I hope my confession will serve as a dire warning to anyone who might be considering taking that all-important first CLEP.
Confessions of a Clepaholic: A Slippery Slope Story
Written by mine own hand on this 15th day of June, in the year of our Lord 2006.
I found out the hard way that exam-taking is extremely addictive! It only takes ONE exam for the uninitiated to become completely dependent. After you take that very first exam, it won't be long before you feel the need to take another exam...and another...and another.
Clepaholism is a beast that must constantly be fed! It grows, and grows, and grows, until eventually it consumes you.
Clepaholism changes 'who you are'. You will find yourself sneaking around the house, surreptitiously preparing for your next exam with every spare moment you have. You will wake up early in the morning with exams on your mind. You will stay up late at night wondering what your next exam will be like. It won't be long after you take your very first exam that you will find yourself turning to the love of your life and saying, "not now honey, I'm studying."...And thus begins the Slippery Slope!
Back in November of 2005, I took my own 'very first exam'. People tried to warn me against it, but I just had to try it. I told myself it was "just one exam! I can stop whenever I want." Before I knew it, it was the end of December and I had earned 43 credits. I knew I had to do something, because it was costing me a fortune to support my addiction.
I tried switching from CLEP to DANTES. That helped a little bit because I no longer got the same "kick" of instant gratification I experienced with CLEP. But I still couldn't break my habit altogether. I tried to quit 'cold turkey' in January, 2006. I actually went three whole months without taking a single exam. I kid you not...for three whole months I was completely and totally clean. Life was looking good again. I had money in my pocket, I had free time, I was able to get to bed early. Things were definitely improving.
But the after-effects of all those earlier exams was still very evident. I had knowledge pulsing through my veins. I found myself able to answer obscure questions on Jeopardy. Every time I watched "Who Wants to be a Millionaire", I was transported back to my exam-taking days. Everywhere I turned I saw reminders of my former life: I turned on the TV, and there it was...an advertisement for this university, or that college; I turned on my computer, and there it was..."Earn your degree in 18 months. Guaranteed!"
I felt as though I was going crazy. The hot sweats and clammy hands were bad enough. But it was the paranoia that got to me the most. It was as if the exams were taunting me, mocking me, constantly calling me by name. I even gained a bunch of weight. I was trying to alleviate the hunger for more exams by replacing them with comfort food. As you can probably guess...It didn't work. I was already on the Slippery Slope. There's no getting off the Slippery Slope. It's an express train, and it doesn't stop for anyone.
Unfortunately, in March of this year, the allure of taking exams became too much for me, and I fell off the wagon again. I told myself that I could control it, that if I could just take one more exam it would satisfy my cravings. That was a big mistake!
So here I am in June 2006, and I find myself with 73 credits in my system. I just can't seem to get it under control. I know it's only a matter of time before the unthinkable happens! I live every day knowing that any one of these exams could be my last. I know it in my heart...but I still can't stop.
As I sit here alone at my computer writing these words, I know that I don't have much time left. I know that my addiction will almost certainly get the best of me in the end. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not next week, but one day...and maybe one day soon!
It will start out just like any other day. I'll have been up all night "preparing". I'll kiss my wife goodbye, get in the car, and drive to my usual exam spot. I'll say hello to some of the regulars I recognize from past visits. All will appear normal. After all, it's just another exam, right? I've taken exams before! Why would today's exam be any different. When I get there, I'll make myself comfortable and take a few deep breaths to help me relax. When I'm ready, I'll begin the exam, inhaling deeply to savor the awesome satisfaction that only taking an exam can bring me. Only towards the end of the exam will I begin to sense that something is not quite right. Something is different about this particular exam. Something is wrong. But it's too late! I can't back out now. My pulse is racing, I'm hot and clammy, my face is flushed, and my heart feels ready to jump out of my chest. "Oh! Please God! No! Not like this! It can't end like...like....like THIS! Call 911. Somebody....anybody....call 911."
Within minutes it's all over.
I've reached the end of the Slippery Slope, barely even one year since I took that fateful first exam. There I lie on the floor of the test center, surrounded by score reports, old exam papers, essays, multiple choice. I take my last breath! Not in the presence of my loved ones, but surrounded by chuckling fellow addicts, and a weeping Proctor I barely even knew.
I think it happens to us all in the end...
..It will almost certainly happen to YOU TOO!
Beware the Slippery Slope! You have been warned.
I wish you well,