Posted in CLEP, Credit by Exam

6 Credit CLEPs

There are 33 CLEP exams.  Most of them are worth 3 college credits, but did you know that 9 of them are worth 6 or more college credits! 

6 credit CLEP exams

College Composition (essay required)
College Mathematics
French Language (up to 9 credits)
German Language (up to 9 credits)
Spanish Language (up to 9 credits)
Social Sciences & History
Natural Sciences

Benefits of 6 credit exams

  • One advantage of taking a 6 credit exam is that it costs the same as a 3 credit exam.  All CLEP exams, no matter their credit worth, are the same fee.  ($85 effective July 1, 2017)
  • Your budget goes farther.  If you allocate $200 per year of high school for college credit earned, students who selected 6 credit exams will have 54 credits, while students who selected 3 credit exams will have 27 credits.
  • 6 credit exams are worth larger tuition saving.  If your target college charges $350 per credit, each 6 credit exam your teen passes saves you $2,100.
  • 6 credit exams allow you to “max out” on CLEP credit more quickly.  If your target college allows up to 30 CLEP credits, you can accomplish that using only 5 exams vs using 10 of the 3 credit exams.
  • 6 credit exams equate to 1 year of a course, so you have more than 1 year of a subject to complete, you can enter at level 2 (Foreign language is a good example).


6 credit exams cover more content

6 credit exams cover 1 year of a subject (3 credit exams cover 1 semester) so there is more content to study, but for those students working at the college-prep high school level (as opposed to general or remedial) you’ll find your high school text covers the same content to a lesser degree.

While I don’t want to suggest specific curriculum companies, I do want to use a couple examples that help you understand “how hard” an exam might be, or the scope of it.

Rosetta Stone Spanish (Levels 1 and 2) —> Spanish CLEP exam

Apologia Biology followed by Advanced Biology —> Biology CLEP exam

Saxon Algebra 2 & Khan Academy Probability —> College Math CLEP exam

Not all colleges award 6 credits

Despite these exams covering more content and being ACE evaluated for 6 credits, some colleges still only award 3 credits (of course, some may award none!) It’s your call, but if my teen accumulated 1/2 of a bachelor’s degree in high school by taking CLEP exams, we’d be really motivated to choose the college that awarded him credit for his work.   

Before attempting a 6 credit exam, be sure your student:

  • has an advanced understanding of the basics and a basic understanding of the advanced.
  • has experience reading college level material (usually through textbooks).  Some students find the wording of a CLEP question a little tricky.  They tend to ask a lot of negative questions such as “which one of the following would not be the…..”
  • has taken no fewer than 2 practice tests.   Sources of practice tests include:
    • CLEP Official Guide (1 paper practice test with answer key)
    • REA CLEP (2-3 practice paper / online tests with explanations)
    • (1 online practice test with answer key for some exams)
  • Peterson’s  (3 online timed practice tests with instant grading)

    It is my opinion that you’ll need to score 60% -70% on at least 2 TIMED practice tests (3 tests would be better) before attempting the real exam. Never use the same test twice- it won’t be a true score.  Practice tests will not have the actual questions but are representative of the kinds of questions you can expect.


Insider Tip:  many 6 credit exams overlap each other

Experienced college credit test-takers will tell you to get the maximum return on investment (brain investment, that is) you should study for exams that share or overlap content, and then take both exams.  Many of the 6 credit exams lend themselves to this technique, which I’ll share below.


Take high school chemistry and high school physics before college-level biology (CLEP). Follow the CLEP Biology test with CLEP Natural Sciences.  The Natural Sciences exam is 50% biology!  The other half includes some essential chemistry and physics that you already covered in high school.


If your teen is studying for or has passed College Algebra, go back and pick up College Math too.  Even if it’s not the math they need for their degree, it will probably land as a general education elective.


If your teen passes one of the foreign language exams with a high enough score, she’ll likely walk away with 9 credits instead of 6!  (cut scores vary by college).  In addition, if your teen earns foreign language credit early enough, or has a knack for languages, there may be time for a second language!  If you’re very sure your teen can master one or more foreign languages in high school, take a moment to read my post about Foreign Language for College Credit


In the Social Sciences and History exam, it’s really a combo of history, economics, and government.  This exam is a mile wide and an inch deep, so it’s a challenging exam to study for.  Rather than study for this exam directly, my suggestion is to use it after your teen has already taken some or all of these other subjects.  Completing these other exams first will all but assure a solid passing score on Social Science and History with little to no test prep.  NOTE:  this plan below yields 3-4 high school credits and 27 college credits.


(1) United States History —> CLEP United States History 1 & 2

(2) American Government —> CLEP American Government


(1)  Western Civilization —> CLEP Western Civ 1 & 2

(2)  Economics —> CLEP Macroeconomics and CLEP Microeconomics

CLEP Social Science and History exam

Downgraded Exams

If you’ve used CLEP in the past with other teens, you may notice a few exams “missing” from the 6 credit list!!  It’s true, in 2015, the following exams were “downgraded” from 6 to 3 credits.

If you happen to have taken one of these exams while it was worth 6 credits, it’s still worth 6 credits for you.  Exam values are determined by the date you took it, not the date you use it. But, for students who take it now, expect 3 credits unless your college awards a different amount.  (Thomas Edison State College still awards 6 credits for all of these)

Humanities  (worth 3 credits now, worth 6 credits before 3/1/2015)

American Literature (worth 3 credits now, worth 6 credits before 3/1/2015)

English Literature (worth 3 credits now, worth 6 credits before 3/1/2015)

Analyzing and Interpreting Literature (worth 3 credits now, 6 credits before 3/1/2015)