College Level Examination Program
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The College Level Examination Program (CLEP) is a group of standardized tests created and administered by College Board. These tests assess college-level knowledge in thirty-six subject areas and provide a mechanism for earning college credits without taking college courses. They are administered at more than 1,700 sites (colleges, universities, and military installations) across the United States. There are about 2,900 colleges which grant CLEP credit. Each institution awards credit to students who meet the college's minimum qualifying score for that exam, which is typically 50 to 60 out of a possible 80, but varies by site and exam. These tests are useful for individuals who have obtained knowledge outside the classroom, such as through independent study, homeschooling, job experience, or cultural interaction; and for students schooled outside the United States. They provide an opportunity to demonstrate proficiency in specific subject areas and bypass undergraduate coursework. Many take CLEP exams because of their convenience and lower cost (typically $80) compared to a semester of coursework for comparable credit.
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The test is offered by the College Board. Approximately 2,900 colleges and universities will grant college credits for each test. Both U.S. and international schools grant CLEP credit. Most of the tests are 90 minutes long. They currently cost $80 each. The tests are free to U.S. military service members and some veterans. There is an additional fee of $10 for the optional essay portion of some of the exams. Each test usually corresponds to a one or two semester introductory course on the topic, though the Spanish, French, and German Language exams can be used to earn up to 12 credits.
CLEP exams are offered at testing centers on over 1,500 college and university campuses, as well as military installations. Most centers charge an administrative or registration fee per student or per test. Fees usually range from $15–20, though they vary among test centers. Exams are administered on a computer in a lab style setting. Final results are available immediately after completing the exam.
CLEP tests are primarily multiple-choice exams (though some include fill-in or ordering questions, and one College Composition exam has an essay section) which are scored on a scale from 20 to 80. The majority of schools grant credit for a score of 50 or higher, but passing scores are determined by the individual schools and may vary. The schools are responsible for awarding the amount of credits you would receive for each test. The scores in the table below are endorsed by the American Council on Education as recommended credit-granting scores for each of the exams. On foreign language tests, the score will determine the amount of credit granted. For example, one university may grant 8 credits for a score of 50, 12 credits for a score of 62 and 18 credits for a score of 73.
CLEP administrators will send test scores to any school the student designates. Currently, over 2,900 colleges will accept credit earned by CLEP tests. However, some colleges do not accept the credit for every test that CLEP offers.
Duplication of credits
Duplication of credit occurs when a CLEP exam is attempted in a subject or similar subject that the student has already completed. If the exam is completed and there is duplication of credit, only partial credit is awarded.
For example, a student has completed 3 credits of a literature class. The student successfully completes the CLEP exam, Humanities. This exam that is worth 6 credits, however, the student would only be awarded 3 credits due to the duplication of subject material. Individual colleges often define duplication differently and may even allow duplicate CLEP tests as free electives.
Regression of credits
Regression of credit usually occurs when a student has completed an upper division course in a subject, and a lower leveled or lower division CLEP exam in the same or similar subject is attempted.
Currently available exams
CLEP exams for U.S. military personnel and veterans
Currently, for all United States Armed Forces, personnel are allowed to take one FREE CLEP; however, personnel that fail the chosen CLEP must pay to take it again. This is a massive change from previous years, where personnel could retake a CLEP as many times as possible free of charge.
CLEP preparation materials
- College Board website: CLEP: About the Exams
- College Board website: CLEP: Getting Started
- CLEP: Getting Credit
- DANTES: College Level Examination Program
- College Board website: CLEP: Registering
- College Board website: CLEP for Military Personnel
- College Board website: CLEP for Veterans
- "CLEP Test Centers". Retrieved 6 June 2013.
- "Cheap College Credits". The Learning Curve. Retrieved 15 April 2013.
- College Board website: CLEP for Military Personnel
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- About CLEP – College Board