Homeschoolers love CLEP! If you’re just starting to wonder what the hype is all about, these quick FAQs can get you started.
What is CLEP? The letters C.L.E.P. stand for College Level Examination Program. I think most people call it CLEP for short. It’s a standardized exam created by the College Board. You may have heard of the College Board; they also created the SAT and the Advanced Placement or AP tests. Passing a CLEP exam, like passing an AP exam, can yield college credit at participating colleges.
Who can take CLEP? CLEP is for anyone, literally! Any age, any grade, any country – if you’d like to try your hand at a CLEP exam, you can. You can be as young as eight years old; you could be 88 years old. You do not have any restrictions on who can take a CLEP exam or how old they have to be. If you are under 13 years old there is a waiver, but that is because the exam is administered on a computer. Once that waiver is on file you are
good to go!
Why during homeschool? Good high school level homeschool curriculum teaches your teen nearly identical content to what they’ll experience on a CLEP exam. In other words, a year of high school level biology matches up with about 75 percent of the CLEP biology exam. A good student with a solid understanding of the content can combine good test-prep resources, and learn the remaining 25 percent required for the exam!
Where do you take the test? If you’d like to take a CLEP exam, visit the official CLEP website and locate your nearest testing center. Your student will have to physically go to the testing center on test day, so you may want to make sure it’s in a convenient location with good parking and business hours that work with your schedule. Keep in mind that where you take your CLEP exam doesn’t matter because scores are not kept at the testing center, so it’s entirely up to you where you go.
What does it cost? The CLEP exam currently costs $85. This fee is paid in advance when you register online for the exam. Separately, each testing center is allowed to charge a service fee, which is their “cut” in the process. I’ve found testing centers that charged $0 and others that charged $100, so it’s a good idea to call around and compare testing center fees before you set your budget.
What is a good CLEP strategy? The way that causes the least amount of stress and the greatest chance of success is to mirror the same model used by Advanced Placement. In this model, a student goes through their entire high school course (reading, writing, researching, and deeply learning) and then at the end of the course, the student decides if they’d like to take the AP exam. If they decide to, they can then do test prep and take the exam. This model works perfectly for CLEP too! When you take this approach, the student easily accumulates high school credit on schedule and potential college credit in all of the subjects in which they excel.
How many high school credits is an exam worth? Technically speaking, the CLEP exam isn’t worth any high school credits- it’s worth potential college credit. That’s why it’s important for parents to award high school credit and grades separately from the student’s CLEP exam. This means that whether or not a student passes their CLEP exam, they have still earned high school credit and can graduate as planned.
How is college credit awarded? When your student begins to consider college options, you can visit a college’s website and look at their CLEP policy. Some colleges are exceptionally CLEP-friendly, allowing your student an unlimited number of college credit by exam. Other colleges may be more restrictive and not participate in the CLEP program at all. When your student applies to the college, you’ll send their official CLEP transcript (called a score report) to their target colleges, and the college will assign credit for their exam per their policy. Each CLEP exam is generally worth 3-9 college credits. How each college assigns the credit varies widely from meeting a specific course requirement to elective credit.
To register for a CLEP exam, visit www.collegeboard.org.
We have a LOT of great CLEP help to make sure you’re finding all the best ways to use CLEP in your homeschool. Check out these other great posts:
30 Ways to Earn College Credit in High School