The Analyzing and Interpreting Literature CLEP Study Guide

This is the CBC free CLEP study guide for the Analyzing and Interpreting Literature CLEP.  A lot of test-takers see the Analyzing and Interpreting Literature CLEP as incredibly easy.  The questions will test you on your ability to understand and read literature.  You don't have to have read anything to prepare for the test--College Board only recommends it.  The questions use English and American literature mostly as the texts that they will ask you to interpret and analyze.

According to Thomas Edison State College, this test is equivalent to LIT-292 and 293.  But don't let that scare you.  Just because it's a big number doesn't mean much.  If you are familiar with literature vocab words like "metaphor" and "simile," it's a pretty good chance that you'll pass the Analyzing and Interpreting Literature CLEP.

Hopefully, by the time you finish using this CLEP study guide you'll have an idea of not only what you need to study but perhaps even a better appreciation for what goes in to really understanding the way that stories, poems, and non-fiction pieces function.  Who knows?  If you haven't been reading for a while, it might make you want to continue your literary journey  by picking up a new book!

The Analyzing and Interpreting Literature CLEP is worth six credits as long as you score 50 (on the 20-80 scale), as recommended by the American Council on Education (though it differs by school, as with any CLEP).   

There are 80 questions and you have to complete the test in 90 minutes.  Trust me.  It's not difficult and this test can actually be a lot of fun.  There are two optional (45 minute long) essay questions that you can answer if your college requires it.  Your college will be grading these.  Don't worry--virtually no college requires this.

This test is focused on knowing literary terminology and interpreting it.  The rest of this CBC CLEP study guide will show you exactly what we mean by this. 

Sample Questions

Here are some example questions from the College Board website.  Highlight the black boxes to see the answers and use the poem below for reference for all of the questions:

My Sorrow, when she's here with me,  

Thinks these dark days of autumn rain 

Are beautiful as days can be; 

She loves the bare, the withered tree;  

She walks the sodden pasture lane.5 

Her pleasure will not let me stay.  

She talks and I am fain* to list*: 

She's glad the birds are gone away, 

She's glad her simple worsted grey  

Is silver now with clinging mist.10 

The desolate, deserted trees,  

The faded earth, the heavy sky, 

The beauties she so truly sees, 

She thinks I have no eye for these,  

And vexes me for reason why.15 

Not yesterday I learned to know  

The love of bare November days 

Before the coming of the snow; 

But it were vain to tell her so,  

And they are better for her praise.20

"The phrase "desolate, deserted" (line 11) is an example of..."

A.  allusion

B.  alliteration

C.  metaphor

D.  metonymy

E.  onomatopoeia

The answer is B.

"Lines 9-10 suggest that "she" is "glad" because..."

A.  the autumn rain is ending

B.  the mist is another aspect of autumn that pleases her

C.  she is dressed well for the late autumn weather

D.  she likes the new silver color of her clothes

E.  the color of the sky has become more beautiful

The answer is B.

"Lines 7-12 "She's glad … the heavy sky" are best described as a list of..."

A.  what makes late autumn such a sad time

B.  what the speaker dislikes about his surroundings

C.  what the speaker's "Sorrow" finds appealing

D.  signs that a cold winter is approaching

E.  signs that the speaker's "Sorrow" is biased

The answer is C.

From these three questions you probably already have a good idea of whether or not this is going to be an easy test for you.  The Analyzing and Interpreting Literature CLEP is pretty much made of questions just like these three--focusing on terms and interpretation. 

Again, you don't have to be well read to pass this test. You just have to be ready to memorize some terms and take some time to practice your critical reading skills.  Practice tests are a great way to do this and flashcards from sites like SpeedyPrep or InstantCert help a lot too.  

Even if you didn't do so great on these questions here--maybe you were really close--don't worry.  This is the kind of the thing that you can learn quickly.  I recommend taking this CLEP (if your school will accept it) before any other CLEP test.

The Specifics

According to the CLEP study guide information available on the College Board website, for the Analyzing and Interpreting Literature CLEP you're going to have to prove that you have the following Abilities:

Ability to read prose, poetry, and drama with understanding

Ability to analyze the elements of a literary passage and to respond to nuances of meaning, tone, imagery, and style

Ability to interpret metaphors, to recognize rhetorical and stylistic devices, to perceive relationships between parts and wholes, and to grasp a speaker's or author's attitudes

Knowledge of the means by which literary effects are achieved

Familiarity with the basic terminology used to discuss literary texts

College Board's website CLEP study guide has the follow to say about the way the test will be structured:


35%–45% Poetry

35%–45% Prose (fiction and nonfiction)

15%–30% Drama

National Tradition

50%–65% British Literature

30%–45% American Literature

5%–15% Works in translation


3%–7% Classical and pre-Renaissance

20%–30% Renaissance and 17th Century

35%–45% 18th and 19th Centuries

25%–35% 20th and 21st Centuries

Study Resources

Before you use these, be sure that you rate yourself at a level 1, 2, or 3 knowledge of this test's material.  You can find the CollegeByCLEP rating guide on the CLEP study guide page found on the nav bar on the left hand side of your screen.  

Level 1:


Unfortunately, there are no textbooks for this test suggested by the CollegeBoard at this time.  In fact, as of 21 May 2013, if you go to their site and try to access it, access will be denied.  It's a weird fluke but you don't really need or want to pay for textbooks for this CLEP anyways.  Web resources should be more than enough.

Web Resources

McGraw Hill Higher Ed is a great place to find a huge list of literary terms.

Study Stack is a site where you can make your own flashcard sets.  If you click on this link you'll go to a list of their literature flashcards.  It can be unreliable sometimes since people are making their own so be sure to use flashcard sets that have been rated highly with lots of stars.

Remember that you can also use iTunesU to study for the CLEP.  There are lots of free podcasts there, including some great ones by Liberty University Online.  While I couldn't find any from LUO that particularly and specifically had to do with this CLEP, there are several closely related ones that might be of help to you.

Level 2:

An REA book, the InstantCert forum, and a SpeedyPrep course are available for the Analyzing and Interpreting Literature CLEP.  You can learn more about these resources on our Level 2 Study Resource pages listed below.  

REA has a book available for this test that I found used on Amazon for $11.23 which is a really good price.  I usually highly recommend the REA books but for the Analyzing and Interpreting Literature CLEP I'm not convinced that you'll need it.  It's better to take a practice test first before you buy so you'll be sure that you need to spend that money.

InstantCert, unfortunately, has no flashcards available for this subject but their forums do offer quite a bit of wisdom from experienced test takers willing to share what they have learned while studying.  You can find that forum here.

SpeedyPrep offers 225 flashcards on this topic in the form of an amazing online course designed to help you test out of the Analyzing and Interpreting Literature CLEP test.  They have a 100% money back guarantee if you don't pass the test after completing 90% of their course.  Their course is designed so that you'll know how far you've progressed and how much you have to keep learning.  I recommend them but you still want to take that CLEP practice test before you renew your subscription (or start one) just for this test.

Level 3:  

There are Peterson's practice CLEP tests, a College Board study guide, and innumerable internet resources available for this test. 

Full-length Peterson's Practice CLEP Tests are available for the Analyzing and Interpreting Literature CLEP test.  If you get a 66% on one of these tests, chances are looking awfully good that you'll pass the actual CLEP.  I didn't know about these practice tests when I took the Analyzing and Interpreting Literature CLEP but they certainly would have helped.  I recommend them over every other study resource anywhere.

College Board has a .pdf CLEP Study Guide you can download for $10.00, and it includes sample questions, and in-depth analyses of everything you need to know for the test (see "The Specifics" above) all on their website

Don't forget to use Google when you study for the Analyzing and Interpreting Literature CLEP exam!

Study Resource Costs

College Board CLEP Study Guide:  $10

InstantCert:  $20

SpeedyPrep:  $25

Proctoring Fee:  (Usually) $20

Test Fee:  $77

Maximum Total Cost:  $152

College Costs Saved:  approx. $6,000 including $3,600 on tuition

You can take this test for less if you want; if you already have some of these subscriptions for this month or use Google instead of SpeedyPrep, you'll save money that way.  In fact, I recommend just using a high school English textbook to study for this test but more on that below.  

Overlap with other CLEP Exams

The Analyzing and Interpreting Literature CLEP test overlaps with College Composition, College Composition Modular, Humanities, American Literature, and English Literature.  

The overlap with the two composition tests is pretty marginal.  If you are good at those two tests, you'll probably be good at the Analyzing and Interpreting Literature CLEP and vice versa.  

As for the two literature CLEP's:  50-65% of this test uses British literature as its examples and 30-45% of what is used is American literature.  But don't let that be too much of a consideration for you.  You don't have to know the literature before you take the test so studying British and American lit to prepare makes little sense.  Taking the Analyzing and Interpreting Literature CLEP first does make sense.  Thirty to 50% of American Literature and 60-65% of the English Literature CLEP's is based on ability to interpret and knowledge of literary terms.  Thus, a little bit of study and practice for the Analyzing and Interpreting Literature CLEP will prepare you for them quite a bit. 

As for the Humanities CLEP, the connection between it and this one are there but are still very small since Humanities covers all arts and will include only somewhere between 10-20% of questions similar to the Analyzing and Interpreting Literature CLEP questions.

Testing Success

After you take this test, be sure that you go to our CLEP Study Guide page to tell us about your personal CLEP test success/war story.  We want to hear all about how it went for you, even if it didn't go so well.  Pass on the help you received by telling future test takers your story.  Trust me:  nothing's more encouraging for a beginning test taker to read stories about others and how they passed their test.

My Experience with This Test

I spent very little time on this test even though it was my first one.  I don't know why but after I took a few sample questions, I just didn't study.  Literature has always been one of my favorite things (I'm now studying it in grad school) so I wasn't worried.  I remember Mom telling me that in thirty minutes she was going to take me to the testing center.  So about ten minutes later, I picked up my high school A Beka literature book (10th grade, I think?) and studied a few terms in the back of the book--things like "alliteration" and "metaphor."  Fifteen minutes later, I put it away and hopped in the car.  

I was fifteen when I took it and I scored a 72 on the CLEP scale which is something like 87% in regular terms.  Impressive?  Not really.  This is an easy test!  

My Advice:  Please take this test first if your college will accept it.  It's a great way to see if CLEP test-taking is something you want to more of and providing you do a little bit of studying and you have a small knack for literature (even a small one) it's something that is difficult not to pass.  When I give lectures to people on this topic, I always recommend this test first because it is a low-risk way to warm-up to bigger tests.  

My Mom's Experience with the Analyzing and Interpreting Literature CLEP Test

Because I talked all about how great it was, my mom decided that she wanted to give CLEP testing a try and so now she's going for her BA in History from Thomas Edison State College.  Per my advice, the first test she attempted was the Analyzing and Interpreting Literature CLEP.  Click here for her adventure!  


In conclusion, I hope that this CLEP study guide has been helpful to you.  The purpose of all our CLEP study guides is to empower you to know exactly what you need to go out and study.  For under $152 you can study for and take this CLEP test, earning your six college credits if you score a 50.  It's a great one to use to fill up on humanities requirements and a great way to put your toe in the water of the CLEP test world.

Of course, remember that combining this CLEP study guide with high school courses will benefit you not only when you take the CLEP but also as you take your high school courses.  I think that most students should be able to take this by 12th grade (with a little extra study) even if they feel they have no talent for literature and don't like to read.  For those who love reading (or can stand it at least) I'd recommend trying it right after 9th or 10th grade (maybe after a few weeks of summer study).  My brother's in 11th grade and after a few practice tests and some term studying, he passed it with a great score!

We hope that our Analyzing and Interpreting Literature CLEP Study Guide has been and continues to be helpful to you.  We hope you succeed and that this CLEP study guide will have been a part of that!  Let us know if it was helpful and how we can make it better on our Contact Us page.  If you have study resources not mentioned here that have helped you, let us know.  We'd love to add them to our CLEP study guide.  

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