/College Composition
College Composition 2018-02-06T01:43:16+00:00


The College Composition CLEP exam assesses one’s writing skills that are taught in most first-year college composition courses. These skills include analysis, argumentation, synthesis, usage, ability to recognize logical development, and research.

The exam contains multiple-choice questions and two essays. Each essay is scored by a different reader and then the scores are combined. The combined score is weighted equally with the score from the multiple-choice section. The two scores are then combined to get the test takers score ranging from 20 to 80.

The exam totals 50 multiple-choice items to be answered in 50 minutes and two essays to be written in 70 minutes, for a total of 120 minutes testing time.

Please note that while scores are provided immediately upon completion for other CLEP exams, scores for the College Composition exam are mailed to test takers two to three weeks after the test date. 

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Exam Breakdown

Conventions of Standard Written English (10%)

This section measures test takers’ awareness of a variety of logical, structural, and grammatical relationships within sentences. The questions test recognition of acceptable usage relating to the items below:

  • Syntax (parallelism, coordination, subordination)
  • Sentence boundaries (comma splice, run-ons, sentence fragments)
  • Recognition of correct sentences
  • Concord/agreement (pronoun reference, case shift, and number; subject-verb; verb tense)
  • Diction
  • Modifiers
  • Idiom
  • Active/passive voice
  • Lack of subject in modifying word group
  • Logical comparison
  • Logical agreement
  • Punctuation

Revision Skills (40%)

This section measures test takers’ revision skills in the context of works in progress (early drafts of essays):

  • Organization
  • Evaluation of evidence
  • Awareness of audience, tone, and purpose
  • Level of detail
  • Coherence between sentences and paragraphs
  • Sentence variety and structure
  • Main idea, thesis statements, and topic sentences
  • Rhetorical effects and emphasis
  • Use of language
  • Evaluation of author’s authority and appeal
  • Evaluation of reasoning
  • Consistency of point of view
  • Transitions
  • Sentence-level errors primarily relating to the conventions of standard written English

Ability to Use Source Materials (25%)

This section measures test takers’ familiarity with elements of the following basic reference and research skills, which are tested primarily in sets but may also be tested through stand-alone questions. In the passage-based sets, the elements listed under Revision Skills and Rhetorical Analysis may also be tested. In addition, this section will cover the following skills:

  • Use of reference materials
  • Evaluation of sources
  • Integration of resource material
  • Documentation of sources (including, but not limited to, MLA, APA, and Chicago manuals of style)

Rhetorical Analysis (25%)

This section measures test takers’ ability to analyze writing. This skill is tested primarily in passage-based questions pertaining to critical thinking, style, purpose, audience, and situation:

  • Appeals
  • Tone
  • Organization/structure
  • Rhetorical effects
  • Use of language
  • Evaluation of evidence

The Essays

First Essay: Directions 

Write an essay in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement provided. Support your discussion with specific reasons and examples from your reading, experience, or observations.

Second Essay: Directions 

This assignment requires you to write a coherent essay in which you synthesize the two sources provided. Synthesis refers to combining the sources and your position to form a cohesive, supported argument. You must develop a position and incorporate both sources. You must cite the sources whether you are paraphrasing or quoting. Refer to each source by the author’s last name, the title, or by any other means that adequately identifies it.

Essay Scoring Guidelines (0-6)

6 – A 6 essay demonstrates a high degree of competence and sustained control, although it may have a few minor errors.

5 – A 5 essay demonstrates a generally high degree of competence, although it will have occasional lapses in quality.

4 – A 4 essay demonstrates competence, with some errors and lapses in quality.

3 – A 3 essay demonstrates limited competence.

2 – A 2 essay is seriously flawed.

1 – A 1 essay is fundamentally deficient.

0 – Off topic.

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User Test Results for the College Composition CLEP Exam

278 users have submitted their test results to us since March 2016

269 (96.7%) of those users have reported an ACE recommended passing score

The table below represents our users most recent test results for the College Composition CLEP exam after using Credits4Less.

Note: The date shown below represents the date that they reported their score to us.

Feb 21, 2018Pass57
Feb 14, 2018Pass51
Feb 11, 2018Pass67
Feb 7, 2018Pass71
Feb 1, 2018Pass63

Our Study Guide

Credits4Less’ College Composition (No Essay) study guide will fully prepare you for your College Composition CLEP exam. Our study guide focuses on preparing you for the multiple choice part of the exam by giving you hundreds of questions that mimic the questions that you’ll see on the exam. From our past user’s experience we’ve learned that the essays don’t require any additional preparation outside of the knowledge that you’ve already acquired from your past education.

1. Study guides that match the actual exam’s breakdown

2. Hundreds of practice questions

3. Review your answers and learn from your mistakes

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