Bachelor Degree
















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This manual is specifically tailored to earning a Bachelor of Science degree from Excelsior College, Albany, NY.  Excelsior college is a  regionally accredited institution. Regional accreditation is the gold  standard of higher education institution legitimacy in the United  States.


Excelsior College has not endorsed in any way, any information or advice contained in these web pages. The views expressed are those of the author alone. Readers are urged to review the  disclaimer and copyright notices accompanying this work. Notices













1. Do the general CLEP exams. If enrolled in Excelsior College, substitute the  ECE exam "English Composition" for the CLEP "English Composition with Essay".


2. There are five CLEP general exams. Each is worth 6 semester hours credit. Each is 90 minutes in length, split into two 45 minute sections. Successful completion of the five exams will fulfill freshman year requirements at COSC and TESC. Excelsior students should substitute ECE "English composition" as noted above.


3. The five exams can be completed in two days of testing. The exams are:


  English Composition with Essay*


  College Mathematics

  Natural Sciences

  Social Sciences and History


*or ECE English Composition for Excelsior students


4. If you have the choice (i.e. not an Excelsior student), avoid ECE English Composition and go with the CLEP English composition with Essay, it's far easier, not to mention a lot cheaper. The ECE English Composition exam is three hours in length and consists of three one-hour essays. As I remember it, essays are a "contrast and compare", an advocacy letter/report, and an article critique. There is no "English interpretation" section in the ECE exam.


As stated, the CLEP English Composition with Essay is 90 minutes in length, and consists of one 45 minute objective English interpretation section, and one 45 minute essay section. The essay is a response to some talking point. Mine instructed the examinee discuss what event or invention he/shethought had the greatest impact on the Twentieth Century.


5. These are general exams and as such cover a very wide area of, for want of a better term, "general knowledge". Except in mathematics, I do not know that your chances of passing these exams would be significantly improved by any sort of cramming, precisely because the tests are so wide ranging.


I think the best strategy is to try the mock exams and use the results to guide your study efforts. The shallowness of the tests mean that much of the knowledge deficit exposed by the mock exams may be filled by quick reference to  information on the world wide web via a search engine like Google.


For the ECE English Composition exam, you might want to consider purchasing Excelsior College's proprietary English exam package. Certainly, you must download and study the mock exam PDF file, available free from the Excelsior web site. For the CLEP English exam, do the mocks to get the objective part down pat, then practice writing the 45 minute essays.



First off , get hold of the CLEP official study guide from The Collegecover Board. You can buy this at many bookstores, from amazon.com on the Web, or it can be ordered from College Board Publications at 1-800-323-7155. This book has sample questions covering all CLEP general and subject exams. The questions in this book mirror those you will encounter in the exams in degree of difficulty and in focus. Alas, most of the other guides do not.


However, as in the case of the GRE subject exams, there is one coverexception. The Princeton Review Cracking the CLEP. This book covers all five general examinations with a full complement of questions for each. There are detailed notes in the answer section. Most importantly, the difficulty and scope of the tests match (pretty nearly) the genuine article.


The REA offering only serves to mislead. The questions do not match the difficulty level found in the actual CLEP exams. As with some of their GRE guides, the questions are a higher order of difficulty than those found in the CLEP exams proper. This is not simply a matter of opinion. I have old score sheets of the mock tests taken within a day or so of each other using the REA tests, the Princeton tests, and the results of the actual exams. Where REA predicted 50 percentile (a fail or a bare pass) in Humanities, Princeton indicated 93 percentile; actual was 89 percentile. REA prediction for Social Science/History 62 percentile, Princeton 99 percentile, actual 99 percentile; Natural Sciences REA 68 percentile, Princeton 99 percentile, actual 96% and the pattern continues for all the other exams taken. These are empirical data. The results speak volumes about the relative utility of the guides.


Note that you don't have to score high in absolute terms to do well in percentile or scaled-score terms in these exams.For instance, a raw score of 50 out of 120 will get you a pass in the Natural Science exam (=500 scaled). That's under 42%. So don't  fear that a pass is unattainable, it is likely comfortably within your reach. Remember that the passing scores in these exams are meant to reflect the average performance of a freshman student 18 years old. Cannot speak for others, but at 18 my main interests and goals in life were sex, booze and getting into show business. You bring many advantages of experience, maturity and focus to the fray. You have managed to hold down a responsible job and perhaps have raised or are raising a family. Most freshman can't keep their room clean!


Get the Official CLEP Guide and the Princeton Review. Try out the mock exams. If you're scoring greater than 500 scaled score, sit the exams without further ado. Remember, a pass at 500 yields exactly the same credit as a pass at 800. There are no grades attached to the general exams. In the unlikely event you do fail, you can resit the exam and suppress the failure..... no one will know, or care.


A link to the free exam guide for ECE English Composition can be found in the BA in 4 weeks main menu 



Note that with the move to computer based testing in the U.S., the standard score ranges for the CLEP general exams has been changed from 200-800 to 20-80. Passing scores at Excelsior College are now 50 for the CLEP general exams. At TESC, the  paper test passing score for the generals was 500. At COSC, 500 and 470. The pass requirements at these institutions under the new scoring system will be entered here shortly. It's a fairly safe bet that they are likely to reflect previous requirements (around 500) with the end zero lopped off! [i.e. 50]


See the information in the CLEP update page. That page is revised as new information becomes available, and then as issues and uncertainties over scoring are resolved, verified information is incorporated into the BA in 4 weeks guides proper.


CLEP Official Study Guide, The College Board ~ $20

Cracking the CLEP, Princeton Review ~ $20

The Best Test preparation for the CLEP, REA ~ $20

Course Guide for English Composition, Excelsior College - $25



Web site copyright Lawrie Miller 2001-2004