The College Level Examination Program (CLEP) course entitled "Social Sciences & History," from iStudySmart.com, is a college level course designed for home educated high school age and up students. Once the course is completed and the corresponding CLEP test is passed, this dual credit course gives the equivalent of six high school/college credits. The required materials consist of the iStudySmart.com.com study questions in the format of your choice, and two textbooks entitled The
Western Experience and Systems of Society: an Introduction to Social
Science. The Western Experience covers western civilization, from the beginning of our world (told from a secular, evolutionary perspective), through ancient times, to the history and present course of European nations and their impact on America. It concludes with a grand and lengthy summary of the issues besetting modern-day westerners. Systems
of Society is an eye-opening look at culture, language, personality, and the impact of the various interactions of humans on society as a whole. Any diligent high school student with basic reading comprehension can understand and complete this course. The course is designed to be effectual, clear, and highly versatile, with the student comfortably studying, learning, and retaining the information as efficiently as possible.
This course is available in three different formats: CD-ROM, Workbook, and Online Access. The CD-ROM format consists of an interactive question and answer CD program that works with the two textbooks. The workbook format consists of the two textbooks, one question and answer study guide, and a sample comprehension test used to assess the student's readiness for the official CLEP test. After the student reads an assigned portion of one or both textbooks, then he answers a determined amount of study questions in brief summary. I have no experience with the Online Access format, and thus no information to relate concerning it.
David L. Davis, from http://www.homebasecollege.com, utilizes iStudySmart.com and is an authority on how it works. During the course of documenting this review, I had multiple email exchanges with him, in which he wrote a summary of information about the way the iStudySmart.com courses operate. He described the chosen learning method of iStudySmart.com, the procedure students should follow to get the best results, directions for preparation and passing of the official CLEP test, and advice on transferring earned credits to the college of the student's choice. I have used many of his words below as they were suited for describing the method and course work.
Are you familiar with the 4Rs? It is a basic approach to learning used by some homeschoolers to learn a subject. The 4Rs are: Research, Read, Reason, Record. The research is defining what you need to know to comprehend and know the subject. What books or material would you need to know? Your subjects are Science and History. In the study material from iStudySmart.com the research has already been done and the text book has been selected. The specific information you need to know has been identified and is presented in the form of questions. Questions are the basic way your mind learns. The iStudySmart.com course requires you purchase the appropriate book which is identified on the iStudySmart.com website. Once you have the iStudySmart.com material and the text you are ready to start.
The iStudySmart.com material asks you a question giving the page number in the text as a reference. You look up the reference page in the text and read it looking for the answer to the question. As you read or even after you read the text you reason out the answer to the question. You then record your answer which solidifies the information into your mind. The process is very effective.
Once you have gone through all the questions as outlined by iStudySmart.com, you are now ready to test your knowledge. A sample test is enclosed to do that very thing. You take the test which will test your understanding of the subject as designed by The College Board who developed the CLEP tests and are the custodians of the DANTE (another college credit test) results. If you need more study in one area of the subject or another, the test will show you where you need more study. You then study any areas you are weak in until you get 90% or better on the test.
Official CLEP Test Procedure:
You are now ready to take the appropriate CLEP or [other college credit] test. You go to a test center which you can locate from the iStudySmart.com website. After passing the test The College Board holds your passing test results waiting for a college to convert the passing test score into college credits.
Transferring Credits to Colleges:
If you go to the iStudySmart.com website and click on the Counseling Center button, you will find where the National Education Alliance has a service to identify a regionally accredited college to convert your tested out credit to college credits. The service cost $200 or $300 dollars, and they search over 300 of the top colleges to match your criteria to what degree you want to major. The service even includes submitting your application. More information is found on the website.
Benefits for Homeschoolers:
There is no minimum age for taking these tests so it is open to anyone that is capable of taking them. For homeschoolers, your student is effectively taking high school and college work at the same time and received dual enrollment credits.
iStudySmart.com offers two "club" levels that they call SmartClub accounts. In one level you can take up to 14 courses over the course of 12 months or in the second level, you can choose the unlimited access for 24 months. http://www.homebasecollege.com has an agreement with iStudySmart.com that allows anyone in a single household to use the material. Anyone from parents to siblings can benefit from this one enrollment. This is an incredible deal.
During the time I worked through the "Social Sciences & History" course, I found it to be well-organized, efficient, and easy to follow. The textbooks are thorough in their narrative and explanations. The study questions are specific and extremely helpful in retaining the information. I appreciated the CD-ROM format for the efficiency it provides when answering the study questions, and the ease of keeping track of my progress. However, because the workbook format requires writing down the answers to the study questions on paper, I found that I retained more information when using it as this is the method in which I best learn. One tool that I found quite useful is the calculation of how many daily questions the student needs to answer, based on the amount of days in which he plans to finish the course. The Pace Yourself tool is located on the website. All things considered, this is a fantastic educational resource, and I recommend it as an excellent option for a student who likes checklists, enjoys learning, and also wants structure and efficiency.