You might know what CBE is, and why it’s beneficial, so where to start? As with anything, be intentional. Don’t jump in without looking, and involve your child in the process. They aren’t a pawn in this game, but a key player!
Start with what you know
Set up the first exam for success. Attain this easily by starting with something your student already knows. They will likely need to brush up their knowledge and fill in gaps, but starting with something that’s already familiar means you’ve climbed half the hill already. Care Bear started with the DSST Astronomy exam because she completed a semester of Astronomy with our local co-op and she took a keen interest in it. Care Bear isn’t one to do extra work beyond a lesson assignment, but she did with astronomy, so this was a perfect start. She still took a few months to study for it (I can’t say it was continuous work), but in the end she passed and felt great about it! Really, that was the goal for the first exam – motivation!
Get their input
What does your student want to try first? What’s their favorite subject? Your first few exams, let your student take the driver’s seat when deciding which exams to take. Again, the goal is to motivate and encourage the student, and in sha Allah (God willing) they’ll want to do more. After the Astronomy exam, we mutually decided Care Bear would then do the World Religions exam (I posted a lesson plan, if you’d like it!). Literally just moments after I picked up Care Bear from her World Religions exam, she told me she wants to do the Here’s to Your Health exam next, followed by the Drug and Substance abuse test. Wow, great! The fact that she’s the one initiating the next exams is what I was hoping for. Success!
Are all the exams we have planned decided upon by Care Bear? Not anymore. She’s not thrilled about the American Literature CLEP test, but we’re going to give it a shot and see how she does. Since she’s not planning on going in to a field where she’ll need a deep literature background, the goal is to complete American Literature once, in high school, and bypass the college class. That she agrees on.
Find the easiest exams
After your student chooses an exam (and before they start studying for it), check out how difficult it’s estimated. Free-CLEP-prep provides a subjective ranking for each exam on a scale of 1-5. Unless the subject is a an absolute favorite for your student, I’d suggest saving the harder exams for after they have a few under their belt. It’s good to have some experience with how the tests work, and at what level they need to study before trying to tackle a harder exam. Most of the harder exams are very niche-specific, so it’s easy to side step them for now (or forever).
Approaching the first exam
We’re working on attitude in our homeschool. Care Bear doesn’t have a negative attitude, but she tends to expect more from herself than anyone else does. Before taking her first exam, we talked about how the exam is just an experience she’s trying out, seeing if it’s something she wants to do again. It could be incredibly hard, and not something we’re interested in doing again. It could be challenging, yet rewarding. It was hard to know before starting, but the one thing I did know is all of our attitudes needed to be supportive, no matter what. No one expects that she’ll pass all the exams she’s planning on taking. In fact, we are skipping over one exam we had planned because she just couldn’t get past the practice exam. That exam is actually rated one of the easiest, but it’s just her weakness, and that’s okay!
We don’t expect perfection, but we do expect effort. That’s all we can ask.