There are many reasons why someone may want to earn a degree but may not feel they can. Two of the biggest factors that hold someone back from earning a degree by going to college are the high cost of college tuition and the time it takes for classes and studying. What if I told you that the goal of a CLEP exam is to help with both of these obstacles?
The College Level Examination Program or CLEP exam is a way for students to earn college credits by passing exams and testing out of course work. The biggest benefits of taking CLEP exams are that students can study for this exam and earn college credits from this exam. By choosing to take a CLEP exam instead of a college class it can save thousands of dollars and a lot of time. These exams are accepted by over 2,000 colleges.
The CLEP exams were originally designed with adult students returning to college in mind. Students can study on their own time and schedule to take one or more exams when they feel they are ready. The reason why these exams work well for these students is that they may have knowledge in certain areas and can test out of some general education college classes which will help students complete their degree sooner.
Testing Out of General Education Requirements
All colleges and universities require students to take some general education requirements. Unfortunately, some college students already know a lot of the information taught in these classes but, they still have to pay and take these classes.
By taking CLEP exams these students have the opportunity to test out of some of these general education requirements which helps so the students do not waste their time or money taking classes on information they already know.
The CLEP exam is broken down into five subjects. These five subjects are then broken down even further to come up with the 34 total tests.
- Composition and Literature
- World Language
- History and Social Science
- Science and Mathematics
There are 34 test CLEP exams available for students to take. These tests cover a variety of subjects that are required for some general education classes. Students have the option to take as many of these 34 tests as they would like. Some colleges do not accept CLEP exams for college credit and others have a limit on how many credits they will award for CLEP exams. Students need to check with the college before taking the exam to see if they will accept CLEP exams for credits and how many credits they will accept.
College is expensive and any way students can save money is beneficial. The cost of the CLEP exam is much less than the price of college tuition, books, and other school supplies that may be required for classes.
Military student and their spouses have the opportunity to apply to take the CLEP exams for free through the Defense Activity Non-Traditional Education Support program or (DANTES). In some cases, DANTES students can get their testing center fee waived as well for their first test. DANTES students may have to pay this fee on additional tests unless the student is taking the test on a military base then it is always waived.
Test Costs vs Tuition
The CLEP exams do cost $89 per test and some testing centers have additional fees as well. However, if you compare that to the average college class that costs approximately $1,677 that is a huge saving. Fifteen CLEP exam credits can save a student nearly $5,000 at a public college and $17,000 at a private college. That is a huge saving!
Studying Cost vs Classroom Materials
There are numerous ways students may choose to study for the CLEP exam. There are study guides made by the CLEP exam. Students can purchase these study guides on the official CLEP Exam website. While these study guides are not free, they are much cheaper than textbooks and class materials required for college classes. On average students spend $415 on textbooks and other materials per class. A full-time student spends approximately $1,240 per year just on textbooks supplies for their classes.
CLEP study guides are much more cost-efficient. Students have the option if they want to buy the CLEP Official Study Guide which costs $24.99. This study guide gives students practice in each of the 34 tests. This option would be best for someone who plans on taking more than one exam.
If a student plans to just take one exam, then they have the option to purchase a single section test study guide. For example, if a student is planning on taking just the American Literature section they can purchase The CLEP American Literature Examination Study Guide. These single-section study guides cost about $10.00 each.
More valuable than saving money is saving time. The CLEP exams were developed with adult students who wanted to return to college in mind. In many cases, these students may have full-time jobs and families to take care of. These other responsibilities usually take priority over schooling and education for these individuals. Passing CLEP exams helps these students spend more time with their families and working and less time in class and studying.
On average, students save two and a half to 10 months by taking the CLEP exam. There have been studies that have shown that students who take the CLEP exam are more likely to complete their degree as well. With many adults going back to college this can be especially helpful for them to help with the flexibility they may need to go back to school.
There is no class time required before taking the CLEP exam. It is recommended that students study for about one month before taking the exam, but this is up to the individual student. Some students may feel they need more time, especially in certain areas while others may need less time.
The Advanced Placement Exam (AP) is similar to the CLEP exam as they both are exams to test out of college classes. However, the AP exam requires a semester of class that is taught during a semester of high school. High school students have the option to take either exam and both are similar in difficulty and passing rate.
The AP classes work well for high school students since they are taught during school hours and take place of high school classes they would be taking anyways. However, if someone needs more flexibility and would rather study on their own rather than in a classroom setting the CLEP exam would be more beneficial to them.
What is a Passing Score?
The test is scored from a range of 20 to 80 and students receive a score report. The CLEP exam does not have a pass or fail score and it is up to the individual college or university to determine what score they consider to be passing. According to The American Council on Education (ACE), they recommend that colleges accept scores that are 50 or higher for college credit. It is still up to the individual school but, most schools seem to follow this guideline. It is important to check the college’s website or contact the school to verify what score they require.
It is also up to the specific college or university how many credits that a student will earn based on their score on the CLEP exam. Some colleges do offer three college credits per passing the CLEP exam, but not all colleges do. The student needs to check with the college that they plan on attending to see.
Disadvantages to CLEP Exams
While the CLEP exams work great for some students they may not be for everyone. There are over 2,900 schools that accept CLEP exams for college credit in the United States. However, some IVY League schools, such as Harvard, do not accept CLEP credits. The student must verify with the school first to make sure they accept CLEP exams for college credits.
In some cases, CLEP exams can affect scholarships for some students as well. Due to the number of credits that a student may earn from a CLEP exam the student may be able to transfer into college as a sophomore instead of going in as a freshman. Some scholarships are only offered to freshman students. In this case, the student would now no longer qualify for that scholarship.
What Are the Benefits of Taking the CLEP Exam?
College can be time-consuming and expensive for new students. It can present many challenges especially to adult students who are trying to return to college. The CLEP exam helps students overcome some of these challenges because the student can earn college credits from taking different exams and test out of some of the requirements.
The CLEP exam is flexible when it comes to taking the test. Students have two options for taking the test. A student may go to one of the CLEP exam testing centers that are located throughout the United States, or students have the option of taking the exam at home. Either way, there are some requirements that students need to be aware of because if these requirements are not followed students are not permitted to test.
The CLEP exam is offered year-round and students are allowed to take multiple tests in one day. The AP exam has limited times available, must be taken in a testing center, and students may not have the option to take multiple tests in one day.
More about CLEP HERE.
Can students retake a CLEP exam if they do not pass?
Yes, a student is allowed to retest any exam, but they do have to wait a minimum of three months before they are allowed to take the same test again.
How quickly do students get CLEP exam results?
Any multiple-choice test will be scored by the computer immediately once the student finishes the test. For the writing and language sections, these test results take about two to three weeks before the student can see these results.
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Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.
Hi! I’m Shawn Chun and I’m so grateful that you’re here.
Civil servants are some of the hardest working, most generous people I know. I have been passionate about all types of civil service career paths for years now and enjoy sharing everything I continue to learn about them.
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