BA done by examinations (CLEP, etc.)

Discussion in 'CLEP, DANTES, and Other Exams for Credit' started by hhannahh, Jul 24, 2001.

  1. hhannahh

    hhannahh New Member

    I finally decided that I would go for a BA by examinations (as explaned by Lawrie Miller - but it will take more than 30 days :)). I will probably do it with COSC.

    I intend to pass as many CLEP exams as possible. I will have to study a little for some and just go to the exam for others.

    I would like to hear from people who did it this way: what other exams did you take (I understand that upper level are needed - out of GRE, what is the choice ? For me, only GRE litterature or maybe the general GRE would be an option) ?

    Thank you.
  2. Lawrie Miller

    Lawrie Miller New Member

    As explained in "BA in 4 Weeks", only GRE subject exams attract credit at COSC or Excelsior (TESC awards no GRE credit at all). No credit is awarded by any college for any grade of performance in the GRE general exam.

    The amount of credit awarded by COSC for GRE subject exams and required passing percentile scores, is discussed in "BA in 4 Weeks", in the article "Which College and when to enroll". The primary source detail is also readily available on the COSC web site.

    There are a number of accounts of individual experiences with credit by examination at COSC in this board and in the Usenet news group, (AED). Often, the word "COSC" and perhaps even "credit" and/or "exam", also appears in the title of the relevant threads. In the first instance it may profit you to manually peruse this board's threads (autosearch function erratic), and the archives of AED via a Google search.
  3. Susan2

    Susan2 New Member


    I completed my Bachelor's degree at Thomas Edison State College completely by examination. I took CLEPs and TESC's own tests. I may have also taken a DANTES test, but I honestly can't remember! Depending on your major, you may find that you have many testing options to complete your degree.

    Your best bet is to contact the school where you plan to earn your degree and ask them what is available to you. If you live in NJ or the Philadelphia area, you can go to TESC and take your tests right there at the college.

    I really enjoyed completing my degree through testing -- I hope it works out well for you too!

    Let us know what you decide to do!

  4. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    I did three USNY Regents degrees, two bachelor's and an associate's, almost all by examination. I took a bucketload of CLEP and DANTES tests, a UAP in Business (no longer offered, but worth 30 credits at the time), and a GRE (Sociology). Don't be intimidated by any of them, except for the particularly technical examinations. If you think you have a shot at one or more of the GREs, go for it. I found that for the Sociology exam, a working knowledge of statistics was essential--and key to my success.

    If I could offer you only one tip in taking these examinations, it would be to have an answer for every box. Some, like CLEP, take off partial points for wrong answers. But the penalty is equal to a blind guess; if you can eliminate just one of the selections, it will put the odds of guessing in your favor. Tip 2: Don't believe that old rub about going with your first instinct. This is to dissuade you from changing answers. Not only is this a ridiculous notion, it is false. Studies of answer sheets with erasures have shown that the changes improved examinees' scores. Tip 3: Read "None of the Above" by David Owen. While it is focused on the SAT, the book gives terrific insights into the mentality of the ETS, which prepares and administers almost all of these examinations. Finally, if you want to purchase study books, go with those published by Princeton Review. Not only will they let you brush up on subject matter, they will also help you accomplish your true goal: to beat the tests.

    Good luck!

    Rich Douglas, who took from Regents (now Excelsior) over the course of 21 months:

    A.A. Liberal Arts
    B.S. Business
    B.A. Sociology (Concentration)
  5. Lawrie Miller

    Lawrie Miller New Member

    I don't think the advice is false or in any way ridiculous. Data from my own picks, collected during practice exams, run around 2.5:1 in favor of first choice correct answers over second choice answers.

    Another point is the blatant misinterpretation of an alleged statistic. It does not follow that erasures mean there was a change in the candidates intended answer, and to assume it does, is a fundamental error. Rich does not cite his source, nor explain how he has divined candidates intentions.

    Many times, too many to recall, I have mispositioned my answer on the answer sheet. Sometimes I have compounded the error by having each subsequent answer at least one question out of sequence. I would go back and correct those types of error. At no time did I change my intended answer, where it relates to this type of change. It can occur horizontally (choice within question) as well as vertically (between questions). Anyone
    tabulating my answer sheets, and comparing altered and unaltered choices, without applying some basic consideration, might reach similar erroneous conclusions to those proffered above.
  6. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

  7. Lawrie Miller

    Lawrie Miller New Member

    Yes Rich, but the issue was the CLEP and GRE subject exams. These texts are in a wholly different area. The source I asked you to cite was that of the alleged survey "proving" that second or subsequent choices in answers to exam questions were more likely to be correct than initial or first choices.

    Again, could you cite the specific survey relating to CLEP and/or GRE subject exams that proves second or subsequent question choices are more often correct that first choices. In particular, can you detail how the intent of the examinee viv-a-vis answer selection, was divined? That was the original question, after all.

    alas, it appears there is no good evidence the survey you cited exists (if it does, produce citations), and the texts offered in evidence in support of your argument do not relate at all to the type of examination under discussion.

    Further, the findings of that text/investigation, in no way support your contention that CLEP and GRE subject exams can be passed with no subject knowledge - and that, after all, is your central argument.
  8. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Read the book. Then go on believing whatever you chose.

    Rich Douglas
  9. Lawrie Miller

    Lawrie Miller New Member

    I have read many similar ruminations in other texts, and of course, I've read Princeton Review's take on it. I would disagree with none of it.

    The bottom line is the claim that a fractional difference in scores exists before and after candidates have undergone suitable training, and have implemented the "Princeton method" in relation to ETS GENERAL tests. That is wholly reasonable, but has nothing to do with your contention that a degree can be
    earned solely on the basis of exam technique, and without regard to knowledge of the subjects being examined.

    Nothing in the text you cite supports that contention, does it, Rich? Sadly, your lack of relevant citations would seem to offer eloquent testimony that fact.
  10. Dennis

    Dennis New Member

    Rich, I usually appreciate your advice but I beg to disagree with you this time. It is incomprehensible to me how one without even rudimentary knowledge of music could answer the question about whether Mozart's "The Magic Flute" is a/an cantanta, opera, oratorio, symphony or concerto. Or how someone without at least an elementary knowledge of anatomy could answer the question about whether the largest part of the human brain is called cerebellum, medulla, thalamus, hypothalamus or cerebrum.It would be all Greek to a person without any knowledge about the subject. And a row of answers that are closely related(in the example about the brain all optional answers belong to the brain) it can even get a person with sketchy knowledge of the subject more flustered. And I'm saying this as someone who is currently preparing for the CLEP general examinations. In my opinion Humanities is the toughest among general CLEP's(without counting English Composition).

    I agree that Princeton Review does a better job than the others. But again, even the Pinceton folks say you must really study for the exams and they have a quite extensive bibliography list for, e.g., the Humanities general CLEP. Their test taking tips are certainly helpful but it want make up for an absolute lack of knowledge, and to boot, their test taking techniques are not new either. I remember when we were preparing for the final examination at the vocational school our teacher told us that when taking multiple-choice exams always to arrive at the correct answer using the principle of elimination of wrong options.
    Also, I don't know whether that was your point too, you should be aware that if your criticism applies to ETS it also applies to nearly every other standardized multiple-choice test developed in the world , since other test developing institutions operate on much similar terms like ETS. So you are basically criticizing a large segment of modern educational structure no matter whether it is traditional or non-traditional.

    Dennis Siemens
  11. Susan2

    Susan2 New Member

    Hi everyone!

    I think the most important factor in deciding whether or not to complete a degree by taking tests (CLEP, GRE, TESC, DANTES, etc.) is whether or not you are comfortable taking standardized tests.

    It worked out perfectly for me, because I actually enjoy taking tests, but I have a very intelligent friend who does terribly on standardized tests, and her scores were very low -- even on tests she *should* have passed with flying colors.

    While it's important to have knowledge of the subject matter, it's also helpful to be a fast reader (tests are timed) and a good decision-maker (don't waste too much time on any one question.)

    The method that worked best for me was to go through the entire test quickly, writing answers in the margins -- and narrowing down answers to questions I wasn't certain about. Then, I went over the test a second time, reviewing my "first impulse" answers and deciding on final answers for my "maybe" questions. At this time, I also transferred my answers to the answer sheet. Finally, I went back to the questions I was clueless about, and hoped I had gotten some hints from other questions on the test (so I could at least narrow down my choices) and I chose answers to those questions.

    I have suggested my test-taking method to others, and they have all agreed that it will only work if you are a fast reader with good comprehension. Otherwise, you may not have time to transfer your answers to the answer sheet.

    Anyway, that's what worked for me. No scientific evidence. No citations to academic studies. Just one person's flawed opinion. (But I passed all the tests. Does that count for anything?) [​IMG]

    Have a great weekend!

  12. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    I didn't say you should do it. I just said that it can be done. I even noted that it is difficult to do so with tests on very specific subject matter, like the sciences. But the CLEP General Exams are hardly that. And THAT was the original issue. I'm not suggesting that preparing for these exams is folly. Rather, I'm saying that there is so much more to it than mastering the subject matter. And I have passed sooo many CLEP and DANTES exams without a clue as to the subject matter. And I did it at a time when I was young (19 and 20), inexperienced, and without much formal education (I tested out of high school after my sophomore year--a year that had more F's than A's.)

    What I resent is the regurgitation of ETS rhetoric regarding these tests.

    Rich Douglas
  13. Lawrie Miller

    Lawrie Miller New Member

    Interesting. Could you provide more detail, Susan? Did you complete the whole 120 semester hours by examination? Which exams predominated in your case? Did you use TECEP? How many hours in total by examination?

    Such information may provide no end of benefit to others treading the same path, either by way of example alone, or by way of example and anecdote. It would also help add necessary context to your conclusions. One of the most common requests I received was to name specific exams, detail performance, and relay impressions tied to those exams. It was for that reason I decided to provide an exhaustive series of listings in "BA in 4 Weeks".

    Would you care to share something of the specific details of your examination journey?
  14. Lawrie Miller

    Lawrie Miller New Member

    In fact, the original issue was and remains your contention that a degree can be earned by way of good exam technique alone, without regard to knowledge of the subjects being examined.

    That claim, of necessity, includes much more than simply the CLEP general exams. You have told us a 120 semester hour bachelor's degree can be gained with no knowledge of the subjects examined.

    Let us not become confused about the nature of the disagreement. If you care to amend that position, you are free to do so, but let it be done openly and directly.
  15. Susan2

    Susan2 New Member


    I didn't complete the entire 120 credits by examination, but I did complete about 60 credits this way.

    I took mainly TECEP tests, as well as CLEP exams. I don't have my transcripts handy, so I'm going to have to try and remember what tests I took.

    My degree is a BS in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing. I know I definitely took tests in Advertising, Public Relations, Business Law, Marketing, at least one computer course, Accounting I & II, and several others, mainly business-related. I had already taken "the basics" in college years before (when I was a Political Science/Economics major), so I mostly needed the specialty courses.

    I think the Accounting test was a CLEP, and I'm sure there was another CLEP in some kind of math, but I honestly can't recall which math it was! The business tests were mostly TECEPs but there may have been a DANTES test or two as well.

    Sorry I can't be more specific -- it has been a while! I do remember that all of the tests were multiple choice. (I like multiple choice tests!) I don't recall any of the tests being particularly difficult. I usually took 2 tests a month -- I wanted to finish as quickly as possible, so I took tests as often as they were offered!

    Hope this helps. Sorry to be so vague. I finished the tests so rapidly that it's hard to remember exactly what I took!

    Have a great weekend!

  16. Lawrie Miller

    Lawrie Miller New Member

    Thanks, Susan. So, when did you do these, Susan, and when did you graduate?

    Incidentally, how much were the TECEP exams when you were doing the, and what sort of proctor did you find?

    One of the main difficulties in my experience was finding a proctor for these exams - relative price was an issue too. I opted for other alternatives.
  17. Susan2

    Susan2 New Member

    Hi again,

    I'll check and see exactly when I took the exams -- I believe it was 1994. (I never used the degree, so I basically earned it and forgot about it until recently, when I decided to pursue my Master's.) I have to fill out an application for my Master's program within the next few weeks, so as soon as I dig out all of my "past education" info, I'll let you know for sure. (I just started my first class toward my Master's, and now I have to "officially apply" for the program.)

    I never worried about finding a proctor, because I was able to take the tests at TESC. (It was in a lousy neighborhood in Trenton, NJ!) I was going to try and find a proctor at one of the colleges near my home, but after a few phone calls, it seemed like it would be more trouble than it was worth, particularly with the busy exam schedule I was planning.

    I don't recall the cost of the tests, but I'm sure I'll find that information when I start sorting through my old paperwork. I know they were very inexpensive -- I want to say they were about $70.00 per test, but I don't know why that figure just popped into my head, so it's better to wait until I look it up!

    It's amazing how many details I have forgotten about TESC. My only goal was to complete my degree quickly and inexpensively, and once it was finished, I didn't give it much more thought. I enjoyed the process, though, because I am much happier when I'm taking tests than I am when I'm sitting in a classroom for hours and weeks and months...

    I'll get back to you with the details ASAP!

  18. Susan2

    Susan2 New Member


    I forgot to ask... what "other alternatives" did you opt for? (Just being nosy...)


  19. bgossett

    bgossett New Member

    Lawrie, are you soliciting additional experiences? I've sat nine (six CLEP, three Dantes) in the past six months.

    Bill Gossett
  20. Lawrie Miller

    Lawrie Miller New Member

    RCE exams. More expensive, but the administration is a snip in comparison to trying to find a proctor for TECEP. Local College would not proctor TECEP. The local library would not proctor. Where I had the DANTES and CLEP exams proctored, University of La Verne, Vandenberg AFB, would not proctor TECEP.

    Additionally, I had planned three TECEP exams for which there is no corollary in CLEP, DANTES, or RCE, to complete the Regents Business degree with a major in Finance. This, the BS in Finance, also required one DL course from the U. of Wisconsin extension, course U216-427, which I'd already bought and paid for ($550) - I still have the materials.

    I eventually changed my major to General Business since that option can be completed entirely via CLEP, DANTES, and RCE. In fact, the details to obtaining that degree comprise the bulk of the guide: "EARN A BUSINESS DEGREE IN 4 WEEKS".

    There is another issue with TECEP limiting one to two exams per month. I prefered to take exams in clumps of 7 to 10 per week. That was possible with the RCE/CLEP/DANTES combo.

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