“Why should I take courses at StraighterLine when I can simply take a CLEP exam and earn college credit for stuff I already know?” asks Manuel P., a student from Illinois who is eager to earn credits towards his college degree.
That’s a good question. Let’s take a closer look.
What is the CLEP?
The College-Level Examination Program® from The College Board lets you earn college credit for subjects that you already know. Tests are given in 33 subjects, including English literature and writing, foreign languages, history, science, math and business. Exams are approximately 90 minutes long, with the exception of College Composition, which takes 120 minutes. Exams contain mainly multiple-choice questions. College Composition and a few other CLEP exams contain essays.
How Are StraighterLine Courses and the CLEP Exam Alike?
If you spend a little time reviewing the official CLEP website and StraighterLine course descriptions, you will notice some similarities on the surface. Both CLEP and StraighterLine offer students convenient options to earn college credits in more than 30 subject areas. Plus, there is some overlap in subject matter.
But you will discover some significant differences too. They include:
- The CLEP doesn’t offer instruction or academic support, only an exam. CLEP exams are intended to help you earn credits for subjects you've already studied and mastered. To pass the CLEP exams you'll also likely need to schedule time for separate study and preparation – a process that is known as “studying for the test.”
- StraighterLine courses offer you a supervised, structured way to learn course material. Again, the CLEP is only an exam that tests your knowledge in a particular subject area, not a form of instruction, so you are on your own as you prepare. If you need tutorial help while you are taking a course at StraighterLine, academic assistance is available online.
- You need to schedule and lock in your CLEP test date in advance. In contrast, StraighterLine courses are flexible. You can complete your coursework 100% online at your own pace – even repeating different units if you desire – then you can finish your course and earn your grade whenever you are ready. The result is that the pacing and outcome of your StraighterLine courses is easier for you to control.
- The process for earning credit at each college is different. The official CLEP website states that 2,900 colleges and universities currently grant credit for CLEP, but adds that “each institution sets its own CLEP policy” and indicates that each institution accepts different CLEP examinations. So some caution and careful research would be a good idea.Once you pass a CLEP test, your college should grant you the same number of credits that you would earn after taking a class – but be sure to ask ahead of time if CLEP results are accepted for credit at your desired college. In contrast, once you've completed a StraighterLine course, you can transfer the college credits you've earned to more than 2,000 American colleges and universities using the credit-transfer process offered by the American Council on Education (ACE Credit).
- You can complete StraighterLine courses anywhere. With StraighterLine, there is no need to schedule a test in a remote physical location and travel to it. You can complete your coursework and assessments 100% online.
In Summary . . .
So, is it better to use the CLEP or a StraighterLine course to earn college credit? The answer is, it depends on the subject, the depth of knowledge that you already possess about it, and the college where you would like the credit to apply. Be sure to check out both and select the one that works best for you.
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