CLEP: The 90-minute Test Program Part 2

Studying for a CLEP Exam

CLEP exams are available in a variety of subject matters. The overall subject categories include: History and Social Sciences, Composition and Literature, Science and Mathematics, Business, and World Languages.2 Keep in mind that not all colleges that accept credit for CLEP exams do so for all subject matters -- you’ll want to be sure that the subject tests you take are ones that the college you are interested in (or are currently attending), will accept.

As you consider using CLEP exams for credits, you’ll want to pay attention to the qualifying scores you’ll need in order to earn a credit for a certain subject. Each college will have its own qualifying score requirement for credit. Though you many know a subject’s material inside and out, it may still be a good idea to take a practice test and get used to the format of the CLEP exam. You can find practice tests, in a variety of subject matters, at the College Board’s website. Most exams last 90 minutes and are made up primarily of multiple-choice questions.3 You receive one point for each correct answer with total scaled scores falling between 20 and 80.4

If you find you need some refreshment in the subject material, you can take advantage of study materials designed to help you strategize for test day. There is an official CLEP study guide that has practice questions for all 33 CLEP exams. You can also obtain a CLEP Exam Guide for a specific subject and download it as a PDF.5

What If Your CLEP Scores are Close but Not Close Enough

In the case of transferring CLEP exams for credits to colleges, it’s pretty cut and dried. There is a minimum score you need to earn determined by each college to qualify for credits. If you are just below that score, you won’t obtain credit. That doesn’t mean, however, you must give up on the cost savings of transfer credits. You still have a couple of options: retake the CLEP exam or enroll in a low-cost subscription college course provider.

To retake a CLEP exam, you must wait at least 6 months before repeating a CLEP exam of the same title. Scores of exams repeated prior to that time limit will not be accepted.6 If you are looking to move faster than that with your college plans, but still want to take advantage of the time and money savings offered by transferring credits, you may want to consider taking a college class at a subscription course provider like, which offers a variety of college classes at $99/month with a one-time fee of $49 per class.

A prerequisite college course provider like StraighterLine allows you to sign up for your college classes of choice, and take the course and exams at your own pace. It has a wide network of partner colleges that accept its courses for credit at their colleges through prior agreements. Also, since StraighterLine’s courses are part of the ACE network, you can also transfer your credits to colleges that accept those credits.

Transferring Credits Saves You Time and Money

The advantage of the CLEP program, or earning college credits through college course providers, prior to enrolling in college, is that you can save a significant amount of time and money. There’s no need to use your tuition money to pay for introductory courses. You can earn college credit by passing CLEP exams or through low-cost online college class providers. Save your money, and time, and enroll in college with college credits in your bank; it’ll help you pursue your career and educational goals just that much quicker.

2 College Board, CLEP Exams, 2012.

3 College Board, CLEP Exams, 2012.

4 College Board, CLEP - About Your Score, 2012.

5 College Board, Official CLEP Study Materials, 2012.

6 College Board, CLEP - Getting College Credit, 2012.

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