CLEP Freshman College Composition Exam

The CLEP: Freshman College Composition examination was developed by the College Board as a way for individuals to demonstrate undergraduate-level knowledge and skills in this area. 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 Freshman College Composition exam, students will need to master the following topics and skills: recognizing and using standard English (20% of the exam); recognizing logical development (65%); and using resource materials (15%). The composition issues covered by the exam include the following: issues of syntax like parallelism, coordination, and dangling modifiers; sentence boundaries; recognition of correct sentences; sentence variety; subject-verb agreement; selecting the correct verb tense; pronoun reference; idiom; active and passive voice; logical comparison; and punctuation. The Freshman College Composition exam consists of 90 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 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.

CLEP Freshman College Composition Practice Questions

1. Identify the sentence that fails to meet the standards of proper English.
A: This song, which you may have heard before, is an old standard.
B: “Welcome to our house”, the grandmother said with a smile.
C: When we first came here, the name of the place was “Reggie’s”.
D: Watch out for the potholes!
E: Unfortunately, the team was not prepared for their most important game.

2. Identify the sentence that fails to meet the standards of proper English.
A: Javier felt extremely guilty, which made it hard for him to eat.
B: Many of us like to eat our hot dogs with relish.
C: The breakfast that he and his wife enjoyed was one of our finest.
D: Critics rise the point that Jackson’s best work was at the expense of the poorest citizens.
E: One of the best things about the show was Dave’s hilarious jokes.

3. Identify the sentence that fails to meet the standards of proper English.
A: Both of them took their wallets out of their pockets.
B: Everybody should be sure to wear his or her brightest t-shirt.
C: Until changes are made, we’re keeping our distance.
D: Let’s ignore that last statement.
E: The most important things for spaghetti: tomatoes, basil, and fresh mushrooms.

4. Identify the sentence that fails to meet the standards of proper English.
A: Some people ate dinner, while others walked along the boardwalk.
B: Don’t forget about the things he said to her!
C: Every person thinks about death now and then.
D: Evelyn Waugh was virtually unknown until he published “Brideshead Revisited.”
E: Whom does she suspect of stealing the bread?

5. Identify the sentence that fails to meet the standards of proper English.
A: The boys struggled to break free and ran howling into the backyard.
B: Dave looked both ways; he crossed the street.
C: Still, he seemed like a decent, amiable guy.
D: Sheila loved to talk, laugh, and share memories with her children.
E: His past experience affects his present behavior.

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

6. In many cases, magazines give information that newspapers simply doesn’t.
A: In many cases, magazines give information that newspapers simply can’t.
B: In many cases, magazines gives information which newspapers simply don’t.
C: In many cases, magazines give information that newspapers simply do not.
D: Magazines give information that newspapers simply doesn’t in many cases.
E: The sentence is correct as written.

7. She was angry, which meant she stayed home.
A: Because she stayed home, she was angry.
B: She stayed angry because she was home.
C: She stayed home because she was angry.
D: She was angry that she stayed home.
E: The sentence is correct as written.

8. The actress casually strolls down the street as the director filmed her.
A: The actress casually strolled down the street as the director filmed her.
B: The actress strolls casually down the street as the director filmed her.
C: As the director filmed her, the actress strolls casually down the street.
D: Casually the actress strolled down the street filmed by the director.
E: The sentence is correct as written.

9. By the time Helen arrived at the party, the games already began.
A: The games were beginning by the time Helen arrived at the party.
B: By the time Helen would arrive at the party, the games were beginning.
C: By the time Helen arrived at the party, the games had already begun.
D: By the time Helen arrives at the party, the games began.
E: The sentence is correct as written.

10. Each boy and girl run home from school on Fridays.
A: Each boys and girls runs home from school on Fridays.
B: On Fridays, each boy and girl run home from school.
C: Every boy and girl run home from school on Friday.
D: Every boy and girl runs home from school on Friday.
E: The sentence is correct as written.

CLEP Freshman College Composition Answer Key

1. B. The comma should be inside the quotation marks.
2. D. The correct verb form is raise.
3. E. This sentence is lacking a verb.
4. D. Long-form works like novels should be placed in italics rather than quotation marks.
5. B. It would be more appropriate to use a comma followed by and than a semicolon.
6. C. The verb must agree with the plural newspapers.
7. C. In the original sentence, it is difficult to find an antecedent for which.
8. A. The two verbs must agree with one another.
9. C. The verb tenses must indicate that the games had begun before Helen arrived.
10. D. It is more appropriate to use every to encompass the entire population of boys and girls. It is not necessary to pluralize Friday.

CLEP Freshman College Composition Test Breakdown