CLEP & DSST Exams: Free Study Resources
Oct. 3, 2019
tips for final week, do well on final exam,
Testing Out…the best kept secret in higher education is really catching on. Kudos to you for considering this faster and cheaper option for earning college credit.
At Making Education Possible, we know that people who pursue credit-by-examination with CLEP, DSST and ECE exams are:
  • Brave
  • Resourceful
  • Pioneers
  • ​Did we mention brave?
It's worth repeating because people who pursue testing out of college courses are breaking the norm. When someone decides to NOT to take a semester-long class—but decides instead, “I just need to know what the exam will cover and then find some good study materials to prepare myself,”—we call that brave.

SpeedyPrep has been preparing people to pass CLEP exams for over a dozen years. DSSTPrep, launched in May 2019, is already hearing from happy subscribers who passed their DSSTs on the first try.

The SpeedyPrep and DSSTPrep flashcard format, with tracked progress, works. We have thousands who can attest to that.

But MEP members deserve more. So, we’ve found additional resources to expand the scope of their learning on their own terms.

It is a fact that learning new information through different approaches helps with depth of learning and understanding.

Every SpeedyPrep and DSSTPrep course now has a list of online resources—all FREE—that our subscribers can check out if they want to learn in some different formats. Links are included to take you to free textbooks, full courses from highly respected colleges and universities like MIT, Yale, and others. We’ve found free practice exams, podcasts, traditional flashcards, videos and articles for every subject we offer.

Our subscribers can use the resources they find helpful—perhaps it will just be getting a little more information on a topic that they want to understand better. Or, they’ve enjoyed their subject so much they want to get a full experience to learn it in-depth, similar to taking the class.

You can pick your favorite resource—or try them all until you find your favorite! If you haven’t tried CLEP or DSST exams yet, please visit SpeedyPrep and DSSTPrep to learn more about them. Then, choose your exam, and join us, knowing that you’ll have complete study materials with our program as well as other approaches in our new free study resources index.

Finals Week—Survive and Thrive with These Tips
April 16, 2019
tips for final week, do well on final exam,
During finals week you probably have two goals: do well on your exams and manage the stress. Here are some tips from the education experts at making education possible that will help.
1. Make a Plan

“Failing to plan is planning to fail.” If you just start studying without a plan, you are likely to overlook important areas and over-study unimportant subjects.

Before finals week, make a plan for each class that has a final. Use your class syllabus or outline to review the key topics you will study and review. If there are areas you have had trouble understanding, put those as top priorities. Your study times will be more effective and you’ll gain the confidence that you are ready to take your finals.  

2. Become a time miser.

During finals week, you must become a study machine. Any other activities should be done with the goal of refreshing you for the next study session. Basically, during finals week you should forget that you have a social life. Everything that is not absolutely necessary must be put on hold until finals are over.

3. Choose your environment carefully.

Do not just start studying anywhere. Find a quiet, orderly place. Your dorm room is probably a bad place to study. With the familiar objects around, it’s too easy to get distracted, especially if your roommate is there.

If your usual study locations seem stale to you, find a new place to try—a public library or new coffee shop. Sometimes a completely new place will be mentally stimulating—just what you need to focus and learn. Keep ear plugs with you to reduce noise while you study.  

4. Structure your study sessions and take breaks.

If you’ve made your study plan, follow it when you study and set a realistic goal for each session—perhaps to finally nail that one concept that’s been hard to remember and learn. 

Not all study time is created equal. A solid 60 minutes of study is less effective than three 20 minute sessions broken up with five minutes in between. Concentration levels and retention are increased when breaks are included to a study time. 

The short breaks should be purposeful. A short walk, some stretches and deep breathing can really clear your head and send much-needed oxygen to the brain. Rest tired eyes by looking into the distance and closing them for a moment or two. 

An excellent approach to task/time management, is explained in MEP's articles on Time Boxing. You can scroll down this page to find the two part series: Time Boxing or Time Blocking -- The Benefits, pt. 1 and pt. 2. 

5. Exercise for your mental health.

Vigorous exercise help relieves the stress that makes finals week so…stressful! Brisk walks, runs, and other sports can be a good way to let off extra energy and regain your concentration. Just do not make your exercise breaks too long – keep them to 15 minutes at most.

6. Eat healthy.

With the shortage of time during finals, it’s easy to reach for whatever is quick and tasty, but not healthy. This is a big mistake. Junk food may give you instant energy, but it will decrease your concentration and memory. Eating healthy food will help you learn and retain what you learn. 

Lay in a supply of healthy foods for your meals and snacks. You’ll be glad to have something in your backpack to reach for rather than having to purchase something every time you need to eat.  

7. Sleep is your friend.

Finals week and all-nighters may go hand-in-hand, but skimping on sleep is a detriment overall. Your brain processes information while sleeping…the information you’re working so hard to absorb! 

Plan sleep into your finals schedule. You may have to shave an hour or two off your nighttime sleep, but try throwing in a 15 minute nap in the afternoon. It will certainly refresh you for another night of study. 

8. Get help if you need it.

Many students are afraid to ask for help. This is a big mistake. If you do not understand something that you know you have to, ask someone. You can ask classmates and professors. Visit your campus success center for help. People will be glad to help because the goal is for everyone to pass their finals. 

Don't expect help from others to make up for work you should have done throughout the semester. At this late stage, you should know your subject. Help should now be for things that just haven't jelled for you after you've already done the work of studying and learning. 

9. Use study groups.

If you are part of a study group that functions well and stays focused on studying, the group can switch to ‘exam prep’ mode for finals week. If everyone is working from the same outline, and the goal of exam prep is maintained, the group can be helpful. 

Starting a study group right on top of finals may not be the best idea. The time spent setting up goals, agreeing on a study approach, and scheduling the meetings is time lost from studying.

10. Double check your exam times.

You might think this is unnecessary. Nevertheless, it has happened. When you are taking many exams in the same week, it is easy to confuse the times. Enter them into your smart phone calendar and set alerts. Write the times on sticky notes; put them on your refrigerator, computer, class books…anything that you will see on a regular basis.

11. When finals are over, celebrate then evaluate.

Once you’re done with finals, treat yourself to something. You should celebrate that you made it through! It doesn’t matter if you want to hit the hay or hit the dance floor, take a break from the intensity of the past few weeks.

After a day or two, review you finals experience. What worked for you? What missteps did you make? When finals roll around next you can incorporate what you learned to make things go more smoothly.  

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CLEP for Military Members
April 3, 2019
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In the Making Education Possible blog, we talk about how CLEP study guides and exams can help college students (even high school students) save money and time during their college careers. However, these aren’t the only folks who can benefit from CLEP tests.

Current and former military members are great candidates for CLEP testing and can save thousands to make the most of their college careers and non-traditional education—with benefits from DANTES (Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support) and other military scholarship and education programs. In this blog, the CLEP test prep experts at SpeedyPrep will explain how those who serve our country can benefit from CLEP exams.
Potential Test Funding Through DANTES

For some current military members and their spouses, CLEP exams are easily accessible and virtually free thanks to DANTES-funded CLEP exams. DANTES covers CLEP exam costs ($87 plus administrative fees) to eligible members. Check out this College Board information to find out if you’re eligible for DANTES-funded CLEP exams.

More Flexibility

Unlike traditional college students, military service members have a lot of responsibilities to juggle, like military duties and family obligations. Finding the time and energy to further your education and earn college credit can be difficult when work and family take up so much time.

Fortunately, CLEP exams allow military service members to learn and make progress toward college credit while working their busy schedules. They can set their own study timelines and take their exam when they feel that they’re ready. Since there’s no set timetable, they can speed up or slow down the pace of CLEP progress to meet their day-to-day or week-to-week needs.

College Friendly and Accessible

CLEP exams can be taken at on-base testing centers all over the world, and at over 1,800 colleges across the United States. CLEP exams also count for college credit at nearly 3,000 college and universities—so no matter your stage in the academic process, it’s likely that your current or future college will accept your CLEP credits and speed up your journey to your degree.

Great for Veterans

For many military veterans, CLEP is a great way to ease back into the academic world while they acclimate to civilian life. Many veterans, their spouses, and their dependents may be eligible for CLEP test reimbursement through programs like the Post 9/11 GI Bill, Fry Scholarship, Montgomery GI Bill Active Duty (MGIB-AD), Montgomery GI Bill Selected Reserve (MGIB-SR), and the Survivors & Dependents Assistance Program.

Check with your advisor about these scholarship programs to make sure that you meet requirements for test reimbursement. If you do, you’re well on your way to saving money and accelerating your college career.

Closing Thoughts

No matter your branch of service or where you are in your academic career, CLEP exams can help you save money and graduate faster. Making Education Possible education experts know the value they bring to service memebers who are pursing their degrees. In fact, MEP offers a special discount to, a CLEP preparation website. Join Making Education Possible to get started with all of the tools we offer to earn your degree in less time and for less money while continuing your service. 

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Mind Mapping - A Guide
March 26, 2019
mind mapping, taking notes, how to mind map, what is a mind map
Do you ever wish that learning could be easier? Sometimes, it’s a struggle to get new information into your memory. Learning and studying become a drag when you just can’t seem to hold onto what you are learning.

Your mind does not process information in a linear fashion, but that’s how you take notes. It doesn’t ‘see’ in only two colors, but traditional notes are only your ink and paper color. You don’t think in sentences scrolling past your eyes, but read a single word and many associations spring to mind.

It’s time to explore a new way, mind mapping, for a more efficient learning journey.
Tony Buzan, the creator of the modern Mind Map, says, “Mind maps utilize all our cortical skills and activate the brain on all levels, making it more alert and skillful at remembering. The attractiveness of mind maps makes the brain want to return to them, and again encourages the probability of spontaneous recall.”

In other words, mind maps awaken all our mind’s capacity to learn and our brains love it! 

What is a mind map? 

When you create a mind map, you take a bunch of information and draw a diagram. It works with your brain’s natural way of relating many ideas to a single main topic. First, you place your main topic in the center of the page. Then you think of the main themes of that subject and draw them like branches radiating from the center topic. Smaller ideas and concepts attach to the branches like twigs on a tree as they relate to the branch. You use lines, symbols, words, color, and images as they come to you to draw your mind map. The seemingly random way you hear, think and associate pieces of information goes onto the page in way that relates those pieces to each other, and to the main topic. 

So, how to build a mind map? We’ll try to describe in words how to do this, but why not grab a piece of paper and draw one as we guide you through? 

First: The main idea, subject or focus—crystalize it in a single word or image.

Let’s pick a topic—something we all can relate to. Food.

Okay, write the word FOOD in the center of your paper—turn it so it’s in landscape orientation. Make it big and bold! Draw a circle around it.  

Second: The main themes will now radiate from the central word/image as branches 

From your circle, draw your first branch—a line—straight or bent. 

Third: Define a branch with a key image or key word.

Write the word “Protein” along the line, fairly close to the center topic. 

Fourth: Topics related to your branch are represented by ‘twigs’ on the branch.

Draw a few twigs on the branch. Add some protein names on the twigs—eggs, tofu, fish, beef, etc.  

Yes, you now have the start of a mind map! Your twigs could have twigs, too. Eggs, for example could have twigs that are labeled ‘scrambled’, ‘fried’, etc. This goes to show you how you can keep adding information to topics on a mind map. Maps can be as large and branching as needed. 

Choose another branch and draw it out—vegetables, fruit, dairy, grains, snacks, drinks. Have a little fun. 

WORDS: Mind Maps use single words to identify branches and twigs.

Branches and twigs should be identified by just one or maybe two words. That single word that will trigger all of the things you know about it. As you review your mind map, your memory will supply everything you know about each item in a way that works for you.

IMAGES: Mind maps need pictures.

You may have noticed that the graphic on this blog entry has some images on the ‘twigs’. Mind maps need pictures. Our minds really ‘see’ in images. It’s crucial to the way we think. 

What comes to mind when you think of “Protein”? Bulging biceps? A chain of amino acids? Try sketching it next to your protein branch. (You don’t have to be Rembrandt to do this…it’s your mind map, after all.)

COLOR: Mind maps use color to organize and define topics.

Define your branches and images with some color. It stimulates the brain. If you have some highlighters, markers or crayons nearby, color something—one of your images, a branch, anything. Color your central topic circle. 

Is your mind map taking shape now? How many food categories and specific foods crossed your mind with this exercise? The only limits to mind map creation is time and the size of your paper!  

Here are some great applications for mind mapping as a student.

Lecture notes – Mind mapping for lecture notes will free you up to listen and distill information. When you write a word on a branch or twig, you will be hearing and associating the professor’s information about it.

Study notes – As you read your textbook, your notes can be maps instead. Mapping will keep you engaged while tackling those long chapters. 

Essay/Report writing – Organizing your writing will be easier in map formation than outlines.

Exam review – You can use all the maps you made to study and zero in on the facts you may have forgotten. If a twig has a word on it you don’t remember, you’ll know you need to learn why it was important enough to write down. 

There are software programs to create mind maps that you can use; however, the tactile experience with paper, pen and color will engage more of your mental activity and help you learn. You can look up examples of mind maps online to show you how they look. But, remember, your mind map is your own creation and it doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s.

So, grab some paper, pens and colors and give mind mapping a try. Even first timers have great learning success with this technique. We think you will too.

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Time Boxing or Time Blocking -- The Benefits, pt. 2
March 21, 2019
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Time boxing can be used on big tasks, like a work project or term paper. It can be used on little tasks, too, like chores around the house. Whether your task is large or small, how you box or block it will be the same.  

First, think through your task and estimate how long you think it should take. Then decide at what time you will do it and write this time down. When you write the task down include the name of the task, the start time and end time. Many people use their calendar or planner to record their time boxes.

When the time box starts:
  • Set a timer for your chosen time length—no longer than 45 minutes. (More on this a little later).  
  • Turn off text messaging and notifications on your phone. Turn off any other potential interrupters—television, music, etc. Time boxing does not do interruptions!
  • Work the task. Focus on it and only it. Stay aware of your time and keep on task. Do not get side-tracked by low-value details.
  • Did you finish early? Great! If you do a similar task later, you can adjust the time you set for it.
  • Did you not finish? Figure out why. If the reason was unavoidable, that’s okay. If not, did you underestimate the time you needed or were you unprepared to really complete the task for some other reason? Knowing this will help you plan future time boxes better. 
This is basically it. It’s simple. Its value is in its simplicity. Your work may be complicated, but structuring it into time blocks is easy. As you use time boxing, you’ll get better at estimating the time you need for tasks. Prepare to enjoy a great sense of accomplishment with every completed box—a real plus for staying motivated and lowering your stress.  

Did you see the image at the top of this blog? If you have a large work project, time blocking will help you start and then build on each finished task until the job is complete...just like the picture.

Here are some specifics for boxing/blocking large tasks:
  • Break large tasks into boxes of 45 minutes or less.  
  • Start with an outline of steps in the order you think you need to do them. Identify your first block and then start.
  • Take a 5 - 15-minute break after you finish a time block. It should be a real break. Doing another task in this interval isn’t a break and does not reset your focus for another 45-minute round of work. Get up, move around, get some air, look at something different and don’t think about the work at all. This is a reset time—let your mind rest for these few minutes!
  • If you have several 45-minute time boxes planned, take a longer break between every two, at least 15 - 20 minutes.
  • Time boxes can be moved around as you need. If your planned time box #5 is better done after #2, you can do that! 
45 minutes is generally the upper time limit of our ability to really concentrate on something. That is why we encourage you to keep your blocks no longer than this.

Is there a limit to how short a time block can be? Not really. In fact, people find short time blocking is very beneficial for pesky tasks that must get done. 

Let’s say you walk into the kitchen and it needs a good cleaning. You don’t have it in you to clean it all, but what about a 15-20-minute time box? Choose a couple of chores—sweeping the floor and loading the dishwasher, for example. Concentrate on the job and you’ll probably finish with time to spare! (This author tried this with their family and the entire kitchen was cleaned in a 20-minute time block. Everyone had their task and 20 minutes was all it took…well, 25 minutes actually. We were so close we just stayed to finish!)

Closing Thoughts

Most people can concentrate on something for up to 45 minutes, which is why using time blocks is so effective. When you’ve completed one, you can walk away, having accomplished what you wanted within the time you set. If you’re like this author and many others who use time boxing, you’ll return to this task organizing technique again and again.

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Time Boxing or Time Blocking -- The Benefits
March 14, 2019
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At its heart, time boxing (or time blocking) is very simple. First, assign a fixed time for a task, schedule it, and then start and finish the task within the time you scheduled. When working on a time box task, you focus only on that work—no social media, no calls, no multi-tasking. When you set strict limits to keep track of all your responsibilities, you meet them and save your sanity.


It demands you to single-task and focus on one activity, thereby achieving it in one stretch of time. When you’re done, you’ll have a sense of accomplishment and feel less stressed.

You prioritize your work based on when it needs completion. Large, multi-step tasks can be broken into smaller pieces, each with their own box. Each completed step (box) will lead into the next, allowing you to successfully complete a project on time.

If you procrastinate, time boxing will benefit you tremendously. A time box has 1. a defined task and 2. a time limit, and it requires you to focus on that task. You are forced to start the task, which is often the toughest hurdle for those who procrastinate. Once you’ve started, continuing and finishing something get easier.

You do not get bogged down by every detail. Time boxing will be a life saver if you tend to spend too much time over tasks and put too much of your hard work into low-value details. When you assign a time limit to a task, it forces you stay with the work if you want to finish it during the box. As you hone your time boxing skills, you stay on task and complete more of them within the time limits you set.

Your concentration is required to complete a time box. If you multi-task or follow every interruption that pops up, and don’t finish tasks because of that, time boxing will get you on track. You must narrow your focus—turn off all potential interrupters and work on just the time box assignment. 

Your productivity goes up. You’ll figure out when your peak productive times are and can schedule your high-priority tasks during them. You can assign easier and less important tasks during times you’re more likely to be interrupted or are past your peak mental energy.

At the beginning of this article we shared the basics of time boxing. Next week we’ll share some tips about how to time box how to get the most from this easy, but effective life tool.

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What is CLEP? Your Basic CLEP Questions Answered
March 8, 2019
What is CLEP, CLEP questions, testing out, CLEP study guides,
The education experts of Making Education Possible (MEP) know the value of ‘Testing Out’ of college courses. People who test out save both time and money on their degrees. 

MEP consultants share about the most widely accepted college exam program. Read on to learn more about this ‘best kept secret’ option that will help you earn your degree.
An Introduction to CLEP 

First—they are exams that award college credit when you pass them. Second—they cost less than taking a college class. Third—you spend less time preparing for and taking a CLEP exam instead of a class with its lectures, assignments, papers, projects, quizzes and tests.

CLEP is short for College Level Examination Program. The College Board created a series of standardized exams over 50 years ago to award college credit when people pass them. There are now 33 different CLEP exams. They cover five academic disciplines—Mathematics, Social Sciences and History; Literature and Composition; Business; and Foreign Languages. 

How to get started with CLEP

First, you need to find out your school’s CLEP policy. Every college or university has its own policy for accepting CLEP. You don’t want to take an exam only to find out your school won’t accept it! However, since more than 2,900 institutions accept CLEP it is likely your school will too. 

Check with your advisor to find out what CLEP exams you can take and apply to your requirements. 

Once you have a list of exams you can use, do some research about them. You can go to the College Board website and search for your exam and read what the exam will cover—in other words—what you need to know to pass!

Find where to take your exam.

There are thousands of CLEP testing centers around the country and worldwide, many of which are located on-campus at colleges and universities for your convenience. Military bases often have testing centers as well. Find a test center near you for the easiest CLEP experience.

Register for your exam.

You schedule your exam online with the College Board. Registration is easy and you will be given all the steps to follow. You’ll pay your exam fee up front. You can choose your testing center on the website, or you can contact the testing center directly if you prefer. Be sure to print your registration ticket so you can bring it to your testing center when exam day rolls around.

What you can expect to save.

At the time of writing, a CLEP exam costs $87. There will be a fee charged by the testing center, usually $20-$35. Compare that to the tuition you would expect to pay for the class and include the costs of textbooks and other supplies to calculate your savings.

What to expect when you take your test.

CLEP exams are 90 minutes long. Most exams have 90-120 questions although the mathematics exams have fewer. If you take an exam with an essay requirement, the exam time is longer, 120 minutes. Mathematics exams allow the use of a calculator which is built into the exam. Foreign language exams have a listening component to the exam where you listen to a statement and then answer questions about it.  

CLEP exams are multiple choice (except for any essays, of course). They are graded on a scale of 20-80 with 50 being the ACE recommended passing score. Your school may have a different score requirement to accept an exam, so be sure you know what that score is. Most schools, however, use 50 as the requirement.  

You’ll get your CLEP test results right at the end of your exam. If there is an essay portion of your exam, the scoring of the essay takes about three weeks. 

Anyone can take a CLEP exam.

Whether you are 8 or 80, you can take a CLEP exam! You don’t have to be enrolled in a college or university to test. The College Board will hold your CLEP results for 20 years until you decide where to have your credits sent. 

Parents or guardians have to register minors and accompany them to the exam. All of this information is shared with you during the registration process. 

Many high school students take CLEP exams to earn college credit before they set foot on a college campus.

Military service members and veterans can have their CLEP exam fee paid for by the military for a first attempt on any exam. Check with your benefits advisor about how to have your test fee covered.

Make a plan to pass your CLEP

Yes, some people just wing taking a CLEP exam. The ones who pass usually had some classes in the subject or have learned on their own because the subject is of personal interest to them.

Most people, however, should plan on studying for the exam. You can check out textbooks or cobble together online resources from here and there. 

If that sounds like too much hit-and-miss, how about comprehensive, current and guaranteed CLEP preparation materials? courses guide you through the material you need to know for 25 different CLEP exams, and allow you to learn and study at your own pace. 

Complete your CLEP study guide through SpeedyPrep, and you’re protected by a 100% Pass Guarantee. If you finish a SpeedyPrep course and fail your CLEP exam, SpeedyPrep refunds your subscription fee.


If your goal is to get your college diploma and you haven’t already completed classes for your general education requirements, consider the CLEP option to get those credits. The CLEP’s 50 year history shows no sign of letting up as more and more people learn about it. You can join those who save time and money on their degrees with CLEP.

Remember— Making Education Possible (MEP) provides access to education benefits to help its members save both time and money on their college degrees. Access to vetted and reputable online courses--and a discount for SpeedyPrep-- is a part of the many MEP benefits you and your entire family can use. 

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Tips for Overcoming Test Anxiety
Feb. 28, 2019
overcoming test anxiety, test nerves, how to control test nerves



Learn about the exam. It's is a perfectly legitimate question to ask your professor how the exam will be set up. Will questions be fill-in-the blank or multiple choice? Any essay questions? How long is the exam? How will different parts of the exam be scored? Having this information can remove unwanted nerve-inducing surprises on exam day. 

Practice basic academic discipline. Attend class. Take notes. Read your textbook. Complete and turn in all assignments on time. Nothing conquers exam nerves like knowing your subject and knowing it well!

Make a list of your academic progress and add to it every time you accomplish a study task. Watch this list grow throughout the semester. It is a visual reminder that you are learning what you need to know—reviewing it can help reduce test nerves when you see what you have accomplished.  

If you don’t keep up your learning progress, you can expect more test nerves and poorer grades on those exams. Day-in/day-out academic work is your foundation for good exam experiences.

Banish negative thoughts. Do any of these kind of thoughts run through your mind? 
“I’m not good enough.”   “If I don’t pass this test, I’m a failure.”   “There’s no way I can learn everything that will be on the test.”  

It’s time to replace those messages with new ones. 

Try this: When one of the negative, defeating thoughts about an exam creeps in, jot it down on a piece of paper. Then write a positive thought next to it. Practice saying them when the negative thoughts creep into your mind.

“I can do this!”   “I don’t have to get a A+, I just have to pass!.”   “I know the material and studied hard, so I will be prepared for this test.”


Get sleep the night before. If you are well-rested before exam day you will have the mental capacity to focus on your test and manage your nerves.

Be sure to eat. You can’t think effectively if you haven’t eaten. The brain needs balanced nutrition to work at its optimum. Be sure to have some protein, whole grain carbs, a little fat, and a little sugar source (fresh fruit is great) so your mind is sharp, and your energy is sustained.

Exercise a little. You don’t need a full workout, but a short brisk walk or dancing to some favorite music are a couple of easy ways to get your circulation going and oxygen into your system. A little exercise will also help release the tension that can trigger more test nerves.

Do a pre-test “Pep Rally”. You know how athletes psych themselves up before a game? The coach gives them a talk to rev them up. They shake out the nerves and hype up by chanting and jumping. You can do a little of this yourself. If there are other students in your class, you can try it together.

If that’s too out there for you, before you leave for your exam, you can give yourself a pep talk in your car or your room. Maybe even record a “You’ve got this and you’re going to have a great exam” message and play it back to yourself. 


Stop and focus before you start. Remind yourself to take on the questions one at a time.

Scan the exam to see how it is structured before you begin.

Smile. Smiling triggers a powerful chemical reaction in the brain that lifts your mood, lowers stress, heart rate and blood pressure. (Try smiling right now as you read this. Feel what a smile can do!)

Breathe. If you start to feel the nerves growing, breathe deeply to relax and regain your focus.

Read directions carefully. Be sure you understand them before beginning. 

Read questions carefully, too, so you know exactly what they are asking.

Prioritize. If you come to a question that you don’t know and your anxiety rises, skip forward and find questions you do know. Go back later to the questions you’ve skipped and try them again. Be careful to understand exactly what they are asking. More than likely, they will make more sense the second or third time through.

Congratulate yourself on your effort. If you prepared well, and put some of these tactics to use, your next test experience should be better. You’ll continue to build on that success in the future.

Closing Thoughts

We hope that you find these approaches help you overcome test anxiety when it arises. 

Not all test anxiety is easily managed. If your test anxiety symptoms are severe and you are incapacitated by them, please reach out for professional help. Your school counselor will have advice and resources to help. 

Remember— Making Education Possible (MEP) provides access to education benefits to help its members save both time and money on their college degrees. Access to vetted and reputable online courses is a part of the many MEP benefits you and your entire family can use. 

Join the MEP movement and fight back against rising college costs! Join Today!
Tips for Learning with Technology
Feb. 20, 2019
learning with technology, how to study online
As an online source for Education benefits and planning, making education possible knows a thing or two about the importance of online learning. 

In this blog, MEP education experts will give you a few tips on how to properly use the internet for studying, as well as some pitfalls to avoid when using the web for your learning success.
Use the right Internet sources.

Where to start? If your professor/teacher doesn’t give you a list of recommended online resources, you can do your own search for them. Use your class syllabus and/or textbook to choose the topics you want to study online. You might concentrate your search on topics you find harder to master with just your textbook and class lectures. 

When you start to scour the internet for credible learning resources and accurate information, you’re in luck—the internet is packed with the stuff! However, it’s also packed with misinformation, misleading claims, and misinterpretation. The key is to glean information from the right sources—more specifically, sources with established credibility, that are backed by empirical evidence, science, and data. These sources will be experts in their fields—whether individuals or organizations. They are not breezy bloggers or creators of social media clickbait. Reputable education resources are designed to educate, not to drive web traffic.  

Unfortunately, the line between credible and false information grows more unclear by the day. What do you do if you’re not sure the information you find is accurate and credible? In that case, it’s best to make like a journalist and double-check—no, triple-check—the information in question. If your information is corroborated by a few credible sources, chances are it’s the correct information.

Keep off social media when studying online.

We get it—this one is easier said than done. At first, you’re just checking your social media outlets as a “quick study break.” Then, about 45 minutes later, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook have sucked you in and your study session is shot. 

Social media is designed to intoxicate you—to keep you engaged so you share, like, comment, and retweet to your heart’s content. Unless you’re blessed with incredible willpower, there’s a very small chance you’re only going to spend a minute or two on social media—so while you’re studying, it’s best to stay off social media completely. 

First, keep that Facebook tab closed when you’re using online study materials. Next, turn off push notifications for social media outlets on your phone, and keep your phone on silent during study time. The constant “ping” sound from your iPhone will only serve as a distraction to your study success. There are a number of apps and extensions that can temporarily block access to social media outlets while you’re in study mode. Install and use them.  

When you’ve had a solid study session and turn back to your social media, you can enjoy it guilt free, knowing you are in control of it rather than social media controlling you. 

Take advantage of study aid software.

If you are using online resources to study, here are a few tips to help your learning permanence.

Read your material out loud. Hearing the information helps reinforce it in your mind. Make your own notes, handwritten with paper and pencil/pen. The act of writing creates a mental connection with what you jot down. If the format you are studying in gets a little boring, do your own web search on a topic to watch a video or read an article about it. When you go back to the program you are using, it will seem a fresher to you.  

Closing Thoughts

Using various online study sources—a quick video, an article, online quizzes and study notes—can really help you learn a topic thoroughly. We hope you feel empowered to find great online sources to help you achieve academic success!  

Remember— Making Education Possible (MEP) provides access to education benefits to help its members save both time and money on their college degrees. Access to vetted and reputable online courses is a part of the many MEP benefits you and your entire family can use. 

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How to Study for Your Learning Style
Feb. 14, 2019
learning styles, study with learning style, visual learner, auditory learner, verbal learner, solitary learner, kinesthetic learner
Not everyone learns the same way. People have different learning styles, based on the way their minds process, absorb and store information. Figuring out the how you learn is a first step. finding out how to study using your learning strength is the next step. 

In a previous POST, Making Education Possible covered various learning styles. In this article, we’ll cover learning strategies you can try based on your learning style.

Study Tips for Visual Learners

Visual learners need to see or read information in order to learn it. Learning by just listening is difficult. Visual learners use mental imagery to remember things. Visual learners can try these study strategies.
  • When you sit down to study, write a note with your goal. Put it where you can see it. “From 7:00 to 8:00 I will read Chapter 12”.
  •  Preview a chapter first by looking through the pictures, graphics and topic headings.
  •  Study where it is quiet. Noise can distract visual learners.
  •  Use highlighters to color code your notes, flashcards, even your textbook. Write in the margins, doodle pictures, and design graphs that relate to the topic.
  •  Watch online videos on topics you are studying.
  •  Sit near the front of class and watch your professor while you take notes.
Study Tips for Auditory/Verbal Learners

Auditory/Verbal learners remember what they hear and can follow spoken directions easily. They often participate in class discussions and can solve complex problems by talking them through. If you are an auditory/verbal learner try these tips.
  • ​Record your class lectures and listen carefully during class. Don’t focus on extensive note taking. Your recording will help you fill out your notes later.
  • ​Study with someone. You can quiz and summarize topics for each other. Speaking and hearing will help you learn.
  • ​Listen to podcasts on your subject.
  • ​Participate in class discussions, both listening and speaking.
  •  Read your textbook out loud. Try this when you write papers, too.
  •  Make ‘audio flashcards’. Record yourself reading key terms or vocabulary with their definitions. Listen to the recording when walking to class or other activities.
  •  Use mnemonic devices, acronyms or rhymes to remember concepts. All are verbal-based techniques that will help.
Study Tips for Kinesthetic/Physical Learners

Kinesthetic/Physical learners have lots of energy and process information best when they are physically engaged as they learn. Lecture-based schooling is difficult for these learners because there is no outlet for engaging the body during class. Here are some study strategies for kinesthetic learners.
  • ​During lectures try taking notes with pen and paper. Keep a stress ball in your free hand and squeeze it occasionally. Use tension/relaxation—make a fist or tighten another muscle and count five to ten seconds, then release. This eases pent up energy that needs a physical outlet.
  •  Take the long way to class. The longer walk will engage you physically before you have to sit and listen for an hour.
  •  When you study, stand up for part of your time. Try using a bookstand so you can get your body engaged in the learning.
  •  Exercise while you study. If you just read up on a topic, get up and move while you summarize out loud what you just learned. Create some flashcards and review them while taking a walk or run.
  •  Use small movements too. Bouncing a ball, twisting a rubber band, passing an object from hand to hand can help during study sessions.
  •  Build something. You are more likely to remember something you create than read. Take your notes and act out a story that explains them. Design a video, draw pictures or manipulate figurines.
Study Tips for Logical Learners

Logical (sometimes called mathematical) learners use their skills of logic to take in and process information. They excel at seeing connections, patterns and relationships between concepts. They are investigative by nature and enjoy learning what’s behind things. Here are some ways to study if you are a logical learner.
  • ​Break large amounts of material into to smaller segments and find the things that link them together.
  •  Look for the patterns and relationships between bits of information to maximize your understanding.
  •  Relate patterns in the material to patterns you see in real life. If you have a personal experience that mirrors that pattern it will help you make sense of it.
  •  Use your class notes and rewrite them to line up topics sequentially—especially helpful if your professor jumps from topic to topic during lectures.
  •  Create graphs, charts or outlines of material. Organize them based on the relationships/sequences you have discovered.
Tips for Solitary Learners

Solitary learners are quite independent and enjoy having long periods of private introspection. You enjoy analyzing a topic from various viewpoints and like the freedom of private study so you can follow discoveries without interruption. You are probably a planner and like to set goals for yourself. Solitary learners can try these study tips.
  •  Find places to study. It’s seems obvious, but you’ll need places to study where you can be alone. Identify several options for yourself so if one spot is busy, you can go to another. These places will put you in the right mind frame for studying.
  • ​Keep a set of earplugs handy. Often solitary learners find outside noise distracting.  
  • ​Play quiet instrumental music or even white noise through earphones if there is outside noise.
  •  Make an agenda. You are a planner so use that strength every time you sit down to study. You might make a plan for an entire unit or even the semester. Just doing that puts you in control of your work and you’ll always know where you are heading.
  •  Try a few approaches from the other learning styles to give you study options while alone. Watch videos or listen to podcasts on a topic to deepen your understanding. Make outlines, flashcards, graphs or drawings that allow you to exercise your natural tendency to organize and plan.
Closing Thoughts

Most people find they have a couple of learning styles. Don’t limit yourself to just one—you may find tips from another style that help you learn too.

The goal of excelling in your college courses is to thoroughly learn your subjects in the most efficient means possible. Strategies that sync with your personal way of learning will help you immeasurably toward that end.

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How CLEP Helps High School Students
Feb. 5, 2019
CLEP for high school, high school CLEP, how high school students CLEP
More colleges are adapting their practices to meet the needs of working adults—those with careers and families. Online classes are multiplying, more classroom courses are done at night or on weekends, allowing adults to earn their degrees while meeting their work and family responsibilities. 

But, what if you are a high school student (or the parent of one)? You can earn college credit along with adults and ‘regular’ college students! A 50-year old program, often called the best-kept secret of higher education, is available to you.  

The College Level Examination Program (CLEP) awards college credit when you pass their exams. There are 33 to choose from in a variety of subjects. Anyone, of any age, can take a CLEP exam. 

You don’t have to be enrolled in a college or even accepted into one when you take a CLEP exam. CLEP exam results are held for 20 years by the College Board and are applied when and where you choose to send them. If you’re a high school student and pass a CLEP you can finish your high school career, take some time off to work, and walk into college with credits earned—entire semesters of college can be completed with CLEP.  

If your high school has dual credit, AP or IB classes that you take, great! You may still find that CLEP can be added to those credits, covering additional subjects. If your school doesn’t have college credit granting classes, CLEP exams are your ticket earning them on your own.

What are the benefits of CLEP? Well for one, you don’t have to take the college class! No lectures, no assignments, papers, projects or exams. Think of the time saved. CLEP exams are 90 minutes in length. You will spend some time preparing for the exam, but in total it will be significantly less than the typical 120-160 hours spent in a semester course. 

Another benefit is the cost savings. Would you like to save $1,610? 

Today, the average cost-per-credit-hour is $574. A typical college class is 3 credit hours. That’s $1,722 for one class, before you buy the textbook.  

A CLEP exam fee is currently $87. The testing center where you take the exam will charge a proctoring fee that averages $25. This makes the testing cost $112. $112 vs. $1,722. What would you rather pay?  

If you already know a college you’re interested in, you can calculate your CLEP savings this way: Get the cost-per-credit hour for the school, multiply by 3 and then subtract $112. The result is the savings on one passed CLEP exam.

Taking CLEP exams in high school can make the college experience easier as well. Let’s say you pass five CLEP exams during your high school career, and all five count for college credit. That’s at least 15 college credits (basically an entire semester) earned before college even begins! 

Be sure that you check with your prospective college(s) and make sure the CLEP exams you’re going to take will count as college credit. With an already busy high school schedule, it might not be worth your time to pursue a CLEP exam that isn’t going to earn you college credit.

If you’re vying for spots in competitive universities and degree programs, every extracurricular activity and extra effort counts. In a sea of applicants with similarly stunning GPAs and ACT/SAT scores, you need to boost your application with accomplishments that go beyond honor’s society and community service—that’s where CLEP can help. Successful CLEP results show university admissions officers that you are dedicated to furthering your education, expanding your range of knowledge, and most importantly, working hard to achieve your academic goals. It will set you apart from all the other 4.1 GPA, three-sport athletes and student council officers who are vying for those college placement slots.

If you want to try taking CLEP exams while you’re still in high school, you’ll need to study so you gain the college-level knowledge to pass them. One good approach is to leverage what you’ve learned in high school already. For example—after your high school algebra class, study up in order to pass the College Algebra CLEP.  

We hope that you will be inspired to graduate high school with college credit already earned through CLEP exams. High school students are one of the faster growing groups to take these widely accepted credits (over 2,900 institutions accept CLEP). 

Remember— Making Education Possible (MEP) provides access to education benefits to help its members save both time and money on their college degrees. One of these benefits is a discount to SpeedyPrep, an online CLEP preparation subscription service that prepares you to pass your CLEP. When you join MEP, your entire family can use its many education benefits. 

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Get Lost College Credits Back
Jan. 28, 2019
get lost college credits back, graduate on time,
It happens to the best of us. That bout of mononucleosis, a family emergency, or just how your life goes during your college years — any number of circumstances can happen that result in not getting through a college course. perhaps you lost credit by dropping a class, failing a course, or taking an incomplete. Those situations were frustrating at the time, and now, when you want to graduate on time, the frustration can feel insurmountable.   

All is not lost if you are lacking general education requirements to graduate. As long as your college has the correct exam policies in place, you could get those credits by Passing a clep exam — and save you both time and money for those final credits. 

How To Start

Consult with your academic advisor about the credits you are lacking from those missed courses. Ask if passing a CLEP exam in the same subject will earn you those credits. It’s very important that you know this. You wouldn’t want to prepare for, and pass, a CLEP exam only to find out your school won’t apply the credit. Since over 2,900 colleges and universities accept CLEP, the likelihood is high that you can CLEP those credits.

Replace Gen Eds with CLEP

CLEP exams cover many required general education (gen ed) courses—those credits you have to get even though they aren’t related to your major. While there’s value in all education, many people feel like general education requirements are an example of lost credits. It can feel as though you’re investing in courses that aren’t related to your major — when you could instead be diving into your career path.

Rather losing money to courses that aren’t directly relevant to your major, you could replace some of your gen edswith CLEP. This could end up expediting the time it takes to get into your major, and even speed up the overall time you spend in college — saving you thousands of dollars.

Avoid Summer School

Summer classes for making up lost credits is a usual step people take. It’s a shame to turn down a job or return home for the summer to save money, solely so you can take summer classes. It complicates everything. Keep that job and prepare for a CLEP exam on your own time instead. CLEP exams also don’t affect your GPA, ideal for your transcript record!

Save Time and Money

Do a little research on how much CLEP exams cost versus paying for a college course—you will be stunned at the difference. With CLEP, you’re likely getting a significantly more affordable option — and since it’s done on your own schedule and at your pace, you can make the timing of the courses work for you.

CLEP exams currently cost $87 (in 2019) plus a testing fee of about $20-25. Spend a few dollars on study materials and you could save thousands of dollars over retaking the class.

Be Prepared to Pass

You’re going to need to pass that test, so you will want to be prepared. SpeedyPrep is an online resource for CLEP preparation. A single subscription gives you access to 24 courses, can be cancelled anytime, and offers a money back guarantee. Please visit for more information. 

Closing Thoughts

Getting to the end of your college career and being just a credit or two shy can be very frustrating and you might feel like a failure. If you get those credits through a CLEP exam or two it will be worth the extra effort and time. Once that diploma is in your hands, you’ll be glad CLEP was there for that moment to happen.

Here at Making Education Possible, we have a suite of benefits to help you through your college journey—from degree planning, scholarship resources, life and education tips from experts, access to a discount portal for both large and small purchases, discounts on RN, CNA and SpeedyPrep courses…and much more. Consider joining MEP today. 

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Start Your Semester Off Right
Jan. 20, 2019
start your semester off right, have a good semester, plan my semester
It’s the start of a new semester. Are you ready to make the most of the next few precious months of your academic career? If you are, read on to make this semester of school the best yet.

1. Take a look back.  

It’s not counter intuitive to look back before moving forward—at least not when a semester starts. 

The new semester is a new opportunity to refine skills, such as time management, organization and planning. Spend some time reviewing how you managed your coursework last semester.  

What things worked well for you? Remember them and plan on doing those things again. Write them down as a checklist. It seems obvious to say that but reminding yourself of those positive actions early will give you the most opportunities to use them again. Look over your class plans and decide where you can apply those good approaches. Can you find more opportunities to use them this semester? For example, if a study group in one class really helped, can you join groups for two classes this semester?

On the flip side—were there situations last semester you don’t want to repeat? If so, ask yourself what you could have done to avoid them. Apply those answers into your semester plan now. As an example, if you wound up cramming for too many exams because you didn’t stay on top of your class reading and notes, change your study habits so you stay current with the class.

2. Calendar Everything

Make a master calendar for your academics. Start with blocking in every regular class time. When you get the semester plan for each class add every assignment/project due date, every quiz and exam date. Look this calendar over and make note of times when you might face an academic pile up—a major paper due the same day you have a major exam, for instance. You’ll know early to stay on top of the writing and the exam review so you aren’t cramming on both at the same time.  

3. Meet Your Professors

Your most important resource should know who you are, don’t you think? Even if you sit in a lecture hall of over a 100 students, make the effort to meet your professor on the first day of class—nothing beats meeting them personally and showing your interest in the class they are teaching.

Stop by during their office hours early in the semester as well, even if you don’t have questions about your classwork yet. This is a chance to make professional contacts during your college career. When you do need their help, they’ll remember your earlier courtesy and interest and should engage with you right away.

4. Make ‘Classy’ New Friends

A new semester gives you the chance to make new friends in class. Meet someone new in every class and expand your academic network. They can become personal friends, yes, but they can also be a resource for the class you share. You can share notes if either of you has to miss a class. The pair of you could also start a study group together. You could also become part of each other professional network after school.

5. Try Something New

During the years you spend in college your central focus will be your academic work. You may find you fall into a rut—attending class, studying, and working winds up being all you do. It may feel a bit like you’re waiting for life to start after you graduate. Why not start that life now?  

Join a club or pick up a new sport. It doesn’t have to be related to your major. It should be something you are genuinely interested in. You’ll meet new people and learn new things. If it turns out to be as fulfilling as you hope, you’ll have it to look forward to. It will help you relieve stress and refresh yourself mentally. What could be better? 

6. Build Your Personal Brand

This advice is directed towards college students more and more frequently. There are a lot of things to build a personal brand and we will offer another post later just on this topic. 

In short, every contact and interaction you have with your teachers, fellow students, and employers builds your personal brand. Every social media post you release is a part of your personal brand as well.

If you are a reliable employee who shows up to work on time and does their work well builds a strong personal brand.  

Conversely, if your social media posts reveal less than flattering activities or details, your personal brand is weakened. Future employers may review your Facebook, Instagram and other social media. Now is the time to review and remove anything that would indicate lapses in judgement. You should even review and correct your grammar for posts you want to keep. 

If you want to learn more about this right now, there are many online articles to read about this issue.

7. Work on Your Health

Yes, we know. You hear this all the time. That’s because it’s important!

Eat healthy food and keep sugary, high-fat foods to a minimum. Eat regularly. Going too long without food will zap you of needed energy to do your work.

Exercise regularly. It doesn’t have to be intense or time-consuming. If you tack on extra time walking from class to class you can build activity into your day. Use a phone app that will track your activity to help you know how much activity you are doing. 

Get enough sleep. Some students use sleep apps on their phones to track the quantity and quality of their sleep so they really know what they getting. During sleep you will be processing everything you are learning. Short changing this function will be a detriment to your academic goals.

Closing Thoughts

We hope that these tips will help you plan and execute a great semester for yourself.

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Working and Going Back to School—Caring for Yourself
Dec 18, 2018
working and going back to school,
A thousand-mile journey is done one step at a time, as the saying goes. Managing your work, school and personal life during this time will be lived one day at a time. You will be developing, using and mastering new life skills. You will be learning and growing. Never forget that.

Here are some suggestions to help you keep yourself mentally, emotionally and physically healthy during your quest for your college diploma—especially important if you work full-time and are raising a family.

Take Care of Your Health

Give your body what it needs to get you through everything you are doing in your life.

Get some regular exercise—a quick walk and some stretching for just 20 minutes can really help clear your head before work or studying. Exercise oxygenates the brain (perfect before studying!) and also reduces muscle tension. Your sleep will also improve with regular exercise. 

Eat healthy! You’ll be on-the-go and meal planning may be tough. Make use of the easily prepared foods that grocery stores now offer—make them the healthy versions. 

Carry healthy snacks with you so that you aren’t reaching for candy or sodas which will give you a temporary lift, but make you crash later. You’re in this for the long haul and you’ll want the stamina to make it.

Make time for play and rest. Even plan them into your schedule. 

Find an Accountability Partner

What is an accountability partner? It’s someone who will hold you accountable! 

This person could be a friend, work colleague, classmate or family member. If considering a spouse or best friend, consider whether your relationship can shift for the needs of being accountable. 

Their responsibility is to check in on you and help you stay on track with your studies and work. Your responsibility to them to keep them up-to-date about your classes. Be honest with them about your progress or lack-there-of. They are your cheerleader and can help you work through problems. They should provide you tough love if need be.  

When things get overwhelming (and they will) your accountability partner can listen to your gripes and remind you of the goal—your degree. A half hour over coffee could be just what you need to refresh yourself, so you can get back to the work of getting through your classes.

Nurture Your Relationships

This is your life and you want it filled with love and laughter, don’t you? 

Be intentional about showing affection. Enjoy those you love. Practice ‘being in the moment’ as they say. A snuggle on the couch, talking and listening to each other…it’s all about your life. You may think that Chapter 5 must be mastered tonight or else, but a little time spent with family nurtures your spirit—something that lasts past this semester.  

Really set aside school between semesters. Rest and deepen your relationships when between semesters.

If your relationships are strained because of the toll your work/school load is taking on you, seek help. A school counselor, student support group, or your house of faith leader are good resources for you.  

Try to Limit Media

If you work and go to school, you are saturated with information coming at you to be learned and acted on. You are mentally engaged for many hours a day. When you come home, you have family to care for. All of that demands your attention and focus. 

It can be tempting to escape frequently into FaceBook, other social media, streaming television, et al. However, spending a lot of time with media can spread you too thin mentally. There are studies that indicate the brain’s circadian rhythms are disturbed by smartphone and computer screens. This disrupts the brain’s sleep mechanism. 

It’s a good idea to stop with the screens a couple of hours before bedtime whenever possible. If you study into the night, switch to a textbook, listen audio files or podcasts about your subject. Read over hand written notes.  

Make your social media time a treat for yourself when you’ve done your studying. Trying to study and text friends at the same time probably means you won’t get very high-quality results with the studying.  

Create Rituals

How you start your day and end it can create peace of mind and focus. 

At the beginning of the day, give yourself a few minutes to think and prepare for the day ahead. Anticipate the things that will require the most of you. You’ve got this!  

In the evening, do the same to slow your mind down. Give yourself credit for a day well-lived or let go of the things that were troublesome. Tomorrow is a new day.  

Adapt and Apply What You Know 

You wear many hats when you are pursuing your degree, working, caring for your family and managing day-to-day responsibilities. 

Take a look at the steps or structures you follow to complete your tasks at work. Can you adapt them to planning your schoolwork or home chores? If you get your job done by following a series of tasks, you can break down that term paper into a series of tasks. Each completed step will lead naturally into the next and make everything manageable. It also lets you build from success to success!

Share Your Success

Were you able to have a good study session at home because your kids were quiet and didn’t disrupt you? Thank them and let them know how they helped you. 

Did a co-worker swap a shift when you had a class final? Let them know that you passed, and they helped make it possible.

Learn Your Limits

This may be the toughest lesson to learn. For most people, it’s a lifelong challenge if they choose to take it on.

We live in a society that praises the workaholic. People boast about only sleeping a few hours a night because they are working so much. If someone didn’t achieve a goal, the attitude is usually that they didn’t try hard enough. You may be measuring yourself against this mindset and your self-esteem suffers. This is a signal that you may have reached your limit and need to release the pressure.  

There may come a class that you just can’t pass, and the best choice may be to drop it and work it into a timeframe later on when you can better tackle it. 

Life happens. You may need to take a semester off if it is in the best interest of you and your family. You’re not a failure for doing so. You’ve simply reached your limit and choose to put your efforts where they are really needed. Don’t think it’s a setback. It’s just a pause. When things settle down, you can pick up your classwork again. 

That thousand-mile journey is done one step at a time. You can always get back on that road again.  

Be sure to visit MakingEducationPossible to review their benefits. They have tools to help you plan your degree, incorporate online courses that save you money and can be completed on your own time schedule. MEP education consultants can help you start your own thousand-mile journey for a degree!  

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Working and Going Back to School—Managing It All
Dec 6, 2018
work and go to school, adult learners, going back to school, income increase,
A growing number of working adults are enrolling in college to advance their careers. With degrees in hand, their incomes will increase, and they can expect greater job security with more opportunities for promotions.

In our previous post, Making Education Possible shared ideas to help working adults research, plan and choose the right college to earn their degree. 

In this post, MEP experts will share some practical advice you can use while working, studying and managing your family life.  

Introduce Yourself

Meet with an advisor as soon as you enroll in school. Be sure to check in regularly, at least every semester, to review your progress, and get advice they may have.
Be sure to meet your instructors. Tell them you are balancing work, family and school. Get their office hours and find out alternatives to talking with them if you can’t meet them during those times. They want you to succeed and should be happy to help you.
Meet your classmates. See if there are others like yourself who work and go to school. You can help each other even if it’s just a few minutes of chatting before class.

Calendar Everything

You’ve enrolled in school and know when classes begin. Your calendar will be full, and it might be your best friend until you graduate.

As soon as you get information about your class schedule, put it all in your calendar. Consider using an electronic calendar that links to important family members so they can check your schedule, too. Exams, mid-terms, due dates for important assignments and finals should all be in there.

Are you taking online courses that you access on your own schedule? Put that on your calendar too. The flexibility of taking online courses is a big plus, but you’ll have to work out a schedule to complete your studies if it’s all up to you. You should follow the schedule advised by the instructor of the course and block out times to study just as if you were headed to a classroom.

Create Your Space

Have a designated study space. Keep supplies handy. You’ll save a lot of time if you don’t have to gather items every time you want to study.

Have a good light source in your study space. Keep earplugs/earphones handy to block out family noise. You’ll want a place that is quiet and puts you in an alert learning mindset. Studying in bed, for example, may not be the best option if you find yourself slipping into sleep mode!

Set boundaries with your family when you study at home. During your study time, they can help by not interrupting you and turning down the noise level of their activities. How you and your family reach agreement on this issue can build respect and deepen your bonds with each other.

Learn How to Study

It may have been years since you ‘hit the books’, so you’ll want to brush up on your study techniques. If your school has a learning resource or student success center, you can get valuable information about how to study.

You can also search online with the ‘How to Study’ and pick up both new and tried-and-true tips.

Tuck In Time to Study

Craft some flashcards or notes that you can carry with you. Download videos or podcasts about what you’re studying. When a few minutes of time opens during your day, use your notes/flashcards or listen to the recordings to capture a few minutes of learning time.

If possible, pad time around every class. Get there early and stay a few minutes late to prepare and review.


At work, give your school schedule to your manager. Let them know when your midterms and final exams are scheduled. It will give your manager plenty of time to accommodate those days. If you must, find someone to swap work shifts with you, do so as soon as possible and be sure to tell your manager of your plans. Regularly check to be sure that you are all on the same page.

Keep communication open with your family. There are going to be stressful days for everyone but talking about things can keep relationships strong.
Remember, you won’t be in school forever and getting your diploma is going to be worth it!

Keep Track of All Education Expenses

It’s a good idea to keep receipts of all your education related expenses.
You never know when an opportunity for some reimbursement may become available to you. If your job requires you to earn a degree or additional licenses, there is probably a tuition reimbursement policy in place.
Keep a folder in your study space; you can label and put the receipts in as you get them. If ever you need them, you’ll be glad you set them aside and kept them in one place!

Celebrate and Evaluate

At the end of every semester, do something to celebrate. You’re a step closer to your degree and should be proud of yourself.

Also, review how the semester went. See what worked for you and plan on that again. For things that didn’t work so well, think about how to do them differently next time. As you grow and learn, your approach to reaching your goals can improve and adapt.
Please join Making Education Possible’s next post which will address maintaining your personal life while going to school and working.

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Working and Going Back to School—Getting Started
Nov 25, 2018
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You hear about it everywhere—the benefits of having a college diploma—higher wages, more career opportunities and better job security. Of course, you want those things. Perhaps your employer has told you they think you should get your degree.
However, there is so much to decide—how to afford it and how to fit college work into your work, family and home schedule.
Making Education Possible experts have a few tips for the early stages of your degree planning. (We also have tips to help you in every step. You’ll want to read about those in upcoming posts.)

Here are some suggestions to get you started.

Determine Your Goal

Are you in a job that you like and you would like to earn a degree or license to take you to the next level?

If so, you will want to learn what degree you need. It may be obvious, but not always. Talk to your managers and find out what degrees they have. You may have several options to consider for your degree path.

If you want to move into a career unrelated to your current job, talk to people doing that work and research it online. If you have a goal and plan when you look for schools you can evaluate them better because you’ll know what to look for.

Make Records of All Your Experience and Qualifications

If you have a certificate or license for your job, that’s a start. You’ll want your high school diploma or GED in hand and any college classes you’ve already taken. Have you passed any CLEP, DSST or UExcel exams? Get those records.

Also, and this is important, record any additional training you have. Did your job train you for additional responsibilities? Find your certificate of completion or ask your employer for a record. Do you have side hustles for extra income that you trained for? Get that information.

Why gather all your experience?

Because many colleges review a person’s total body of experience and often grant credit for it. You may have already have earned college credit through your work and not even know it!

Research Programs and Schools

If you want to stay local, visit the campuses in person. College admissions officers will be happy to help. Working adults are often reliable and conscientious students—the school sees you as an asset to the student body! If you are a parent, find out what parent friendly services the campus has, like on-campus childcare.

Definitely find out what programs have a large selection of online courses. These will remove the obligation of being in class and you can plan them into your schedule on your own terms.

Any school you consider, review their credit-by-exam policies. CBEs such as CLEP or DSST exams give you credit by passing them. Wouldn’t you rather pass a 90 minute exam rather than take a semester long course? It will save you both time and money to earn credit this way. Then you can focus on the core classes for your degree. 

Do you want to work for your degree online? When you research online degrees, be sure that the schools are regionally accredited and that they will accept your previous credits.

Keep Track of Your Research

Keep track of everything you’re learning in a notebook or online documents.

It’s a big commitment of time, hard work and money to get your degree. Knowing as much as you can before enrolling in school should eliminate the kind of surprises that could derail you later. Your time is precious and you don’t want to repeat any of this work because you didn’t keep notes early on.


Tell the vital people in your life that you want to get your degree. You’ll want their support from the beginning.

Tell your employer or manager about your plans. They may have valuable advice to help you. There may be education benefits available through your work to help pay for school and your manager could help you apply for them. It is also good for them to know your plans because they’ll know that adjustments to your schedule might have to be made. Bringing them in early shows that you are respectful of their responsibilities and enhances your reputation with them.

Tell your family your plans. There will be changes to their lives when you take on the additional responsibility of school. With plenty of time to prepare before you start classes, you and your loved ones will find the changes easier to adapt to.

Ready to Start?

We agree that these are quite a few suggestions just to get started on your college path. Incorporating school into your already busy life takes a lot of planning. The more you know, the better you can prepare for for the changes that will happen.

Making Education Possible (MEP) offers an automated degree planning service previously only available to the military. It takes your experience and training and reviews over 400 schools to find the ones that will accept the most credit for what you’ve already done. Check out the full suite of education benefits available with a MEP Membership.

Our next post will offer practical suggestions once you’re ready to start your college courses.

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Note Taking-Best Strategies
Nov 6, 2018
note taking best strategies, how to take notes, tips for notes,
Walk into any college classroom and there they are--student faces lit up by laptop screens. A few students still have notebooks, pens, pencils and a handful of highlighters. When they all leave class, who retains more of the professor's lecture?
Taking good notes is arguably the most important component to your academic success. Writing notes is, in a way, a form of learning. They help you solidify your knowledge.
There are advocates for both typed and handwritten note-taking. Both approaches have advantages and disadvantages.  But, which is better—old school or new school? Typing or writing?   Let’s find out and weigh the pros and cons of each.

Your Computer—Pros
Fast talking professor? They’re no match for the speed of your fingers on the keyboard. You probably type much faster than you write, and your notes will be more complete than those with pen/paper.  Typing is a benefit if your lectures are dense with sequential and organized information.  

Your notes are backed up on “The Cloud”.  Use a web-based word processor like Google Docs, and your notes are always safe and secure.  When you use your notes to study later, the ‘search’ function will quickly reference any topic you need from all of those pages.  Sharing notes is easy. If a friend misses class, you’ve got their back and can quickly send them your notes.

Your Computer—Cons
Typing your lecture word-for-word may not be as helpful as you think. Your mind will be focused on typing the words, sure, but not engaged in understanding the concepts you learn by actively listening.  Computers freeze or glitch at the worst of times—like the last lecture before the semester final. Lost notes mean lost time. 

The most common liability for laptops in the lecture hall or your study time is—online distraction. You get to class 10 minutes early so you scroll through social media. You check out the cute puppy videos. Before you know it, the lecture on chapter 12 is half over. Chapter 12—the one you didn’t understand when you read it. You missed the lecture because you were engaged online.

Your Paper Notebook—Pros
If typing note produces lectures verbatim, how can hand writing notes be a benefit?  Well, writing by hand creates a cognitive and physical connection to the course material more than typing does.  To write notes by hand, you must listen closely to your professor and extract the most important and necessary parts of their lecture. A focused mind writes focused notes, leading to learning permanence. 

Pen/paper notes give immediate flexibility to relate pieces of information. If the lecture refers to something explained earlier, write a note and draw an arrow back to the earlier reference. Does the professor give vocal emphasis to something?  You know it's important. Mark your notes accordingly. When you study later, you'll study the topic thoroughly, because you knew it was important to the professor.

Writing by hand allows you to accommodate your  unique thought processes. Doodles in the margins can become quick graphs to fill  with information. If an image pops in your head during an ‘Ah-Ha!’ moment, sketch it…that tree with an elephant in the branches will remind you of the concept that jelled for you. Others might not get it, but you will.
And, those highlighter pens? Yes, your notes look like a piece of art. But, if you use the same color to highlight a topic every time its in your notes, you can quickly relate them to each other and remember those layers of information.

Your Paper Notebook—Cons
Remember the fast-talking professor? Writing can slow you down.  It may be hard to listen, choose what to write, and then get it on paper. Hand cramps can occur during a full day of classes. If your lectures cover a lot of information very quickly, typing may be better for you.

Some people have poor handwriting. There’s no point in taking notes if you can’t read them after the fact. Deciphering your notes later is lost time learning. If legibility is your issue, it might be best to type your notes.

Paper note takers also have distractions during class. If your mind wanders, you may have a page full of doodles instead of valuable notes. It’s always going be tough to focus if the lecture is delivered in a monotone or on a subject you find tedious and boring. 
Which one wins?

We've outlined pros and cons of both note taking options. You may decide to try both--typing for some classes and writing for others. Both have their place.
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Learning Styles - How Do You Learn Best?
Nov 2, 2018
What's my learning style?, what are learning styles, How do you learn best, learning styles,
You have a unique learning style.  Do you know what yours is?  Understanding how you learn helps you retain information more effectively.
Are you a visual learner? Do you learn best through pictures, diagrams, graphs, and videos?  If you are a visual learner you may be talented at art, visual planning and organization, utilization of physical space, and general navigation. Because you are a visual learner you can absorb and utilize a great deal of information through resources like YouTube, maps, diagrams, and visual mind maps.

Do you prefer to listen to information?  Then you may be an aural learner.  You use auditory, musical, and rhythmic associations to retain information. Due to this, you may learn best from spoken word lectures, audiobooks, and podcasts.  As a result, you make use rhyming, rhythm, and jingles to remember concepts and principles.

Are you a reader?  Verbal/linguistic learners like words in either spoken, or written form, and can be avid readers and writers, therefore, learners will often write and rewrite notes in order to achieve permanence through repetition. Mnemonic devices are also very popular amongst linguistic learners, as you can easily recognize and cling to the linguistic patterns in these devices.

Do you have a hard time sitting still and want to physically touch objects?  Then you may be a physical/kinesthetic learner.  If you can touch, move, rearrange, or manipulate an object you will remember it better.  As a result, you may find that the educational system is not a good fit because you have a hard time sitting still. In fact, you may absorb ideas and knowledge when you are moving, touching, and manipulating your environment. 

As a physical learner, you may struggle to focus during the initial learning stages but find your way when exploring the physical applications of what you're learning. You are a perfect example of “learning by doing.”

Do you love numbers and order?  Then you may be a logical learner.  Logical learners are mathematical, procedural, and rule-oriented, with a systematic approach to solving problems. Are you an expert planner, the organizer who likes to analyze facts?  Your skills are apparent in your study habits and expertly-crafted lecture notes. Numbers and statistics may be easy for you to interpret because you are logical you may enjoy a career as a statistician, scientist, data analyst, or mathematician.

Do you prefer to study with your peers?  Then you may be a social learner.  Social learners crave group learning experiences, constant feedback, and social context for their learning material. Often, social learners are highly-extroverted and seek synergistic, high-energy groups to learn the material and accomplish tasks. Usually competitive types, social learners enjoy tossing their ideas off of more knowledgeable individuals to get advice and insight on their learning material.

Are you easily distracted and need to study alone?  Then you may be a solitary learner.  Solitary learners are the classical, introverted, bookworm learners of the bunch.  You may attempt to remove the subjectivity and social stimulation of groups from the learning equation.  You may prefer to learn in silent, empty environments. Solitary learners are on the outside looking in, giving you exemplary observational skills and unparalleled objectivity.

Which learning style are you?
Ultimately, most people are a hybrid of two or more learning styles and use multiple methods for achieving learning permanence.  Choose the two or three types you think you may be and try study techniques from each of them.  Keep those approaches active. When you’re tired working from one style, try another. This way, your mind will stay active as you learn and help you master new material more quickly.

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helps employers and students fight back against the rising costs of higher education. MEP is for anyone seeking a college degree. MEP provides benefits that are normally only available to employees of major corporations. Our suite of benefits includes automated degree planning with a counselor, discounts on CLEP, DSST and ECE test prep and even discounts on everyday items from childcare to movie tickets. Our goal is not only to make education more affordable but to help individuals save on life's everyday needs while they complete their degree.
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