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English Composition with Essay CLEP
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Free English Composition with Essay CLEP Study Guide

Name of Exam: English Composition with Essay CLEP

Number of Questions: 50 + 1 Essay

Time Limit: 90 Minutes

ACE Recommended Passing Score: 50

Practice Test Available?: Yes - Click here

Cost: $80 + Sitting Fee (Usually no more than $20) at your testing site. Military can take CLEPs for free with Tuition Assistance. Check with your Educational Officer!

Difficulty 1-5 : 2
(One being the easiest, and five being the hardest)

Alternatives: StraighterLine English Composition I and II

Exam Description:

The English Composition with Essay CLEP tests your ability in identifying errors in existing sentences and passages. You will need to have a basic understanding of good sentence structure, but will not necessarily be asked to explain "why" you chose the answer you did.

The essay portion of the English Composition with Essay CLEP will test your ability to present a point of view and support it with logical argument. Your point of view will be based on a CLEP supplied topic, and you must support your argument with logical evidence.

Personal Thoughts:

I've already written a small novel on the multiple choice portion of this exam. You can find it here - The English Composition CLEP without Essay Study Guide. I would suggest looking it over as the same advice and resources apply to this exam as well. The difference between the two is, obviously, the addition of an essay in this version. For now, I want to concentrate on that addition.

The good news? The essay version has less multiple choice questions! Let's look at what makes up the English Composition with Essay CLEP.

Exam breakdown:

According to the College Board website, the English Composition with Essay CLEP exam is broken down as follows:

30%Correcting Sentences
Identifying Sentence Errors
Improving Sentences
The main idea of the work, or it's thesis
Organization of ideas (putting the ideas in order)
Coherence within and between paragraphs (The "Flow")
Logic of arguments (The Chewbacca Defense - "Does it Make Sense?")
Sustaining point of view (Switching From 1st to 3rd)
Relevance of evidence (Does the author have any? Does it relate?)
50%Essay (**Cue scary music** Okay now turn that trash off!)

Areas of Study

You can find the material for the multiple-choice portion of the the English Composition with Essay CLEP exam, in the English Composition CLEP without Essay Study Guide. I'd like to discuss the Essay portion here since it worries so many people.

A quick disclaimer: If you can't tell from this website, I am not an English teacher. There will be plenty of "Official" help below, but I'm going to share what works for me. Hopefully it will help someone else out too. After all, that's why we're here.

To begin, if you can hold a conversation with someone, then you can pass this portion of the CLEP. The exam will simply ask you to share your opinion on a specific topic. That's all!

This is where most people run into trouble. They try to immediately begin writing and they can't think of anything. Then they sit there staring at a blank screen until they're out of time. That's not going to be us though. The actual writing won't take that long if we set things up right. So let's get started.

First of all, we need our outline. On the scratch paper that the test center gives you (or should have given you, ask before the test) write out the main points of an essay. Seriously, just write the following on the paper:

  • Title (Thesis)
  • Introduction
  • Body
    • Paragraph 1
    • Paragraph 2
    • Paragraph 3
  • Conclusion

Now you have your outline, and you just need to fill it in. Pulling one from the Machiavellian air, let's say your the topic on your English Composition with Essay CLEP is:

"It is better to be feared than loved."

So now you have to pick your side. Do you agree or disagree? Let's say you disagree in this instance. You now have your title. It's going to be something along the lines of, "It's better to be loved than feared", or "Love conquers all", etc. Be creative, and be persuasive. All that being said, don't spend more than a few minutes thinking it up. We're not writing Shakespeare.

Next comes your introduction. Answer these three questions:

  1. What is the essay's purpose? Answer - To support your title
  2. How are you going to do that? Answer - By showing A, B, and C
  3. What is the end result? Answer - To convince your reader/defend your position

If you answer the above questions, you'll have an Intro already written. To keep with our above topic, here's an example:

"In this essay I will show you why it is better to be loved than feared. I will demonstrate by historical examples that cruelty will only end in rebellion. I will also show that a leader who is loved often has no need to enforce his will. In the end, I will demonstrate that the love of his subjects is one of the most powerful tools a leader can have."

(It won't win a Pulitzer, but it took me around fifteen seconds to type)

Writing is like anything else. It takes practice!!

So now we have our Intro, and in that Intro we have a few topics for our essay body too. Can you spot them?

In the intro I said that I would show historical examples of cruelty ending in rebellion, and I would also show that a leader who is loved doesn't need to enforce his will. That sounds like at least two paragraphs right there, though I could probably stretch it to four if I gave two example for each.

So thinking quickly, I've decided that for my cruelty examples, I'm going to use the American Revolution. For my leader who is loved example, I'm going to use the King of Thailand. (Just go with me here, chances are that both of us know more about the King of Thailand than the essay reviewer.)

So now my original outline looks like this:
  • Love Conquers All
  • Intro......
  • Body
    • American Revolution Causes (taxes, troop cruelty)
    • American Revolution Results (Loss of prestige, colonies)
    • King of Thailand (Love of the people)
    • King of Thailand (Though not political, enormous influence on politics)
  • Conclusion

The conclusion is merely wrapping up. You repeat your original thesis, and show how you have proved that thesis correct point by point. Considering we're swimming in examples, here's another:

"In this essay I have shown that it is truly better to be loved than feared. While cruelty may give short term gains as it did for England in the colonial times, I have shown that the end result cost them much more than they wished. I have also shown that although the King of Thailand has no temporal power, he has the love of the people and wields tremendous influence on the government and military because of it. In this way we can see that a truly wise leader will always take the path of love over one of brute force."

Once again, 30 seconds tops. It may not be pretty, but it's a conclusion!

You've got your outline now, and it shouldn't have taken you more than 10-15 minutes to put it all together. The English Composition with Essay CLEP gives you 45 minutes to type the essay, so you have 30 minutes to do the typing. Most of the work is done, so all you need to do is go from point to point. Pay attention to those transition sentences!

Not so hard after all now was it?

Free study resources:

Click on the titles to go to the study resource.

Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) - Some very good information here. Don't get too far down in the weeds with the reading. Stick to the more basic topics on the right side of the screen.

Most of the essays for the English Composition with Essay CLEP will fall under the "Argument Paper" category. Expand "The Writing Process" to see a complete breakdown. It's an outstanding resource!

Connecticut Community College - A great writing resource touching on a variety of subjects. Easy to navigate, so take a look around and find an area you're weak on.

Do NOT pass up the quizzes on this website - Quizzes Here! Score well on these and you'll have the multiple-choice portion of the English Composition with Essay CLEP down cold.

University of Ottawa - HyperGrammar - A great place to get a quick refresh on when and how to use punctuation, pronouns, and a host of other grammar rules. Know these before walking into the essay potion of the English Composition with Essay CLEP

The Elements of Style - A book originally written in 1918, it covers most of the common mistakes people make while writing. I only used it for chapters 9 through 18, as those applied to paragraph construction. Glancing briefly through the first half of the book; it appears to be just as valuable as the latter half.

Recommended bargain-priced study resources

Always check your library first! You may be able to find some of these for free. You don't have to buy the officially recommended resources all the time. If you're the type of person that prefers to study from a textbook source however, then please see below.

CLEP Freshman College Composition (REA) - The Best Test Prep for the CLEP Exam (Test Preps) - Library on base for the win! Make sure you check your local library before laying down the money for this one, but it does a great job preparing you.

The material for the Freshman College Composition CLEP is almost an exact match with the English Composition with Essay CLEP. The true value lies in the included practice exams.

InstantCert Academy - English Composition Specific Exam Feedback - Five pages of study notes, specific topics of study, and after action reports from returning test-takers. The community has done a great job with this particular thread. Definitely check out the Flashcards! Sections two and three are set up in the same format as the English Composition with Essay CLEP. It's great practice for the real thing!

If you don't know what InstantCert is, then click here for the scoop as well as a discount code: **InstantCert Academy**

You'll find an InstantCert link for every exam here if that gives you an idea of the amount of information they have available. It's an outstanding resource.

Closing Thoughts

Hopefully I've calmed any fears you may have had about the essay portion of the English Composition with Essay CLEP. It tends to worry quite a few people, but the mechanics of writing a decent essay aren't that complicated. Don't forget to check out the English Composition CLEP without Essay Study Guide. for the multiple choice section. It's only 45 questions, but it still makes up 50% of your score. Don't neglect it!

A final word about the essay - You don't even have to pick the side of the argument you truly believe in. Pick whichever side has the most supporting information, fill out the outline, and then get writing. It'll go by quicker than you think! Just remember - Good examples, logical arguments, smooth transitions, and a solid intro and conclusion. If you have those, the rest is gravy.

Best of luck!

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