Friday, June 14, 2019

Homeschool Review: American Literature Mid-Late 19th Century #hsreviews #hewitthomeschooling #lightningliterature

Literature is one of my favorite subjects so I was happy to receive Lightning Literature & Composition's American Mid-Late 19th Century from Hewitt Homeschooling Resources for study at Long Leaf Academy.  Written for high school students in 9th - 12th grades, this curriculum helps students to acquire college-level skills in composition through a directed response to great literature. We have found all of the Lightning Literature courses are easy to implement and simple to understand and the required literature easy to obtain.  This is the second American Literature course in the Lightning Lit & Comp family, but it is not necessary to complete them in order.

In American Literature: Mid-Late 19th Century, students read and study Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, poetry selections from Walt Whitman, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Stephen Crane's The Red Badge of Courage, Jack London's The Call of the Wild, and Bret Harte's short story "The Outcasts of Poker Flat."  How's that for an all-star cast of awesome reads?  Some of my all-time favorites are included here.

For ease of instruction, Hewitt Homeschooling Resources offers the American: Mid to Late 19th Century Pack which includes the Student's GuideTeacher's Guide, and the four books (listed above) that will be studied throughout the 18-week course.  You can also purchase both of the Guides separately, if you prefer, and simply gather the required readings on your own.  Poetry and Short Stories to be read are included in the text of the Student's Guide and other required literature was easily obtained as a free download for our Kindles and Kindle Apps or off of our bookshelf.  You can also find all of the required reading at your local library.  For purposes of review, we received copies of both the Student's Guide and the Teacher's Guide.

The American Literature:  Mid-Late 19th Century Student's Guide is a 170-page perfect bound course written directly to the student (but parents will want to be familiar with it, too).  The 4 units are divided into 8 lessons and contain enough material to be considered a 1/2 English credit on the high school transcript.  Hewitt Homeschooling Resources recommends that all Lightning Literature courses be completed in one semester (that's the "lightning" part of this curriculum).  The rigorous schedule is perfect for students on an Honor's track.  Students work at their own pace for 18 weeks with basic "chunks" of assignments laid out for them.  For example, in Week 5 students are assigned to read chapers 36 - 45 from Uncle Tom's Cabin, answer the comprehension questions, read the 5 1/2 page Literary Lesson on Theme for Unit 1, Lesson 1, complete a Writing Exercise for the Unit, and write a rough draft of the assigned paper.  They can sit and read all of the chapters at one time or spread them out over a few days.  They may choose to read a chaper and answer its corresponding compreshension questions before moving on to the next chapter or read all of the chapters together and then answer all of the comprehension questions together. 

So far, we have appreciated the poetry of Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson and enjoyed discussing the difference in ballads, epics, elegies. idylls, and pastorals.  My daughter was impressed to compare the writings of British Literature's Christopher Marlowe with contemporary American poets. We have skipped around in the lesson order to study the craft of poetry in depth (this is perfectly okay to do) and spent some time revisiting the novels of Mark Twain and Jack London.  We have laughed and cried as we read along.  

Each unit's lessons follows the same pattern:  Introduction and bio of the author which includes details about the literary selection and things to look for/think about while you read, Comprehension Questions to answer as you complete a reading assignment (or to use for testing what has been read), a Literary Lesson that teaches the craft of writing (theme, sound and imagery, humor, language), and Writing Assignments that offer practice of the skills being taught. I especially like that the readings are broken down into do-able chunks.  After reading the assigned chapters, students answer 5 - 10 comprehension questions to make sure they are reading carefully and not rushing through anything.  The emphasis is on responding to great literature through composition, not just checking off a task.  

For further study (but not included in the schedule), Appendixes list additional discussion questions and project suggestions for each of the literary works studied.  In my opinion, these are perfect helps to qualify the course as an Honor's course.  Students have the option to do literature-based art projects, history and geography activities, and more.  There are Bible studies and nature ideas as well as additional reading lists.

The American Literature:  Mid-Late 19th Century Teacher's Guide  is a 56-page, 3-hole punched set of answer guides that contain grading tips, a proposed schedule to complete the work in either one semester or two (depending on the abilities/motivation of your students), answers to all comprehension questions, writing exercises, and suggested discussion questions and projects.  Well worth the money, this valuable resource helps you to follow your student's progress while encouraging literary excellence.  For easy reference, I added the Teacher's Guide to my school planning binder.  This way the answers were easily accessible and I could make sure we stayed on task.

Hewitt Homeschooling

You can see the nature of the course in the Table of Contents and even read a Sample Chapter to get a great feel for the course.  Find out more about all of the wonderful Hewitt Homeschooling Resources products through the following Social Media outlets:

I was given the opportunity to review American Mid-Late 19th Century Lightning Lit & Comp from Hewitt Homeschooling Resources as a member of the Homeschool Review Crew.   You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought of this curriculum and other resources we reviewed (or just click on the banner below.)

Lightning Literature, My First Reports, State History Notebook & Joy of Discovery {Hewitt Homeschooling Resources Reviews}

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Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Homeschool Review: The Wars of the Jews #hsreviews #memoriapress #simplyclassical #classicalchristianeducation

I have the utmost respect for all things published by Memoria Press and appreciate that they offer quality resources to help parents provide a classical CHRISTIAN education for their children.  The Wars of the Jews is a high school curriculum in the Christian Studies program of Memoria Press and serves as an excellent introduction to Christianity as a whole.  Based upon the book The Fall of Jerusalem, written originally by Josephus, a Jew and Roman citizen in the first century A.D., and translated for modern study by William Whiston, The Wars of the Jews offers personal insight into the destruction of Jerusalem and the subsequent spread of Christianity. 

Although it is considered a "short course" that can be completed in only a few months of study, it is not one to be taken lightly.  The amount of history discovered and discussed is amazingly in-depth as it comes from actual eyewitness account.  Reading through the pages of The Fall of Jerusalem is like taking a peek into a series of personal journals.  You can see, hear, and feel the battles raging around you.  How cool is that?

The Wars of the Jews set consists of the following three parts:
  • The Wars of the Jews Student Guide (26-pages) serves as a workbook to make sure that students understand what they read in the text.  It gives the breakdown of chapters and offers a space to fill-in-the-blank as you read and study. 
  • The Wars of the Jews Teacher Guide (35-pages) is a replica of the Student Guide with the answers for all of the lessons included.  The pages are numbered exactly the same for easy reference.  Additionally, it includes a 30-question Josephus Test and Answer Key.  This comprehensive test has students fill in vocabulary words, identify imporant people, places, and things from the book, recall specific quotes and who said what, complete short answer discussion, and label and draw on a map.  There is even an opportunity for Extra Credit.
  • The Wars of the Jews text (141-pages) begins in Book V, Chapter 6 of The Fall of Jerusalem.  The text is illustrated throughout with black and white pictures and contains endnotes for further clarification. It ends with Book VI, Chapter 10.  Each paragraph within a chapter is numbered for ease of translation.

All three books are softcover.  The Student Guide has a glossy finish for durability.  There are no designated lesson plans so students are able to work at their own pace through the set.  There are 10 lessons, a comprehensive review, and a final test included in this curriculum.  The lessons specify which chapter(s) are to be read in order to complete the corresponding pages.  Each lesson contains a Facts to Know section (pictured below) and 5 - 10 short answer Comprehension Questions.  Several lessons also include a short Vocabulary section.

The translated text was not a difficult read once we became accustomed to the writing style.  Since the translated text begins with Chapter V of the original text, there is a bit of a learning curve to reading it, but once you have begun you will step easily into the story and have no problem following along as the action transpires in the Roman/Jewish war.  An earlier study of this portion of history  whetted our appetite for more information, so we were enthralled from the very beginning of the text.  I think that you will find it just as interesting as we do.  The constant reminder that GOD takes care of mankind offers encouragement to us as we walk through the day-to-day that is our crazy life. 

As always, Memoria Press has given us well thought out resources that encourage a Kingdom focus.  The early history of Christianity is one that we should all be more familiar with and reading about the early struggles help us to better appreciate our freedom to worship.  I am using this set as a personal study so that I can help the middle schoolers in my ministry to better understand GOD's Word for themselves.  Knowing that GOD was right with HIS people through the darkest of times helps us to hold onto the faith that HE is with us always today.

Memoria Press

You can find out even more about Memoria Press on the following Social Media sites:
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I was given the opportunity to review the The Wars of the Jews:  The Fall of Jerusalem from Memoria Press as a member of the Homeschool Review Crew.   Make sure that you visit the  Crew Review to see what other members of the Crew thought of this Christian Study resource (and others), too.  You can click on the picture below to jump right over there.  

Classical Writing & Spelling, American History & Jewish Wars {Memoria Press Reviews}

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Friday, June 7, 2019

Homeschool Review: Hey, Mama! Homeschool Planner for 2019/20 Year #hsreviews #IGotMyHeyMammaPlanner #tosmagazine #homeschool #schoolplanner #schoolresources

I love a plan -- and a beautiful planner helps me to get my plan together.  I was super pumped when my copy of the Hey, Mama! Homeschool Planner for 2019/20 Year arrived from The Old Schoolhouse® a few weeks ago and I couldn't wait to dive right in and start adding things to the calendar.  Y'all . . . this is seriously the prettiest planner.  It's my favorite edition of the Hey, Mama! Planner yet and it really does just get better and better each year.  I think that's because Gena Suarez (author extraordinaire) has walked in our shoes and knows just what a homeschooling mama needs.

I started off by filling in the spaces on the July calendar because the summer is super-crazy in our world.  What I like is that the Hey, Mama! Planner has ample space for writing and mapping out exactly what's going on in our hectic life.  The pages offer big spaces to write in and scratch out and write on again.  It is truly designed for the homeschooling mama and fits my on-the-go lifestyle quite well.  I love to be able to color-coordinate our activities and have space to write in all of the little details.  How about you?

There are two-page spreads for each month beginning with July 2019 and continuing all the way through June 2020.  The blocks are perfect for ordering my days and making sure we get done what we need to get done.  I like that the spread offers me an at-a-glance look at what's going on and what's coming up and gives me a little nudge to make sure to leave some "white space" so that we can unwind and connect right here at home.

Immediately following the two-page monthly spread, there are two-page spreads for each week of a traditional school year and these allow you to completely personalize your Hey, Mama! Planner for your family.  There are spaces for up to five children across the top and there are rows for seven subjects down the side, but if you have more than five children you can flip that puppy around and put your children's names down the side and up to five subjects being studied across the top.  You might also like to utilize this two-page spread as a way to organize the weekly activities for your crew.  Instead of subjects being studied, you might choose to label columns for piano, dance, art, scouts, karate, soccer, church activities (or whatever it is that your loves are involved in that keeps you on-the-go) and list the different books, bags, equipment, shoes, or uniforms needed for each day.  That way, you can remember what needs to be where when and on what day as you load your vehicle up for the week.  Now, I KNOW I'm not the only mama who lives life on-the-run.  The great thing here is that YOU decide how the Hey, Mama! Planner will best suit YOUR needs.  It's flexible enough that you can make it work for YOUR family.

The silver coiled-wire binding makes for smooth turning pages that are held together well -- with no fear of coming loose.  This is a HUGE planner (189-pages) and if it's going to be a part of my everyday then I need it to stay together and be ready to go on-the-run.  It really is super durable and I know all of my scribbles and scratches are right at home inside its covers.   The front and back covers are sturdy cardstock with a glossy finish that make it easy to wipe right off  when smudges appear.  Somebody was smart enough to add these great protective covers, so surely I'm not the only mama who sits her things on to the kitchen countertop without checking to see what water droplets and food traces have been left behind, right?    

The Hey, Mama! Planner truly is a COMPLETE homeschool planner with sections for Curriculum Planning, marking Attendance (if your state requires that you keep it), recording a list of Books Read This Year, and tracking Yearly Goals, First Semester Goals, and Second Semester Goals for each child.  There is space for you to plan and track goals for your children in the following categories:  Educational, Spiritual, Physical, Personal Talents, Life Skills, Financial, and Relational.  This is simply invaluable to me as we assess where we've been, where we'd like our children to be, and how we are going to help them get there.  What a great thing to be able to look back on and refer to for years to come.

Did I mention that the Hey, Mama! Planner is HUGE?  It is chock-full of forms and charts that homeschooling mamas NEED to make school days run smoothly.  BUT even more than that, it is interspersed with encouragment and inspiration in the form of Hey, Mama! devotions written by my friend, Gena, that remind me of my homeschool purpose and GOD's provision and help me to persevere in the calling as I walk out my faith.  They help keep me sane and remind me that GOD loves me and mine and has a perfect plan for all of our days.  I don't know about you, but it sure is good for me to be reminded to model PEACE and JOY and totally rely on GOD to get me through each and every day.  Gena comes right alongside where I am and picks me up with her reminders that I am not alone.  Do you ever need those affirmations in your homeschool?  Oh, boy, I know I do.

Truly, the Hey, Mama! Planner is an organizational and encouraging dream.  There is a place for you to record EVERYTHING you do in a normal school year -- and then some.  You are going to fall in love with the simplicity (and beauty) of the Hey, Mama! Planner so do yourself a favor and order yours today.  That way you can go ahead and get started organizing your new school year NOW.  I promise, you're going to LOVE it.

Just in case I haven't shared enough about it, you can find out even more about the Hey, Mama! Homeschool Planner for 2019/20 Year from The Old Schoolhouse® by visiting the following Social Media sites:

Twitter @TOSMag

So here's the deal:  Rumor has it that The Old Schoolhouse® has already sold out close to 98% of their print run, and after that, they don't plan to print any more planners until next year.  Don't miss out on this one.  You're going to want to jump on over and grab your copy TODAY.    It's pretty awesome!

I was given the opportunity to review the Hey, Mama! Homeschool Planner for 2019/20 Year  from The Old Schoolhouse® as a member of the Homeschool Review Crew.   You can check out the Crew Review and see how other members of the Homeschool Review Crew are using this planner to make their lives easier this year (or just click on the banner below).

Hey, Mama! Homeschool Planner for 2019/20 Year {The Old Schoolhouse® Reviews}
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Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Homeschool Review: Life With Dog #hsreviews #MovieNight #ChristianMovies #FamilyMovie

There's an old saying about a boy and his dog, but there's definitely something to be said about a man and his dog as well.  The concepts of grief, hope, faith, and redemption are explored through the eyes of widower Joe Bigler (portrayed by Corbin Bernsen) with the help of a stray dog that shows up seemingly out of nowhere in Life With Dog from Mill Creek Entertainment.  "Dog" arrives just in time to help save Joe from himself and proves to be a loyal, if quiet, companion as Joe seeks to find justice in the unexplained death of his wife, Alice (portrayed by Marilu Henner).

The movie opens at the scene of a hit-and-run traffic accident with a broken bicycle laying in the middle of the road where we soon find out that Joe's wife of 43 years, Alice, was killed.  Grief takes many forms.  Joe locks himself inside his home with memories of Alice and tries to shut out the rest of the world -- including his daughter and grandson.  He is sad and bitter and trying to make sense of the GOD whom Alice loved.  As his final act of love, Joe gently tends to Alice's prized roses and spends time in her garden.  This is exactly the place that Dog shows up and makes himself at home with Joe.  Where Joe has spent evenings "chatting" with Alice, he now turns his attention to Dog and a friendship begins.

There are many unanswered questions surrounding the accident that claimed Alice's life and Joe sets out to find what really happened on the day of her death.  He is eaten up with guilt because he talked to her moments before she was killed and asked her to come home and help him find something lost.  He does not know how to offer himself grace because he has never offered it to anyone else.  Because Dog becomes a faithful companion and walks beside Joe no matter what, Joe begins to realize that he can forgive and offer love.

Grief leads Joe to make some very strange decisions and he must face the consequences of those decisions one by one.  In the end, Joe learns to forgive others and himself.  He begins to see the world around him through the faith of his family and experiences that hope personally so that he can claim that faith as his own.  Joe finds redemption and offers it to the man who killed his wife.  He understands LOVE in a new way and grasps the LOVE of the FATHER anew.

Life With Dog is an interesting movie that steps deep into the heart of the many forms of grief.  Dog helps Joe discover the truth of GOD's love and mercy by simply being present.  You can learn more about this movie by checking out the following Social Media sites and you can pick up your very own copy at your local Walmart (they arrived in stores yesterday) or order on Amazon.  The runtime for this DVD is an hour and 45 minutes and the content is suitable for families to watch together.  Check it out here:

I was given the opportunity to review Life With Dog from Mill Creek Entertainment as a member of the Homeschool Review Crew.   You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought of this movie (or just click on the banner below.)

Life With Dog {Mill Creek Entertainment Reviews}
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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Homeschool Review: Nothing by Natalee Creech #hsreviews #WorthyKidsBooks #NataleeCreech #GodsLove #Romans8 #JosephCowman

Y'all . . . I am going to be a grandmother and I am absolutely thrilled!  I am just so excited about the sweet little boy that we will meet later this summer.  I cannot wait to begin cuddling Percy close and reading books with him all snuggled up beside me.  Because I want to make sure and teach our sweet boy that NOTHING can separate us from GOD's love (Romans 8:38-39), the very first book that I will be gifting him is Nothing by Natalee Creech.  There is no book more perfect for him than this beautifully illustrated picture book from WorthyKids, an imprint of Hachette Book Group.  Natalee's words and Joseph Cowman's pictures are quite a combo.

A great way to bring Scripture to life, the illustrations are gorgeous and the rhyming verse rolls off your tongue with a sing-song lilt.  This combination makes it fun to read, fun to hear, and fun to look at together.  But even better?  It is exciting to share just how much GOD loves each and every one of us and to make sure that young and old alike realize that NOTHING -- absolutely NOTHING -- can separate you from GOD's love.  That's the message that I want to make sure is taught at home, at church, in life -- and I know you do, too.

Although it has been written for children ages 4 - 7, Nothing is the perfect book for children of all ages.  The preschoolers and children at church loved it, the middle schoolers at church tolerated it when I read it to them (they really loved it, but they are too cool to own up to that), and every adult that I've shared it with has fallen immediately in love.  Mommas all want their very own copy to share with their little loves at home and I know why.  Isn't this book a gorgeous one to add to your home library?

So here's the super-fun part for me . . . my daughter will be home in just a few weeks and we are planning a baby shower to honor her and welcome baby Percy.  She has chosen an adventure theme for his nursery and Nothing is the perfect complement to that.  No matter the adventure, no matter where you roam, there is nothing that can separate you from GOD's love.   Guests have been invited to bring a book (well-loved or brand-new) to our sweet boy as a constant reminder that he is so very loved and cherished.  I will be writing a blessing in the front cover of my copy of Nothing and gifting it to Percy.  It is my prayer that he will always know that even if "he hopped on a train and rode it all night, boarded a plane for an overseas flight, soared in a rocket past planets in space," he could never "outdistance GOD's LOVE and GOD's GRACE".

More than anything else, I want our boy to know the power of GOD's love for him.   This life will hold adventures galore, but our GOD will hold him forevermore.  That's what I want to impress most upon his heart and Nothing is a great way to begin.

Nothing is a delightful book (32-pages) and illustrates scripture in such a beautiful way.  You need a copy of your very own.  The jacketed hardcover will prove durable for little hands to hold and love for years to come.  The bright pictures quickly draw you into the story and I am confident that this will be a well-loved read for my sweet Percy.  You can learn more about WorthyKids, an imprint of Hachette Book Group and other books they offer for the little ones in you life by visiting the following Social Media sites:

I was given the opportunity to review Nothing by Natalee Creech from WorthyKids, an imprint of Hachette Book Group as a member of the Homeschool Review Crew.   You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought of this great book (or just click on the banner below.)

Nothing (Nothing Can Separate You From God's Love) by Natalee Creech {WorthyKids, an imprint of Hachette Book Group Reviews}
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Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Homeschool Review: #hsreviews #CLEPPrep #DSSTPrep #StudyGuide #PracticeTests

Senior year is crazy busy and making sure that your students are ready for college or the work force is high priority for any homeschool family.   At this point in the game, we are dotting the Is and crossing the Ts in an effort to confirm that the transcript is correct and in order.  We received a 3-month subscription to in order to see for ourselves how their CLEP and DSST materials might benefit us.  We are fond of resources that my daughter can use independently and fits that perfectly.  The neat thing about these classes is that they can be used as full study courses or they can be used as short refresher courses -- and best of all, they can be used to earn college credit.  This is a huge benefit to us right now because my daughter is considering taking a semester off of formal school work and postponing her college entrance until January.  I like knowing that there is an option that would keep her involved in study on her own terms while she contemplates what her future will look like.  In addition, there are almost 140 online courses to help students fall in love with learning.

When you first log into the screen opens to your dashboard.  The dashboard allows you to choose the coursework you are interested in, shows you the courses you are currently enrolled in, offers a log of recent activity (so that you can easily find your place any time you log in), and lists your goals for the week.  After choosing courses, they are immediately available on the dashboard so that you can begin study.  If you aren’t sure where to start, you can browse their libraries of classes and resources.  My daughter's life goal is to become a deaf education interpreter and she has spent the last two years training under a deaf educator so that she is fluent in ASL.   The ASL Flashcards offered great practice for quick recall, but she was especially excited to find all of the Deaf Education resources available to her.  Teaching Strategies for Deaf Education, The Deaf Community:  History & Culture, and The History of American Sign Language were most intriguing because they helped her to even better understand her calling.   Course notes, organized by lesson, are conveniently stored in one place and there are both video-based lessons and text-based lessons.

There are over 30 CLEP courses and they offer more than just test prep.  The website first explains how the CLEP process works and provides thorough lessons with flash cards to study.  Not only is this beneficial for my daughter, but my college sophomore son can utilize these courses, as well.  He plans to take chemistry next fall and the chemistry lessons here can be used as summer preparation before the course or they can even assist him in testing out of class altogether.  It is really up to him.  CLEP courses offer 15-20 hours of actual lessons and there are additional flashcards and practice tests available.  If my son chooses to make the effort, he can spend a few hours a week studying and complete the entire exam material by the end of the summer.

There is a placement test available to help him determine what he already knows.  This way he can study just what he needs to freshen up on from his high school chemistry class.  If he misses a question on the placement test, the correct answer is revealed before he moves forward to the next question.  This is a constructive win/win.

For purposes of review, my daughter chose to study the DSST Course titled Introduction to Communication 101:  Public Speaking. To begin study, she simply logged in and clicked on the course. She was able to set her goals about the pace that she would complete the course and had the option to set up text or email reminders.  She knew immediately how many lessons made up the course and how long each one should take her to finish.  It helps her to see the end goal at the beginning as it provides motivation to keep going.  

Public Speaking consists of 17 Chapters.  The chapters are divided into 119 lessons.  Each lesson contains a short video (roughly 3 - 7 minutes each) and has a 5 question quiz to test comprehension.  This quiz can be taken immediately after viewing the video or you can print it as a worksheet to study.  Depending on the lesson, my daughter did it both ways.

There is a 30 question practice exam at the conclusion of each chapter.  The course teaches speech preparation -- how to research and write a speech and how to make it fit properly in every situation -- and speech delivery.  The speech delivery includes stress management and practice techniques so students will be ready in any situation that they are called upon to give a speech.  In addition to the videos, there is a word-for-word transcript provided which is perfect for taking notes.

What we like most about is that it is easy.  There are resources for Pre-K students, middle school students, high school students, and college students.  There are graduate and post-graduate courses available, as well as professional development courses.  Students can study, earn credit, improve grades, and test prep all in one location.  They can sit at a computer or download an app to tailor the learning process specifically for them.  The coursework is fun and entertaining and available 24 hours a day/7 days a week.  By spending just a few hours a week within a specific course, students can master the material given and learn with a purpose.

You can find out more about on the following Social Media outlets:

I was given the opportunity to review CLEP and DSST materials from as a member of the   Homeschool Review Crew.   You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Homeschool Review Crew thought of this test prep resource as well (or just click on the banner below.)

CLEP & DSST Exam Prep { Reviews}

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