Imagine walking into a testing center, handing the receptionist seventy dollars, taking a computerized test, and walking away ninety minutes later with six college credits under your belt. Sound too good to be true? Just ask one of the more than five million people who have participated in the College-Level Examination Program, commonly referred to as CLEP, about their experience. Chances are they’ll tell you CLEP tests are the best thing they ever did for their college transcript and online learning endeavor.
Taking CLEP tests is one of the fastest and cheapest ways to earn college credit. Almost forty CLEP tests are available in subject areas that meet most colleges’ general education requirements: composition and literature, history and social sciences, science and mathematics, and a smattering of foreign languages and business exams. While individual colleges reserve the right to grant credit as they see fit, the American Council on Education endorses the CLEP exams and recommends anywhere from three-to-twelve lower-level credits for the successful completion each exam.
CLEP tests are not difficult, but they require test-takers to have a broad knowledge of the subject. A hard-core American history buff, for example, should not have much of a problem passing the "History of the United States" exams. On the other hand, a person without a broad knowledge of the topic will have to study much harder than they would for a regular class, where they are tested on information drawn from a specific text assigned by their teacher. You can’t cram for a CLEP tests, and it’s almost impossible to fake your way through them. Try taking one of the many CLEP sample tests available in study guides or online to see if you are ready for a particular exam. If you need to brush up on a subject before taking an exam, then the College Board’s website suggests and provides many study resources to help you out.
CLEP tests are multiple-choice, although a few of them have an essay portion. It’s important to keep an eye on the clock when you’re taking a CLEP tests; don’t spend too much time agonizing over questions you’re unsure about. Mark the question with the icon provided on the bottom of the computer screen, move on, and come back to it later if you have time. Do take educated guesses instead of leaving a question unanswered; you are not penalized for questions you get wrong, only credited for answers you get right.
CLEP tests are available year round at many colleges and testing centers around the United States. A complete list of testing locations is available at the College Board’s website. The exams cost about seventy dollars apiece, and testing centers usually add a nominal fee for their time and technology. To register for a CLEP test, simply call the testing location of your choice and schedule a time to take it. Keep at it, and you’ll knock those college credits out in record time!