The most common question is "Where do I start?"  Here is some advice that may help, along with some answers to the most frequently asked questions.  If you prefer one on one help, consider our coaching services.

Academic Focus

When it comes to CLEP preparation or completing ACE credit exams, a common error is to focus only on the final exam. Both parents and students need to see the academic value in the entire process, start to finish.  When pursuing ACE credits, your child will learn:

  • Independent study skills
  • Test preparation skills
  • Experience online proctoring OR visit college campus testing centers

In the end, they may even pass a college exam earning valuable credits!  But this should not be the only goal communicated to the student. 

Take the Test

The most important advice:

  • Follow through with the study, start to finish, and have your student take the exam.  

Many parents permit their student to forgo taking the exam, even after all the work has been completed. Sometimes it is a matter of the student having an overwhelming fear of failure, but more often it is the parent that is afraid.  These tests are NOT meant to be representative of your child's overall ability, your teaching skills, or the success of the experience in general.  There is nothing to lose in taking the test - so take it!  Tell the student how proud you are that they learned the material and followed the plan. The credits are a bonus to the entire experience but NOT the focus.  

What Makes a Student Successful?  

The individual student learning style is very important.  If you have been taught to be an independent learner, that is definitely a plus when pursuing ACE credit courses or exams.  But this trait can be taught through the experience.  Motivation is also important.  Talk to your student about the savings in energy, time and money.  Build up their confidence by reminding them that they are in high school but are doing college level work.  Parents should gear that first exam to an area where the student appears to be more naturally gifted.  This increases the odds of success and some of the material may end up being review. Time and effort applied toward study is also important.  Keep the student accountable on the assignments and yet do not pressure them more then they can comfortably handle.  Consider adjusting normal course loads when working on college credits.  

Practice Test Procedures

Many students take the exam without following our important recommendations for test preparation. We instruct the student to take each available practice exam twice, researching their incorrect answers after each test. Here is the format for practice tests, a key part of preparation for the actual exam, which we have built into the lesson plans.  Many of the online ACE providers also have built-in practice tests where you can follow this model.

  • Take test 1 and then review the incorrect answers for this test
  • Take test 2 and then review the incorrect answers for this test
  • Re-take test 1 and then review the incorrect answers for this test
  • Take test 3 and then review the incorrect answers for this test
  • Re-take test 2 and then review the incorrect answers for this test
  • Re-take test 3 and then review the incorrect answers for this test

If you are leading a study group or class of students, reinforce this practice test format to both the student and the parent.  This preparation almost ensures success on the final exam.  You will find that the student and the parent will become discouraged after attempting the first and second practice tests because most students fail them miserably.  However, the practice test format itself is designed as a learning process, meaning the student is still learning the material during this phase.  I would even argue that most of the learning on the subject matter occurs during this test preparation.  

If the Student Fails the Exam

If the student fails the final exam on the first try, they can always try again.  Because of the great quantity of ACE credit providers, there is also the option of completing a duplicate course/exam offered by another source.  For example, CLEP and Dantes offer many of the same exams.  Likewise, ACE online course providers have many similar course offerings.  Some course/exam providers permit a retake of the final, in which case you may be able to reschedule right away.  If not, wait the required period, keep studying, and take the exam again.  You could take the exam 5 times before you would even come close to paying the going rate for the same course at the college.  

First Course Suggestions

"Which subject should we start with?"  This really depends on the student.  Some students are gifted in certain areas, making the course choice obvious.  When in doubt, choose the first exam based on the interest level.  If there is no specific interest, I would recommend the Dantes (DSST) Computer exam, as most students are interested in this subject and have a working knowledge base. This is also an easier exam to facilitate in a group setting, such as a small Academy or educational coop.  

Recommended Resources

We offer the lesson plans as a proven guide for passing various CLEP and DSST exams.  You can certainly add your own resources to our suggestions, or even create your own plan.  The choice is yours. However, I can NOT tell you if your material covers all that is in the exam.  You alone can make that determination.  

How Long Should the Course Take?

When using the lesson plans, we are often asked, "Do I have to finish the class in the suggested time frame?"  Absolutely NOT!  Even though the lesson plans are framed as "weekly" assignments, you are free to allow your student as much time as you think is needed to complete each assignment.      

Forming a Study Group

It is easy to adapt the lesson plans in order to facilitate a study group or formal class.  Many of our ClepPrep members report success in this endeavor.  You can also create a study group for any online ACE course your student pursues.  Class time can be structured so that you review the reading assignments, answer any questions the students may have, review flashcards or quizzes within the material, view a video, etc.  A study group session can be accomplished in an hour for most subjects. Study groups are a positive way to make ACE credit earning a "social" learning event for the students, keeping them motivated, and keeping them accountable.  Our members have used our lesson plans in Academic coops, providing the teacher with minimal preparation requirements.  Consider starting with a small group of students (3 or 4).  When others hear about your college study group, the word will spread quickly! Before long your classes will be full. Consider charging a small fee to cover your services and to keep parents invested in the outcome. 

You are Cheating!  

Believe it or not, someone said this to one of our ClepPrep members. Our students spend an average of 4 months on one ACE course, thoroughly absorbing the material.  Does the word "cramming" bring back memories?  There is no cramming or short term memory in the ACE credit earning process.  The typical ACE course includes reading texts, listening to lectures, memorizing vocabulary, and taking several practice exams.  In the process your student becomes a seasoned learner, sharpening their independent study skills, which is a must in college.  The credits they receive are college board approved and ACE recommended.  ACE credits are earned, learned and well-deserved!   

Negative attitudes toward alternative credit earning is fading, as more and more students are opting out of traditional college paths.  Online learning no longer has a stigma since many students have experienced one or more online learning methods. In fact, more than ever before, the desire to save time, energy and money when earning a degree, is universally valued.  Smart students are choosing ACE credit earning options.