CLEP: The 90-minute Test Program May Save You a Semester of College

By Beth Dumbauld

As an adult looking to go back to college, you know things. With life experience and knowledge acquired through on-the-job experience and training, hobbies, and other subjects you are passionate about, you’ve even mastered complete subjects. Wouldn’t it be nice to get credit for that knowledge? The challenge, however, is to convince a college you know the things you know -- and to get credit for that knowledge.

That’s where the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) comes in. As an adult learner, your time is precious. Repeating material in courses you’ve already mastered can be frustrating and turn off even the most committed of adult students. Paying valuable tuition dollars to obtain college credits for subjects you know inside and out is a waste of time and money.

Earn College Credit by Passing CLEP Exams

The College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) offers 33 exams in a variety of subject matters that can help you receive college credit for what you already know. Furthermore, over 2,900 colleges offer credits for qualifying CLEP exam scores.1

Taking, and passing, a CLEP exam is a cost-efficient option for any person considering going back to college. A student who successfully takes CLEP exams with required scores can have those credit hours transferred to an institution that accepts CLEP test scores in lieu of taking that course at that college. These credit transfer hours can add up, possibly reducing the number of semesters you many need to complete your college degree. The fewer semesters you need to get your degree, the less your overall cost of college. For a working adult, that translates into more time and money to pursue your personal and career goals.

How a CLEP Exam Works

If you are interested in taking a CLEP exam, here’s what you need to know. Each exam is approximately 90-minutes long and currently costs $77 each to take. The College Board offers 33 of these CLEP exams in 5 subject areas. The specific subject tests map your mastery of knowledge to that of the many similar prerequisite type courses you would find in your first two years of college. A high score on an exam indicates college-level mastery of an equivalent course in that subject area.

Before you sign up for a CLEP Exam, you’ll want to be sure the college you are planning on attending, or are currently attending, will accept CLEP credits for transfer. This is a fairly easy process. You can use the CLEP College Search tool and search by the name of the college(s) you are considering attending. You might be surprised just how many colleges do accept high CLEP scores as equivalent to introductory courses at their institution. From the University of Phoenix, Florida Gateway College, and Colorado State University to the University of Cincinnati -- there’s a huge array colleges, from online to 4-year traditional, that make qualifying CLEP scores eligible for credit.

When you feel you are ready, register for a test. You will take your CLEP exam at one of more than 1,700 tests centers and college campuses around the world. To register, you can download a registration form or register directly with the test center where you plan on taking the test. Exam schedules and registration deadlines are set by each individual test center -- so be sure to check with your center of choice for the administrative details. To find a testing center near you, use the College Board CLEP test center online search.

1 College Board, CLEP, 2012.

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