CLEP Revisions: Now What?

So, you’ve possibly heard the news:  CLEP revised 1/2 of their catalog on December 1st – leaving many of us a little shocked and asking the question, “now what?” 

Don’t worry, this is not bad news, it’s just news.  More importantly, every revision appears in this post, so going forward, you’ll have all the tools you need to have your teen ready for their next CLEP exam (revised or not!)  Resourceful high school planning means that flexibility is our friend, and we’ll adapt without missing a beat!  So, we’ll dry our tears and march forward!!

What didn’t change

  • Content:  Content is content is content.  The “meat” of the exam is content, and no matter what subject or what test we’re talking about, the content is the same.  If you’re part way through a US History textbook or finishing up French 3, you’re going to be fine with content.  Keep learning.
  • Structure:  The testing structure has remained the same.  CLEP is still a multiple choice exam offering pass/fail college credit for a passing score.
  • Cost:  CLEP exams currently cost $87 and generally carry a small testing center fee of around $20.  The revised exams brought no change to the cost.  One thing to note, you can currently take CLEP exams for free when you earn a voucher through Modern States.  We strongly suggest you pay $0 for ALL of your CLEP exams!
  • Passing Scores:  Passing an exam still requires a scaled score of 50.  It’s possible that the number of questions required to hit a 50 may have changed, we’ll never know because that remains confidential.  (individual colleges may ask for higher scores)

What changed?

  • Distribution of topics:  This is the biggest change for a few exams, and it refers to the breakdown of what is covered.  You’ll see examples below, but in short, an old exam may have dedicated 3% to a certain topic, and the new exam may now dedicate 6%.  If you’re taking an updated exam with a new distribution, you need to be sure your test prep aligns well.
  • Questions:  We can assume all new exams have added/revised/removed questions from the question bank.

Distribution Comparison

To compare the “old” exam distribution of topics against the “new” distribution, I’ve turned to my 2016 Official CLEP Study Guide and am comparing it against the CLEP Official Website’s overview page which shows current distributions.

I’ve done a careful comparison of all exams from 2016, and found that 3 exams have had distribution changes.  To save space, I’ve not copied the entire exam distribution, just the changes.  Refer to CLEP’s official website for full exam distributions and read how to use CLEP in your homeschool here.

Intro. Business Law 

Category:  Contracts OLD 25%-35% –> NEW 30%–40%
Category:  Legal Environment OLD 25% -30% –> NEW 20%–25%

History of the United States I 

Category: Political institutions, political dev, and public policy OLD 35% –>NEW 30%
Category: Social developments OLD 25% –> NEW 30%
Category: Cultural and intellectual developments OLD 15% –> NEW 20%
Category: Diplomacy and international relations OLD 15% –> NEW 10%

Human Growth and Development 
NEW TOPIC –> Biological (in Theoretical Perspectives)
NEW TOPIC–>Ecological (in Theoretical Perspectives)

Category: Research Strategies and Methodology OLD 5% –> NEW 6%

Category: Biological Development the Life Span OLD 10% –> NEW 12%

NEW TOPIC –> Genetic disorders (in Biological Development, moved from atypical dev.)

Category: Perceptual Development Throughout the Life Span OLD 7% –> NEW 6%
NEW TOPIC –> Habituation (in Perceptual Development)

Intelligence Throughout the Life Span OLD 4% –> NEW 6%
NEW TOPIC –>Giftedness (in Intelligence, moved from atypical Dev.)
NEW TOPIC –>Intelligence tests (in Intelligence)
NEW TOPIC –> Reaction range (in Intelligence)

Social Development Throughout the Life Span OLD 10% –> NEW 12%
NEW TOPIC –> Social learning and modeling (in Social Development)

Schooling, Work, and Interventions OLD 5% –> NEW 6%
NEW TOPIC –> Operant conditioning (in Schooling, Work…)

Category Renamed –>  Developmental Psychopathology OLD 5% –> NEW 6%
NEW TOPIC –> Anxiety and mood disorders (in Psychopathology)


We observed no change to the distribution for:

French Language

English Literature

College Composition (essay)

College Modular (no essay)

American Government

History of the United States II

Intro. Educational Psychology

Intro. Psychology

Intro. Sociology



Natural Sciences


Other important information about CLEP exams

7 Ways to Fail Your CLEP Exam

College Level Exam Program (CLEP)

CLEP for 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th Grades

Member Question: CLEP Registration before 10th grade?

CLEP Expiration / Revision Dates (see when the next changes are expected)


Executive Director of Homeschooling for College Credit

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