Preparing for the Social Sciences and History CLEP Exam

The College-Level Examination Program (CLEP), is a great way to gain college credit for information you already know. CLEP covers a wide range of subject matter, and allows college students to "test out" of certain subjects. Credit gained for successfully passing the exams range from three to twelve semester hours, depending upon the examination taken.

But what if you have never taken a college-level course? How do you successfully take a CLEP examination for some quick and (compared to the cost of a college course) inexpensive credit?

Fortunately, there is no shortage of study materials to help navigate students through CLEP exams. This article will highlight some of the best, and least expensive, study materials to help students pass the CLEP general exam in Social Sciences and History. Successfully passing this exam will help you gain six semester hours of credit.

Remember: Consider the money you will save paying for one $72 CLEP test versus two 3-credit classes!

There are plenty of web sites, books, study programs, flash cards and other materials which promise to help students achieve high scores on CLEP exams. Some of these materials are very expensive, and unnecessary.

Generally, any score higher than 50 % is considered a "pass" on a CLEP exam, but some colleges and universities indicate minimum scores they will accept in order to award credit. Be sure to check out your school's CLEP policies, including the scores necessary in order to obtain credit for the exams.

The CLEP Social Sciences and History examination is designed to test a student's knowledge of subjects such as American history, world history, anthropology, economics, sociology, political science and many other areas of social science and history.

The following are the subjects covered in the exam (subjects are listed with the percentage of questions on each topic):

  • 40% History, including…
  • 17% United States History
  • 15% Western Civilization
  • 8% World History
  • 60% Social Sciences, including…
  • 13% Government/Political Science
  • 11% Geography
  • 10% Economics
  • 10% Psychology
  • 10% Sociology
  • 6% Anthropology

As you can see, the examination covers a lot of subject matter. Keeping in mind that generally any score over 50 percent is a pass, you should strive to answer as many questions as possible, not achieve a perfect score.

Looking over the above chart, you can see that the Social Sciences subjects comprise 60% of the questions on the test. If you can answer most of those questions correctly, you're well on your way toward a passing grade on the Social Sciences and History exam.

Strategies for Studying for the Social Sciences and History CLEP Test

The Social Sciences and History CLEP Test

An effective method of determining which of these areas are your "strong" subjects, and which you need to study more, is the "test, study, re-test" method. To do this, you will need a CLEP study guide. The Princeton Review's "Cracking the CLEP" is generally regarded as one of the best.

"Cracking the CLEP" includes many sample questions from the CLEP general exams, including Social Sciences and History, along with the answers and the explanation behind the answers. You can find this study guide in most any major bookstore, but it can also be found at the public library.

Before you start studying for this particular CLEP exam, take the practice test in "Cracking the CLEP" (or another study guide) first. Check your answers to see how you fared. Did you identify areas in which you knew most of the answers? If so, you won't need to study those subjects as much. If you missed nearly every answer in another area, such as economics, you will need to spend more time studying that subject.

After you have studied that subject more, take the practice exam again. When you reach a point in which you are able to answer better than 50% of the questions on the practice exam, you're ready to take the CLEP. If you are scoring in the 60 to 70% range when you first take the practice exam, just go take the CLEP. It's considered a pass/fail exam, with anything over 50% correct generally regarded as a passing grade.

Remember: You don't get "extra credit" for acing a CLEP examination! You just need to pass.

Great Resources for Studying for the Social Sciences and History CLEP Exam

So which resources can you use to study for each particular subject in the Social Sciences and History CLEP exam? You can probably find text books in the public library which will give you a broad overview of the topics, but you may find yourself doing much more reading than is necessary.

Remember, you are trying to gain more knowledge in your "weak" subject areas. Below is a list of resources for studying the different topics of the Social Sciences and History CLEP exam. They are all free and online.


Social Sciences

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list. A quick Internet search may help you locate more learning resources, but this is a good list of links that will cover the basics of each of the subjects in the Social Sciences and History CLEP test.

Remember: Questions will cover subject matter in introductory-level college courses on each topic!

The exam itself is comprised of 120 multiple choice questions which must be answered within 90 minutes.

Just "test, study, and re-test" with the study materials until you are comfortable with the subject matter and hit 60 to 70% of all of the practice questions, and you are well on your way to passing the Social Sciences and History CLEP general exam and earning the credit you deserve!

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