If you’re a high school student or a parent of a high school student and you’ve found this site, it’s because you’re one of the smart ones. You’re looking for a way to jump start your college degree, by testing out of college classes before you even finish high school! You may already be familiar with AP (Advanced Placement) Tests, but CLEPping out of college classes is another credible way to earn college credit by “testing out.”
It’s a little known fact that your academic adviser will never admit (in public), but the first two-years of college are nothing more than a review of what you already learned in high school. Now, don’t get me wrong. You will learn more and more, but about less and less! After all, how many school years do you have to spend reading about the three branches of government? You’ve been learning about English, Math, Science, and Social Studies since kindergarten. So why should have you have to spend 16-weeks in the classroom and $1,000 (or more) on college tuition for things you already know?! And that’s where CLEP Tests can help high school students and their parents save both time and money by CLEPping out of college courses.
What Is the CLEP Tests for High School Students?
The College-Level Examination Program, also know as, CLEP Tests, CLEP out, pass out, test out, credit-by-exam, or any other name that describes earning college credit through the process of testing. We can it CLEPping out of college classes, because if you pass the exam you earn the same amount of credit as if you’d taken the class at your own college. Of course you were smart, so spent a lot LESS TIME studying and much LESS MONEY for the same amount of credits!
Established in 1967, by the College Board (the same people that brought you the SAT and AP Exams), the CLEP Tests are the most widely trusted credit-by-exam program. There are 33 CLEP Exams that allow you to earn up to 12 college credits. Accepted at over 2,900 colleges and universities and administered by over 1,700 testing centers year-round, CLEP Exams are probably the most accessible option for testing out of college classes today.
Why Should You Take CLEP Tests?
There are many benefits to CLEP Exams, but they can general boil down two reasons. SAVE TIME. SAVE MONEY. TAKE THE CLEP. This is the College Board’s motto. And many students agree that CLEP Exams play a big role in helping them to finish college and pay for college. Below are some more common reasons high school students take the CLEP Exams.
- Dual Credit Classes – Why tackle tough courses, like Biology, twice? Since you’re already studying classes you need for college, why not get the college credit now? The CLEP exam allows you to kill two birds with one stone by studying once and earning both high school credit and college credit at the same time!
- Graduate College Faster – Since you’re earning college credit while you’re still in high school, that means less time needed to finish your college degree.
- Less Student Loans – CLEP Tests cost $77, which is MUCH CHEAPER than the cost of the equivalent college class. Seeing that the average public university cost is $4,000 – $5,000 PER semester, simply testing out of 4-5 classes can save your family A LOT OF $$$. The “CLEP Scholarship” is something they never tell you about on those college websites. You’d be happy to get a $500 College Scholarship, but what about a $5,000 “CLEP Scholarship” by simply testing out of your first semester of college!!!
- Make College More Interesting – While general education requirements are important to make sure you master the basics of Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic, why should you have to waste time on those classes if you already know the material? So test out of these basic courses while you’re still in high school, so when you get to college you can focus on classes that really interest you.
- Satisfy Proficiency Requirements – Some colleges have proficiency requirements, prove to any college that your capable of performing at a college level.
- Improve Independent Study Skills – CLEP Exams were designed to be self-study. Which is a critical skill not only for success in college, but success in your career. So sharpen your skills now and you’ll be prepared for life.
AP Tests vs CLEP Exams
AP vs CLEP, which test is better? This is a common question asked by high school students and their parents. And everybody has their two cents on the topic. But I don’t think it’s a competition, but a collaboration between the two programs. After all, both exams are administered by the College Board and they each have their pros and cons, which I review below.
I tell high school students if you have an opportunity to take an AP Course, then take it. The Pros of AP Tests is they are more prestigious and widely accepted by colleges and universities than CLEP Exams. In addition, a high score can be used to convince an admission officer, at a selective college, that you’re an excellent candidate for their program or qualify you for the International Baccalaureate Program.
The Cons of AP Tests is they are NOT very accessible to the vast majority of high school students.
- They are offered only once a year in May. You have to register by March and don’t get your scores till June. So if you miss your test date (for any reason), you’re SOL! A years worth of rigorous preparation is wasted.
- You have to find a school to administer the AP tests for you. This can be very difficult in rural and budget-tight urban areas. Not to mention some AP administration sites, have been known to turn down test takers that are not a student at their school or in their school district.
- Even schools that offer AP Tests, usually don’t order all tests, especially if they don’t offer an AP Course for it. So even if you find a school to administer the AP Tests for you, you can still find yourself at the mercy of the school.
- Tests are VERY rigorous. And you need to score at least a 4 out 5 for colleges to even consider it for admissions or placement, let alone award you college credit. Plus the AP Tests is 2.5 hours compared to the CLEP 90 minutes. And an AP passing score is equivalent to a A/B in the college course, compared to the CLEP passing score is equivalent to an C.
- If your school doesn’t offer the AP Course, independent study test preparation can be very expensive (usually between $300-600/course). Which starts to border on, “Are you really saving money?”
The cons of the CLEP Exam is that they are not as highly esteemed as the AP Exam. Meaning, you’re not going to impress admission officers with how CLEP Exams you’ve passed. But unless you’re going to an Ivy College this shouldn’t be a problem, because even some selective private colleges will at least accept certain CLEP Exams. Also when taking the CLEP Exam you’ll need to keep in mind your college’s CLEP policy, because they do have more restrictions than the AP Tests.
The PROs of the CLEP Tests are
- Over 1,700 testing centers, so you should have no problem finding a testing center in your local area.
- Testing Available Year-Round. Most testing centers let you schedule an exam any time during their normal testing hours with at least a 2 day advanced notice.
- No need for expensive college textbooks to pass the CLEP Tests. Most exams you just need a $20 study guide and your high school textbook.
- Not as rigorous as the AP Test, which can be a double edged sword. But I’m counting this one as a plus. Unless you’re a Math Major taking the CLEP Math, then CLEP tests are more than sufficient to prove your understanding of the subject.
So as you can see they both have pros and cons. But if your high school offers AP Courses, then I highly recommend you take them. Because the rigor of the class will not only prepare you for the AP Tests, but college. Plus you’ll be a triple threat. Let’s say you take AP English Class. You’ll received dual credit for 1) high school English Class, 2) college credit for the AP English Tests, and 3) take advantage of the overlapping material, like Analyzing and Interpreting Literature CLEP, and you’ve just received triple credit for completing for one class!
How-To Prepare for the CLEP Tests?
Step 1: Find Your School’s CLEP Policy. If you know your “wish list colleges” you want to attend, you’ll need to locate their CLEP Policy. If you’re unsure then you can just skip this step and stick with general CLEP Exams. Most colleges publish their policy on the school’s website. A simple searching using the term “CLEP” should quickly locate their policy. If not you’ll need to ask your academic adviser for a copy of the policy. Once you have their CLEP Policy you’ll need to determine 1) what exams they accept, 2) what is a passing CLEP score, 3) how many credits are you awarded, and 4) what, if any, are the limitations on taking CLEP Exams.
Step 2: Decide Which Exams to Take. If you know what degree you plan on majoring in then you’ll need to locate the degree plan for that major. This will give you a guide of what courses you’ll need to take to earn your college degree and comparing with what you found out in step 1, what classes you can CLEP out of. Please note that this is VERY preliminary. It’s not official until it’s approved by your academic adviser after you’re accepted and enrolled. So if you plan to aggressively take CLEP Tests you’ll want to attend a college that has a more “liberal CLEP Policy,” otherwise it’s best to stay conservative with your CLEP Testing until after you start your first year of college.
Step 3: Find a CLEP Test Center & Register. Click here to locate a CLEP Testing Center nearest to you. The CLEP Tests is $77/exam + an administration fee paid to the testing center. The admin fee usually ranges between $20-50, so it’s best to call around. Most allow you to schedule appointments any time during normal testing hours with at least a 2 day advanced notice.
Step 4: Prepare for your CLEP Exam. CLEP Tests are designed to be self-study. So with proper preparation you should have no problem passing the CLEP Exam.
You already have the basic knowledge you need to pass the CLEP Exam through what you learned in high school. So you don’t need any special college textbooks or expensive study courses. A $20 study guide combined with some free resources on the Internet should be more than enough to Pass the CLEP Tests. For the Best CLEP Study Guide Reviews I recommend InstantCert. It’s the fastest and easiest way to prepare and pass the CLEP Exam. You can Google high and low, but no other CLEP Study Guide will give you the same bag for the buck like InstantCert. Click here for my CLEP Review on InstantCert. Also click here for the FREE CLEP Prep Resources I’ve found on the Internet.
Good Luck Fellow Test Takers!
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