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2019 CLEP Official Study Guide

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This study guide provides practice questions for all 33 CLEP® exams. The ideal resource for taking more than one exam. Offered only by the College Board.

CLEP® College Composition and College Composition Modular Examination Guide

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This guide provides practice questions for the CLEP®  College Composition and College Composition Modular Exams.

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College Composition Modular Exam

Overview

The CLEP College Composition Modular exam assesses writing skills taught in most first-year college composition courses. Those skills include analysis, argumentation, synthesis, usage, ability to recognize logical development, and research.

The College Composition Modular exam contains approximately 90 multiple-choice questions to be answered in 90 minutes. It is designed for colleges that want a valid, reliable multiple-choice assessment, and most colleges award credit based on the College Composition Modular exam alone.  If direct writing assessment is required by a college, the exam can be supplemented with an optional essay module that is either provided and scored by the college or provided by CLEP and scored by the college. The optional essay module provided by CLEP contains two essays to be written in 70 minutes.

The exam includes some pretest multiple-choice questions that will not be counted toward the candidate's score.

Knowledge and Skills Required

The exam measures test takers' knowledge of the fundamental principles of rhetoric and composition and their ability to apply the principles of Standard Written English. In addition, the exam requires familiarity with research and reference skills.

The skills assessed in the College Composition Modular exam follow. The numbers in parentheses indicate the approximate percentages of exam questions on those topics. The bulleted lists under each topic are meant to be representative rather than prescriptive.

Conventions of Standard Written English (10%)

This section measures candidates’ awareness of a variety of logical, structural, and grammatical relationships within sentences. The questions test recognition of acceptable usage relating to the items below:

  • Syntax (parallelism, coordination, subordination)
  • Sentence boundaries (comma splice, run-ons, sentence fragments)
  • Recognition of correct sentences
  • Concord/agreement (pronoun reference, case shift and number; subject-verb; verb tense)
  • Diction
  • Modifiers
  • Idiom
  • Active/passive voice
  • Lack of subject in modifying word group
  • Logical comparison
  • Logical agreement
  • Punctuation

Revision Skills, Including Sentence-Level Skills (40%)

This section measures candidates’ revision skills in the context of works in progress (early drafts of essays):

  • Organization
  • Evaluation of evidence
  • Awareness of audience, tone, and purpose
  • Level of detail
  • Coherence between sentences and paragraphs
  • Sentence variety and structure
  • Main idea, thesis statements, and topic sentences
  • Rhetorical effect and emphasis
  • Use of language
  • Evaluation of author’s authority and appeal
  • Evaluation of reasoning
  • Consistency of point of view
  • Transitions
  • Sentence-level errors primarily relating to Standard Written English conventions

Ability to Use Source Materials (25%)

This section measures candidates’ familiarity with elements of the following basic reference and research skills, which are tested primarily in sets but may also be tested through stand-alone questions. In the passage- based sets, the elements listed under Revision Skills and Rhetorical Analysis may also be tested. In addition, this section will cover the following skills:

  • Use of reference materials
  • Evaluation of sources
  • Integration of resource material
  • Documentation of sources (including, but not limited to, MLA, APA, and the Chicago Manual of Style)

Rhetorical Analysis (25%)

This section measures candidates’ ability to analyze writing. This skill is tested primarily in passage-based questions pertaining to critical thinking, style, purpose, audience, and situation:

  • Appeals
  • Tone
  • Organization/structure
  • Rhetorical effects
  • Use of language
  • Evaluation of evidence

After completing the College Composition Modular exam, test takers may choose to take the optional direct writing assessment module based on the credit policy established by their colleges. Options include:

  • An optional essay module developed and provided by CLEP that requires test takers to respond to two essay prompts designed to assess the same skills measured in CLEP College Composition’s mandatory essay section. Unlike the computer-based College Composition Modular exam, the optional essay module is in the paper-and-pencil format. A test-taker writes the essays in a provided booklet, and the test center gets the handwritten essays sent to the college designated by the test taker, along with the CLEP Optional Essay Scoring Guidelines. Test-takers cannot register for the optional essay module on the CLEP website;  they need to contact the test center in advance to order it and schedule testing.
  • An essay/writing assessment developed, administered, and scored by the college.
  • Colleges can also choose to associate the College Composition Modular exam score with another assessment or evaluation determined by the college.

Study Resources

Most textbooks used in college-level composition courses cover the skills and topics measured in the College Composition Modular exam, but the approaches to certain topics and the emphasis given to them may differ. To prepare for the College Composition Modular exam, it is advisable to study one or more college-level texts, such as readers, handbooks, and writing guides. When selecting a text, check the table of contents against the knowledge and skills required for this test.

To become aware of the processes and the principles involved in presenting your ideas logically and expressing them clearly and effectively, you should practice writing. Ideally, you should try writing about a variety of subjects and issues, starting with those you know best and care about most. Ask someone you know and respect to respond to what you write and to help you discover which parts of your writing communicate effectively and which parts need revision to make the meaning clear. You should also try to read the works of published writers in a wide range of subjects, paying particular attention to the ways in which the writers use language to express their meaning.

Online Resources

These resources, compiled by the CLEP test development committee and staff members, may help you study for your exam. However, none of these sources are designed specifically to provide preparation for a CLEP exam. The College Board has no control over their content and cannot vouch for accuracy.

  • Preparing for the AP English Language and Composition Exam. Some of the materials taught in this AP course may be helpful for CLEP test takers preparing for the College Composition or College Composition Modular exam. They may use this course as a study resource for the knowledge and skills covered by the CLEP composition exams.

Score Information

Credit-Granting Score for College Composition Modular Exam

ACE Recommended Score*: 50
Semester Hours: 3

Each institution reserves the right to set its own credit-granting policy, which may differ from that of ACE. Most colleges will grant course credit for a first-year composition or English course that emphasizes expository writing; others will grant credit toward satisfying a liberal arts or distribution requirement in English. Contact your college as soon as possible to find out the score it requires to grant credit, the number of credit hours granted, and the course(s) that can be bypassed with a satisfactory score.

The American Council on Education's College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE CREDIT) recommends the awarding of three credit hours, or the equivalent, for a score of 50 on the 90-minute multiple-choice College Composition Modular exam. If colleges elect to supplement the modular version of the exam with optional essays available from CLEP or with a writing assessment of their own, colleges will be responsible for scoring the essays and deciding whether to award additional credits for the essays.

*The American Council on Education’s College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE CREDIT) has evaluated CLEP processes and procedures for developing, administering, and scoring the exams. The score listed above is equivalent to a grade of C in the corresponding course. The American Council on Education, the major coordinating body for all the nation’s higher education institutions, seeks to provide leadership and a unifying voice on key higher education issues and to influence public policy through advocacy, research, and program initiatives. Visit the ACE CREDIT website for more information.