • Assessments aren’t closed book.  The trouble here is that there are a large number of sophisticated websites which allow you to copy and paste entire math formulas into a box, and the entire solution is generated.  You don’t have to know how to solve a single question on any ALEKS assessment if you can locate one of these websites.  A solution is to use a lock-down browser during all assessments.  This prevents the student from having a tab open that holds a calculator.
  • Assessments aren’t timed.  The trouble with an untimed assessment is that it allows users to complete their initial assessment over a number of days or sessions instead of one session.  Requiring assessments to take place in a single, timed session with a proctor is a common practice for other ACE-Evaluated programs.

Why the big deal over assessments?

Let’s get to the elephant in the room.  If you sign up for ALEKS, your first assessment (untimed, unproctored, open book) determines your starting point for the course.  If you happen to hit over 70% on your first try, you don’t have to take the course- you instantly have received college credit!  Passing one test isn’t unlike other credit by exam options (AP, CLEP, DSST, etc.) but all of those exams are proctored, timed, and have verified your identity.

What if you don’t hit 70%?  ALEKS intends for you to begin the course.  Your assessment gives you the appropriate starting point, and after lots of math, you’ll be issued a new assessment.  But that’s not what you have to do.  

At any point, you simply assign yourself a new assessment and begin again.  There is no waiting period, in fact, there are no criteria for retake at all- you simply push the button and begin.  (AP has a 12 month waiting period, CLEP and DSST have 90 days).

As you can see, the issues with ALEKS math are real.  Even though the thoughtful parents here are supervising and monitoring their teen’s progress, the flaw is in the lack of integrity of the system, not in an individual’s integrity. When the system lacks integrity, fewer schools will allow the credit in transfer.  Fixing these loopholes would help all of us resume earning college credit through this otherwise wonderful math curriculum.

ALEKS website and list of ACE-eligible courses through 2020 

College Algebra
College Algebra with Trigonometry
Introduction to Statistics
Business Statistics
Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences

*Students cannot receive ACE credit for both of the courses in the following combinations:

College Algebra and College Algebra with Trigonometry
College Algebra and PreCalculus
College Algebra with Trigonometry and Trigonometry
Trigonometry and PreCalculus
College Algebra with Trigonometry and PreCalculus
Introduction to Statistics and Business Statistics
Introduction to Statistics and Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences
Business Statistics and Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences