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Exam Preparation

Second Language Exam Preparation - Second Language Strategies

You're Probably Wondering, What's CLEP Exam?

CLEP Exam stand for College Level Examination Program: CLEP

Welcome, aspiring polyglot! If you are looking at this page, you are probably interested in the exam preparation material we have been crafting. While that is all hosted here, it is important to understand precisely which exams you will be able to find material on here. By and large, this section will cover all things CLEP and the CLEP exams that are available to you. However, the primary focus will be on world languages with short discussions surrounding exam taking best practices.

For the most part, exam preparation will look rather similar, but as the goal for our students is to pass the CLEP exams centered around world languages and gain college credits while saving time and money, if you are looking for something along the SAT, ACT, LSAT, MCAT, or similar exams, this may not be the ideal place to look. For those who are interested in passing CLEP exams to save themselves time and money, this is the place for you.

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Accessing Practice Tests

One of the first things you are going to want to do in order to truly assure you will have no problem with the exam is take some practice exams. These exams are difficult, but what is more challenging is ensuring you place yourself under similar conditions. The exam is going to be stressful, you will be timed, and there will be someone watching over your shoulder the entire time.

You need to do what you can to recreate these circumstances every time you take practice tests. While the first or second does not necessarily need to be timed, if you never time yourself you will find that you are quickly in over your head when the time comes to take the real thing.

These exams are designed to test your knowledge regarding college level material and that includes the history, culture, and demographics of several Spanish speaking countries as that is something you will come across when you are studying the Spanish language in university. Most people are not expecting this because they assume a Spanish test is going to test their Spanish language knowledge.

While this is a fair assumption, unfortunately it will leave those who fail to adjust ahead of time left out in the dark as they try to guess how much of a given country's population speaks more than just Spanish. The same goes for all the French and German CLEP exams. It is great to know the language, it is most important to know the language, however it is not enough to know the language.

With all of that said, the unfortunate reality is that College Board, the entity that controls the CLEP exams, does not permit any full version of the CLEP exams that pertain to languages. The test has around 170 questions, which means even with the free sample questions you can find there will be around 100 questions still unknown. Fortunately, most of these questions will be answered easily through mastery of the language in which you are taking the exam. If you are looking for Spanish specific help, we are working on some things you can check out here in an ongoing fashion.

{link Spanish clep question breakdown series}

Potential Exam Strategies

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Beyond understanding the language and some cultural and historical concepts, you are going to want to strategize with your approach. There are several different ways to approach taking CLEP exams, some are better than others, though. To touch on just a few there are:

Read the passage, read the question, read the answers

Read the passage, read the answers, read the question

Read the question, read the passage, read the answers

Read the question, read the answers, read the passage

Read the answers, read the question, read the passage

Read the answers, read the passage, read the question

From the 30,000 foot overview, you can see that there are several ways to approach, but some are better than others. In our experience, reading the question, then the answers, then the passage, tends to be the best, but this will be explored more in a different article hosted on this page.

These examples are for illustrative purposes, but it would behoove you to ask yourself which of these sounds like it would work best in conjunction with your learning style and your testing style. Everyone is different, yes, but that does not change the fact that some of these options are universally better than others. Aside from mastering how to test, you should understand why you are testing.

Available College Credit - Save money, save time

The biggest reason to take the CLEP exams seriously is that they will save you time and money. If you are a student in the USA you will undoubtedly understand why it would be impactful to save both when you are going through the process of earning your degree. College credits are extremely expensive, but they cost you more than your money.

Most of the time, the amount of time you save when you pass CLEP exams is equivalent to months if not years of your life. Rather than spending that time in a classroom, you can spend it out getting work experience which is the real differentiator on the job market as it becomes oversaturated with four year degrees.

Not only that, but CLEP exams are designed to test and provide college credit for the knowledge you already have regarding a myriad of different subjects. Therefore, not only are you saving yourself the time and money, you are also removing yourself from classes that you would be horrifically bored in because you would already know most of if not all of the material that was being covered.

Many high school students end up covering things far beyond the high school level as they grow up, this is particularly true for students who speak two languages fluently. There is no reason to sit in a classroom that is covering material you already know if the university you are attending is willing to accept CLEP credits.

That said, many students will choose to endure these classes anyway simply for the easy grade. While this tactic may seem like a good one, after a few weeks the monotony can destroy the feelings of hope. Not only that, but you never know who your professor will be and a grade is never guaranteed. Combine that with the fact that you will still be spending your most valuable resource, time, sitting through these classes that are largely participation based and you will look back to realize you wasted more time and more money than you already were to get those college credit hours.

Resources for your CLEP exams

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books, study, exams

Resource management is going to be important when it comes to the CLEP exams. There is so much noise out there that nailing down the things that will move the needle the most is going to be vital. Using the articles housed here will give you a great place to start, but be sure to check back often as there will constantly be new things added to help you move the needle. Though all CLEP subjects will not be covered, the language related CLEP exams will be and there will be new resources posted here frequently.

Along with those resources, keep an eye out for college board offers which we will send out as they come up. To be notified when that happens, make sure you sign up for our newsletter here [CLEP newsletter]. If you plan to take a CLEP exam, it is worth your time to study and ensure you have every chance of achieving a passing score. Of course, retaking the test will always be cheaper than taking the course at a university, but it is never fun to have to retake an exam.

Nontraditional Education Strategies

This may be more non traditional education support than you are used to, but if you academic advisor has not told you about the availability of these exams it may be worth your time to look into non traditional paths forward. A four year degree is vital in today's world, but that does not mean you need to waste years of your life and tens of thousands of dollars to procure one.

With that said, do not forget to check out the other materials we have available to help you master and succeed with any language you are seeking to acquire. Whether your goal is to take the CLEP exam, pass a credit by exam, or simply become conversational in your target language, our goal is to help you get there. Adult learners face enough challenges when it comes to second language acquisition as it is. Give yourself every advantage you can, join us here at Second Language Strategies.

CLEP Exam Benefits

The CLEP benefits are numerous and extend far beyond how many credits one can receive. College students work hard for their grades and having the peace of mind that comes with knowing you already have credits is powerful. Yes, taking CLEP exams is stressful, but no more stressful than the exams you will encounter at colleges and universities. You should earn college credits for the things you already know and if all you have to do is take CLEP exams to make that happen, the only thing standing between you and saving tons of time and thousands of dollars is you.

Whether you choose to take one CLEP exam and one practice test or you choose to take most CLEP exams, every dollar you save and every hour you earn is well worth the investment. For a deeper look at the numbers and time make sure you check out the related articles available on this page.


Learning a language is difficult, sometimes introductory courses simply are not enough. However, it is also possible that the college course you end up in is the equivalent of an introductory course. By taking advantage of the CLEP exams, after ensuring your university is accepting CLEP credits, you can save yourself from unnecessary time waste and unnecessary money burning. Most colleges and universities will accept CLEP credits, but be sure to double check with the institution you plan to attend before embarking on this journey.

Yes, learning a language is difficult, but you can do difficult things and be great. If you doubt that, check out the rest of what this site has to offer and you may just have your mind changed. There is no easy path forward, but there is a simple path. It will require time and effort, but once you are bilingual the sky is the limit. We are rooting for you.

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