CLEP Exams: The Easy Way to Earn College Credits
by Teyo Gokcek, Pacific Sands Academy 2022 Graduate
The paradigm of higher education learning, especially within the past few decades, has been to just succumb to the fact that you are going to accumulate massive amounts of debt, that you will be required to waste some of the most precious years of your life to eventually be unemployed, and that throughout this entire process you can’t do much about it. In spite of how recent of a myth this is, with it only coming about in the last few decades due to various instances of state intervention, people have seemingly accepted it all as being something that everybody has to go through now.
However, similar to other modern horrors in life, many people – students and parents – are starting to recognize that it doesn’t have to be this way. More and more people every year are discovering that they don’t have to burn away all of their money and are not required to spend multiple years in higher education. Whether that means people going into low cost college alternatives or opting to forgo college altogether and instead get real world experience, people are smartening up to the tricks that colleges play.
Yet with all of this talk on reducing the costs of college, it’s baffling to me how little one method is talked about, one that has saved me tens of thousands of dollars on college that less than a year ago I myself had not even known about. Sure, most people already know of the basic ways to save money and time such as going through a state or community college or taking AP exams in high school, yet many have never heard of one of the most potent solutions to this major problem: CLEP exams.
What Are CLEP Exams?
CLEP exams, also known as College-Level Examination Programs, are as the name implies college-level tests designed to give you college credit upon passing them. The exams are administered by College Board, the same company that administers the AP exams. The test selection covers a variety of subjects such as the natural and social sciences, mathematics, history, composition, literature, business, and even world languages. The typical CLEP exam costs about $120 including proctor fees and lasts for about 90 minutes and contains 80-120 questions depending on the test subject. CLEP exams are typically taken either online via proctoring or in person at various colleges that provide CLEP testing services.
The Benefits of CLEP Exams
With the way CLEP exams are designed, students with all types of schedules, backgrounds and circumstances are able to take advantage of the opportunities that CLEP exams provide them.
For those worried about the monetary cost of going to college, it should be noted that for each CLEP exam that they pass, they earn 3 college credits, sometimes even 6 or 9 college credits depending on the type of exam that is taken. At a cost of $120 per exam, that makes the cost of a college credit $40, $20 per college credit if the exam grants 6 credits, and $13.33 per college credit if 9 credits are granted.
For those wishing to finish college quickly and get general education courses out of the way, most colleges’ transfer credit policies accept CLEP credits. Passing just a few CLEP tests will let you skip an entire semester of college, and if you pass enough exams you can trim a year off of your time in college. Some colleges even accept 45 or 60 CLEP credits, and a rare few accept 90! It should again be noted that you can take CLEP exams at any time, so if you’re good at studying and a hard worker, you could potentially pass a year of college in one month!
For those who are being homeschooled or are homeschooling their kids, you can use these tests to both knock out college credits early and as a substitute for your current homeschool class schedule. If you graduate high school early and come into college with a bunch of CLEP credits, you may be able to graduate from college with a bachelor’s degree as early as 18 years of age!
For those with busy schedules due to work or other obligations, you can use CLEP exams as a way to get college credit on the side. So long as you’re able to set aside some time every day or during the weekends to study for your CLEP exam, you’ll likely be able to pass them and earn some college credit.
Overall I recommend that anybody who’s thinking about going to college look into CLEP exams and consider taking them. From my personal experience these exams have been a great way for me to get my first two years of college out of the way. They’ve been a great way for me to fulfill the general education requirements of most colleges without having to spend tons of money or time. If you are interested in taking CLEP exams, then I recommend you check out the following websites; clep.collegeboard.org and free-clep-prep.com, both have been great resources for me throughout my test taking process. Both sites have tons of stuff on each of the tests and has various rankings on the difficulty and contents of each test for those who are worried about which tests to take and when to take them.