Posted in HS4CC

How to Earn CLEP Credit During the Pandemic

Most popular question circulating in our community?  “When will CLEP testing centers reopen?” The COVID Pandemic has most testing centers closed, but here’s what you need to know if you hope to CLEP this year.

Our community spans all 50 states, so we can expect our member’s experiences to vary widely.   Based on our 2020 poll, the majority of HS4CC families who earn college credit by exam will choose CLEP.   A smaller share will choose DSST or AP.  If your family hopes to earn college credit by exam, these tips should help you dig in and keep your college credit program on track.

Your Schedule

A good percentage of our community uses monthly or bi-monthly learning to accumulate CLEP credit in “chunks” or blocks of time.   This typical example outlines a parent’s plan to incorporate 3 CLEP exams into a student’s school year.

(high school subjects like Algebra, PE, or Music have been left off for simplicity)

August – September U.S. History I Learning
October U.S. History I CLEP Prep/test
November-December -January English Literature Learning
February English Literature CLEP Prep/test
March-April Psychology Learning
May Psychology CLEP Prep/test

Under this approach, families tend to accumulate their credit over the entire span of the school year.  This is a great strategy to use under normal circumstances.  Using this strategy allows the depth of learning, and intensity of focus for many students.   If your testing center is closed for the next 3-12 months, this popular approach will delay or derail your CLEP program completely.

2 Changes You Should Make

We know most testing centers are closed now, but we also know most testing centers will reopen eventually.  As such,  I advise you to make 2 small changes to your high school plan that will shift subjects into new spots and take advantage of exam content overlap while you wait for the testing centers to reopen.  This first change has a huge benefit- when you rearrange your subjects into groups, the content overlap shifts away from the compartmentalized approach above, and instead takes on a more “unit studies” feel.

Old plan New plan
U.S. History 1 U.S. History 1
English Literature American Literature
Psychology American Government
(empty) U.S. History 2

By replacing English Literature and Psychology, we’ve streamlined the new content to have a significant overlap.  This is an approach parents sometimes use with very young students but works perfectly when adopted to CLEP subjects with content overlap.  In addition, we’ve added U.S. History 2, because it will share content overlap!

The second change is to move away from time chunks and shift into a slower timeline that follows historical chronology.  While the original schedule treated each subject as its own event, this merger will yield a deep and thorough appreciation for the content.   In this strategy, learning new content ends during the last 2 months of the academic year, and 2-3 weeks of CLEP prep is allowed for each exam.

August-September 1500 – 1800 U.S. History 1

American Literature

American Government

October-November 1800- Civil War US History 1

American Literature

American Government

*if testing centers are open, take US History 1.  If not, continue on.

December-January Civil War – 1914 U.S. History 2

American Literature

American Government

February-March 1915-present U.S. History 2

American Literature

American Government

April -no new content- Study & test U.S. History 1 CLEP

Study & test U.S. History 2 CLEP

May -no new content- Study & test American Lit CLEP

Study & test American Govt. CLEP

Where did I pull the date periods to use for my planning? From the Official CLEP website. You’ll see the important percentages dedicated to each subject and period of history.   There is quite a bit of flexibility, but I picked 4 blocks that lined up pretty well.

Should You Consider AP?

All things being equal, CLEP tests for college credit tend to work better than AP… but all things aren’t equal right now.  What we do know, is that this past May, The College Board managed to administer 2 million AP exams remotely.  While it didn’t work perfectly, it was their first attempt, and we can assume they have a lot of ideas about how to improve the process moving forward.  (Does this mean AP might make remote an option for everyone at some point?  Not an unreasonable question.)

I have no insight about next year’s AP exam, but with The College Board’s decision to “figure it out” for AP test-takers while leaving CLEP test-takers in the lurch, what we (consumer) learned from this, is that we have exceptional certainty that no matter the state of testing centers in May, AP exams will happen.

If this is your very last opportunity for your teen to earn college credit in high school, shifting to AP instead of CLEP may make sense for your family.

I have a lot of content that compares CLEP to AP, be sure to consider the differences between both exams before making your decision.  Read about AP

At the bottom of this post is a link to my “Compare AP to CLEP” workshop. I highly suggest it if you’re debating between the two.

Explore DSST Exams

DSST exams are very much like CLEP in almost every way, except that so few people are taking them, that they don’t get a lot of attention.   What is noteworthy in this discussion, is that DSST exams are administered by Prometric, and they have their own list of testing centers.  A good portion of these testing centers are on military bases or inside private testing companies.  At the very least, it is a pool of potential centers that may be open before your local testing center resumes.  Find a DSST Testing Center

You may not find your target college’s DSST policy on their website.  Since DSST exams used to only serve the military (no longer the case) few colleges publish their DSST acceptance guide on their website – especially if they don’t receive enough military applicants to make it reasonable.   If your target college has an AP and or CLEP policy, send the registrar a note and ask about DSST exams.  This may open up a new catalog of options for you!


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CLEP vs AP Summer Workshop 

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Homeschooling for College Credit, 2nd edition

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Photo by Agung Pandit Wiguna on


Executive Director of Homeschooling for College Credit