Earning college credits during high school is generating a lot of buzz in homeschool circles. Through options like CLEP, AP, and dual enrollment some students are hoping to shorten their time in college and save money. Here are answers to some of the questions homeschoolers ask most often about CLEP exams.
What is CLEP?
The College Level Examination Program is offered through the College Board. CLEP was originally designed to meet the needs of adult learners returning to school, but is increasingly being considered as an option for traditional aged students. CLEP offers 33 different exams on subjects such as College Algebra and Psychology. The exam is intended to verify that a student has attained equivalent knowledge of a one or two semester college level course. Some colleges award credit for students achieving particular scores on the exams.
Can homeschoolers take CLEP exams?
Yes. While these tests were originally intended for non-traditional adult learners and people serving in the military, they are now open to homeschooled students as well. There is no minimum age requirement for CLEPs and students do not need to be affiliated with any particular type of public, private, or homeschool program.
How do I take CLEP exams?
CLEP exams are given on the computer at test sites, often community or technical colleges, selected by the College Board. Tests can be taken year round. The College Board website gives contact information for the local test centers. Exams typically cost around $100 including both the fee for the College Board and any local proctoring fees charged by the test site.
What is the format of CLEP exams?
The exams are typically 90 minute multiple-choice tests and are taken on a computer. The composition exam has a different format. The College Board offers sample questions online to get a feel for the difficulty of the exams. There are also many sites online offering test prep materials. Many public libraries also offer CLEP test prep books and access to online databases that include test preparation practice materials.
What topics to CLEP exams cover?
There are 33 CLEP exams available in five different subject areas. These areas include History and Social Science, Composition and Literature, Science and Mathematics, Business, World Languages. The most popular exams are algebra, foreign language, and history. Most CLEP exams are intended to reflect the content of lower division, introductory college courses that would typically be taken in the first or second year of college.
Colleges vary widely in whether or not they award credit for CLEP scores. In general, less selective colleges award more credit. Highly selective colleges do not usually award credit based on CLEP scores. If you know the college you plan to attend, it makes sense to look carefully at their CLEP award policy. Look at not just if the CLEP score will earn credit but what this credit will accomplish. You want to focus on tests that will meet specific requirements for graduation. Just earning general college credits is of limited use. Students want credits that meet specific graduation requirements for general/core education or major courses. The only way CLEPs will save you time and money is if the college you choose to attend gives you credit for a course you need in order to graduate.
Will my CLEP score help me get into college?
The reality is that most colleges really aren’t that difficult to get into. At some less selective schools, such as regional state universities, CLEP scores may provide good support for the homeschool transcript. That said, most of these schools accept most students who apply. At more competitive colleges, CLEP scores will generally not be helpful for admissions purposes and don’t carry the same weight that strong AP or SAT subject scores will.