With college tuition rates rapidly rising over the years, another way to earn college credits has been gaining popularity. The College Board (the same organization that offers other standardized testing such as the famous SAT admission test and AP subject tests) offers tests that allow you to earn credit by passing a test in any of 33 subjects.
These tests (called College Level Examination Program or CLEP) can be a way to earn a degree much faster than normal if you are already knowledgeable in the subject. By not having to take as many classes, you can save money on tuition and books as well as graduating and getting started in your career much sooner than you otherwise would have. The registration fee for each test is only $77, and military personnel can take the tests absolutely free through the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.
As the College Board itself cannot directly grant you credits towards earning a degree, each school has their own policy regarding acceptance of CLEP test scores as replacements for taking classes. Different schools may require different scores in order to gain credit, or may apply that credit towards different courses in that school’s specific degree plan. However, acceptance of CLEP tests is very common, with over 2,900 colleges and universities allowing students to take CLEP tests in lieu of some of their courses.
Each of these tests are designed to correspond with a typical one semester college course in the subject, and resemble what the final exam for that course would be like at most colleges. Most of the tests are 90 minutes long and consist of both multiple choice and fill in the blank questions. Some of the tests, however, may be in essay format such as the English Composition exam.
Scoring of CLEP tests is a numerical scale, ranging from 20 to 80 with higher scores being better. Most schools will grant credit for scores of 50 or higher, but again each school has their own policy so you should check with your school before taking the exam. Some schools will grant you a set amount of credit hours for a minimum score (such as 3 credit hours for a score of 50 or above) or other schools might give you more credit hours for higher scores (for example 3 hours for a score of 50, 4 hours for a score of 60, etc).
If you know a subject well but are worried that you won’t be familiar with every single topic presented on the exam, then be sure to check out the CLEP study guides available from the College Board. Many other organizations that offer study guides for SAT, ACT, or AP tests will also have CLEP test study guides available.
To learn more about CLEP testing or to register for the next exam, visit clep.collegeboard.org