The College Level Examination Program (CLEP) includes a group of standardized tests that are administered and developed by the U.S. College Board.
There are 33 individual CLEP tests that measure a student’s knowledge at college-level. The CLEP tests provide students with the chance to earn college credit without actually taking college courses.
CLEP exams are administered at almost 2,000 U.S. universities, colleges, and military education institutions across the country, and there are almost 3,000 colleges and universities that are granting CLEP credit. All of these institutions award credit to those students who have passed that CLEP exam and the passing score is usually 50 to 60 out of a maximum of 80, but this is varying by exam and by the educational institution.
The CLEP exams are very useful for persons who acquired knowledge outside of their classrooms, for example through home schooling, independent study, cultural exchange programs, or professional experience. Additionally, the CLEP exams are a perfect way for non-U.S. students to obtain college credit. They CLEP exams provide a perfect opportunity to students to demonstrate their proficiency in a specific subject area so they can skip prerequisite undergraduate courses. Many students take one or more CLEP exams as they are pretty convenient and relatively cheap (usually $80 per test), especially when compared to what they have to do and spend to earn comparable credit in college (usually a full semester of coursework).
The CLEP exams are provided by the U.S. College Board, and both American and international schools are granting CLEP credit. The majority of the CLEP exams will take 90 minutes to complete, and they cost $80 each currently, but available at no cost to U.S. military personnel and eligible veterans. Additionally, some exams come with an extra $10 fee for an optional essay part. Each of the CLEP exams is equivalent to a one (sometimes two) semester introductory courses on that subject field (usually 3, but sometimes 6 credits), but the German, Spanish, and French Language exams may be used for earning up to 12 college credits (see list below).
Students can take CLEP exams at testing centers at some 1,800 university and college campuses, and military institutions, and usually, there will also be a registration or administrative fee per test or per student that may vary per testing center but usually is in the $15–$20 range. The CLEP exams must be done on a computer, in a sort of lab-style setting, and the results will be available right after completion of the exam.
CLEP exams contain predominantly multiple-choice questions, though some come with ordering or fill-in questions, and there is one College Composition test that includes an essay part. The scores are measured on a scale that runs from 20 to 80, and most academic institutions will award credit for scores 50 and higher. Keep in mind, though, that individual schools can set their own passing standards so they may vary, and they can also decide for themselves on a number of credits they award for each individual test. The CLEP is also available in Spanish.
The American Council on Education has set up a recommendation table for credit-granting CLEP scores for each one of the individual exams. On tests on foreign languages, the CLEP score will be determining how much credit will be granted. One school, for example, may grant 6 credits for a CLEP score of 50, 8 credits for a CLEP score of 62, and 12 credits for CLEP a score of 72 and higher. When a student has taken one of the tests, a testing center’s CLEP Administrator will send the test scores to the school that’s designated by the student. At the moment, almost 3,000 universities and colleges are accepting CLEP test credit, though there are schools that will not accept CLEP credit for all exams, so please check with the individual schools first to avoid disappointment.
CLEP exams are available in five main categories, and in 36 subject fields. A number of credits generally awarded per test are three (3), unless indicated otherwise:
Financial Accounting, Introductory Business Law, Information Systems & Computer Applications, Principles of Management, and Principles of Marketing.
Composition and Literature:
American Literature (6), Analyzing & Interpreting Literature (6), College Composition (6), College Composition Modular (3-6), English Literature (6), and Humanities (6).
German Level 1 (6), German level 2 (12), Spanish level 1 (6), Spanish level 2 (12), French level 1 (6), French level 2 (12).
History & Social Sciences:
American Government, Introductory Educational Psychology, History of the United States I (Early Colonization to 1877), History of the United States II (1865 to Present), Human Growth & Development, Principles of Macroeconomics, Principles of Microeconomics, Introductory Psychology, Introductory Sociology, Social Sciences & History (6), Western Civilization I (Ancient Near East to 1648), and Western Civilization II (1648 to Present).
Science & Mathematics:
Biology (6), Calculus (4), Chemistry (6), College Algebra, College Mathematics (6), Precalculus, and Natural Sciences (6).
There are several CLEP preparation materials available such as ‘PassYourClass’, available in online format and as book, the ‘Official CLEP Study Guide’, a physical book, and also this website offers multiple online prep programs and practice tests, totally free of charge and without the requirement to register or provide your email address and such.