What Is CLEP?

CLEP is the College-Level Examination Program. CLEP helps individuals, students, and professionals earn college credit for knowledge attained previously, whether it was through courses of independent study, previous coursework taken, training and professional development acquired while on a job, an internship, or some other intellectual or cultural activity. CLEP offers examinations in 33 areas. By attaining a qualifying score on any of these examinations, you can receive college credit.

There are many benefits to enrolling in CLEP and taking one or more CLEP examinations prior to entering into a college or university program of studies. By earning a satisfactory score on a CLEP examination, your college may grant you between 3 and 12 college credits; this is a time-saver because it allows you to complete your college degree program sooner than you normally would have. CLEP can also save you money. Compared to the average costs of tuition and college classes, a CLEP examination is inexpensive, costing only $80. If you pass a CLEP examination in mathematics or a foreign language, for example, you will be able to demonstrate your level of proficiency in that area; this means you will not have to spend time or money taking these courses while in college, and can move on to other required coursework more quickly. By passing a CLEP examination, your college may then allow you to start at more advanced course levels because you will have eliminated the need to take introductory, or 100-level, courses. This results in a more interesting and challenging academic environment in which you will be able to learn and explore new topics. Or, if you are in the position of needing just a few more credits in order to graduate from college, CLEP can help fill that void so that you can graduate as originally planned.

The population of people who take CLEP examinations is wide and varied. It ranges from students who are home-schooled and want to demonstrate their areas of knowledge, to parents and adults who are working and juggling home and family responsibilities, to members and veterans of the military who would like to put their military education benefits to use by obtaining their college degree.

Both the colleges who offer credit for CLEP examinations as well as the students who take them know that by passing a CLEP examination, the student has demonstrated sound educational standards and mastery of the area of study – standards that were set and designed by college faculty. In fact, some 600 faculty members from educational institutions across the United States work to develop the CLEP examinations in an ongoing process. These same faculty members write the examination questions, set the standards for scoring, and establish the policies colleges and universities can use for granting the student credit. The criteria they use are that the examinations must be both rigorous and relevant to the topic. Upon reviewing current course curricula of introductory college courses taught nationally, it has been shown that CLEP examinations align very closely with the topics being taught. In addition to various levels of development and review of the examination questions, panels of college faculty meet regularly to perform a review of the standards, and submit recommendations for new or updated standards to the test development teams.

Studies have shown that those students who earn college credit by taking a CLEP examination can do better in subsequent college coursework than peer students who do not take a CLEP examination but, instead, complete an introductory course. Other studies have shown that the probability of a CLEP student graduating from college is the same as or greater than that of a non-CLEP student.

CLEP can help students by enhancing their college programs, allowing them to take more high-level courses in their field of study and avoid having to expend valuable time and financial resources taking classes on topics they already know.

About CLEP Examinations

About CLEP ExaminationsThe College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) offers 33 examinations that test a student’s knowledge and mastery of college-level coursework and material that the student previously acquired. Information learned through previous independent study, prior academic courses, or work or life experiences can be put to use to earn the student college credit if the student passes the appropriate CLEP examination with a satisfactory score. The college or university in which the student is enrolled or plans to enroll must then grant the student the credit which can be applied toward a college degree. It is important for students to understand the CLEP policy of their college of choice, as college policies on conferring credit for CLEP examinations differ.

The CLEP examination questions are designed to test a student’s knowledge of subject matter material that would typically be a mandatory course of study within the first or second year for students attending college. While much of the material in the CLEP examinations is intended to correspond to what students attending college would study in a single semester, some of the CLEP examination material can correspond to one- and even two-years of college coursework. CLEP examination questions are routinely reviewed by over 600 faculty members at educational institutions across the nation; their objective is to ensure that the examination questions align with the course materials that are currently being taught in college classrooms.

There are five general subject areas the CLEP examinations cover: Composition and literature; World languages; History and social sciences; Science and mathematics; and Business. Included in the subject area of Composition and literature are CLEP examinations that cover American literature, analysis and interpretation of literature, English literature, humanities, and college composition. College composition assesses those writing skills that are typically taught in most first-year college programs.

In the subject area of world languages, students can take CLEP examinations in French, German, or Spanish language. These language examinations test the knowledge and abilities of students at the same levels as those students who completed two to four college semesters of the language. The skills required for the CLEP language examinations include reading and listening, and in some cases, verbal.
The CLEP history and social sciences subject matter area contains a variety of examinations. Students can take tests on American government, U.S. history, macro- and micro-economics, psychology, human growth and development, sociology, social sciences and history, and Western civilization.

CLEP examinations available in the subject area of science include biology, chemistry, and natural sciences. CLEP mathematics examinations available include pre-calculus, calculus, college-level mathematics, and college-level algebra. The college-level mathematics examination covers course material that would typically be taught to students who are not majoring in mathematics or whose intended fields of study do not require knowledge of advanced levels of mathematics.

In the subject area of business, CLEP examinations include the topics of financial accounting, introductory business law, principles of management, principles of marketing, and information systems and computer applications.

The CLEP examinations are designed so that the majority of questions are in multiple-choice format. However, depending on the specific topic, the examinee may be required to provide a numeric response, put items in correct order, or shade a certain area of an object. Some examinations may also include an optional essay. The foreign language examinations also contain a listening section for the purpose of testing the student’s listening comprehension.

Immediately upon completion of a CLEP examination, the student will receive their score, with the exception of those students who take the College Composition test, as that involves a written essay. Examination scores are based on a scale of 20 to 80. Written essays are scored by English composition college professors. Because there is additional time required for the scoring of the essay, students will not receive their College Composition test score for approximately two to three weeks after the examination date.

Registering for the CLEP Examination

CLEP is the College-Level Examination Program. Through the administration of its examinations on 33 distinct topics, CLEP helps individuals, students, and professionals earn college credit for knowledge attained previously, whether it was through courses of independent study, previous coursework taken, training and professional development acquired while on a job, an internship, or some other intellectual or cultural activity.

Students can take CLEP examinations throughout the year at any one of the CLEP test centers that are located at colleges and universities both in the United States and abroad. Because each test center administers its own examination registration procedures and schedules, it is important that students who intend to take a CLEP examination contact a test center directly for information on registering, scheduling, and paying for the examination and any other applicable administration fees. Students can locate CLEP test centers by performing a search by state, zip code, or college name on the on the College Board website.

Once the student has located a convenient test center, the student should contact the test center to determine if they accept the CLEP examination registration form or if the test center uses its own registration form, as well as the deadline for the submission of the registration form and corresponding payment. In addition to requesting the typical name and address information, the CLEP registration form requires the student to indicate first and second choices of examination dates, the examination(s) for which they are registering, and if the examination includes an essay. The student will also need to indicate if they require a special testing accommodation due to a disability.

The student must also indicate on the CLEP registration form if they are repeating any examination they took previously. CLEP requires a minimum period of six months between an initial taking of an examination, and a repeat. In any case, the student should always check with their college’s rules regarding re-taking CLEP examinations.

Students must pay a fee of $77 for each CLEP examination they take. Some colleges require the student to complete what is generally considered to be an optional essay that accompanies composition or literature examinations. If your school requires you to complete the essay portion of any examination, in addition to paying the $77 examination fee, you must remit an additional payment of $10 to your testing center at least 7 to 10 days prior to the date of the examination. Eligible military personnel and civilian employees who have appropriate military identification do not have to pay the CLEP $77 examination fee. All students should be advised that individual test centers typically charge an administration fee. This fee should be paid directly to the institution where the test center is located. Students are responsible for determining any additional fees that their chosen test center may require.

If the student has indicated on their registration form that they require a special accommodation for taking the test, due to a learning or physical disability that does not allow them to take the CLEP examination under normal test conditions, the student should be in touch with the CLEP examination administrator at their test center prior to the date of the examination in order to ensure their accommodation request can be met.

CLEP Examination Day Logistics

CLEP Examination Day LogisticsCLEP is the College-Level Examination Program. Through the administration of its examinations on 33 distinct topics, CLEP helps individuals, students, and professionals earn college credit for knowledge attained previously. CLEP examinations are formal, computer-based tests requiring significant preparation in order to achieve a satisfactory score. Students who familiarize themselves with examination format and logistics will enter the testing center on examination day feeling comfortable and confident in their ability to do well.

As part of their preparation, students should learn about the specific CLEP examination they will be taking. They should determine the skills and knowledge required to pass, and understand the types of questions that will be asked and how they will be scored. They should confirm the exact date, time, and location of the examination, verifying it just prior to examination day to make sure nothing has changed.

To help students be at their mental and physical best on examination day, they should plan to get a good night’s sleep the night before. By that time, they should have completed all the necessary preparation and study so they will not feel they need to stay up late cramming and reviewing the study materials. Students should neither skip nor eat big meals on the day of the examination; they should eat a healthy meal that will stave off hunger and keep them mentally focused.

On the day of the examination, students should arrive early enough to have time to find a parking spot and get to the test center without rushing. By reviewing all documentation requirements beforehand, students will be assured of having the necessary registration forms or confirmation notices the test center requires. Students should also have a government issued form of photo identification that includes a signature, such as a driver’s license or passport. At check-in time students will also be required to pay the $77 CLEP examination fee and any other test center administration fee, so they should make sure they have a valid, working credit card or a check or money order made payable to the College-Level Examination Program (and to the institution offering the test, to cover their administration fee). And, even though the CLEP examination is computer based, students should bring at least two non-mechanical pencils with erasers in the event they need to calculate a mathematical problem or write an outline.

Students must leave all books, papers, and notes, including scratch paper, outside the examination room. Scratch paper will be provided in the room. Calculators are not permitted in the examination room, except for those provided by the CLEP testing software and available for student use right on the computer. Students will not be permitted to bring cell phones or other electronic devices into the examination room.
Once inside the test room, students should go directly to their assigned computer testing station. It is important to read all directions carefully and listen to all instructions the test administrator gives. The CLEP examination software has a clock timer built into it. Students should pace themselves to ensure they are completing the questions quickly enough so that they will be able to complete them all before the test time expires. However, it is important to read the entire question and all possible response choices, as for the most part, students will be required to choose what they consider to be the “best” answer.

Certain key words such as always, only, or never are indicators that there can be no exceptions to the answer selected. Because there is no penalty for incorrect answers, students who do not know the answer to a question should make an educated guess using process of elimination to remove those answer choices that are clearly not correct. There are no trick questions; CLEP examination questions are intended to be fair and valid according to the team of college faculty test developers who compose them.

CLEP Examination Study Tips

CLEP is the College-Level Examination Program. Through the administration of its examinations on 33 distinct topics, CLEP helps individuals, students, and professionals earn college credit for knowledge attained previously, whether it was through courses of independent study, previous coursework taken, training and professional development acquired while on a job, an internship, or some other intellectual or cultural activity. While taking a CLEP examination and scoring satisfactorily is every student’s objective, preparing for the examination is a key component to doing well. By following the below suggestions you can be certain that you will be well prepared come examination time.

The CLEP examinations are computer based. Anyone who intends on taking a CLEP examination should feel comfortable using a computer. If necessary, take a practice CLEP examination to develop your computer skills so that you will be familiar with the format on examination day. Your local library or test center at the institution where you will be taking the examination will allow you to practice and review the examination format.

Once you have determined which examination(s) you will be taking, you should set your study objectives. Determine the skills and knowledge levels required for each CLEP examination, and then seek out suitable study and resource materials. Obtain a copy of the college course syllabus that corresponds to the CLEP examination you will be taking. Use this syllabus as a study guide, and obtain the relevant course materials, textbooks, or other reading materials you can use for preparing for the examination. Consider enrolling in a CLEP Examination preparation course.

Make sure you have an appropriate place to study. You should know what kind of study environment lets you be the most productive. Consider noise and temperature levels of your study area, as well as proper lighting and space to spread out your study materials. Whether you study at home, in a library, or in a dormitory, consider hanging out a “Do Not Disturb” sign if necessary, to minimize all distractions.

Set aside time specifically dedicated to studying and preparing for the CLEP examination. Just as you find time to exercise, work, attend class, or eat during the course of the day, you should also ensure you have time set aside for studying for the CLEP examination. Prioritize your daily or weekly activities, making CLEP study a high priority.

Establish a study routine. Similar to scheduling time to study is setting a study routine and objectives. Write down your CLEP study periods on a weekly schedule, and as you complete each one, cross it out as a visual reminder of what you have already accomplished and how much remains till you meet your objective. Make sure your study routine is one that works for you and one that you can maintain consistently. For example, if you require a short break after every 30 minutes of study, then take a break; leave your study area so that when you return a few minutes later you have a fresh perspective for getting back into the routine.

Make your study time as productive as possible. What follows are several study methods that will increase your level of concentration and help you remember what you read and study. Use any or all that works best for you. Start by reading a chapter introduction and summary first; this way you will know the key points to look for in your detailed reading. Alter all chapter and section titles so that they are questions, and look for answers to the question as you read through the material. Instead of reading “Our Constitutional Rights”, for example, read instead “What Are Our Constitutional Rights?” This will help you to better understand and remember the material. Take notes on, or highlight the key concepts as you read. This reinforces the ideas and helps later on when you go back for periodic reviews of the study material.

Video Review