Humanities CLEP info requested??

Discussion in 'CLEP, DANTES, and Other Exams for Credit' started by larryrs, Jul 25, 2001.

  1. larryrs

    larryrs New Member

    I'm looking for a surefire CLEP study guide for my upcoming Humanities exam. I've purchased a book from Amazon, but it does nothing more than provide a few tips on study techniques.
    What do you recommend as a reference/study guide for this exam..Thanks in advance for your assistance.

  2. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    CLEP tests, like all ETS examinations, isn't a measurement of your mastery of the subject matter. It is a test of your ability to think like the dullards that prepare these things. But it can be a measurement of your ability to outwit them, too. Your choice. If you chose the latter, the best resources for beating ETS at their inane game is the Princeton Review. Try:

    Cracking the Clep
    Princeton Review
    ISBN: 0375761519

    Available at Amazon at:

    Good luck, and don't let this or any other standardized test get in your way. A test filled with questions written by non-subejct-matter-experts, with the correct answers right in front of you, normed around the performances of a bunch of college freshman can't be too tough. It will be easier if you're armed with expertise in the world of the ETS.

    Rich Douglas, 30 out of 35 ETS-prepared exams for credit, all taken when he was ages 19-20.
  3. Lawrie Miller

    Lawrie Miller New Member

    A discussion of the problem of CLEP general exam revision, and specific recommendations on how to pass the tests can be found in the article, "Lawrie
    Miller's BA in 4 weeks - 1st year", available at: eeks%20-%201st%20year

    While good exam-taking technique can be helpful, there is in my view, no substitute for knowing the subject matter. No amount of flim-flam and trickery will guarantee a pass in the CLEP general exams. Solid grounding in basic general knowledge and earnest exam practice will, however.

    Lawrie Miller, 39 out of 39 ETS-prepared exams for credit, with no bull.
  4. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    While Lawrie's cautions should be heeded, my point remains that these are not tests of subject knowledge, but tests of one's ability to think like the dullards at ETS. I think Lawrie's record on these tests is admirable. I would add that I took my exams at the ages of 19 and 20, over the course of about 21 months, with absolutely no study preparation at all! Personally, I think getting 39 s.h. (the amount awarded at the time) for a multiple-choice test in a subject I'd had no prior study in, experience in, courses in, or any other sort of preparation for, is silly. But I have the B.A. hanging on the wall to show for it. Go figure. So sure, take exams you have knowledge in. And you might not want to take exams in which you have no background. But you can. And you can pass.

    If given a choice between being skilled at beating ETS examinations or being well-grounded in the subject matter, I'd take the test-taking skills any day. And I did.

    Rich Douglas, Academic Thief
  5. Lawrie Miller

    Lawrie Miller New Member

    I think that is patently untrue. Good exam technique is very useful on the margin, where it can mean the difference between an "A" or a "B", or between a bare pass and failure, but it is no substitute for knowing the subject matter.

    Agreed, and it is perhaps the reason the rules were changed in c1996 to require a pass above the 80th percentile to earn a maximum of 30 semester hours credit. Things have changed somewhat since Rich's time. Today, a pass above the 35th percentile would yield only 3 (three) semester hours at the lower level. My comments are based upon what is, not what was.
    It depends what you mean by "background". You can take and pass exams in which you have no formal learning, but you cannot pass exams where you have no knowledge of the subject matter. At least not with sufficient consistency to earn a degree.

    That is appallingly bad advice, utilizing a false set of alternatives.
  6. Chip

    Chip Administrator

    I believe that the Princeton Review's entire operation (and it's wild growth and incredible success) is pretty solid support for Rich's argument.

    People who take Kaplan's SAT prep class spend tremendous time doing practice exams, studying, studying, studying, and maybe learning a little bit.

    People who take Princeton Review's SAT prep class learn, essentially, how to beat the test. Little, if any time is spent teaching *knowledge about the subject matter* Instead, they teach dozens of tricks on how to outsmart the people who create the test.

    Studies exist that show that Princeton Review grads consistently see a higher point gain than Kaplan grads (Much to the chagrin of both Kaplan and ETS).

    So, while there are obviously some ethical and moral dilemmas raised by the Princeton Review approach to the CLEPs, the evidence is pretty soundly in support of Rich's position.
  7. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    But I did. I was 20 when I passed the Sociology GRE (at the 69th percentile; I don't know what that would get me in terms of credit today). I didn't know a thing about the subject. I had only 1 year of high school (two if you count 9th grade), no college courses in the subject matter, and did absolutely no studying for the test. I just took it. And I did the same thing for every other exam I took. The only ones that gave me any trouble were a couple of exams in the sciences and a Regents-PEP test that required an essay in a subject I knew nothing about. (Got caught there! Couldn't BS my way past the real-life college professors grading my work. Were that all of these exams so designed.)

    I've had the opportunity during my duties as an education specialist in the Air Force to counsel literally thousands of people regarding, among many other things, examinations for credit. Then, as an education officer, I developed dozens of examinations, including quite a few multiple-choice tests.

    My main points remain unrefuted.

    First, the tests are prepared by people who are not experts in the subject matter. Doctors don't write for the MCAT, lawyers don't write for the LSAT, and sociologists don't write for the GRE Subject test.

    Second, CLEP and DANTES tests are normed based upon kids taking college classes. No competition there.

    Third, any multiple-choice test can be beaten, especially one produced by a system (ETS) that is heavily reliant on unchanging processes and past tests.

    Fourth, it is not hard to pass most multiple-choice tests with the correct answer right on the page, waiting for you to select it.

    Fifth, studies continue to support the effectiveness of coaching these tests, particularly in how to beat them.

    Sixth, nothing's changed in the last 20 years regarding these tests, except their increased acceptance.

    Finally, to tell people otherwise is to buy into the myth perpetrated by the ETS. Much of the difficulty in passing these exams comes from the misinformation issued over the years by ETS. To support this misinformation is to mislead people and impede their success on these silly things.

    So, go on telling people how to study for these exams. I don't mind telling people how to beat them like I did. Subject-matter knowledge and test-taking skills will enhance one's ability to score well and get credit.

    Rich Douglas, with many years of test development experience as a training developer and college professor in the public, private, and collegiate sectors.
  8. Lawrie Miller

    Lawrie Miller New Member

    Yet it would be helpful if we could get away from belief here and look at fact. While it may be true that "studies show" an increase in SAT or even GRE general exam score, it is in the order of 20 up to perhaps 100 points in 1600 point and 800 point exams. That is directly in line with my statement that exam technique is helpful at the margin.

    Your extrapolation from that data, that the evidence supports Rich's contention that CLEP and GRE subject exams can be passed with no subject knowledge, but rather wholly on the basis of exam technique (for that is what Rich is saying), is without merit.

    Again, so that there be no doubt about it, you hold that because there is some fractional increase in SAT or GRE general exam scores using Princeton Review tactics, that it follows that Rich's statements that CLEP and GRE subject exams can be passed on the sole basis of those techniques, is correct?

    It does not follow either logically nor is it remotely reasonable.
  9. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Yet, you offer nothing more than your opinion. I've suggested you read "None of the Above." In it, you will find many more references and sources to back what I've said. The gains are not "marginal" or "fractional," except in studies paid for and conducted by ETS themselves. Independent research has documented much higher increases.

    There isn't much difference between so-called aptitude tests and achievement tests. They both try to measure what the examinee knows. But because ETS tests are simplistic and authored by people who are not subject-matter experts, they can be beaten. And because ETS relies upon past tests to demonstrate validity, test-beating techniques last year after year. (Because the tests don't change very much over time.)

    Is it optimal to take a test without any knowledge of the subject matter? Of course not. But to consign these issues to the "margins" is to sing from the same sheet of music as does the ETS. And it misleads potential test-takers.

    Rich Douglas
  10. Lawrie Miller

    Lawrie Miller New Member

    The above referenced tests are general tests and bare no useful relation to the GRE subject tests.

    Directly from the ETS GRE Sociology 2nd Edition test book:

    "Each new edition of the sociology test is developed by a committee composed of professors in the subject who are on undergraduate and graduate faculties . . . In selecting the members of the committee of examiners the GRE program seeks the advice of the American Sociological Association."

    Well, of course they are. Who else would you most expect to take freshman examinations? That is like saying Meow-mix flavor preferences are normed using cats!

    Argumentative. No corroboration, no evidence, no credible data.
    Well, in fact it does appear that it is "hard". The evidence of most of these tests is that most examinees do not score the maximum, and indeed for the most part, their performances follow a normal distribution.

    Yes, the answer is in front of you, but so are several others. By your logic "Millionaire" contestants should walk away with the maximum prize every time, yet they do not.

    But what is it these studies support? Do they support your contention that CLEP and GRE subject exams can be passed purely on the basis of exam technique, with no knowledge of the subject under test, and with enough consistency to earn a degree using the method? They do not, do they?

    Which studies show that, Rich? Which? Cite them. Cite one.

    In fact, the "studies" to which you allude, contend there is a small percentage increase in scores of the ETS general tests, using the Princeton method. The studies do not even feature CLEP and GRE subject examinations, a completely different animal. Even if these studies were relevant, they
    would support the view that good exam technique is useful only on the margin .

    The questions asked change, Rich.

    Specifically, as it relates to CLEP and GRE subject (repeat, subject) examinations, what misinformation is being "issued" by ETS?

    Specifically, as it relates to CLEP and GRE subject exams, how are people being misled and how is there success being impeded? You have provided NO evidence relating to these subject exams in support of your claims.

    Forgive me Rich, but it seems here you are gasping for air, appealing to be believed on the basis of your experience rather than upon the logic and rigor of your argument.

    Again, it is you who have held that these exams can be passed with no knowledge of the subject matter, with enough consistency to earn a degree. It is incumbent upon you to provide evidence to support that radical statement. You have had ample opportunity to do so, yet you have singularly failed in that endeavor.
  11. Lawrie Miller

    Lawrie Miller New Member

    I'm sorry, Rich, but even with Princeton themselves, the only number I can find that they venture is 100 points (Cracking the GRE 1998 page 6 paragraph 6). A fractional increase.

    If the data in support of your argument is so ubiquitous, you should have no problem coming up with hard numbers, direct relevant quotes, and useful citations, should you?

    Which study contends that CLEP and GRE subject exams can be passed with no subject knowledge, Rich? Which texts and which surveys support your contention? You have indicated they exist. Where are they? Cite them.

    Cite or withdraw.
  12. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Sorry, but I referred you to an excellent source. In it, the author cites the Princeton Review's statistics that show average increases double what you state. Even so, one hundred points is hardly "fractional." On the SAT, for example, a 100-point improvement in Math and a similar improvement in English would make a dramatic difference in which schools one would be a candidate to enter. David Owen discusses that point, too.

    You and I both took great advantage of standardized testing in order to earn a degree. The difference is that I'm willing to talk about all that it is not.

    If this isn't good enough for you--and I'm sure it isn't--fine. I don't really care. This isn't some contest, nor is it a debate. I've said what I wanted to say.

    Rich Douglas
  13. Lawrie Miller

    Lawrie Miller New Member

    I accept your apology, Rich. We can all err. 'Nuff said. Matter ended.
  14. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Niiiice. In all the rhetoric I wanted to reiterate that I appreciate the assistance you provide others regarding earning credit by examination. It is--regardless of my cynicism--an excellent way for adults to earn their bachelor's degrees more quickly.

    Rich Douglas, whose "apology" was taken out of context.
  15. Lawrie Miller

    Lawrie Miller New Member

    Not the old, "I was taken out of context", revisionism, surely? Anyway, I appreciate your appreciation of the "BA in 4 Weeks" series and its aims.

    Many of us have benefited from the method (credit by examination) and I would like to see more busy, under appreciated working adults with little time but onerous responsibilities, being given the opportunity to get out from under (if indeed, that is their goal).

    Your original apology was accepted, Rich: let's not spoil a wonderful evening with churlishness.
  16. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Some people can't take a compliment. The fact is, you took a simple observation about test-taking skills and blew it up into all of this. Well, you're not the only one around here who was very successful at taking standardized examinations, and you seem to lack experiences others possess. But if you really feel the need to be king of your little domain, be my guest. But stop giving people bad advice along with the good.

    You also have a deep-seated need for the last word, so I'm sure you will take it here, too. Enjoy.

    Rich Douglas

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