Analyzing and Interpreting Literature

So you’re thinking you’d like your student to dive into earning college credit with CLEP but you’re a little unsure just how to begin. If your student is a strong reader, the Analyzing and Interpreting Literature exam might be just the one to begin with. Don’t reinvent the wheel. This simple process is one to follow for all CLEP or DSST exams.

A popular CLEP exam, this exam has the reputation of being one of the easier CLEPs to pass for those who are avid readers. The exam does not require familiarity with specific works, rather students will need comprehension and vocabulary skills to read passages from poetry, drama, fiction and nonfiction and answer questions about the reading.

Step 1. Students will need to know common literary terms – such as symbolism, metaphor or stanza ( – and be able to identify them in the given passages. Assess your student’s readiness and skills skills by having them take a practice exam in the Official CLEP Study Guide. Since literature is something we teach each and every year, your student may already have the knowledge and skills to pass this exam. Don’t assume. Don’t wonder. Investigate. The best way to do that is have them take a practice exam. If she scores less than 40% correct, take a pass on this exam for now. She simply needs more time to build her reading and comprehension skills. A year from now, she may be better prepared and you will have her try Step 1 again. If your student answered more than 40% of the questions correctly, proceed to Step 2. If she scored above 60%, jump to Step 3.

Step 2. YOU review her wrong answers with her and see if there is a pattern in what she does not know. Most questions fall into one of three categories: Prose, Poetry, Old English. How did she do on the poetry questions? If not so well, take 3-15 weeks and enjoy completing a poetry study like the one from Progeny Press or this free online review of poetry terms or these free flashcards found at StudyStack.

How did she do on the questions with passages written in Old English? Reading and analyzing passages that are written in Old English can be challenging simply because we stumble over the “-eths and thous” which can lower our comprehension. This often takes some review since it is not often something we include in our leisure reading. If you include Bible reading into your day, consider reading from the King James version. Reading aloud until you are comfortable with the changes in words used and sentence structure will be helpful.Review the writings in the REA Analyzing and Interpreting book for practice.

Step 3. Have your student review the questions she got wrong and read or understand why the right answer is right. The act of reviewing wrong answers is a proven study technique used to identify areas a weakness and gain knowledge specific to those areas. It is not just enough to note it was wrong. This step is meant to build knowledge. As an administrative matter, it can be helpful here to prepare a study schedule. Don’t let this process drag on for months. Rather, attack it!

Step 4. Take another practice exam and again, have her review the wrong answers and build her knowledge base by understanding and applying the right answer. My rule of thumb is to repeat this step until students achieve 60% correct on at least two consecutive exams.

Step 5. Schedule and take the exam!

Unless your student needs to add a poetry study, this whole process should not take more than 6 weeks. If it does, the enthusiasm for process wanes and it will be much more difficult when you suggest the next CLEP. Think of this as a process rather than a one-time-event. Help your student see the end goal by developing a calendar with each step penciled in. This technique of breaking a goal into bite-sized chunks that are scheduled is a skill we want our students to develop before then enter into college or their first job.

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© 2016 Cheri Frame. All Rights Reserved.
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