Save Money on College Tip Four: Use CLEP Exams to Place Out of Courses

Barry Lenson

Use CLEP Exams to Place out of CoursesToday’s post is the third in a series of short tips on how to save money on college.

Today’s tip is . . .

Use CLEP Exams to Place out of Courses

Do you want to save money on college and graduate sooner? Here’s a powerfully simple strategy for you.  Use CLEP exams to place out of courses.

What You Need to Know about CLEP Exams

The College-Level Examination Program® from The College Board lets you earn college credit for what you already know. Visit the official CLEP website  to learn more.

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 two hours. Exams contain mainly multiple-choice questions. College Composition and a few other 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 the CLEP and StraighterLine offer a way 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, only an exam. The CLEP exams will only earn you credits for subjects that you already know or have studied. They require specific, separate study and preparation – a process that is known as “studying for the test.”
  • The processes for earning credit at your college are is quite 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.” So some caution 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 college. Once you have completed a StraighterLine course, you can transfer the college credits you earned to thousands of America colleges by using the credit-transfer process offered by the American Council on Education Credit. 
  • You need to schedule and lock in your CLEP test date in advance. In contrast, StraighterLine courses are flexible. You can start and complete your coursework at your own pace – even repeating different units if you desire - then finish your course and earn your grade whenever you are ready.  The result is that the outcome of your StraighterLine courses is easier to control.
  • 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, it is available online.
  • You can complete StraighterLine courses anywhere. There is no need to schedule a test in a remote physical location and travel to it.  Watch this video to learn more about what it is like to take a course at StraighterLine.

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.

Related Posts

Save Money on College Tip Three: Place Out of Courses and Move Up
Save Money on College Tip Two: Go to a Three-Year College
Save Money on College Tip One: Take More Courses during Every Semester You Are in School
Why Is College so Expensive?

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