Homeschool Subjects & CLEP Depth

CLEP is a fantastic addition to any homeschool program.  For parents that want to plan a lot of inexpensive (free) college credit into their teen’s high school program, you’ll want to understand the depth of knowledge needed of various exams. CLEP exams can be sorted into 2 depth piles: individual subjects or cumulative subjects:

Knowing the scope and sequence are important, but the depth of any subject is hard to judge. When you’re considering whether or not a subject will work well in your homeschool, you should know that some subjects fit in really easily- these are exams that cover individual subjects. This “one and done” subject fits in with your curriculum, and can be added or dropped in as you like. But, the other type of exam assumes a cumulative knowledge. These exams require knowledge in the subject as well as knowledge in other subjects too. You’ll want to know the difference.

Individual Subjects  

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An individual subject is one that you can approach with no pre-existing knowledge about the subject, and your teen can study it from scratch inside of a semester or two.  Think of these subjects as fitting neatly in a box.  An example of an individual subject is Introductory Psychology.  A student can begin studying Introductory Psychology using a homeschool curriculum, a discarded college textbook, a video series, or even lectures on Youtube.  The expected level to pass the course (and the CLEP) can easily be mastered inside of 1 semester.

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Cumulative Subjects

A cumulative subject is one that requires prior knowledge, sometimes extensive prior knowledge.  An example of an exam in this category is College Algebra.   In the case of College Algebra, you can’t begin the study of the subject without previously learning math through at least Algebra 2.  Students who have started PreCalculus will be stronger candidates to pass the College Algebra exam.  Therefore, if your teen is currently completing Algebra 1, you’ll have to wait to bring the College Algebra CLEP exam into your homeschool schedule.

1 Month? 1 Semester? 1 Year? 4 Years?

In order to choose the best time for your teen to take a specific course/exam, you need to know where it best fits into your homeschool program.  Learning a year of college-level biology might actually take a year!  Fluency that generates 9 college credits in French might take 4 years of high school French.  Studying Introduction to Sociology might only take a month.   It’s possible that some subjects may never fit perfectly into your homeschool program, and may serve your teen best after they’ve graduated high school. Remember that graduating high school with even 1 college credit puts them ahead, so try not to think of this planning with the same sense of urgency you’ll find with adult learners.  High school students who earn CLEP credit are well ahead of their age-mates!

The following classification is my opinion based on my experience with each of these exams.  Your teen’s individual aptitude, ability, and level of knowledge will influence where and when these exams fit into your homeschool.

Individual Subject Exams

American Literature

English Literature

American Government

History of the United States I

History of the United States II

Human Growth and Development

Introduction to Educational Psychology

Introductory Psychology

Introductory Sociology

Principles of Macroeconomics

Principles of Microeconomics

Western Civilization I: Ancient Near East to 1648

Western Civilization II: 1648 to the Present


Information Systems

Introductory Business Law

Principles of Management

Principles of Marketing

Cumulative Subjects

Analyzing and Interpreting Literature

College Composition

College Composition Modular

French Language: Levels 1 and 2

German Language: Levels 1 and 2

Spanish Language: Levels 1 and 2

College Algebra

College Mathematics

Natural Sciences



Decide for Yourself


Social Sciences and History

Financial Accounting


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Executive Director of Homeschooling for College Credit

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