What Are CLEP Exams and Why Should You Take Them?

In the ever-evolving landscape of higher education, students constantly seek innovative ways to save time and money while pursuing their academic goals. One such method gaining popularity is the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP). CLEP exams allow students to earn college credit by demonstrating their knowledge in specific subject areas. 

The College Level Examination Program (CLEP) is a series of exams created and administered by the College Board, assessing your knowledge in various academic subjects. Many colleges and universities recognize CLEP exam results as equivalent to college course credits. With 34 exams covering introductory-level college material, passing a CLEP exam can earn you three or more college credits at over 2,900 educational institutions nationwide.

However, it's crucial to note that not all colleges accept CLEP exam results for course credits. Each school has its policies and standards regarding CLEP credits, so it's essential to check the specific requirements of the institution you plan to attend.

Launched in 1967, CLEP exams were initially aimed at adult learners and military service members, offering an affordable way to earn degrees while balancing work and family commitments. These exams cater to individuals with existing knowledge in college subjects acquired through various means, such as work experience, advanced high school coursework, self-study, online courses, and more.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore what CLEP exams are, how they work, and why you should consider taking them.

What After SEE?

Understanding CLEP Exams

What Are CLEP Exams?

CLEP exams, or College-Level Examination Program exams, are standardized tests administered by the College Board, which oversees the SAT and AP exams. These exams assess a student's knowledge of various college-level subjects, such as mathematics, science, history, literature, and more. By passing a CLEP exam, students can earn college credit for the corresponding course, potentially saving both time and money on their college education.

How Do CLEP Exams Work?

CLEP exams typically consist of multiple-choice questions and, in some cases, optional essays. The format and content of the exams vary depending on the subject. Students can register for CLEP exams at authorized test centers and choose the subjects they want to test in. After taking the exam, they receive a score, and if they meet the passing criteria set by the college or university they plan to attend, they can earn credit for the corresponding course.

Benefits of Taking CLEP Exams

Cost-Effective Education

One of the most significant advantages of CLEP exams is their cost-effectiveness. Traditional college courses can be expensive, but by taking CLEP exams, students can skip some prerequisites or even entire courses. This can result in substantial savings on tuition and other educational expenses.

Accelerated Degree Completion

For students who wish to graduate faster, CLEP exams provide an opportunity to earn credits more quickly. By passing multiple CLEP exams, students can fulfill general education requirements and focus on their significant courses sooner, allowing them to graduate ahead of schedule.

Flexibility in Course Selection

CLEP exams offer flexibility in course selection. Students can choose which subjects they want to test, allowing them to tailor their education to their interests and career goals. This flexibility can be particularly beneficial for non-traditional students or those with prior knowledge in specific areas.

Demonstrating Proficiency

CLEP exams allow students to demonstrate their proficiency in subjects they are already knowledgeable in. This is especially valuable for self-learners, homeschoolers, or individuals with work experience in a particular field.

Transferability of Credits

Many colleges and universities across the United States accept CLEP exam credits. However, it's essential to check with the specific institution you plan to attend to ensure they accept CLEP credits and understand their policies regarding transferability.

Who Should Consider Taking CLEP Exams?

High School Students

High school students seeking a head start on their college education can benefit from CLEP exams. These exams can help them earn college credits before they even graduate from high school, potentially reducing the time and cost of their future college education.

Adult Learners

Adult learners returning to college or pursuing higher education while working full-time can use CLEP exams to their advantage. These exams provide a flexible and efficient way to earn college credit, accommodating their busy schedules.

Military Personnel

Members of the military can take advantage of CLEP exams as well. Many military training programs align with CLEP exam subjects, making it easier for service members to earn college credit for their training and experience.

International Students

International students studying in the United States can benefit from CLEP exams by reducing the number of courses they need to take, thus saving time and money on their education.

Preparing for CLEP exams 

Preparing for a CLEP exam can be rewarding, as it can save you time and money on your college education. Here are seven tips to help you succeed in your CLEP exam preparation:

Review the Exam Content

Start by familiarizing yourself with the content and format of the specific CLEP exam you'll be taking. Visit the official CLEP website or consult study guides and sample questions to understand the topics and types of questions that will be covered.

Set Clear Goals

Define your goals for the CLEP exam. Determine which exams you must take to fulfill your academic requirements and which subjects you're most comfortable with. Setting clear objectives will help you prioritize your study efforts.

Create a Study Plan

Develop a structured study plan that outlines what you'll study and when. Allocate specific time slots for studying, and stick to your schedule. Consider your strengths and weaknesses in the subject matter when planning your study time.

Use Study Resources

Utilize a variety of study resources to help you prepare. This can include textbooks, online courses, flashcards, practice tests, and study guides. Make use of reputable sources, including official CLEP study materials.

Practice with Sample Tests

Take advantage of sample CLEP exam questions and practice tests. These resources can help you get accustomed to the format and timing of the exam. Review your answers and identify areas where you need improvement.

Join Study Groups or Seek Tutoring

Collaborate with others preparing for the same CLEP exam. Joining study groups or seeking tutoring can provide additional insights, motivation, and support. Explaining concepts to others can also reinforce your understanding.

Simulate Exam Conditions

As your exam date approaches, simulate actual exam conditions by taking timed practice tests. Find a quiet environment, set a timer, and complete the test under test-like conditions. This will help you manage your time effectively during the actual exam.


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