Live and Learn … And Earn Credit with CLEP

Life experiences, on-the-job-training, travel, personal interests you learn and gain knowledge through all of them. And with the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP), you can earn college credit for that knowledge without actually taking a college course.

Administered by the College Board, the same group that administers the SAT and Advanced Placement exams, CLEP is a testing program that lets students demonstrate their know-how in specific academic areas. More than 2,900 colleges across the country recognize CLEP and award college credit for qualifying scores. The tests are designed to cover material typically found in an introductory-level college course. If you think you have the knowledge to do well on the exam, CLEP can be a way to satisfy prerequisites and core courses, cut your overall tuition costs, and advance to degree-related coursework more quickly.

How CLEP Works

The CLEP offers 34 exams in five categories:

  • Composition and Literature
  • Foreign Languages
  • History and Social Sciences
  • Science and Mathematics
  • Business

Visit for the full listing of exams, including test descriptions. After you decide which exam(s) to take, you can register at one of more than 1,300 testing centers (usually on college campuses) around the country. Cost is $65, plus an administration fee for your testing center. The 90-minute tests are primarily multiple-choice and are entirely computer-based, so you’ll receive results right away. Depending on how well you score, and your college’s CLEP policy, you can earn anywhere from 3 to 12 college credits for each exam you take.

Getting Credit

Not all colleges recognize CLEP, and those that do typically have a formal CLEP policy. To see a college’s policy, look in the course catalog or check with the admissions office. So before you sign up for an exam, investigate the CLEP policy at your college of choice to find out:

  • Which CLEP exams are accepted
  • Whether you can earn actual credit or simply “test out” of required classes
  • Whether there’s a limit to how many credits you can earn through CLEP exams
  • What score you need to earn to qualify for credits: The American Council on Education posts guidelines for how much credit should be awarded for each exam, but every college has its own requirements

There might be other conditions, so do your research. The time and effort you spend are probably well worth the opportunity to earn credit that will move you one (or more!) steps closer to your college degree.

Don’t forget about the tons of resources for college students available at Cappex, including scholarship opportunities.