Is the Spanish CLEP* test hard?
Evaluating the difficulty of the Spanish CLEP exam can be a bit tricky. If you have looked at our article "CLEP Exam Pass Rates", then you know that in 2017, 91% (!) of non-military students who took the Spanish CLEP exam passed! Based on that, your initial inclination may be to think that the exam must be a breeze. There are at least two caveats to this statistic:
Caveat 1: Native Spanish Speakers are Taking the Test
A lot of people who take the Spanish CLEP are native Spanish speakers or already fluent in the language and are looking to capitalize on 6 - 9 easy credits. They might consider the exam to be easy, but if you did not grow up speaking Spanish, then their perspective is irrelevant for YOU.
Caveat 2: The Pass Rate is Based on the Minimum Passing Score
The Spanish CLEP is the one exam where your score determines the number of credits you earn. A score of 50 (out of 80) is considered a pass, but it only nets you six credits. You have to score a 63 to earn the full nine credits at most colleges. The 91% pass rate simply tell us how many people achieved the minimum passing score of 50. If your goal is to achieve the higher score and earn the full nine credits, then the bar becomes substantially higher for you.
So how hard is the Spanish CLEP if you are NOT fluent?
If you are starting from zero, or with a very limited knowledge of Spanish, most experienced students will tell you that it is one of the most difficult CLEP exams you can prepare for. It is hard to use good test-taking skills or "BS" your way through a language exam if you do not have at least a solid grasp of the grammar, a decent vocabulary, and some listening comprehension skills.
What if you know *some* Spanish?
If you are conversational with Spanish, or have taken a year or two in high school, then the Spanish CLEP exam becomes a lot more do-able. In that case, you should be looking to take a practice test to see where you stand, and based on your performance, figure out what areas you need to spend some time studying for and how much prep time you are going to need. There are several providers of practice tests online, but our Spanish CLEP Prep Course is unique in that its practice tests generate a detailed report of your exact weaknesses and includes study materials to help you get ready for the exam.
Is the Spanish CLEP worth it?
With the Spanish CLEP test allowing you to knock out up to nine credit hours in one swoop, it can be a very tantalizing option for students looking to save time and money on their degree. BUT, as we have discussed, depending on your current level of Spanish, preparing for the exam can take you a couple of months or more.
If you are only considering the Spanish CLEP due to its relatively high value in credits, then we would suggest cramming for three easier 3-credit CLEP and DSST exams instead. There are groups of exams that have a lot of overlap that you can study for together in a relatively short time with a LOT less effort than trying to learn a language overnight. That being said, here are three reasons you might choose to take the plunge and go for Spanish:
1. Cost - the Spanish CLEP is worth up to nine credits, but costs the same as any other CLEP exam. Obviously, taking one CLEP exam is going to be much cheaper than taking three exams.
2. Necessity - your degree plan may have a language requirement, or none of the easier CLEP or DSST exams might fit into your degree (for example, if you have already taken all of your general electives). In that case, if Spanish CLEP is really the only CLEP you are allowed to take, then it is still a lot cheaper and faster than taking nine credits worth of traditional courses.
3. Interest - the built-in "payoff" of studying for the Spanish CLEP exam is it requires you to develop a solid foundation in the language, both in reading and listening comprehension. If becoming proficient in Spanish is one of your life goals, studying for the Spanish CLEP can be an *excellent* way to take a huge step towards that goal!
How do I study for the Spanish CLEP?
If you already know some Spanish and are just looking to evaluate where you stand, then you are probably looking for a practice test. CollegeBoard offers some sample questions, Petersons offers full-length practice tests, and InstantCert offers a full prep course including three practice tests.
If you are basically just starting to learn Spanish, then you need a resource that will both teach you the knowledge and language skills you need to pass as well as allow you to evaluate when you are ready to take the exam. The only resource that we know of that is specifically geared towards the Spanish CLEP and covers every aspect of the preparation process is InstantCert's own Spanish CLEP Prep Course. Click the link to see more details.
Steven is one of the co-founders of InstantCert and is constantly looking for new ways to leverage technology to make learning more efficient and productive. Reach out to him with your ideas, stories, and questions by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
* CLEP is a registered trademark of the College Board, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse, this product.