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Classic Learning Test

The Classic Learning Test (CLT) invites students to wrestle with works of the greatest minds in the history of Western thought across literary and mathematical content. Rich material reflecting both theistic and secular perspectives benefits and enriches the student in the test-taking process. Among standardized college entrance exams, the CLT provides the most accurate and rigorous measure of academic formation, accomplishment, and potential.

"Will this be on the test?" For the student, this critical question determines what will be studied, what will be committed to memory, and what will be left behind. The landscape of American education is informed by the same concerns of this student. Standardized college admissions tests, the sacred portals of entry to higher education, exert enormous influence over the curricula and texts selected by educators from high school down to Pre-K. As such, misguided attempts to remain “value-neutral” often lead to a rejection of the rich intellectual inheritance of Western civilization in American education.

Many exceptional educators must avoid values judgments in discussions concerning historical, literary, and scientific endeavors. This is done in order to prepare students for a standardized test requiring only a regurgitation of disconnected facts or the careful presentation of a “value-neutral” argument. However, even scientific laboratory discoveries - from the atomic bomb to genome editing - can have moral and ethical implications. The term “value-neutral” is an oxymoron in this context.

Existing standardized tests focus too narrowly on sterilized texts without allowing students to consider broader implications of decisions, ideas, and discoveries found in the rich and abundant variety of sources ranging from St. Augustine to Kant. The CLT reintroduces this variety by focusing on sources and materials that draw upon a strong tradition and challenge students to analyze and comprehend texts that are not just concerned with one small, narrow topic but rather represent the scope and complexity of Western tradition.

Our History

The CLT’s parent company, Classic Learning Initiatives was co-founded by Jeremy Tate and David Wagner in the fall of 2015. Tate, a high school teacher and guidance counselor, began an SAT/ACT prep company as a second job in order to provide for his family of six. In that role, he became intimately familiar with the kind of texts appearing on the only two test options. As a graduate of Louisiana State University and Reformed Theological Seminary, Tate comprehended the destructive influence exerted by SAT and ACT standards. Tate assumed that somewhere a project must be in development to produce another exam setting a worthy standard of educational excellence. Internet searches turned up nothing. Tate began calling educational institutions to suggest they take up the call and produce a new test. Each conversation ended with the same expressed opinion. “It can’t be done.” Without any encouragement, capital, or business experience, Tate realized that it must be attempted, possible or no. He then turned to his life-long best friend, David Wagner, a graduate of the R.H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, to pitch the idea. Wagner shared Tate’s passion for quality education with the heart of a father wanting the best for his own five children. Wagner responded supportively, “You should do this.” Tate responded, “There is no me. There is only we. This is a business. I need you.” After 24 hours, Wagner committed his vast business experience to the project, and Classic Learning Initiatives was born.

The Classic Learning Test (CLT) received immediate support from parents and educators across the country. Early adopters included Catholic, Protestant, and secular colleges, universities, and educational associations eager to raise the vision for education in the United States.

Classic Learning Initiatives (CLI)

Classic Learning Initiatives exists as a small component of a much larger contemporary endeavor to repair the rupture between intellectual pursuit and virtue. The ancient Greek philosophers stressed the same basic ideas about education that homeschool parents and classical school educators affirm today. How students learn to think, what they read, and how they live are all intricately connected. Mainstream education in America is failing because the pursuit of virtue, as classically understood, has been lost.

Ironically, even the best classical schools and Christian colleges defer to the big "value-neutral" standardized tests when looking for a measure of an applicant’s intellectual capacity. Historically, colleges have had to defer to these tests because they were the only tests available. Now, however, the Classic Learning Test (CLT) offers students, colleges, and parents a third option. Students can take a shorter exam at a local testing center, receive their scores the same day, and have their scores sent directly to any of the colleges listed on our site.

We are pleased to offer the Classic Learning Test to the students, families and college administrators who have been yearning for change in the American education system. We plan to be an active voice in the ongoing discussion surrounding the standards for college acceptance.

Classic Learning Initiatives is governed by both a Board of Academic Advisors and a Board of Directors.

Board of Academic Advisors

Board of Directors

  • David Wagner
  • Jeremy Tate
  • Pat Fonner
  • Timothy Van Den Broeck
  • Doug Banbury
  • David Goodwin