CLEP: College Credits for $85
College can be expensive. You don’t have to spend long looking at tuition costs or researching student loans to recognize that education after high school tends to be a costly experience. The average expected expenses at private universities are over $50,000 per year. State schools come in at over $25,000 per year and community colleges at over $17,000 per year (via College Board).
There are 44 million Americans with student loans, and the average monthly payment for these students after graduating is around $350 (via the Cleveland Fed). Taking on these costs is not something to be taken lightly.
Another factor that isn’t often considered by prospective students is the opportunity cost of education. If you are a full-time student, you likely are not also working at a full-time career. The years you spend studying in school are years that you aren’t working and making money – do well on the CLEP with the help of private Irvine tutoring.
With this in mind, it seems obvious that students looking at colleges and degrees should be strongly emphasizing completing their education CHEAPLY and QUICKLY. So, why have most college students never heard of the CLEP exams?
CLEP stands for College Level Examination Program
The CLEP exams are standardized tests administered by the College Board (the same organization that runs the SAT and AP exams). The purpose of the exams is to test your proficiency in specific college-level subjects. The idea is that if you already know the material of a college class, you can get credit for that class without having to actually take it. The caveat is that you do need to know the material well enough to pass the exam.
So what is the main benefit of CLEP exams? They are almost always cost-efficient. A college credit averages around $600 overall. Even just looking at community colleges, credits average $135 (via studentloanhero.com). The CLEP exams usually cost $85 each. Most of the exams grant an equivalency to a 3-credit course. That’s 3 credits for only $85. And, most importantly, that’s one less class that you have to take on your way to your degree. Classes take time, and if you can earn credits with CLEP exams, you can potentially knock out prerequisite courses, meet graduation requirements, and free up time and schedule space to either finish your degree early or work at your job while taking your other classes.
Passing five CLEP exams is the credit equivalent to a full-time semester of college classes at a cost of $425. There are 36 different exams to choose from, from accounting to American literature to Spanish to algebra. And remember, you only need to pass the exam – not ace it. Since the tests are standardized, there are many cases of students getting the equivalent of a ‘D’ on the test but still receiving passing marks. Colleges don’t get to see your score on the exam, only that you successfully passed it.
Now, how can you best take advantage of CLEP opportunities? First, check with your school to make sure they will give you credit for the exams. Thousands of colleges in the U.S. accept CLEP exams, including most community colleges. If you are going straight to a private university, however, you are probably out of luck with CLEP unless you transfer from a community college first.
Once you have confirmed which tests your school will give you credit for, it’s now time to choose which tests to take and study. Ideally, there will be exams that you already know the subject for very well. In these cases, a quick review might be sufficient to score you a passing grade. However, if you want to take advantage of the exams, you can shoot for tests that you don’t know as well. In this case, consider looking for an experienced tutor who can help you choose which tests to take and help you prepare for them. Some tests are easier than you might think (remember, even a ‘D’ can earn a passing grade on some exams), and a few weeks of focused studying can be enough to earn you college credit and let you skip a semester’s worth of lectures, homework, and quizzes.
CLEP can save you time, money, and stress. One $85 test can help keep you out of the classroom while you continue your education effectively and efficiently.
Michael C. is currently a private math, science, and standardized test tutor with TutorNerds in Irvine and Anaheim.
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