Clep English Composition Essay Topics

Before getting started on your CLEP study, try these sample CLEP test questions to get familiar with question types and exam format and see what you need to study

Are you prepared for the CLEP exams? Try these sample CLEP test questions for the College Mathematics, Humanities, English Composition, Natural Sciences, and Social Sciences and History exams to gauge your progress. Answers are provided at the end of all the questions.

College Mathematics

1. If n is an odd integer, which of the following must be odd?

(A) n + 1
(B) (n + 1)2
(C) n2
(D) n2 + 1

Humanities

1. Crazy Jane is the heroine of a series of poems by the author of ''Sailing to Byzantium,'' who is:

(A) T.S. Eliot.
(B) Alfred Tennyson.
(C) Dylan Thomas.
(D) William Butler Yeats.
(E) W.H. Auden.

2. The film Roshomon, starring Toshiro Mifune, was directed by:

(A) Peter Bogdanovich.
(B) Isamu Noguchi.
(C) Akira Kurosawa.
(D) Red Buttons.
(E) S.I. Hayakawa.

English Composition

Identifying Sentence Errors

Identify the error in the following sentence. If there is no error, select choice (E).

1. In this type (A) of problem (B) the total of all the items (C) are (D) always a positive number.  No error (E).

(A) In this type
(B) problem
(C) items
(D) are
(E) No error

Improving Sentences

In the following sentence, part of the sentence or the entire sentence is underlined. Beneath, you will find five versions of the underlined part of the sentence. Choice (A) repeats the original; the other four are different. Choose the answer that best expresses the meaning of the original sentence. If you think the original is better than any of the alternatives, select choice (A); otherwise, choose one of the others.

1. The reason the company failed was because the president spent too much money.

(A) The reason the company failed was because
(B) The company failed because
(C) Because the company failed
(D) Because the reason was the company failed
(E) The company failed was because

Revising Work in Progress

This is an early draft of a student essay in which the sentences have been numbered for easy reference. Some parts of the selection need to be changed. Read the selection and try to answer the questions.

(1) When I think about my childhood in Mexico, the most vivid memory was our visit to my paternal grandmother's home in the state of Michoac. (2) She was a tiny dark woman with long gray-black braids. (3) She lived in a tiny dirt-floored shack off the center square of a small village. (4) Our mother came from a wealthy family in the capital. (5) My father, a self-made man, never spoke of his roots. (6) He had never introduced us to his family. (7) When I was five, his father died. (8) Usually on the Day of the Dead holiday, we went to the cemetery and laid flowers on the graves. (9) That fall, my father informed us that we would be going that holiday to his mother's house. (10) My father seemed almost embarrassed to take us there.

1. Which of the following is the best way to revise and combine sentences 4 and 5?

(A) My father, a self-made man, never spoke of his roots to my mother's wealthy family in the capital.
(B) My mother came from a wealthy family in the capital, while my father, a self-made man, never spoke of his roots.
(C) My father, a self-made man, never came from a wealthy family like my mother, so he never talked about his past.
(D) Our mother came from a wealthy family in the capital, and my father, as a self-made man, never spoke of his roots.
(E) My mother was very different from my father because she came from a wealthy family in the capital, and my father was a self-made man who never talked about his family.

Natural Sciences

1. When DDT or PCB are introduced into the base of a food pyramid, they will:

(A) decompose rapidly.
(B) become incorporated into nucleic acids.
(C) show a biomagnification up the pyramid.
(D) dilute themselves out as they move up the pyramid.
(E) become less toxic substances.

2. When small particles are added to a liquid they can often be seen to be undergoing very rapid motion on the surface of the liquid. The explanation for this motion is best described by which of the following?

(A) The electrical interactions between the liquid and the suspended particles
(B) The molecular vibrations of the liquid causing collisions with the suspended particles
(C) The low density of the particles causing them to try to rise above the surface of the liquid
(D) Air currents above the liquid moving the particles
(E) The heat rising, causing the particles to move

Social Sciences and History

1. Before ratifying the Articles of Confederation, Maryland demanded which of the following?

(A) That individual states maintain funds derived from taxes they levy
(B) That individual states have the right to issue their own currency
(C) That all states cede to the Union all claims to western lands
(D) That the right of Congress to levy taxes be restricted
(E) That Congress assume both legislative and executive functions

2. Which of the following is true about a Mercator projection map?

(A) East-west dimensions of geographic areas are accurate.
(B) North-south dimensions of geographic areas are accurate.
(C) Mathematical locations are accurate.
(D) Mathematical locations are inaccurate.
(E) Lines of longitude converge at the poles.

CLEP Answers

College Mathematics

1. The correct answer is (C).

Try using a numerical value; let n = 3

n + 1 = 4
(n + 1)2 = 16
n2 = 9
n2 + 1 = 10

Choice (C) is the only one that results in an odd number.

Humanities

1. The correct answer is (D). William Butler Yeats was the Irish poet and playwright who co-founded the Irish National Theatre Society, which became Dublin's famous Abbey Theatre. He is known for the poems ''Leda and the Swan,'' ''The Second Coming,'' ''The Lake Isle of Innisfree,'' and many other works, and was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1923.

2. The correct answer is (C). Kurosawa directed Roshomon in 1950. An examination of the nature of truth, the work awakened Western interest in Japanese cinema.

English Composition

Identifying Sentence Errors

1. The correct answer is (D). The verb in a sentence, clause, or phrase must agree with its' subject in number. In this sentence, the subject of the sentence is total, which is singular. This means that the verb must be singular as well. The verb in this sentence must be changed to ''is.''

Improving Sentences

1. The correct answer is (B). The other choices are wordy or create illogical sentences. "Was because" is an error because it is a mixed construction that attempts to use an adverb clause (''because the president ... money'') as a predicate nominative, which renames the subject.

Revising Work in Progress

1. The correct answer is (B). Choice (B) combines all the information together in the correct grammatical format. Choice (A) is incorrect because it adds extra information that was not present in the original two sentences (the father speaking to the mother's family). Choice (C) is false because it deletes the information about the father speaking of his roots. Choice (D) is wrong since these two sentences are intended by the writer to juxtapose two separate lifestyles. The use of "and" is incorrect stylistically because it indicates the joining of equal ideas. Choice (E) is wrong because it is too wordy.

Natural Sciences

1. The correct answer is (C). DDT and PCB are lipid-soluble compounds and are therefore found in lipid tissues. As their half-lives are quite long, DDT = 10 years, there is a magnification of these compounds in food chains; e.g., DDT has been found in high concentrations in the fatty tissues of Antarctic penguins.

2. The correct answer is (B). This question can be answered when one pictures the actions of molecules on a molecular level. They are continually vibrating and colliding. The addition of very fine particles will cause collisions between these particles and the molecules of the liquid, resulting in the movement of the particles. This behavior is called Brownian motion.

Social Sciences and History

1. The correct answer is (C). Maryland refused to ratify the Articles of Confederation until all states agreed to cede to the Union their claims to all lands in the western territories.

2. The correct answer is (C). Lines of latitude and longitude are parallel on a Mercator projection map; thus, mathematical locations are accurate, but dimensions of areas are distorted.

The CLEP: English Composition examination was developed by the College Board as a way for individuals to demonstrate undergraduate-level knowledge and skills in English Composition. Almost three thousand American colleges give credit to students who pass a CLEP exam; for this reason, many college-bound students take a CLEP exam in order to skip over introductory courses.

To succeed on the English Composition exam, students will need to master the following skills: identifying sentence errors; improving sentences; and restructuring sentences. The grammar and punctuation issues covered by the exam include sentence boundaries; clarity of expression; subject-verb agreement; verb tense; pronoun reference; active and passive voice; diction and idiom; issues of syntax like parallelism, coordination, subordination, and dangling modifiers; and sentence variety.


There are two versions of the English Composition exam. One version is entirely multiple-choice, and consists of 90 questions to be answered in 90 minutes. The other version of the exam is divided into two 45-minute sections: the first section consists of 50 multiple-choice questions, and the second section consists of an essay question.

After the exam is complete, an unofficial score report of the multiple-choice questions will be made available. Essays will be graded by college faculty and factored into the official score report. This score report will include the total score on a scale of 20 to 80; the American Council on Education recommends that students get credit if they score 50 or above. The total score is the raw score (number of correct answers) adjusted according to the difficulty of the exam version. The College Board does not distinguish between unanswered questions and questions answered incorrectly, so test-takers are encouraged to respond to every question. Some of the questions on the exam are pre-test questions, which are used to develop future versions of the exam and do not contribute to the raw score. It is impossible for test-takers to determine which questions are pre-test questions. The CLEP exams are administered in both computer and paper formats at over a thousand locations throughout the world. To register for an exam, visit the College Board website.

English School – Offers a review of English major options.

CLEP English Composition Practice Questions

1. Identify the sentence which fails to meet the standards of proper English.
A: Johnson got up and stretched.
B: The rifle had turned out to be not quite as he had expected.
C: At that time the chair of English literature and history was occupied by the distinguished scholar Archibald Moon.
D: The office in which he works there is located an hour from his house.
E: His awareness of a certain risk afforded some consolation.

2. Identify the sentence that fails to meet the standards of proper English.
A: He was sitting on a rock, with his head leaned back against a tree.
B: Eventually the bucket had finally reached its limit, and Hector started back home.
C: Chandler felt a thickness all through his chest.
D: Midnight came, and he had not yet slept.
E: Actually, I didn’t open the package until late that night.

3. Identify the sentence that fails to meet the standards of proper English.
A: In the dictionary it states that the definition of corpulent is obese.
B: Several weeks later I returned to the house to retrieve a box of books.
C: Dave stood near the foot of the bed with his hands in the pockets of his robe.
D: I was just about to cross the road and speak to him when the train pulled into the station.
E: He slept until the following noon, and then lay in bed the rest of the day.

4. Identify the sentence that fails to meet the standards of proper English.
A: Then he turned and went to the telephone.
B: Virginia stared at his tall restless figure by the mantel.
C: They were looking at the ferris wheel, and he hoped they would decide to ride it.
D: The sensation woke him up like the fall at the end of a nightmare.
E: Upon noticing the roadblock, our car slammed on the brakes.

5. Identify the sentence that fails to meet the standards of proper English.
A: It seemed to take a few hours to get his possessions into the suitcase.
B: As soon as he realized his objective, he began to ache.
C: When he awakened from his nap, the world seemed quite changed.
D: Some of the most important classes are: mathematics, science, and history.
E: She had eaten a quarter of the toasted sandwich.

In the following five exercises, choose the answer that most improves the given sentence.

6. Early astronomers believed that the sun revolves around the Earth.
A: Earlier, astronomers believed that the sun revolved around the Earth.
B: Early astronomers believe that the sun revolves around the Earth.
C: Early astronomers believed that the sun revolved around the Earth.
D: Earlier, astronomers believed that the sun revolves around the Earth.
E: This sentence cannot be improved.

7. If you cook John will clean the counters.
A: You cook: John will clean the counters.
B: If you cook; John will clean the counters.
C: If you cook, John will clean the counters.
D: Cook, John, and you will clean the counters.
E: This sentence cannot be improved.

8. A list of cost-cutting measures was included with our bill; for instance, they recommended investing in better insulation.
A: A list of cost-cutting measures was included with our bill; for instance, the gas company recommended investing in better insulation.
B: List the cost-cutting measures, and they will invest in better insulation.
C: The bill included a list of cost-cutting measures, as for instance an investment in better insulation.
D: The bill included a list of cost-cutting measures; for instance, it recommended investing in better insulation.
E: This sentence cannot be improved.

9. A stack of clean laundry was lying in the corner of the closet.
A: A stack of clean laundry were lying in the corner of the closet.
B: In the corner of the closet was lying a stack of clean laundry.
C: A stack of clean laundry will be lying in the corner of the closet.
D: A stack of clean laundry would be lying the corner of the closet.
E: This sentence cannot be improved.

10. In my opinion, the best thing to do would have to be cut funding for these defunct programs.
A: In my opinion the funding for these defunct programs should be cut.
B: The funding for these defunct programs should be cut.
C: The best thing to do would be to cut the funding for these defunct programs.
D: We have to cut the funding for these defunct programs.
E: This sentence cannot be improved.

CLEP English Composition Answer Key

1. D. The word there is redundant and unnecessary.
2. B. A sentence does not need to include two adverbs expressing the same idea,
3. A. This colloquial phrasing includes the redundant pronoun it.
4. E. The participial phrase that opens the sentence does not have a clear reference.
5. D. A colon should only be used after a full independent clause.
6. C. Since the geocentric view of the universe has been discredited, it is appropriate to use the past tense.
7. C. A comma separating the two clauses in this sentence clarifies the meaning.
8. A. In the original sentence, the pronoun they seems to refer to the bill.
9. E. No correction is necessary.
10. B. As it is originally written, the sentence contains a great deal of superfluous and redundant phrasing.

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