There's a way savvy college students can get credits without having to take courses -- CLEP exams. The non-profit organization College Board has created the College-Level Examination Program, or CLEP, which tests examinees' mastery of a given subject. You can earn credit for one math course by taking the CLEP for College Mathematics. Passing the CLEP math exam, though, requires planning.
The CLEP College Mathematics assesses material you would normally learn in one course. You have 90 minutes to answer approximately 60 questions. Since the exam replaces a college-level math class for non-math majors -- meaning you don't need advanced math for your major -- 50 percent of the test consists of solving straightforward problems. The other 50 percent, though, does require knowledge of concepts and how to apply them to solving non-routine problems. You are expected to know math vocabulary, symbols and notations.
The CLEP College Mathematics test assesses your comprehension of six topics. For set theory, you'll see questions related to groupings, such as subsets and equivalent sets, as well as intersection. For instance, you might see a diagram with intersections creating one triangle and be asked to choose another set of intersections to duplicate it. Be prepared to answer questions on logic, such as hypotheses and the real number system, or concepts related to odd and even numbers or prime numbers. Twenty-five percent of the test assesses your knowledge of probability and statistics. Additional topics from geometry and algebra make up the rest of the test.
Choose a date far enough in advance that you have time to study. Create a plan for studying that works with your schedule and stick to it, just like you would in a regular class. College Board puts out study guides, including a broad "Official Study Guide" and one specific to the College Mathematics exam. The "Official Study Guide" contains the same material as the College Math guide, in addition to extensive information about the exam as a whole. Take a practice exam before your test date to time yourself, ensuring you will stay within the given 90 minutes.
Exam Day Tips
Questions on CLEP exams are multiple-choice, which allows you to utilize test-taking strategies. Don't be afraid to make educated guesses, and never leave a question blank. Blank and wrong answers are scored the same, so guess in case you get it right. Likewise, read the question and all its answers; then choose the one that is the most correct, even if others are partially correct. Don't spend a lot of time on any one answer; bring a watch so you can note the time and pace yourself. If you get stuck, mark the question to return to it later.
- College Board: CLEP ® College Mathematics Examination Guide
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