English Composition w/Essay

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by stb, Mar 16, 2001.

  1. stb

    stb New Member

    Is the CLEP English Composition w/Essay a computer based or a paper based test.

    I write numerous reports, proposals, and other business documents on a regular basis. I use a computer and find it easy to correct meandering thoughts, etc. by using the cut and paste function in my word processor. I do not write as well on paper.

    Also if I take the test and have the results sent to Excelsior where they have a less stringent passing score than COSC, will COSC accept the grades given by Excelsior?
  2. Mark_R

    Mark_R New Member

    I can't give a definitive answer on the first item but I think it is a paper based test.

    As to shopping insitutions for scores, be advised that Excelsior will not accept the CLEP English Comp as one of the core requirments for their degrees, so they may tend to not be interested in grading it at all. Not to mention the extra costs involved in such a transfer, even if it were possible (you would, at a minimum I would expect, have to pay for Excelsior's credit banking service).

    Should you choose Excelsior as your degree-granting institution you will have to take their own exam for the Written English Requirment versus the CLEP, which folks say is a bit more difficult than the CLEP, but which is administered on a computer at Prometric centers. Six of one, half-dozen of the other? ;-)
  3. Mark_R

    Mark_R New Member

    I would add here that although it appears to be a somewhat popular trend amongst the savvy, the average person (new to DL) might discover some bumps in the road trying to amass all -- or nearly all -- the expected required credit-hours before actually enrolling in a degree-granting institution. The situation with Excelsior's insistence on their own WRE (Written English Requirement) being one of many possible bumps.

    If one is motivated, has the spare time, and has many years of employment and/or live experience behind them, I daresay that they can probably complete a DL Bachelors in the twelve months alloted for an up front 'first year' fee. Even if it takes a second enrollment year, as it almost certainly will in my case, the somewhat minimal guidance from the instituion can save wasted time, effort, and money (although the money part is a bit moot considering you will be paying a probable reduced rate for the second enrollment year). If nothing else they are there to answer questions, which in my case has steered me away from one useless (for my concentration) CLEP exam and one mostly useless (for basic degree requiremnts) $500 online course. The latter savings alone will pay for the second year enrollment fee.

    In closing I would suggest that, in general and especially for newbies, before one starts taking or planning exams -- in advance of actually selecting a DL college or university -- one be fairly sure of which institution they plan to select and be fairly intimate with the requirements (which are not universally clear-cut in the student catalogs). And probably more importantly, to actually enroll for evaluation and advice before proceeding much beyond 100/200 series courses/exams.
  4. Lawrie Miller

    Lawrie Miller New Member

    The need of the RCE English Composition exams to fulfill the WER at Excelsior should not be an obstacle. Anyone can can sit the RCE exams. There is no requirement that you be an Excelsior student.

    There is another consideration, however. When a student writes one or more proficiency exams, the results are sent at that time, at no extra cost, by the examining body, to the students college or colleges of choice.

    If you are not enrolled at the time of the exam, and wait a period before having the results forwarded to an institution, there will be an additional charge for that service.

    A way around this may be to have the examining body send prospective colleges the results anyway. The selected institutions may then open a file and keep them for a period. If you enroll, they will already have the exam results on file.

    I used this technique with COSC and Regents (Excelsior) for ECE foreign credential credit and I *think* some CLEP exams. I enrolled in Regents, but only after talking to COSC and getting an unofficial assessment of credit.

    I believe, based on my experience of two DL degrees, 40 proficiency exams and 190 hours credit from such exams, that 90% of motivated adults could complete all degree requirements within one year.

    There are definite benefits in enrolling in a college before accruing all necessary credit. You may have made an error in assessing requirements; you are usually locked in to the requirements in effect at the time of enrollment and therefore do not have to deal with a "moving target" of regulations.

    There are, however, also liabilities in early enrollment. The pros and cons of early versus late enrollment are discussed in detail in the thread, BA in 4 Weeks.
    It very much depends. I found the catalogs and student handbook provided by Regents (Excelsior) to be very clear. I knew the rules and regulations cover to cover, and at times disputed Regents advisors interpretation of those rules. With one exception, after providing written argument and corroborating references and documentation, they saw it my way and gave me what I asked for. They were very reasonable people. It also demonstrated that at times it is best to be your own advisor. I'd say, regardless of when you enroll, know the requirements for *your* degree. No one will look after your best interests with more care and attention than you yourself.

    By the way Mark, how far on are you and with which institution? How's it going?
  5. Lawrie Miller

    Lawrie Miller New Member

    No, Excelsior will not accept the CLEP English with Essay. The exam is currently a paper test. CLEP is moving exclusively to computer based testing (CBT) in July 2001. However, that should not affect the exam too much since the essay will still have to be written, even it the medium is a electronic rather than paper and pencil.

    Anyway, as it happens I've written both exams and can "contrast and compare". . .

    I'll give the bottom line first. Because of the rigor of marking, rather than anything else I think, the CLEP English with Essay exam is much easier than the RCE English Exam. If you have a choice, i.e., if you are not an Excelsior student, I'd strongly advise taking the CLEP exam rather than the RCE exam.

    First COSC and TESC will accept the CLEP English with essay exam in fulfillment of their written English requirement. Excelsior as previously stated, will not.

    COSC requires 500 standard score for a pass. TESC requires 500 score for a pass. Note that COSC requires only 470 for a pass in the rest of the CLEP general exams.

    The CLEP English with essay exam is 90 minutes in length. It is split into two separate and 45 minute parts. Part one is a multiple choice "English Interpretation" test of the sort I'm sure we're all familiar.

    Part two of the CLEP English with Essay exam is . . . an essay. You have 45 minutes to write and essay on a subject you are given. My subject was "Discuss the invention or idea that had the greatest impact on the Twentieth Century." I chose to discuss the rise fall and rise again of Democratic Capitalism, with reference to the Russian revolution, the rise then ultimate defeat of Fascism, the prevalence of Democratic Socialism in Europe, and the decline of communism in China with it's gradual replacement by market capitalism.

    The Regents College exam (RCE AKA ECE) English Composition is three hours in length. It consists of three written essays with no multiple choice component. Although most other RCE exams are computer based, the rules as written say that the essays should be done using paper and pencil. These rules can be scrutinized at the Sylvan/Prometric center where the exam is taken. I wrote this exam at a Sylvan center using paper and pencil.

    However, my writing is near illegible to most people. I think I suffered in marking as a result. When it came time to write another RCE essay exam (Business policy and Strategy) I looked at the rules again and this exam too, it seemed, required paper and pencil format. I ignored that and wrote the exam in the basic word processor s/ware and submitted the material. The electronic transfer went fine (they accepted the document in that form) and it was duly marked.

    So, I don't know what is going on there. The rule specifically said paper and pencil. Anyway, if your handwriting in poor, you may want to choose to use the computer, but do check the rules.

    The details of the type of essays required can be found in the relevant PDF file on the Excelsior web site. As I remember it, there was a "contrast and compare" question of two articles, a critique of another piece of writing, and an "advocacy" report/letter trying to convince some committee of your point of view. That's how I remember it, but do check the PDF file.

    You have a total of three hours to write the three essays. There was no time limit on any one essay. That is, you could spend disproportionate amounts of time on each.
  6. JMcAulay

    JMcAulay New Member

    Good grief, Lawrie, I feel really outclassed. I was given the same topic, and I wrote an essay on Air Conditioning.

    Embarrassed and downcast,
  7. JMcAulay

    JMcAulay New Member

    Good grief, Lawrie, I feel really outclassed. I was given the same topic, and I wrote an essay on Air Conditioning.

    Embarrassed and downcast,
  8. Lawrie Miller

    Lawrie Miller New Member


    You nearly made me swallow my bridgework. *Very* funny, John.
  9. Mark_R

    Mark_R New Member

    Agreed, but my intent was to illustrate -- poorly, perhaps ;-) -- one way that newcomers to the DL arena might put the cart before the horse in one manner or another. Thorough research can illuminate most of the pitfalls on a per-institution basis, but in this thread's original post I thought I saw a hint of 'shopping' exam credits, which I was trying to discourage in my follow-up post.

    Ah yes, but motivation is the key word <g>. I was well-motivated initially, fell off the wagon after 4 months, then got back on 4 months after that. Assuming my proverbial wagon does not hit any further bumps, I might make it within 12 months of actual effort. My main thrust was that a motivated adult, new to the DL world, would not waste any money, or at least not a lot of money, by enrolling with an institution up front rather than trying to 'roll their own' and present a fait accompli.

    To jump forward a few points, I'm enrolled with Excelsior, since 2/2000 (yeah, I hate the name change too ;-) BS in Computer Information Systems (BSCIS, 'named' degree), 15 hours by FAA licenses, nothing by portfolio (they were darn picky on that, but with reason), 9 hours on UCLA Extension courses (which are excellent), and 15 hours on CLEPs with more of those coming at least bi-weekly. The math I am procrastinating mightily on <g>, and will have to take one online or correspondence course in Discrete Math (I'm simply too weak on the basics to self-study that one).

    Well, I thought I had the Excelsior catalogs well sorted but I discoverd that I did have a few misconceptions in general and a few that applied to my particular degree, which I'll outline here as examples for others:
    • I thought I could take a course in Technical Writing to fulfill a Documentation core requirement. I found that I cannot -- it goes under Humanities or Arts & Science electives, even though it is pertinent to the core (now you have me thinking, Lawrie... I might debate that one with them ;-)
    • I thought I could take an CLEP exam to fulfull an Introduction to Computers CIS concentration core requirement. The title sounded right. However, I cannot -- I must take a DANTES exam, as Excelsior does not like the CLEP exam, at least in my concentration as a core fulfillment.
    • The DANTES exam mentioned immediately above is listed in the Excelsior Credit by Examinations catalog as a Free Elective (aka Applied Professional Elective). I was maxed out on Free Electives with my FAA licenses, but a call to my Excelsior advisor indicated that, for for a CIS degree, the DANTES exam does indeed fulfill the core (on other degree progams it counts only as a Free Elective).
    • Although Excelsior lists the possiblity of up to six-credit-hours for an Internship, a phone call found that they were speaking of credit that had already been awarded by an RA institution -- they had no firm policy in place for a DL student earning this type of credit on their own (and after speaking about it for only a few moments I could understand the logistics involved). This turns out to be promising for both of us, perhaps, as I and my advisor agreed that I would investigate any ongoing arrangements that my nearby RA University had with local employers, given a similar degree program, and forward that info to Excelsior who would look into the possibility of perhaps the first directly-awarded DL internship of this type. They honestly sounded interested.

    Lastly, thanks for sharing your experience with the RCE English Comp and the other Essay... I must take the former in the near future and would greatly prefer to complete it via keyboard (I'll post my success or lack thereof in getting that method accepted).
  10. Mark_R

    Mark_R New Member

    John, thanks for the chuckle, but perhaps you were not so far down the epic ladder after all -- toss in the 'siesta' time popular in equatorial economies (historically due to excessive midday heat and humidity if I may freely theorize) and you might have a winner on your hands ;-)

    First thing that came to my mind was television, far outstripping radio (and to the detriment to society I daresay). Boy, I hope I get that one....
  11. mlomker

    mlomker New Member

    The math I am procrastinating mightily on <g>, and will have to take one online or correspondence course in Discrete Math (I'm simply too weak on the basics to self-study that one).</B>

    I was actually pretty stressed about math, as well. I did very poorly in algebra in my high school days. I was pleasantly surprised that my mind has become a lot more capable of understanding math now that I'm a few years older.

    There's also the matter of the grading curve on DANTES and CLEP exams. I got A's on both CLEP Algebra and DANTES Statistics. I left that statistics exam thinking that I'd bombed it....turns out I did much better than the group that determined the curve.
  12. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    This is an important lesson for adult learners. These exams are not very hard; they're normed against 19 year-olds taking a college course. I earned 115 of 120 s.h. for my Regents degree (in Business) by testing. I also earned a second bachelor's (concentration in Sociology) all by testing. While in the Air Force, I counseled thousands of adult students, and was amazed at the number of stories (mine included) about people taking exams in subjects they knew little about and having them "pass." I cannot help but think it is a fundamental flaw in multiple-choice testing; one can offer discern the correct answer through the context of the question and the test rather than by having knowledge of the subject. It is a dubious process that amounts to little more than a scholarship program (saving tuition by testing out of some credits). I believe this is why most colleges and universities that accept testing by credit put a limit on how much they'll accept. For example, what makes the 30th credit earned by testing good, but not the 31st?

    Rich Douglas
  13. Candice

    Candice New Member

    Knowing how to write reports and other business documents does not, perhaps unfortunately, prove that one can write an 'acceptable' English Comp essay. (You may be able to receive portfolio credit for business writing, though!) I suggest that you review the differences between documents outlined at www.powa.org

    It is also important to note that recommended passing scores are not always honored by the schools you may be interested in. As noted by others more eloquently here, it is always best to check with the Registrar of the school you wish to attend (for more compelling reasons than the number of credits they'll accept in testing or transfer, one would hope).

  14. stb

    stb New Member

  15. mlomker

    mlomker New Member

    That's a valid point, but why couldn't the aforementioned 19 year olds also discern the correct answers? If you look at the stats you'll find that most of these exams were normalized decades ago. Perhaps the textbooks today are better; I'm not sure.

    I know that multiple-choice tests are easier than sitting in class. I'd also argue that I didn't learn any more useful information when I did go to conventional classes. I've actually found that the CLEP/DANTES exams have a greater breadth of content in each subject than my conventional courses did. In some respects I'd argue that my education through examination is superior to my classroom experience.

    I don't disagree that you can pass many exams without studying. Getting a degree and getting a high GPA are different matters. If you want 3.5+ from Excelsior you'll actually have to read a few books. [​IMG]

    Personally, I'm looking forward to graduate school next year.
  16. Lawrie Miller

    Lawrie Miller New Member

    Then, being an honorable man, no doubt Rich Douglas will return his USNY bachelor's degrees, suspend work on his MIGS doctorate, and go rectify this aberration by doing a BS or BA by some other acceptable method. After all, it was on the basis of those degrees than he was able to progress through master's to doctoral level in the first place.

    If he will not do that, given his low opinion of degrees earned by proficiency examinations, why not?
  17. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Who said I have a low opinion of degrees earned by proficiency exams? I have a low opinion of the exams themselves, but the degrees have served me nicely for more than two decades.

    See, this is the kind of myopia that is systemic in these arguments. They don't have any "play" in the real world. Why can't something have both good and bad elements?

    I have been a steady critic and supporter of USNY/Regents/Excelsior over the years since I graduated. I have been the same regarding National University. And I've been both supportive and critical of MIGS when necessary. Just because I graduated from USNY doesn't mean I support everything they do, and recommend them to everyone who asks. That would be being a shill, alright.

    Case in point: I recently recommend TESC to a very good friend because it met his needs better than Excelsior. The guy has the potential to earn a lot of credit through life experience, which Excelsior doesn't offer. Now, I happen to think life experience credit at ANY level, even undergraduate, is suspect. But I'm not going to let my opinion about the process get in the way of recommending it to someone who will benefit from it and gain a legitimate, accredited, useful degree. Regarding testing for credit: take 'em for all they'll give! But don't expect me to say it's a good process for measuring creditable knowledge, because it isn't.

    Rich Douglas
  18. JMcAulay

    JMcAulay New Member

    Chuckle? Good. Thanks. But I was quite serious. My point (other than a bit of humor) was that the whole purpose is to write a good essay, not win a prize for guessing the most important development of the 20th century.

    Please note that without air conditioning, large buildings would be insufferable, and our warren-like city-based civilization would be impossible. Unless we all learned how to prosper at 40C or higher, of course.

    Given a topic, responses are unique to each writer. It's how well the response is written that matters to the reader, for the purpose of determining skill in English composition. I've been involved in the rubric-based judging of student essays, and the actual thesis has very little to do with the "grade." Of course, I do believe that something like the imprisonment of James Brown (of Famous Flames fame) and the resulting social outcry would be difficult to justify as an appropriate response to the topic under discussion. Not a discovery or invention, you know.

    Three cheers for Willis Carrier.

  19. Lawrie Miller

    Lawrie Miller New Member

    Well "something" can have good and bad elements. I've been very critical of Regents/Excelsior many times, but both the foundation and the superstructure of your degrees were built of credit by examination. You say you have a low opinion of the exams. What is left then that makes a degree, borne of that exam achievement, worthy?

    And if the foundation and the structure of these degrees are inferior, shouldn't, for the sake of equity and fairness if nothing else, employers and graduate schools discriminate against holders of these diplomas, relative to other candidates holding RA degrees earned by other "superior" methods?

    If the body of achievement comprising the degree is inferior, so is the degree itself. If you are saying that a degree earned by proficiency examination is inherently inferior but that it yields comparable utility to degrees earned by other means, aren't you guilty of cynical exploitation of an undisclosed differential in quality, between degrees earned by examination and degrees earned by other methods? Isn't that the very device used by diploma frauds to promote and exploit degree mill credentials?
    And that's fine, but what you seem to be saying is that degrees earned by examination aren't worth a damn academically, but in practice have real world utility. That is probably the calculation made by most degree mill owners and their clients. In what way do you differ from them?
  20. Lawrie Miller

    Lawrie Miller New Member

    Hmmm. Yet as I remember it, the topic under discussion was "invention or idea", and so the James Brown case you cite would be an appropriate vehicle.

    Your memory may have failed. A function of age, perhaps. Happens to us all. How's the prostate, John?

Share This Page