Facilitating a CLEP Study Group

| March 30, 2017

Creating an effective CLEP course for your students (and their friends!) is very rewarding. Don’t think you have to be an expert in the subject at hand. You can create an educational experience for your student that will be engaging and rewarding, and that leads them to earning college credit.

When I suggested to my own then 7th and 8th grader students that we try a CLEP test, they were willing, but I could hear hesitation in my daughter’s voice. So, I added a bit of an incentive by suggesting that we invite a few friends and I would facilitate a Study Group! Now I really had their attention and her hesitation turned to enthusiasm.

Since that first group experience, I have gone on to really enjoy facilitating these types of classes. While the subject matter changes, the formula is the same. I suggest starting with the World Religions DSST. It is an engaging subject, great for grades 7 – 12, and I’ve written a course-guide that has everything you need to get started.


Comprehensive Learning: Start with building a solid learning experience, whether the student is interested in CLEPing or not. Some students are intimidated by thinking they HAVE to test at the end of the class. Instead, let them know that the exam is just the icing on the cake. The course is designed to stand on its own (for HS credit if you homeschool), yet has built in resources to make it clepable for those wanting to take the CLEP exam.

Engage: Consider your students and what will inspire them to not just read the text, but to engage with the material. This might be a peer-challenge (game), respect for you and a willingness to want to perform their best, a desire to be acknowledged publicly for their efforts, a chance to take field trips or listen to guest speakers . . . the ideas are limitless.

Maintain a Schedule: Most students need outside accountability. Create a schedule and hold to it. If you don’t, students may not be prepared to test at the end of the class. I offered one day of grace. Come unprepared a second time and, for the good of the group and the student, I asked the student to wait for his parent outside of the class. When we met at my house, that meant the front step! I found this rule rarely needed to be enforced.

Facilitate: Consider your role as a facilitator – no expertise required. Choose excellent resources and let the material be the expert. As facilitator, your primary goals are to:

  • Motivate.
  • Set expectations.
  • Create a schedule, breaking the study down in bite-sized weekly pieces. Teens usually have not yet mastered this skill.

5 Key Elements to Include in Every CLEP Course

1. Spark / Motivate Spark students to WANT to learn the material; make it relevant and even fun. Consider including:

  • Lectures and presentations. This helps the course move off of just a textbook to being relevant.
  • Interactive group activities
  • Field trips
  • Experiments/projects – something they ‘do’
  • DVDs
  • Guest speakers – bring in parents with experience or members in the community. They really do enjoy helping respectful and appreciative teens.

2. Select Engaging Materials Students who find the materials engaging and the method of delivery manageable are more likely to succeed. Avoid using college textbooks; they usually offer too much information that is unnecessary at this level and can be dry. Also, limit the amount of material included in your course. More is not always better, sometimes it becomes overwhelming. Do your homework and make limited suggestions. Consider including something for all types of learners:

  • Text – choose with CLEP exam in mind
  • Class lecture, discussion, recall games
  • Video series
  • Online resources

3. Include Methods for Recall and to Reinforce  Build into your lessons ways to reinforce learning through processing of information. Input is not enough; students must process and spit it back out. Set goals and make it fun!

  • Mandatory note taking. We can’t write as fast as people speak, so our brains must process the information and condense it to take notes. This is a great college-readiness. Look up the different styles of note-taking and suggest students try them out to see what is a good fit with their learning style.
  • Graded assignments from the text (objective measurable accountability)
  • Weekly quizzes
  • Projects
  • In-class Games: jeopardy, password, candy land (create your own game with questions from flashcards or course material)
  • Create and review material by diagramming and creating mind maps.
  • Flashcards – use index cards, type print cut, OR use one of the many online sites like: Quizlet or the Flashcard Exchange. The process of writing the information and forming it into notes and study cards is an excellent tool to move learning from short-term to long-term memory.
  • Online companion book website – many book publishers have interactive websites that include videos, multiple choice quizzes, etc.

4. Highlight Need to Know  Give students insight into areas they should focus their study on. Two good resources for you to pull this information from is the companion discussion board (User forum) available to Instantcert.com subscribers, and the REA CLEP guides. It is helpful to share with students ways to categorize these need-to-know elements. For example: major events, major people, major concepts.

5. Review Prior to the official exam, include practice tests and review into the students’ schedules. This gives students a chance to identify what they don’t know so they can fill in the gaps. Consider these ideas:


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Copyright©2017 Cheri Frame – All Rights Reserved.










Category: Blog, Teaching/CLEP-Prep

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