Do All Colleges Accept CLEP Exams?

If you are looking to save time and money on college classes, a CLEP exam can help you do that. You simply take the exam in place of taking the course. You receive credit if your score is better than the required score put forth by the college you are looking to get credits from.

Do All Colleges Accept CLEP Exams?

No, not all colleges accept CLEP exams for credit. However, more than 2,900 US colleges do accept CLEP exams. Their requirements for obtaining credit vary and depend on the individual school.

Taking a CLEP exam can help you save money by allowing you to get credit for a class you haven’t taken or it can help you receive credit for a subject you already know. If you aren’t sure if taking a CLEP exam is right for you, keep reading!

Do All Colleges Accept CLEP Exams?

We are going to cover which colleges accept credit from CLEP exams, how they apply for the credits, what a CLEP exam is, how the test is made, who should take the test, and the advantages and disadvantages of the exams. Additionally, we’ll cover the process from beginning to end.

Which Colleges Accept CLEP Exams?

Over 2,900 schools accept CLEP exam credit. The vast majority of schools that accept this type of credit are local or in-state schools. However, the best way to find out if your school accepts CLEP is by checking with them directly.

You can check with your preferred college to find out what their policies regarding CLEP exams are by looking on their website or contacting them via phone. Additionally, you can search for local schools to find out if there is a school near you that accepts CLEP credit. Be sure to verify the results you find online to make sure the information is up-to-date.

There are a variety of resources available to help you find a school that accepts CLEP credit, including a search on the College Board website. You can utilize the search to determine if the school you want to attend has a policy on CLEP examinations.

How Do Colleges Apply for CLEP Credits?

Each college has a credit transfer policy that determines how many credits can be transferred from another institution or by examination. These policies govern how a college will apply for CLEP credits.

Do All Colleges Accept CLEP Exams?

Colleges often offer between three and six credits for passing a CLEP exam. Each school has specific policies about how many credits they will offer bypassing the CLEP exam. Harvard University offers only 4 credits per exam and a maximum of 16 credits will be applied for completing coursework by examination. In contrast, Purdue offers 3 credits for most courses, but there are exceptions.

The CLEP exam allows one transcript to be sent to an institution for free. For this reason, it’s important to know which school you want the results of your exam to be sent to ahead of time. If you have already picked which school will receive your results, you can have the transcripts sent from the College Board to the school of your choice. If you have additional schools you want the exam to be sent to, a $20 fee per transcript applies.

What Is A CLEP Exam?

A CLEP exam is the college board’s College-Level Examination Program. It’s an exam designed to determine whether or not a student can obtain credit by examination instead of taking a college class on the same subject.

The CLEP exam has been widely approved and used for over 50 years. According to the College Board website, there are over 2,000 testing sites and over 2,900 schools that accept credit from CLEP exams. Some CLEP exams are even available for taking at home.

There are a variety of subjects that are covered in CLEP tests. Specifically, 34 different examinations can be taken by a student. However, not all colleges accept all 34 tests. Each college has its policies that govern how credit earned from CLEP exams works. Each CLEP exam can earn you three or more college credits.

Most CLEP exams cover material from one-semester courses. Some of the tests cover longer terms including one or two-year courses. Each test is reviewed by faculty at different colleges to make sure that the content of the exam aligns with the curriculum being taught in those classes.

The CLEP exam is generally a multiple-choice test, but there are sections of some of the exams that can require other types of answers. For example, there is an essay section in some exams and others have listening sections.

How Is A CLEP Exam Made?

Because the CLEP exams must cover material that is utilized in classrooms all across the United States, the tests must be rigorous. To make sure that the tests are rigorous enough, they are developed by over 600 faculty members at various institutions.

Do All Colleges Accept CLEP Exams?

Each exam has a testing committee that consists of 3 or 4 members that teach the course that the exam is based on. They develop the questions for the exam. They also regularly review the specifications of the test and make sure that the test stays up to date.

The test is designed by utilizing a curriculum survey. The curriculum surveys give the creators of the test information such as what the major points of the curriculum are, which skills are most important, and what resources are used for teaching the curriculum.

Then the testing committee helps to shape the test by using information from the curriculum survey. They are trained on how to best write the test questions. Only members of the testing committee or members of the faculty requested to write questions can have input on the test.

Because of the nature of these tests, they must be scientifically informed and use evidence as a basis of the test from the creation to the scoring of the test. They go through over 2 dozen reviews and quality assurance processes to ensure their quality.

Who Should Take A CLEP Exam?

CLEP exams started as a way for military members to be able to obtain college credit without as much time commitment as a full-time course load at college. However, anyone is eligible to take a CLEP exam. CLEP exams are largely targeted towards adults that work or are unable to take freshman classes in college for one reason or another. But anyone who wants to get a degree can use CLEP exams to get started.

There are several reasons to take a CLEP exam. The first is because you have already taken a course on the subject, perhaps in high school, and you didn’t receive credit for it. The second is because you are confident that you can learn the material on your own before you take the exam.

CLEP exams are meant to allow anyone who knows a subject to obtain credit for entry-level college courses. This knowledge may have been obtained through on-the-job training, hobbies or personal interests, or other academic endeavors.

Questions to ask yourself before taking a CLEP exam include:

  1. Does the degree I want to receive need any of the classes that I can obtain credit for by taking a CLEP exam?
  2. Does the college I’m going to or intend to go to accept CLEP credit?

If both of these questions are yes, it might be beneficial to take a CLEP exam to receive credit for the course that you need to take for your degree. If the college you are intending to go to doesn’t accept CLEP for credit, you may have to consider taking the class through your intended college or going to a different school that allows CLEP credit.

You may hope to obtain an entire degree by taking CLEP exams, but this isn’t likely to happen. CLEP tests are generally for entry-level classes only. This does usually help people to avoid taking a lot of the general classes in their first year of college, rather they can spend time taking classes that focus more on the area they wish to study in.

There are only two reasons not to take a CLEP test. The first is if you won’t obtain credit for taking the exam. The second is if you have already taken the CLEP exam within the past three months. CLEP test-takers may only take each exam once in three months.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Taking CLEP Exams

There are many advantages and disadvantages to taking a CLEP exam. Advantages include a better overall GPA, high retention of information, and a higher likeliness to succeed in a given degree program. Disadvantages can include not receiving education in a classroom, not being able to retake the test until three months have passed, and credit not applying to all colleges.


The first advantage of taking the CLEP exam is student success. Students who take the CLEP exams often show higher overall GPAs than their counterparts. They are highly motivated to learn and finish their degree. As a result, in subsequent classes, they are likely to perform better than their classmates.

A second advantage is the high retention of information. This also helps students that have subsequent classes that rely on the information that they test on in the CLEP exam. This ensures that the student will retain the information necessary to progress through their degree program.

Thirdly, research has shown that taking just one CLEP test increases a two-year degree seeker’s likelihood of completing their degree by 17%! Among test-takers seeking a four-year degree, the likelihood of completing their bachelor’s degree is increased by 2.6%. Research has also shown that first-generation college students are more likely to graduate if they have taken a CLEP exam.

A fourth advantage to taking a CLEP exam is the time it takes to obtain a degree. Because the student can study at their own pace and take the exam when they are ready, it generally takes less time to finish degree completion. Sometimes, the time savings can total nearly a year.

Lastly, CLEP exams are significantly less expensive than taking courses at a college. Each exam is only $87 (though there is usually also a $25 administrative fee). Whereas a college-level course can cost hundreds of dollars in comparison.


The first major disadvantage is that taking a CLEP exam means that you aren’t learning the coursework in a classroom. For some motivated self-starters, this is a non-issue. But for some students who require comprehensive help and steady motivation, learning outside a classroom environment may not be ideal. For this reason, if you have trouble finding the motivation to complete school assignments on your own, struggle with learning at your own pace, or need more help than a quick internet or textbook search can provide, you may need to take your courses in person.

Secondly, for any student that has previously taken a course and failed it, they may be ineligible to take the CLEP exam to get credit for the course. This can make the cost of getting the degree higher because the student will have to pay for the course a second time. Additionally, if the student has taken a CLEP exam and failed it, they may not be able to retake it for an additional three months. This can make obtaining the degree takes more time if the student isn’t adequately prepared for the exam.

The biggest disadvantage to taking CLEP exams is that some colleges do not accept credit by examination. For students that have a particular college they’d like to attend, CLEP exams may not be an option for them. It’s particularly difficult to get credit by examination from schools that are considered Ivy League. To mitigate this disadvantage, it’s extremely important that before a student decides to take a CLEP exam, that they determine whether their school will accept the credit.

How To Study For A CLEP Exam

The CLEP exam is designed for adults that already know an area to take an examination and obtain college credit. However, you don’t have to know anything about the subject you want to take a CLEP exam on. You can take a CLEP exam after teaching yourself the material.

To get started, you should make sure you understand the material being covered. The most helpful way to understand what’s on the test is through a study guide you can purchase from the College Board. The study guides offer practice questions that will help you uncover areas that are problematic for you.

Do All Colleges Accept CLEP Exams?

The second thing you should do to study for the exam is to make sure you thoroughly understand the coursework that is being tested. If you have prior experience with coursework you are being tested on, you may need to brush up on certain areas of the curriculum. However, if you’ve never taken the course before or you don’t know anything about it, you may need to teach yourself the curriculum so that you understand everything on the test.

Additionally, there are free prep courses available online. These courses will guide you through the material and curriculum so that you can take the CLEP exam being sure that you understand the material.

Some other ways to study for the CLEP exam include:

  1. Textbooks – There are many free college-level textbooks available online. Additionally, you can purchase new and used college textbooks through bookstores and used book websites.
  2. Online Resources – There are a variety of free online resources through reputable sources and universities that can guide you through the coursework for most entry-level courses. An example of this is MIT. They offer free courses on their website for anyone who wants to take them.
  3. Practice Apps – There are practice apps for taking the CLEP exam that will help you study for your test. The apps include the same information that the study guide has available in it, but for a lower cost.

More about CLEP exams HERE.

The Complete Process For Taking A CLEP Exam

Step 1: Find a college or university that accepts CLEP exams for credit. When you find a college that looks like it has a degree program you are interested in, check their policies on CLEP exams. After you have determined that their policies match your needs, be sure to contact someone at the school and double-check that their policies are up-to-date. Provided everything is up-to-date, you can begin looking at your degree program.

Step 2: Determine which degree the college of your choice offers that you’d like to earn. Note all the required classes that the degree requires. Determine which of those classes can be completed by taking the CLEP exam in place of taking the course.

Note: Some colleges will accept credit from CLEP exams in place of core class requirements. However, some colleges will not accept CLEP in place of classes that you have already taken before. For example, if you have taken a college-level English class at another school, they may not allow you to take the CLEP exam for credit. Some colleges will not allow CLEP exam credit if you have taken a prior course and failed it, either. Check with the college of your choice to ask them about their specific policies before you take the exam!

Step 3: Make a list of all the CLEP exams you’ll need to take to obtain your degree.

Step 4: Begin studying for your first CLEP exam. You can purchase study guides to study for the test. Additionally, you can work through a textbook or other coursework to prepare yourself for the test. How you study for the test is up to you.

Step 5: It’s time to schedule your exam! You can opt to take the exam at one of the over 2,000 testing centers, or you can opt to take the CLEP exam at home, as long as you meet the requirements for remote proctoring.

Step 6: It’s time to take your first CLEP exam! Just remember that you have been preparing for this. You will be fine, you just need to take a deep breath and take the test. The test is on a computer and should last between 90 and 120 minutes. Just make sure before you arrive that you bring any necessary documentation with you, such as your I.D.

Step 7: After you’ve received your score, you can transfer your CLEP credits if you passed the exam. You will use your College Board account to transfer the credits to the institution of your choice if you didn’t already select for the institution to receive your transcripts when you took the test.

Step 8: Go through steps 4-7 again until you have taken all of your CLEP exams. Once you’ve finished taking the exams, you’ll need to take any remaining courses through your college to finish your degree. 


Taking a CLEP exam can save you both time and money in achieving a college degree. This process ensures that you are on a path to success in finishing your degree, helping you to achieve a higher GPA, and retaining critical information for your future classes. 

Related Questions

Do Ivy League Colleges Accept CLEP Exams?

Some Ivy League colleges accept CLEP Exams. For example, Harvard states that it will grant a maximum of 16 credits through credit by examination such as through a CLEP test. The best way to find out if your preferred college accepts CLEP is by checking online or by contacting the school directly.

Do CLEP Exams Affect Your GPA?

No. CLEP exams have no impact on your GPA. Your GPA is determined by classes taken at the institution you are obtaining your degree from. The CLEP exam will allow you to obtain credit from the college you are pursuing your degree at.

Is The CLEP Exam The Same As The AP Test?

No. An AP test is given for advanced placement classes in high school. High school students that take AP classes are eligible to take the AP test at the end of the school year. CLEP exams are more geared toward working adults that want to obtain a degree.

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