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A Homeschooled Student’s Guide to CLEP Tests

A Homeschooled Student's Guide to CLEP TestsThis is a guest post, written by Madison Hughes, homeschool graduate and college senior. This post is part 1 of a 4-part series on CLEP tests for homeschooled students. Be sure to check back for parts 2, 3, and 4.

The popularity of CLEP tests is currently on the rise, and you may have heard about them from friends or acquaintances as a way to earn college credit. Homeschoolers especially can take advantage of this easy method. This 3-part series will guide you through learning about and choosing a CLEP test, studying for and taking a CLEP test, and transferring CLEP credit to a college. In part 1, we will discuss what exactly a CLEP exam is and how to determine if it is right for you or your student.

What is a CLEP test?

A CLEP test is an exam that a student may take to obtain college credit on a certain subject. Students are generally awarded 3 hours of credit per test, although a few more advanced tests may count for more hours. The exams are given by computer at designated testing locations and are 90 minutes long. The number of questions varies per test but is usually in the range of 90-120. Each test is scored out of 80 possible points, with 50 points normally being the benchmark for awarding college credit. However, some colleges may choose to impose stricter standards on what CLEP scores they will accept.

Why should I take a CLEP test?

The 33 available CLEP tests cover a variety of different subjects. Students can easily use CLEP exams to obtain easy credit for many of their general education requirements, regardless of their chosen degree. This can help students to graduate from college on time or even early with less expense. (The Official CLEP Study Guide for each subject is usually $24.99 and the test is $80. That means you can get 3 hours of college credit for around $100.)

Deciding to take CLEP tests can help any student get a head start in college, but homeschooled high school students have a special advantage in this regard. In addition to giving college credit, a homeschool curriculum could easily be modified to use CLEP tests as dual credit. For example, a high school student who needs to study US History before graduation can fulfill this requirement by studying for and taking both US History CLEPs. In this way, the student gets college credit from studying a subject that he or she would have had to study anyway.

Who should take CLEP tests?

There is no age restriction on CLEP tests, although students under 13 must have signed consent from a parent before testing. However, the tests do cover college-level material and therefore require a certain degree of maturity from the student. I took my first CLEP test at 17, although I probably could have passed it earlier. For the average high school student, I would recommend taking CLEPs starting no earlier than their junior year. Advanced students may easily be able to pass an exam before this, however, so don’t hesitate to let your student start studying and taking practice tests at an earlier age.

Hopefully you now have a better grasp on the nature of CLEP tests. In part 2 of this series we will be discussing selecting and studying for a CLEP exam. Be sure to check back for the next installment!

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  1. Can currently enrolled students take CLEP tests? I’m wondering if this might be a good fill-the-gaps kinda thing over a summer break?

    • Yes, doesn’t matter if you’re enrolled or not. Usually though, you have to accumulate a certain number of credits at your college/university before the credits are actually applied to their transcript. You’d also need to check specifically WHICH CLEP tests your school accepts.

    • Smockity Frocks says:

      Yes, Madison is currently enrolled and has 3 scheduled this summer. The important thing is checking to see if your college of choice accepts the particular CLEP you have in mind. Also, some colleges require higher CLEP scores than others to receive credit.

      • Jessica says:

        Actually it depends on the college for example my undergraduate institution did not allow for credit for CLEP tests taken after the first semester of enrollment.

  2. In ref to:
    “a high school student who needs to study US History before graduation can fulfill this requirement by studying for and taking both US History CLEPs.”, what do you mean by BOTH? I am unaware of more than one US History CLEP. Please explain, and thanks!

    • You must be meaning History I & II. Sorry, I was reading it differently the first time. Studying for the test is the high school credit, and taking the test and passing is the college credit. This is exactly what we intend to do!

  3. Keep in mind that most testing centers also charge a fee for proctoring. The fee at our testing center at a local college is $30. That ups the cost per credit a bit, but is still a far cry cheaper than a typical college class! :-)

    Lori @ http://www.healthyshoppersclub.wordpress.com


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