CLEP Registration Problem: Checking the 10th grade box

Lori writes:  “I was attempting to sign my son up for the CLEP test in American Government and the registration form on the CLEP site does not accept any student designation that is less than 10th grade. I know that some other parents have been successful in arranging for CLEP test for their students who are even younger than my son (15), so I was wondering how to get around this stipulation on the CLEP form?”

That’s a great question, Lori, and this comes up ALL THE TIME!! First of all, anyone of any age can take CLEP. The problem here isn’t that the student is “too young” rather it’s that the College Board’s form doesn’t have enough tick boxes. It seems like a simple solution, especially since one advantage of using CLEP in a homeschool is that those too young for dual enrollment have an opportunity to earn college credit when they’re ready- not at a specific grade.

What should you do?

It is my opinion that UNLESS your child is an NCAA-bound athlete (where grade level matters in a huge way), select the 10th-grade box. 

The College Board insists that the tick-box is strictly demographic data for internal use and that colleges will never see that box. 

I want to believe them, really I do, but let’s look at the risk : reward before we decide.

For “regular” homeschooling students, there is no risk. Indicating a grade level on this form won’t matter because (1) the homeschooling parent determines the teen’s grade level in high school (2) the parent controls access to the score report (3) College Board continues to tell us that this information isn’t released. The risk is so minimal and the reward so high that I would mark that box with confidence and not give it a second thought.

But, for those who are NCAA-bound athletes, it’s a different story.  NCAA is exceptionally strict regarding age and grade. They are exceptionally strict about the number and type of high school credits a student earns, and they are exceptionally strict about the records documenting these activities…. and that’s just for public school students. The scrutiny of homeschooled students headed into NCAA is at least twice as difficult- maybe more. In summary:  NCAA doesn’t play around. If they think something is “off” about your teen’s records, your teen will be disqualified from playing college sports- game over.

NCAA Homeschool Eligibility Guide

So, since the risk is so high for the students in the NCAA category, I take the extreme opinion of telling NCAA families to wait until 10th grade before attempting a CLEP exam.  This protects your teen from the extremely unlikely event that your identification of their (higher) grade is disclosed somewhere somehow.

Until then, parents with teens younger than 10th grade should continue to contact The College Board and simply suggest that they add a box for those younger than 10th grade.  It’s an easy request, and easy fix, and it keeps everyone honest.

College-Level Examination Program (CLEP)

P.O. Box 6600
Princeton, NJ 08541-6600
Phone: 800-257-9558 or 212-237-1331
Fax: 610-628-3726
E-mail: (Professionals)  <– homeschool parents use that address
E-mail: (Students)Representatives are available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern Time.


Executive Director of Homeschooling for College Credit

One thought on “CLEP Registration Problem: Checking the 10th grade box

  1. I was just looking at CLEP for my 9th grader yesterday. She will be ready for the exam before 10th grade. NCAA is not a factor for us – but I emailed the college board about this issue today. Thanks for sharing.

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