CLEP Analyzing And Interpreting Literature Exam

The CLEP: Analyzing and Interpreting Literature examination was developed by the College Board as a way for individuals to demonstrate undergraduate-level knowledge and skills in this field. 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 Analyzing and Interpreting Literature exam, students will need to master the following topics and skills: reading prose, poetry, and drama with understanding; analyzing the elements of a literary passage; interpreting metaphors; recognizing rhetorical and stylistic devices; identifying a speaker’s or author’s attitude; understanding the means by which literary effects are achieved; and basic literary terminology. By genre, the content of the exam is broken down as follows: poetry (35-45% of the exam); prose, both fiction and nonfiction (35-45%); and drama (15-30%). By national tradition, the content of the exam is broken down as follows: British literature (50-65%); American literature (30-45%); and works in translation (5-15%). By period, the content of the exam is broken down as follows: classical and pre-Renaissance (3-7%); Renaissance and 17th century (20-30%); 18th and 19th centuries (35-45%); and 20th century (25-35%). The Analyzing and Interpreting Literature exam consists of 80 multiple-choice questions and must be completed within 90 minutes. There is an optional essay section that will be graded by each institution that requests it.


After the exam is complete, an unofficial score report will be made available. 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 the test-taker 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.

CLEP Analyzing And Interpreting Literature Practice Questions

Read the following excerpt from Roderick Hudson, by Henry James, and answer the questions that follow.

Mallet had made his arrangements to sail for Europe on the first of September,
and having in the interval a fortnight to spare, he determined to spend it with his cousin
Cecilia, the widow of a nephew of his father. He was urged by the reflection that an
affectionate farewell might help to exonerate him from the charge of neglect frequently
preferred by this lady. It was not that the young man disliked her; on the contrary, he
regarded her with a tender admiration, and he had not forgotten how, when his cousin had
brought her home on her marriage, he had seemed to feel the upward sweep of the empty
bough from which the golden fruit had been plucked, and had then and there accepted the
prospect of bachelorhood. The truth was, that, as it will be part of the entertainment of
this narrative to exhibit, Rowland Mallet had an uncomfortably sensitive conscience, and
that, in spite of the seeming paradox, his visits to Cecilia were rare because she and her
misfortunes were often uppermost in it. Her misfortunes were three in number: first, she
had lost her husband; second, she had lost her money (or the greater part of it); and third,
she lived at Northampton, Massachusetts. Mallet’s compassion was really wasted,
because Cecilia was a very clever woman, and a most skillful counter-plotter to adversity.
She had made herself a charming home, her economies were not obtrusive, and there
was always a cheerful flutter in the folds of her crape. It was the consciousness of all this
that puzzled Mallet whenever he felt tempted to put in his oar. He had money and he had
time, but he never could decide just how to place these gifts gracefully at Cecilia’s
service. He no longer felt like marrying her: in these eight years that fancy had died a
natural death. And yet her extreme cleverness seemed somehow to make charity difficult
and patronage impossible. He would rather chop off his hand than offer her a check, a
piece of useful furniture, or a black silk dress; and yet there was some sadness in seeing
such a bright, proud woman living in such a small, dull way. Cecilia had, moreover, a
turn for sarcasm, and her smile, which was her pretty feature, was never so pretty as
when her sprightly phrase had a lurking scratch in it. Rowland remembered that, for him,
she was all smiles, and suspected, awkwardly, that he ministered not a little to her sense
of the irony of things. And in truth, with his means, his leisure, and his opportunities,
what had he done? He had an unaffected suspicion of his uselessness. Cecilia,
meanwhile, cut out her own dresses, and was personally giving her little girl the
education of a princess.

1. In which voice is this passage composed?
A: first-person limited
B: first-person omniscient
C: second-person limited
D: third-person limited
E: third-person omniscient

2. Who or what is the “golden fruit” in line 8?
A: an apple
B: the young Cecilia
C: Mallet’s father’s nephew
D: Cecilia’s dowry
E: Mallet’s love for Cecilia

3. Why does Mallet refrain from giving money to Cecilia?
A: She is already quite wealthy.
B: Because her intelligence and vivacity make it impossible to place her in an inferior position.
C: She is too proud to accept charity.
D: She lives a frugal existence.
E: He plans to marry her.

Read the following poem by Carl Sandburg and answer the questions that follow.

Grass

Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.
Shovel them under and let me work–
I am the grass; I cover all.

And pile them high at Gettysburg
And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.
Shovel them under and let me work.
Two years, ten years, and the passengers ask the conductor:
What place is this?
Where are we now?

I am the grass.
Let me work.

4. What are Austerlitz and Waterloo?
A: bus stations
B: ditches
C: gardens
D: oceans
E: battle sites

5. What is the “work” of the grass?
A: transporting passengers
B: piling up the dead
C: giving directions
D: serving as a memorial
E: covering the bodies of the dead

6. What is the theme of this poem?
A: Soldiers who die deserve our praise.
B: Time erases our memory of those who died in battle.
C: Rail stations should not pass close to gravesites.
D: War is inevitable.
E: Grass is a fitting memorial to those who die in battle.

Read the following dramatic dialogue and answer the questions that follow.

Archidamus: If you shall chance, Camillo, to visit Bohemia, on the like occasion whereon my services are now on foot, you shall see, as I have said, great difference betwixt our Bohemia and your Sicilia.
Camillo: I think, this coming summer, the King of Sicilia means to pay Bohemia the visitation, which he justly owes him.
Arch.: Wherein our entertainment shall shame us we will be justified in our loves: for, indeed,-
Cam.: Beseech you,-
Arch.: Verily, I speak it in the freedom of my knowledge: we cannot with such magnificence-in so rare-I know not what to say. We will give you sleepy drinks that your senses, unintelligent of our insufficience, may, though they cannot praise us, as little accuse us.
Cam.: You pay a great deal too dear for what’s given freely.
Arch.: Believe me, I speak as my understanding instructs me, and as mine honesty puts it to utterance.
Cam.: Sicilia cannot show himself over-kind to Bohemia. They were trained together in their childhoods; and there rooted betwixt them then such an affection, which cannot choose but branch now. Since their more mature dignities and royal necessities made separation of their society, their encounters, though not personal, have been royally attorneyed with interchange of gifts, letters, loving embassies; that they have seemed to be together, though absent, shook hands, as over a vast, and embraced, as it were, from the ends of opposed winds. The heavens continue their loves!
Arch.: I think there is not in the world either malice or matter to alter it. You have an unspeakable comfort of your young Prince Mamillius: it is a gentleman of the greatest promise that ever came into my note.
Cam.: I very well agree with you in the hopes of him. It is a gallant child; one that indeed physics the subject, makes old hearts fresh; they that went on crutches ere he was born desire yet their life to see him a man.
Arch.: Would they else be content to die?
Cam.: Yes; if there were no other excuse why they should desire to live.
Arch.: If the king had no son, they would desire to live on crutches till he had one.

7. This passage was probably written by _____.
A: Shaw
B: Chaucer
C: Shakespeare
D: Ibsen
E: Stoppard

8. Which word best describes the relationship between Sicilia and Bohemia?
A: paternal
B: cordial
C: salacious
D: bellicose
E: avuncular

9. What metaphor does Camillo use to describe the two kingdoms?
A: trees
B: lawyers
C: winds
D: brothers
E: lovers

10. What does Camillo mean when he says that the young prince “physics the subject”?
A: The prince is a scientist.
B: The prince is skilled in medicine.
C: The prince is an accomplished athlete.
D: The prince makes the citizens feel optimistic and pleased with their country.
E: The prince has done exceptionally well in school.

CLEP Analyzing And Interpreting Literature Answer Key

1. D. The narrator is not Mallet, but has insight into Mallet’s thoughts; the narrator does not, however, appear to have knowledge of the internal lives of other characters.
2. B. It is apparent that Mallet was once attracted to Cecilia.
3. B. Something about Cecilia’s self-sufficiency makes it impossible for Mallet to offer her charity.
4. E. All of the place-names in this poem are areas where many soldiers died.
5. E. Grass is a powerful image because it covers the ground in a uniform fashion.
6. B. Sandburg suggests that as the grass covers the body, so does time erase the public memory of the dead.
7. C. The diction and syntax identify this passage as Shakespeare’s; indeed, it is the opening scene of The Winter’s Tale.
8. B. It is clear that Sicilians and Bohemians treat one another with exquisite hospitality.
9. A. Camillo describes how the love between the two countries was “rooted” early, and has subsequently “branched out.”
10. D. Camillo goes on to describe how Prince Mamillius makes old men wish they could live longer to see his reign.

CLEP Analyzing And Interpreting Literature Test Breakdown