The College Level Examination Program is a set of standardized tests that determines college-level knowledge in several subjects areas. The College Board tests are administered at more than 1700 colleges and universities nationwide. Furthermore, there are 2900 colleges (U.S. and international) that currently grant CLEP credit. But what does this all mean for you?

The nitty-gritty

Most schools will award college credit if you score a 50 (typical qualifying score) on a CLEP test. The exams are primarily multiple-choice tests (save for the one Composition essay section), and have possible scores of 20-80. The tests take about 90 minutes and will cost $80 each plus varying administrative fees (typically $10-$20). All military personnel can take CLEP exams free. Exams take place in a computer lab and final results are available immediately.

So for just under a hundred bucks, you can pick up 3 or more college credits, saving a lot of time, energy, and, of course, much higher-priced tuition money!

The fine print

That doesn’t mean you should run out now and sign up for every CLEP test. Not all CLEP scores are valued in the same way at all institutions. One school may accept credits for a few specific tests, while another accepts all transfer credit for every test CLEP offers (currently over 30!). If you know what college you’re attending, make sure to check whether they even accept the test. $100 is nothing to waste; that’s the price of a biology textbook, or most of a community college course.

On the other hand, if you’re in the service, you may as well go for it: it won’t cost you anything, and it could save you some of that Military Tuition Assistance money.

What does CLEP offer? These are the current 2014 CLEP examinations:

  • Business
  • Financial Accounting
  • Business Law, Introductory
  • Information Systems and Computer Applications
  • Management, Principles of
  • Marketing, Principles of
  • Composition and Literature
  • American Literature
  • Analyzing and Interpreting Literature
  • College Composition
  • College Composition Modular
  • English Literature
  • Humanities
  • Foreign Languages
  • French Language, Level 1
  • French Language, Level 2
  • German Language, Level 1
  • German Language, Level 2
  • Spanish Language, Level 1
  • Spanish Language, Level 2
  • History and Social Sciences
  • American Government
  • Educational Psychology, Introduction to
  • History of the United States I: Early Colonization to 1877
  • History of the United States II: 1865 to Present
  • Human Growth and Development
  • Macroeconomics, Principles of
  • Microeconomics, Principles of
  • Psychology, Introductory
  • Social Sciences and History
  • Sociology, Introductory
  • Western Civilization I: Ancient Near East to 1648
  • Western Civilization II: 1648 to Present
  • Science and Mathematics
  • Biology
  • Calculus
  • Chemistry
  • College Algebra
  • College Mathematics
  • Precalculus
  • Natural Sciences

Final words 

Every college credit costs; the more you can get out of the way for free or cheap, the better off you’ll be in the long run.

So it’s really important to know what your particular college accepts or does not accept. Only take the CLEP exams that 1. you know you can pass, and 2. you know your college will accept.  You can always save your Benjamins for something more important, like textbooks !

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