Choose the Right Study Tools
When preparing for the CLEP exam, you'll want to use all the resources provided to you by the College Board. For each exam, there is a CLEP Examination Guide available online for a very reasonable price (around $10-24 each). You can also check out Study.com's CLEP Resource Guide which covers all the information you need to know about the CLEP exams.
Finding a Study Guide
A study guide is a powerful tool — they provide you with a detailed description of what will be covered on the exam. Even if you use other resources to prepare for the test, the official study guide on the CLEP website will clearly lay out the scope of the content for you. This useful device and website even tell you the percentage of questions on the test that will be covered by certain subtopics, which will help you plan how to study smartly.
The website and study guide also provide you with sample test questions, so you can preview the material and get used to the wording of the questions. While the website offers a few free sample questions for each exam, if you purchase the CLEP study guide, it will give you more practice questions than are available for free online.
The CLEP website does offer additional resources to help you prepare for the exam. Most of these resources are recommended textbooks that can help you study. However, to help you prepare for each exam, it offers additional websites related to the test material itself. Some of these will be reference material, but others will provide access to quality, free, open-learning courses to help you study.
Studying is an Active Process
For some people, studying is the act of reading material over and over again. This technique works for some students, if the test is a lot of memorization and you have a really good memory. For most students, however, this method is completely ineffective in helping you prepare for the exam.
To remember the material, you have to force your brain to use the material for something so it is actively learning. Ultimately, using the resources to create your own study materials will be most successful in the long run. For example, use the other available resources from the CLEP website to create your own study guide for the test. Writing that guide on paper, rather than typing, will engage your brain kinesthetically, which helps improve your retention of the information.
Another technique is to use the material to create review games for yourself. Kids enjoy learning this way, and believe it or not, adults do too. While playing the game is fun, actually writing the questions is most effective in helping you remember the material to ace the CLEP exam.
During the Test Itself
An important tip to consider when taking the CLEP exam is to read the entire question. It sounds obvious, but quite often students know the material and answer the question wrong because they didn't read the entire question — they read part of the question and jump to the answer. It's easy to be impulsive during the exam, but you need to relax, take your time, and do your best.
Use Test -Taking Strategies
If you are not positive about your answer choice, take a step back and apply some test-taking strategies. These will help you make an educated guess about the correct answer if you are unsure.
There are clues in the answers and the question that may help you eliminate an answer choice. For example, if there are two answers to a question that are opposites, more than likely, one of them is right and the other is wrong. Another strategy is to look for certain types of words in questions. For example, answer choices with 'all', 'never', or 'always' are more often incorrect answers in standardized test questions. On the other hand, answers with 'generally', 'seldom', or 'probably' are more likely to be correct choices.
Sometimes the grammar in the answer could be a giveaway to the correct answer as well. For example, if you can match the verb tense in the question to an answer, it is more likely to be correct. Subjects and verbs also need to agree, especially if it's a question where you're completing a statement.
Conquering Test Anxiety
It won't matter how well-prepared you are if test anxiety makes it so you can't focus during the actual exam. The time to begin conquering test anxiety is the night before. Try to relax. You can study some, but if you know that you struggle with test anxiety, don't try to cram the night before. Devote a little bit of time to reviewing anything you think is critical, but after that step away and get a good night's sleep.
You can also practice relaxation strategies during the exam when you start to feel yourself getting anxious. A lot of breathing strategies stem from yoga, but can be easily practiced sitting in a chair during an exam. For example, one technique is to close your mouth and breathe in through your nose until you count to four. Then hold your breath and count to seven. When you breathe out, count to eight. Repeating this cycle a few times can help you focus and calm your nerves during the exam.