Friday, August 26, 2016


I just completed a CLEP test for placement out of a college-level English Composition class I took when Guttenberg was in Junior High (Steve, not Johannes.) CLEP, by the way, is an acronym for the College Level Examination Program.
CLEPomania is what ensues while preparing for one of their tests.

The CLEP study guide led me to believe there would be a small series of multiple-guess questions, as well as TWO mandatory essays to be completed—all within the space of 70-minutes. 

The good news is there was no essay writing (other than this confessional.) The bad news is that instead of writing a couple of imaginary, fictional works, there were 90 questions to tackle. In 70-minutes.

(I write for a living. I critique copy as part of my work. Do you know how utterly agonizing it is to wade through 90 examples of marginally written passages, some more flawed than others, and be asked to pick which equally marginal alternative is better?)

After 61-minutes, the time it took to complete the exam, I felt like my brains had been sucked out through my toes. The really aggravating part of the ordeal was that I scored only a 66 out of 80 possible answers. That’s an 82 in real-person grading and something of which I am not particularly proud. 

The College Composition Modular exam did not measure my ability to write complete sentences, string together coherent thoughts, or offer critical analysis in written form. There were a few “trick” questions that taunted with verb tense and singular/plural errors. It tested my ability to second-guess what the test writers were trying to say, and to ferret the least offensive answer from a limited list of possibilities.

So after literally agonizing for a week and a half over how I was going to muster two essays of unknown topicality in a limited amount of time, only to be mentally thrashed with a slew of multiple-choice questions, I am both drained and unfulfilled. I even wrote a practice essay earlier in the week based upon the study guide’s make-believe study topic. That makes me either an extreme nerd or a glutton for abuse. Or both.

The resolution of my mental anguish may be this: Instead of forking out a semester’s worth of tuition, fees, and book expenses for a course I’ve already taken, I have now laid claim to full course credit for the price of a CLEP test and administrative fees—a fraction of the cost.
I wonder if I could submit this for extra credit to get that score up?