Analyzing and Interpreting Literature
Study Guide Specifications
CLEP exams are administered at colleges and universities
Analyzing and Interpreting Literature is a study guide that covers material usually taught in a general two-semester undergraduate literature course. Organized into six units, it provides a student with a strong chronological overview of the various literary periods in British and American literature and illustrates how these national literatures are placed into a world view of literature. This is done, for the most part, through analyses of the primary works of the major writers.
The study guide has a two-fold purpose:
- To enable a student to pass the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) test in Analyzing and Interpreting Literature.
- To provide an experience similar to taking an introductory undergraduate literature course by increasing a student's ability to read poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and drama with understanding and critical ability.
To accomplish either of these goals, the following procedure is recommended:
- Carefully read a single unit in the study guide, paying special attention to the names of the major authors, which are in boldface. (For anonymous works, the title of the work is boldfaced.)
- Read a short selection of works by each of the major authors, using this manual as a guide. Becoming familiar with the content and style of the major authors is the best way to improve in the interpretation and analysis of literature. Although the CLEP test does not require familiarity with specific authors, this is the best way to understand the major literary themes, the use of rhetorical devices, and the concerns of the different literary periods. This need not be an expensive proposition; the standard anthologies of English and American literature should contain an ample number of selections. The Norton Anthology of English Literature by Abrams, Donaldson, et al, and The Norton Anthology of American Literature by Baym, Gottesman, et al, are highly recommended for this purpose.
- Become familiar with the literary terminology introduced in the units. A glossary has been included in this manual to summarize many of the literary terms that appear on the CLEP test. Since the CLEP test assumes familiarity with literary terminology, this study guide also defines many terms at first usage. For more extensive analysis of terminology, books such as A Handbook to Literature by Thrall, Hibbard, and Holman or A Glossary of Literary Terms by Abrams are recommended.
- Write out answers to the short answer review questions at the end of the unit and, if necessary, verify the answers by referring to the text.
- As the final step toward understanding a unit, take the multiple-choice quiz at the end of the unit.
- After all six units have been studied in this manner, review the glossary and the tip for test preparation.
- Complete the comprehensive final exam at the end of the book. This practice examination is formatted like the CLEP test. Taking this practice exam will reinforce key concepts from the study guide, identify areas for further review, provide a gauge for managing testing time appropriately, and verify that the material has been mastered.
The study of literature provides a reader with an intimate glimpse into some of the most creative minds in history. It gives a reader insight into both historical times and the timelessness of great thought.