We all make mistakes. Some feel more permanent than others, and a mistake with an exam worth college credit feels pretty harsh. In many cases, you have to wait six months to retake the exam, which is a long time to keep all that detailed information fresh in your mind! Kira’s taken a total of six exams worth college credit, whether they’ve been AP, DSST, or CLEP, with varying results.
So, what are the mistakes we’ve learned from?
After Kira passed the first couple exams, it seems she started to underestimate the tests a bit. While I don’t want her to get an ulcer from the stress of an upcoming test, I should see signs that she’s actively preparing for it. We also learned that 80% on the practice exam doesn’t necessarily convert to a passed exam, like we thought when she took her first two exams and passed. Don’t underestimate how hard a multiple choice question can be, and really make sure you know the content, not just how to pass the practice exam.
We used CLEP, DSST, and AP exams as Kira’s final exams this year. I know typical high school kids do all their AP exams within two weeks, but if we don’t have to crunch everything in a short period of time, we shouldn’t. Having two weeks between each exam is much preferred to four exams in a month! It was hard to watch Kira get so stressed over which exam to prepare for, and I could tell she started to panic a bit. Panic did not lead to organized, logical planning. Lesson learned.
This can go both ways. I do believe that this is an age where our kids should start to learn how to handle a little bit of pressure to perform well. As adults, we don’t all get a gold star just for trying our best. Results matter. On the other hand, I do not think that we should punish our kids for a negative exam outcome. The failed exam weighs heavy enough in their mind. They don’t need added recourse from Mom and Dad.
Free-clep-prep.com and Instant Cert are fantastic resources, but they shouldn’t be your only ones. These are great jumping points to help you find other resources, though. Use video, text, audio, and hands-on, if you can find it. One book designed for the exam you’re about to take might not be enough. You Tube is an amazing resource. You can find playlists based on specific tests even!
It’s not about the book
We are still working to push past the middle school mentality that you basically memorize the book assigned, and regurgitate the information back in order to pass the test. Your student has to think about how the information relates to each other, and make conclusions based on the information presented. Remember Bloom’s Taxonomy? At the credit by exam level, we are working at a much higher level, and those connections are the key.
Write it down. Follow up.
I’d come across a great resource and tell Kira to check it out. I forgot to tell her to write it down, and then to follow up with her later. I’ve learned I need to write it down also, to remember to follow up with her. A passing comment to check into something is not enough to ensure it happens. At this age, there is still some learning happening about responsibility and follow through. If I’m not helping her be accountable, then I’m hurting her.
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