What Is the CLEP Exam?

CLEP examThe CLEP exam, short for College-Level Examination Program, exists to prove that prior knowledge does make a difference. The program offers 33 standardized exams covering introductory college subjects such as precalculus, college composition, and Spanish 1 or 2. Those who successfully pass a CLEP exam receive college credit for their knowledge.

Save Time and Money

At $80 per 90-minute exam, CLEP tests don’t cost much in terms of time or money, especially when compared with the time and financial expense of college. The average college course costs $700, reports the nonprofit College Board, which oversees the CLEP. Meanwhile, depending on a school’s policy, a student earns three to 12 credits by taking just one exam. Besides the cost of the CLEP exam itself, test centers usually charge a fee for administering the test. The cost varies, so it may pay to shop around to find the center charging the least in a student’s area.

Scheduling the CLEP

High school graduates, home-schooled students, college students, adults returning to school and military personnel may all take the CLEP exam. Those who wish to take the test, should create an account at the College Board website.

Prospective test-takers use the site to register for the CLEP exam and find nearby testing locations. Over 1,800 centers exist. Students schedule appointments to take the test directly with the chosen center. Besides test registration, the College Board’s website has test preparation information and materials, including study guides for purchase.

Getting College Credit

CLEP tests are available year-round, but before sitting down to take one, a student should check with his or her intended school to make sure it is one of the 2,900 colleges that grant CLEP credit as of 2014. Additionally, schools set their own policies on which CLEP credits they’ll allow. It’s important to know a school’s credit-granting procedures before purchasing an exam. Some set a cap on how many credits a student can earn through testing. Some don’t grant credit for certain subjects. You can have your scores automatically sent to a college by naming the school as a recipient at registration. The College Board won’t charge anything for sending the score to one recipient. Students choosing to have scores sent automatically will know what the colleges will receive. Since all CLEP exams are Internet-based, scores will be provided to students via the web as soon as the test is completed. College Composition tests that include an essay are an exception to this. These can’t be scored instantaneously because the essays must be graded by at least two English professors. The other CLEP tests are multiple choice.

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Promise for the Future

People investigating what the CLEP exam is in order to start their college career should know that there’s more to CLEP than the chance to earn credit. It turns out that students taking the tests outperform their fellow students in future courses. The test-takers also earn more degrees than those who do not take the CLEP.