What is a CLEP Test? Earning College Credit Without Taking a Class

What is a CLEP Test?

If you have college-level knowledge, it’s possible to earn college credits to go towards your online education. Some ways you may have acquired college-level knowledge are through on-the-job training, internships or independent study. The College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) test awards college credit at over 2,900 colleges and universities in the US. Administered by the College Board, it is a computer-based exam that allows students to demonstrate achievement in specific subjects.

Students who earn a satisfactory score on a CLEP test earn the same amount of credit as anyone who completes the same course at their school. CLEP test policies vary from one institution to another, but you can expect to earn anywhere from 3-12 college credits per course. However, some institutions will limit the number of credits students can earn from CLEP examinations.

What is a CLEP Test For?

CLEP tests offer numerous benefits. Since CLEP tests cover material that is typically taught in the first two years of college, students who achieve satisfactory scores are able to skip general introductory classes and go straight to advanced, specialized courses. CLEP tests also allow you to save money because they cost far less than the tuition and fees you would have to pay if you took the courses. Furthermore, you could graduate sooner if you take CLEP tests because they allow you to earn credits more quickly.

CLEP tests are appealing to working adults and parents who want to save time and money on their degree. Other people who may benefit from taking CLEP tests are international students who have obtained college-level knowledge through coursework abroad but are unable to transfer the credits and homeschooled students who want to demonstrate their knowledge. If you speak another language fluently, you can earn credit for your language skills through a CLEP test. You can also take a CLEP test to satisfy a proficiency requirement in a specific subject area, such as math. In addition, students who are just a few credits shy of graduating may be able to toss their caps in the air along with the rest of their class if they take a CLEP test or two.

What is a CLEP Test Like?

CLEP tests are administered year-round at over 1,400 colleges and universities throughout the US and abroad. The test is administered on a computer and lasts approximately 90 minutes. Typically, the test covers material that would be presented in a one-semester course. The CLEP test has total scaled scores that range from 20 to 80. The required scores for earning CLEP credit vary from school to school and from exam to exam.

CLEP tests are primarily made up of multiple-choice questions, although some CLEP tests also have other types of questions and essays. Subjects for which CLEP tests are available include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • American Literature
  • English Literature
  • Spanish Language Levels 1 and 2
  • French Language Levels 1 and 2
  • Pre-calculus
  • American Government
  • Introductory Psychology
  • Introductory Sociology
  • Social Sciences and History
  • College Algebra
  • Principles of Marketing

At the time of writing, there are CLEP tests that correspond with 33 college courses. Most people who decide to take a CLEP test study for it alone. To prepare for a CLEP test, you may review textbooks for the corresponding course at your college. There are also individual exam guides, an official study guide, and a sampler published by the College Board that you can use to prepare for the CLEP test.