What is the CLEP Exam and How can it Benefit my Child?

The CLEP exam, also known as the College Level Examination Program, is a series of tests that can help students earn college credit for general education courses if they receive a passing score. This can be a great advantage to students who know a significant amount of information about certain subjects, those who would like to save money on college, and those who are returning to school after a period of absence. The primary benefit is that if the student passes the test they are generally excused from the same course material in college. However, students are encouraged to find out from the university directly if they will accept the credits.


1. Amount of Credits

According to the College Board, students who pass the CLEP exams should expect to earn anywhere from 3 to 12 college credits. This is a huge benefit to students who cannot afford to spend four years in college or those who feel they will become bored with material they have already mastered (READ: “More Standardized Testing: What is the SBAC?”).

2. Subject matter

Students can take exams in five subject areas. The first category is history and social science, where students can take History of the United States and Human Growth and Development. (This is just a small list of the examinations offered.) Students can also take exams in the categories of composition and literature, science and mathematics, business, and world languages such as French, German, and Spanish.

3. Is Your Child Bilingual?

If your child is fluent in a second language, it doesn’t make sense for them to pay for a college course in the same language. Taking the CLEP exam is a great opportunity for students to pass out of the subject they already know.

4. Does your child have significant life experience?

Some students need to stop attending college for one reason or another but want to go back to school later in life. Adult students who have significant work or military experience may have learned skills that can help them pass one of the CLEP exams. Additionally, some students are very well read and may feel comfortable taking an American literature exam or they may have a knack for college algebra or precalculus, all of which are offered in the series of CLEP exams.

5. How much do the CLEP costs?

Each CLEP exam costs $80, according to the College Board. Although this is a significant amount of money for most Americans, it costs a lot less than taking a college level course (READ: “Sleep, a Healthy Lifestyle, and Academic Success”).

6. How are the CLEP exams scored?

The multiple-choice exams are scored by computer and the essays are scored by an English professor chosen by the College Board. The highest score on the CLEP exam is 80 and the lowest is 20. Most students will receive their scores instantly, except for the essays which can take up to a month to be delivered.

7. Which universities accept CLEP exams for credit?

Many universities across the US will accept the CLEP exams, however, it’s important that students speak directly with the universities they’re planning to apply to as there’s no hard and fast rule as to whether or not a university will accept these exams. It doesn’t make sense to study for an exam that a student won’t get credit for.

In short

Although students likely don’t want to add more standardized exams to their schedule, taking a few CLEP exams can certainly make their first two years of college go by faster and might be able to save them a significant amount of money in the long run.

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