CLEP Scores: FAQ

Let’s talk about CLEP scores and what you need to know.

When will I see my score?

Except for the two CLEP exams that call for writing (Spanish with Writing, and College Composition) the exams are multiple-choice and instantly graded by the computer. When you submit your last question, your score will display and you’ll know instantly whether or not you passed. (passing is 50).

Regarding the exams with writing, “Essays written for the College Composition and Spanish with Writing exams are graded by college professors who are selected by the College Board from the faculty of two- and four-year institutions. The writing-section grade is combined with the multiple-choice score, and the result is reported as a scaled score.” Written exams take 2-3 weeks to grade.

How is a score calculated?

To reach the total score that students see on their score reports, we perform two calculations.

  1. First, we calculate the raw score. This is the number of questions answered correctly. The raw score increases by one point for each question answered correctly, and no points are gained or lost when a question is either unanswered or incorrectly answered.
  2. Next, the raw score is converted into a scaled score by a statistical process called equating. Equating maintains the consistency of standards for test scores over time by adjusting for slight differences in difficulty between test forms. This ensures that the score does not depend on the specific test form or how well others did on the same form. The raw score is converted to a scaled score that ranges from 20 to 80. The final scaled score is the score that appears on the score report.

How many questions do I need to get correct in order to pass?

Passing scores for all CLEP exams is a 50, but the number needed to get to 50 will vary significantly by exam. CLEP’s system is confidential, and we also know that they are frequently testing out questions that are in the exam but ungraded. It’s impossible to estimate how many questions a person needs to get correct, and even the best experts disagree on how to estimate this number! This is true because you will NEVER be told the number you got correct. In fact, no one ever knows- which is why we all just come to an educated guess. When you see charts and tables, take them with a grain of salt- we are all guessing.

Where are my scores kept?

Your CLEP scores are all housed inside your College Board account. This is why it is really important for each student to have their own College Board account! Parents may be tempted to set this up for their teen, especially very young ones who don’t use email, but they will need their own academic record- so don’t miss this step!

How long is my score saved?

Scores are held in your account for 20 years. Sometimes College Board will alter an exam or change the credit values. For instance, several years ago the literature exams were all downgraded from 6 college credits to 3 college credits. If you took the older exam, you still have a score worth 6 college credits! The date on your score matters.

Do I have to take my CLEP at the college I want to attend?

No. You can take your CLEP at home or at any approved testing center. Any testing center that offers CLEP testing is simply pulling that exam from the College Board server for you, it is not connected to your student account in any way. You’ll still need to send your test score from College Board back to your college so they get your score.

Can I choose to have my score sent automatically? Isn’t that cheaper?

Test takers can send their scores to a college, employer, or other recipient. This service is free of charge if they select their score recipients at the time of registration. After testing, students can order official transcripts by logging in to My Account. There is a $20 fee per transcript ordered for each institution. You only have to do this ONCE, and it will contain all your passed scores (failed scores are not included).

What if I fail? When can I try again?

The retest policy states that a candidate may not retake an exam of the same title within three months of the test date. If you violate the CLEP retest policy, the administration will be considered invalid, your score will be cancelled, and any test fees will be forfeited.

Should I cancel my score?

For a reason that I can’t figure out (though I’ve been trying to figure this out for 15 years) CLEP offers you the option of canceling your score. There is no reason to ever cancel a score- you don’t get a refund, you don’t get to retake the exam any sooner, and worst of all you don’t get to know your score. You might think that this option exists to protect your college from seeing a failed exam…. but when you request your CLEP transcript, failed exams are automatically removed, so again, there is no advantage to this!

Be sure to tell your teen that they will ask more than once if you want to cancel your score. I remember this process gave me anxiety! I remember thinking “do they know something I don’t? Did I really fail THAT bad?” but don’t let this shake your teen. They ask this to everyone. Again, tell them about this ahead of time and be sure they never choose to cancel their score. From the CLEP website:

Canceling Scores
If test takers do not want their scores reported to the institution they have selected, they are given the option to cancel their scores in the testing software. They are asked to verify this decision several times before the score is canceled. Scores cannot be canceled once students have seen their instant score reports. Canceled scores cannot be reinstated, and canceled exams cannot be retaken for three months. Additionally, canceled scores will not be available in a test taker’s exam score page in My Account.

Tips from The College Board

  • Before you leave the test center, you’ll receive an unofficial score report right after taking the test. Note: If you took the College Composition or Spanish with Writing exams, it takes College Board 2–3 weeks to deliver a score report for these exams.
  • You can view your scores online (the following day) by logging into the CLEP My Account portal with the same account you used to register for the exam. Once logged in, go to the My CLEP Exam Scores page to view your scores.
  • Get your score on screen after taking a remote-proctored exam.
  • If you took an exam with remote proctoring, your scores are displayed on your screen immediately after completing the exam, except for College Composition and Spanish with Writing which are available online via My Account 2–3 weeks after exam day.
  • Most colleges publish the required scores for earning CLEP credit on their websites or in a course catalog. The required score for earning CLEP credit may vary from exam to exam. Contact your institution to find out the minimum qualifying score for each exam.
  • On CLEP exams, you receive one point for each correct answer. Points aren’t deducted for wrong or skipped answers. This means that you should do your best to answer each question on a CLEP exam.
  • College Composition mandatory essays are scored twice a month by college English faculty from throughout the country.
  • Spanish with Writing mandatory essays are scored twice a month by college Spanish language faculty from throughout the country.
  • Students who take the College Composition exam / Spanish with Writing will be notified via email once their scores are available online, typically 2–3 weeks after taking the exam. You can access scores by logging into the CLEP My Account Registration Portal using the same information you used to register. Once logged in, click on My CLEP Account and then My CLEP Exam Scores. If you would like a paper copy of your scores, you can click on the Print button above the score table on the My CLEP Exam Scores page.


Executive Director of Homeschooling for College Credit

2 thoughts on “CLEP Scores: FAQ

  1. Good morning,

    Question on this:

    “Most colleges publish the required scores for earning CLEP credit on their websites or in a course catalog. The required score for earning CLEP credit may vary from exam to exam. Contact your institution to find out the minimum qualifying score for each exam.”

    I thought CLEP was a pass/fail but it looks like scores are sent to the institution and that specific institution decides if the score is high enough to be awarded credits? Does it mean that even if I receive a passing score from CLEP, when my score is sent to the institution in 5-10 years, the credits may not be awarded because the institution considers that the score is too low?


    1. Lots of great questions Judith- yes, CLEP is pass/fail, but that is awarded only after the college accepts it. The acceptance process may vary slightly from college to college. Though most colleges accept a “50” as passing (the ACE recommended score) a handful may ask for a higher score in order to issue that pass/fail credit. Does that help? Also, 78% of colleges accept CLEP, so we’re talking about 2,900 schools!! CLEP policies can change every year at every school – sometimes they get more generous and sometimes they get more strict. Sometimes schools drop off and sometimes they are added. There is no way anyone can promise you what will be exactly expected 5-10 years from now, but since CLEP scores are held for 20 years, my advice will be then the same as it is today- if you don’t like one college’s policy, choose another. Enough colleges DO have generous CLEP policies (some community colleges even allow you to CLEP 75% of the degree!!) that it’s worth voting with your dollar so to speak. If your teen earns the credit, that’s the first part, now your part is helping her get it on her college transcript! 😉 Message me anytime,

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