Tips on tackling a CLEP in an unfamiliar subject?

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Tracy, May 15, 2002.

  1. Tracy

    Tracy New Member

    I've never had any sociology, and am wishing to take the sociology CLEP. I've never taken a CLEP before. What's the best way to go about preparing for a CLEP in a subject you don't know at all?

    I have purchased a sociology textbook and looked at the CLEP website to see what areas I need to study. Basically, it encompasses the whole book. So is this what those of you who have taken CLEPs in subjects with which you were unfamiliar did -basically read through the entire book?

    I remember seeing a thread here quite a while back about various CLEPs and times and methods spent taking them. It was a great thread - if anyone can point me to the link, it would be much appreciated.


  2. Cory

    Cory New Member

    Hi there,

    I sat the Sociology CLEP the other month and did quite well on it. I checked a text book out of the library and read it straight through. The test was much easier than I had anticipated, but if I were to take it again I would spend a few minutes and make sure to really learn the key figures in Sociology and what they did. The book I used was about 400 pages, and as I recall I read 100 pages per day, so that's four (4) days to prepare.

    For reference, the book I used was:
    Sociology The Core 4th ed. by Vander Zanden

    Best of luck on your exam!
    Last edited by a moderator: May 16, 2002
  3. Orson

    Orson New Member

    CLEP Sociology

    TRUE--know the major historical figures, but also know the major modern figures from social psychology (e.g., exchange theory), and from crim, etc.

    I took this exam some years ago, and out of interest used a major textbook (out of subject interest) AND Schaum's outline
    (be careful in using these: mine was rather dated [early 80s])!
    I suspect a HarperCollins College Outline should suffice, if they have one on this subject--YES they do:

    Introduction to Sociology (Harpercollins College Outline)
    by Norman Goodman
    384 pages; (January 1992)

    Since you have no exposure to the subject, I'd begin there--just
    ruthlessly skip any topic not covered!

    But since these are available so cheaply, how about buying another?

    Sociology (Barron's Ez-101 Study Keys)
    by Hugh Klein
    198 pages; (August 1992)

    Now go back to the topics, and eliminate again.
    Then begin both--which helps you learn and remember?
    Try a few sample CLEP questions--then narrow down
    your study to the book (or books) that are most effective!
    That's how I do it.

  4. Tracy

    Tracy New Member

    Wow - four days to prepare? I was worrying if late August would be too soon to take the exam! Maybe I'll accelerate and move things up a bit.

    And thanks to the other poster for the info about outlines! I'm new to this and didn't know about them. Went to Amazon and checked out the Barron's, and it looks really helpful. I wonder if someone could realistically just get spend less than $20 by getting a couple outlines books and still pass the CLEPs?

    Good info. Thank you both.

  5. Randell1234

    Randell1234 Moderator

  6. slappy

    slappy New Member

    I have found the the CLEP/Dantes exams can be prepared for in about 3 days. There is a very good series of books called "The Essentials" they are very small green study guides that sell for 5 or 6 bucks.
  7. Tracy

    Tracy New Member

    Thanks, Randell. I've decided to move things up and take the CLEP in about a month (the earliest the local colleges have space). That sounds like it should be more than enough time from what you folks have said. And thanks for the link - very helpful.

    Slappy - does that less than a week apply to even subjects you don't know at all? It'd be great to speed things up, but I'm definitely no genius and want to make sure I pass. Thanks.

  8. Orson

    Orson New Member


    Tracy--go for it!

    I only caution that in all these things, it depends. Were I to attempt General Chem (as I may) or Physics CLEP, I would have to prepare carefully and at length.

    This stems from a serious self-assessment or inventory of my strengths and weaknesses, as well as honesty about the things I actually know, and what I actually don't.

    For instance, going from CLEP Psychology, to DANTES Anthro, to taking the CLEP in Principles of Managment (Hovey's book
    on the subject IS the very model of concision--I took two weeks to prepare, and earned 97th percentile), works because in the social sciences the core body of knowledge overlaps quite a bit.
    For example, General Biology (CLEP) and Algebra will not overlap; but Algebra and Chem or Phys (especially the DANTES Principles of Physical Science I), will!

    So--carefull self-assessment, followed by feedback, followed by prep, followed by feedback...that's the way to work.

    And don't cheat yourself of something you may find you love!

    Finally, I find that the reader-reviews on are quite helpful and revealing. One can take the results of a title search
    and then "order the results" by "rating" (see box near the top of the window). Then examine the options, i.e. read the reviews from fellow students!

    And also, to keep costs low, buy used via; and check out books section--they often have the very best bargains for textbooks and study guides! I tend to overbuy and then norrow down (using the DANTES study guide or the CLEP official guide, which contains even better sample exams).

    Good luck.

  9. slappy

    slappy New Member

    Absolutely! I tested out of 3 years worth of credits in about a year (that includes a 7 month stretch of loosing focus and doing nothing towards the degree). I certainly wasn't up to speed on all those subjects and am certainly no genius.
  10. Cory

    Cory New Member

    I will second the Schaum's Outlines the only ones I have used are the Math and Statistics ones, but they are good. It really depends on the subject, I am a computer consultant so have some normal "bench time" that I am able to devote full time to study. I taught myself trig. by working through the Schaum's outline and it took me about 1.5-2 weeks to make it through, I did just fine on the CLEP this was by far the hardest CLEP that I have taken. When I reviewed for the College Algebra CLEP, I took two weeks as well. I took the "American Govt." poly sci 101 CLEP and spend maybe a week total reading two books on the subject checked out from the library. I read two books because I couldn't find a poly sci 101 text book, and this seemed to cover everything that the CLEP test was after.

    The poly sci books were:
    Founding Principles of American Government - Graham and Graham library.

    American Politics: Classic and Contemporary Readings - Kernell and Smith

    I am working my way through a BA with 100% liberal arts classes and no applied prof. classes, mainly through CLEP and a small number of LSU courses. So far, I like being able to prepare for the tests using my own methods much better than the "busy work" of the LSU courses. I do plan on spending some time on reviewing Chemistry and Biology for the CLEP tests, and they may take 2-4 weeks each. In terms of testing out a material, I have come up with few rules of thumb that seem to work for me:

    1.) Schedule the tests in advance. This is because I work much harder if it is hanging over my head, otherwise I put it off.

    2.) Testing every two weeks taking two tests per testing day gives enough time to learn brand new material well enough for most CLEP tests. If it just requires reading a book, it might take even less time.

    3.) Try to pick one easy subject and one harder subject. A math or science course and something like Sociology or American Govt. is a really good combination.
  11. Tracy

    Tracy New Member

    Good stuff, Cory. Thanks!

    I signed up to take English Comp with Essay and Sociology June 19. Probably should have taken one easy and one hard on the same day, but these are my first CLEPs.

    I see what you mean about having a date hanging over your head - definitely motivating. I once took an LSU Psych course, and it took me just over 9 months to finish. Not very time efficient! It does seem much wiser to just CLEP out of everything you can instead of the "busy work" you speak of with LSU.
  12. mayerz

    mayerz New Member

    Tracy -

    Although I am fairly well read and generally strong in the social sciences, I never studied Sociology before. I took this CLEP last night and scored a 77 (out of a possible 80). The only studying I did was to spend a couple of hours reading Sociology Essentials by Robyn A. Goldstein Fuchs (88 pages, REA 2001). I bought it from for $6.95.

    Check out

    Although I'm not going for any speed records, I've been generally following Lawrie's system. I have now amassed 66 credits by taking 11 CLEPS and 5 DANTES (9 A, 1 B, 6 Pass). I took 14 exams (57 credits) in 5 weeks. I then took a break (due to other comittments) for four months and have now taken two exams (9 credits) in the past week. All this was done for under $1100 (including books) and with very little studying. Where possible, I would recommend borrowing the books from the library and reading a short review book rather than a complete textbook.

    One final note, know in advance what grade you need. If you only need a passing grade, say a 50, there's no point in studying for a 70. That time could be better spent studying a different subject. Obviously, if you need an A, say a 60, you'll probably need a little more study time.

    Good luck with your studies,

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