What are College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) Exams?

The College Level Examination Program, or CLEP, measures college-level content mastery in a variety of subjects. Managed by the College Board—the same folks who brought you the SAT and AP Program!—CLEP exams are accepted for college credit at nearly 3,000 colleges in the United States.


Why Take a CLEP Exam?

CLEP exams allows students to earn college credit for the knowledge that the student has obtained through independent study, home schooling, or high school courses. CLEP exams count for 3-12 credit hours at participating colleges and universities. So, for example, if you’ve traveled in Spanish-speaking countries or picked up Spanish through your job, you could take the CLEP Spanish Language exam and earn up to 12 credit hours at your college. We’ve all heard the horror stories about skyrocketing tuition and new college graduates struggling to pay off student loan debt; finding creative ways to get credits—like through CLEP exams!—can help you save money and time as you work your way through college.


Who Takes CLEP Exams?

CLEP exams are specifically targeted at college students who have gained valuable knowledge through non-traditional means. So, if you have college-level knowledge gained from home schooling, on-the-job training, internships, travel, military service, or self study, a CLEP exam is one way to prove it! Say you’re looking to go to business school after several years of work experience; you might consider taking the CLEP Principles of Management exam.


Who Accepts CLEP Exams?

As mentioned above, CLEP exams are accepted by thousands of colleges and universities in the United States. Generally speaking, a score of 50 or higher (out of 80) is a passing score, but some colleges set their own standards for what they will accept for credit. On some exams, like the CLEP French Language exam, you are eligible for more credit hours the higher your score gets. So be sure to check out your school’s policy on CLEP exams and college credit before you take an exam!


What Material do CLEP Exams Test?

CLEP exams cover a wide range of subjects; you can find CLEP exams in everything from Precalculus to College Composition to American Government. For example, one popular exam is the CLEP Biology test. This one tests knowledge of the three major areas of biology: molecular, population, and organismal biology.


What’s the Format of a CLEP Exam?

CLEP exams are administered by computer at registered testing centers. Most CLEP exams are 90-minute multiple-choice exams, though some include other questions types, For example, the College Composition exam requires you to write two essays. Language exams usually contain listening and reading comprehension sections. Some exams, such as Principles of Marketing, contain pre-test questions that don’t count towards your score.


How should I prepare for a CLEP Exam?

Practice, practice, practice! Look up the material covered on your CLEP exam, delve back into relevant textbooks, and take practice tests online to familiarize yourself with computer-based testing. Check out our articles on time management while studying and developing a test plan for more information on how to prepare for your CLEP exam.

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