Study Guide Specifications
CLEP exams are administered at colleges and universities
The English Literature Study Guide covers subject matter found in a two-semester college-level course in British literature. This guide combines both a "major authors" or "masterworks" course and a historical survey of literary periods approach. The subject matter of an English Literature course is imaginative writing, produced in the British Isles (England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland) between 800 A.D. and the present.
In an English Literature course, a student is expected to accomplish four important tasks: 1) master important historical facts about British literary history and biographical information about major authors; 2) read representative and important works in a variety of genres; 3) study texts to appreciate their artistry; and 4) analyze texts to discover meaning. To measure student mastery of these tasks, the CLEP test in English Literature asks four kinds of questions in a multiple-choice format:
- Recognize important names, titles, literary forms, or literary devices
- Paraphrase the meaning of short passages from poems or prose pieces
- Apply characteristics of a literary period or genre to a short passage
- Recognize the meaning of a metaphor, an image, or an entire passage
Because the CLEP test requires a student to work with passages from major works, it is necessary that you read original texts in conjunction with the study guide. In this guide, you will find a list of major writers and works in poetry and prose that are usually read in English Literature courses. There are tens of thousands of passages that the makers of the CLEP test can choose among; you are not expected to have read them all in advance. However, if you attempt to take the test without reading a significant number of major works, you will find the questions based on literary passages very difficult.
Throughout this study guide, you will see italicized terms. They are either titles that you should be able to recognize or literary terms with which you should be acquainted. All italicized literary terms are explained either in the glossary or at the time they are first used. Each unit concludes with questions designed to re-iterate major points and prepare you for the CLEP examination. Some are based on the material in the study guide; others require you to look at important and representative texts. An answer key follows each test. At the end of the study guide is a practice examination structured like the CLEP test.