Posted in HS4CC

How to Test Out of Psychology 101

Introduction to Psychology is a favorite course for many teens, but College-led psychology courses (depending on the teacher and textbook) can skim over mature content, slam into it head-first, or go way off topic. One way many parents navigate this tricky subject is to have their teen study at home and test out using a standardized exam. In this post, I’ll show you how!

Introduction to Psychology / General Psychology

100 level college, 3 college credits

All of these exams will duplicate each other, which is to say they will all count as the same entry level 3 credit introductory psychology course at your college. You can only get college credit for this course once, but you can use a different brand if your first attempt doesn’t go well.

AboutCLEPAdvanced PlacementDSSTTECEP
Exam NameIntroductory PsychologyAP PsychologyNot availableNot available
Pass Rate70%58.5%
# of Questions95 questions100 MC questions
2 free response**
Length of Exam1.5 hours /
90 minutes
2 hours / 120 minutesxx
FormatMultiple choiceMultiple choice & free responsexx
ScheduleAnytimeTue, May 3, 2022,
12 PM Local
LocationAt home or a
Testing Center
local high school with approvalxx
Cost$89 without voucher
$0 with voucher*
Official Test Prep ProductCLEP Official Study Guide ($20)myAP Resource Tool (free)xx

*obtain a free CLEP voucher when you complete a free prep course through Modern States

**Free-response questions are completed pencil-paper style and should be treated as small “essays” because the student’s writing ability will be evaluated.

Testing out of a subject gives you total freedom to choose your own learning tools. SUCCESSFULLY testing out requires a good strategy. My advice is to layer several tools together. When done well, you can confidently award your teen 0.5 (one-half) high school credit whether or not they ever earn college credit or pass the test.

Get well-prepared for the CLEP: use layers

Layer 1: Official Guide

  • For the PARENT: The official guide is the lowest cost way to get an outline of each exam and an official practice test for EVERY exam. You don’t need the newest version. Official Exam Guide
  • For the TEEN: The Official CLEP APP  Official College Board CLEP study guide app! *FYI these questions are the same you’ll find in the paperback.
  • For BOTH: CLEP Guide 16 pages Printed by The College Board.  This is a free 16-page guide and a “must read” before taking any CLEP exam.

Layer 2: Curriculum

These exams are equivalent to comprehensive, end-of-course exams, and are not usually developed to reflect the content of one specific textbook or resource. As such, the “brand” of curriculum or textbook doesn’t really matter! My advice is to choose a high school curriculum company you trust or a college textbook you can preview. The “learning” material can come from a high school or college level book, but it should also be interesting! About 75% of your teen’s psychology learning time should happen in this layer.

High school curriculum. The curriculum brand you use is up to you, as long as your curriculum is high school level or higher, it will suffice. The essential thing to look for is the title. Be sure it is either “General Psychology” or “Introduction to Psychology.” Other titles may be in the subject of psychology but won’t align as well with this exam. Whether your curriculum is secular or religious makes no difference for this subject.

College textbooks are great because you can usually pick up an old edition for under $10. What you won’t have is access to a teacher’s edition, but many books include answers for some of the questions in the back (usually all odd or all even questions) and that is enough to assess learning. OpenTextbooks provides hundreds of digital college textbooks for FREE. Here’s one for Introduction to Psychology that will work!

Layer 3: Multimedia / Video

  • For the PARENTS: video resources can round out their understanding in a way that adds rich understanding of a subject. Look for documentaries on Netflix, Great Courses, YouTube or other sites.
  • For the TEEN: Crash Course  Totally free video-based mini-courses that teach you the minimum you have to know in a subject. Perfect for visual learners, but fast-paced.  I suggest taking notes.

If your teen learns best on the computer, you can use any of the excellent resources available online. I tend to like free online resources from colleges, so my list of favorites reflects that. That said, there are dozens of excellent courses available.Yale Introduction to Psychology (Coursera) FreeCrash Course Introduction to Psychology (YouTube) FreeSaylor Academy Introduction to Psychology (college credit optional) Free

Layer 4: Modern States Course & Voucher

Since 2018, the non-profit organization Modern States has awarded CLEP vouchers for FREE to everyone who takes the free prep course. To use Modern States in your homeschool, simply have your teen take the Modern States course when they finish their high school course. To get the voucher, your teen needs to pass the quizzes with 70% or higher. Since watching the videos or doing the reading is not required, my advice is to wait until your teen’s high school course ends. If done that way, your teen can zip through the prep course in under a week. Get a Voucher

  • For the PARENTS: The Modern States course combines CLEP prep and a voucher that pays for your CLEP exam and proctoring fee. This is not curriculum, it’s more of a summary-prep-style course. There are videos and reading assignments, but the only thing the teen has to do to get the voucher is pass the quizzes. When you create your teen’s account, each teen will need their own account. Be CAREFUL! Your teen’s name and email address must appear exactly as they will on their CLEP registration.
  • For the TEEN: As you take a quiz, reflect on your understanding. If you do not understand the topic, use the reading or video offered in the course. Retake the quiz until you score 100%.
CLEP is FREE if you get a voucher… get a voucher!

Layer 5: Practice Tests

Practice tests are REALLY important. Not only do they allow your teen to experience a simulated event, but they get exposed to questions worded in many different ways. Unlike test prep resources, it is my opinion that you can use practice tests from any brand. In other words, an AP practice test is ok for a CLEP exam. The important things about practice tests are that you (1) use them each only once, (2) take at least 2-3 at a minimum, and (3) understand that the questions won’t be exactly like the real thing, so the more exposure to a wide variety of questions the better!

  • For the PARENTS: Practice tests are really helpful in determining your teen’s readiness. Since the pool of test questions is huge, you can’t get a good idea of their readiness using only 1 test. I recommend 2-3 GOOD practice tests (with scores of 60% or better) before attempting any exam. Never reuse a test!


Executive Director of Homeschooling for College Credit