Information Systems CLEP
Free Study Guide

Information Systems & Computer Applications CLEP Study Guide

Name of Exam: Information Systems CLEP

Number of Questions: 100

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 : 4
(One being the easiest, and five being the hardest)

Exam Description:

The Information Systems CLEP covers the material normally learned in an introductory business information systems college class. It will test your knowledge not on a particular brand of computer or program, but rather your understanding of the underlying workings of that system or application and how it applies to the business environment.

Personal Thoughts:

This used to be called the "Information Systems and Computer Applications CLEP" but they updated it at the end of 2015. That update was both good and bad for test takers. The good was because it was an exam in sore need of an update. Much of the previous material was outdated and written from an academic standpoint rather than from an actual user. This made the exam much more difficult than it otherwise would have been. The bad comes into play with how they updated it. Now it's much less heavy on actual IT and more so on the ethical and social side of things. I'm not exaggerating here, the Social/Ethical Implications and Issues section used to be 5% of the old exam and now it's at 25%. Who needs hard sciences and technical knowledge anyway? *sigh* Anyhow....

You'll still see questions academically worded, but there's much less CMOS and DSS, and more SQL these days. It's still not written that well from an end-user's perspective, but it's much better than it used to be. I'm still rating this one as a "4" in difficulty unless you come from an IT background or grew up with computers, but it's easier than the old one.

Like the old study guide, in addition to CollegeBoard's list of topics below, I'm going to list some of the other terms you'll need in this study guide. Instant Cert also has some good flashcards for this exam, and Peterson has a practice CLEP test as well. With all of these resources, you shouldn't have a problem passing this one in style.

Exam breakdown:

According to the College Board website, the Information Systems CLEP is broken down as follows:

25%Social/Ethical Implications and Issues
15%Hardware and Systems Technology
15%Internet and World Wide Web
15%Technology Applications
10%Software Development
10%Programming Concepts and Data Management
10%Office Applications

Areas of Study

I'm going to break down the percentages above with the topics that fall under each category. This should allow you to decide what you need help with, and only study those areas in which you feel a little weak. Less wading through masses of resources, and more targeted studying.

Please read the comments next to each link. I include them to target what exactly in the link you need to study. For the ones without a comment, I feel they'll be self-explanatory.

Social and Ethical Implications and Issues
(25% of the Information Systems CLEP)

Internet and World Wide Web
(15% of the Information Systems CLEP)

  • World Wide Web
  • How the Internet Works - A great overview of what happens behind the scenes when you get online. Remarkably easy to read for a whitepaper and approaches things from a beginner level.
  • Hypertext
  • Hypermedia
  • TCP/IP - A great explanation but may be a bit deep for some folks. If you find yourself scratching your head after the second read-through, try this video and then come back.
  • File Transfer Protocol - A basic understanding will suffice. I used to recommend not learning the port numbers, but now I would do so. See the next link.
  • Web Search Engine - Read this entire page. There's quite a bit of knowledge that'll be touched on throughout the Information Systems CLEP.

Technology Applications
(15% of the Information Systems CLEP)

  • Business Software Types - A good summation of the different types of business software and comparisons. I'd know all of these for the Information Systems CLEP.
  • Expert Systems - I'd just read through this page and hit the highlights.
  • Project Management Information Systems - No need to go too deep, but just understand what it is and what some of the more popular PMIS's are.
  • Data Mining - Again, brief runthrough should be enough. Just understand what they're talking about. I'd read down to 3.3 and then skip to the Privacy Concerns and Copyright Law. Both of which will help you in other sections of the Information Systems CLEP.
  • Business Process Reengineering
  • TQM - Ties into project management, but I would know what defines TQM as a management approach and how we can use Information Technology to accomplish it.

Hardware and Systems Technology
(15% of the Information Systems CLEP)

Office Applications
(10% of the Information Systems CLEP)

Software Development
(10% of the Information Systems CLEP)

Programming Concepts and Data Management
(10% of the Information Systems CLEP)

  • Boolean Logic - Gets deep quick, but worth a read. Make sure you go to pages 2 and 3 of the writeup as it's not very obvious that there's more at the end of the first page.
  • Arithmatic Operators - Know the symbols that go along with each operation. It's not always as obvious as you'd think, and you may get asked on the exam.
  • Intro to SQL - Personally, I'd go through and watch the entire lesson. You'll not only pick up some valuable info for later, but you'll also undoubtedly hit every single thing about SQL that you may see on the exam. Of course, that may only be 5-6 questions; so you'll need to decide how much time you want to invest into this. Check the next link for an abridged version that will "probably" get you through what you need if you're asked for specific operators. I'd still recommend watching this lesson, though. It will teach you HOW it all works.
  • SQL Operators - Again, just an abridged version and list of SQL operators. Knowing when to use these is important and the above link will teach you that, though at least you'll have them here if you don't have time to watch all the videos.
  • Object Oriented vs. Structured Programming - Probably one of the best explanations I've found for a total beginner to programming. There are more detailed resources out there, but they all require a grasp of programming to begin with.
  • Databases - Yes I know this isn't on the CollegeBoard list, but we're going to get this out of the way now. Just go through this entire page and then the Database Tutorial at the very bottom (including all four projects). You don't have to actually "do" the projects, but at least read the steps. If you do this, you should be almost certainly able to answer any database question this CLEP throws your way.
  • Data Structures
  • SQL - People make good livings doing this, so we're not looking to go too deeply into the subject. You will need to understand the Queries section as you will mostly likely get asked about it on the Information Systems CLEP.
  • Document File Formats - I'd recommend going through the common formats at least once.
  • Document Images

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 / AP Courseware - Information Systems & Computer Applications - Not much out there for this exam. If you're going to spend some cash on this, I'd suggest InstaCert and using the flashcards. If you just "have" to have a book in your hands though, here you go.

InstantCert Academy - Information Systems & Computer Applications Specific Exam Feedback - Three pages of study notes, specific topics of study, and after action reports. Also don't forget to check out the Instantcert Flashcards for the Information Systems CLEP. You may want to hit the flashcards for the Management Information Systems DSST as well since there's some overlap.

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

If you work in IT or work on computers for fun, then with a little brushing up you shouldn't have much of a problem with the Information Systems CLEP. Most of the rough spots are going to be with old technology that isn't in use today. If you're not in IT, then this exam boils down to memorization, which makes it relatively simple if you dedicate enough study to it.

My personal recommendation for those who don't work with computers - Study first, using either the above free resources or InstantCert, and then take the practice exam from the link at the top of this page. See what you're weak on, and hit those areas again. In the end, it's going to come down to how much effort you give your preparation. You can do this!

Best of luck!

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