How to Pass the CLEP Test for Humanities

Passing the CLEP Humanities test requires a broad base of knowledge about the arts.
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The College-Level Examination Program allows candidates to take an examination in lieu of taking general college courses. By passing a predominantly multiple-choice test, they earn college credit. Put out by College Board, the 90-minute Humanities CLEP test requires candidates to demonstrate their knowledge of the discipline through specific recollections, application of concepts and art interpretation.

1 Humanities

Humanities refers to a discipline that, as Stanford University puts it, humanities is "the study of the myriad ways in which people ... process the human experience." It includes philosophy, literature, religion, art, music, history and language. Colleges generally categorize such fields under the general humanities umbrella. Class subjects range from art Hhistory and theater to linguistics. The CLEP Humanities exam covers a broad base of knowledge regarding art, literature, philosophy, music and other performing arts. Successful candidates receive up to six credits in humanities. Therefore, include readings related to those subjects in your CLEP preparation.

2 Exam Description

The Humanities exam consists of around 140 questions candidates must answer in 90 minutes, though some of the questions are pre-test and, therefore, not scored. Though the test does require candidates to remember specific items of information, College Board recognizes few if any people are well-informed in such a broad field. As such, the exam also focuses on the comprehension and application of concepts related to subjects such as film, dance and architecture. Candidates also answer questions related to the interpretation and analysis of works of art, whether poems, prose or paintings. Time yourself while taking a practice test to get a feel for how long you have for each question.

3 Tested Knowledge and Skills

Passing the CLEP Humanities test requires approximately 50 percent recollection of facts, 30 percent recognition of techniques and 20 percent interpretation. Concerning factual information, candidates see questions related to authors and their works. With techniques, not only do candidates answer questions related to recognizing rhyme scheme and style, for example, they also need to identify the techniques according to writers or artists, schools and literary or artistic periods. They may, therefore, see questions asking about the ode in the English Romantic period. Lastly, candidates read passages or observe art reproductions and answer questions related to interpretation of the pieces; this portion of the exam requires skill more than knowledge. As such, spend time viewing and analyzing art in different media.

4 Study Resources and Tips

Since successfully passing the CLEP Humanities test affords up to six college credits, spend time studying, attending museums and plays, and reading works of literature before the exam. Additionally, listen to classical music and watch programs dedicated to discussing the arts. College Board states that successful candidates found that referring to books such as "Exploring the Humanities" and "The Humanistic Tradition" proved helpful. College Board also puts out examination guides as study resources. Likewise, numerous test preparation sites exist online, including ones with sample tests and specific study guides. General test-taking strategies include reading the entire question, using time wisely and making educated guesses.

Nadia Archuleta has a B.A. in English writing. She spent five years working abroad and has traveled extensively. She has worked as an English as a Foreign/Second Language teacher for 12 years.