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Preparing for CLEP Tests – PART 3

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A Homeschooled Student's Guide to CLEP Tests

This is a guest post, written by Madison Hughes, homeschool graduate and college senior. This post is part 3 of a 4-part series on CLEP tests for homeschooled students.  Click here for part 1 or part 2, and be sure to check back for part 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 4-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 explained what exactly a CLEP exam is and how to determine if it is right for you or your student. In part 2, we discussed how to consider your options and choose a CLEP exam. In part 3, we will talk about how to prepare for your test.

By now, you have learned about CLEP tests, done research about your school’s policies, and chosen an exam to take. Now what?

Need-to-know before studying for a CLEP

  • CLEP tests cost $80 each, and your testing center may charge an additional proctoring fee. This means that each testing attempt will cost you around $100.
  • Additionally, if you do not pass your exam on your first attempt, you must wait a minimum of 3 months before retesting. Some colleges may require a longer wait time between attempts or even have a policy of only accepting CLEPs passed on the first attempt.

These factors mean that you definitely want to pass your CLEP the first time – but how?

CLEP Study Guides

  • The College Board, which controls and administers CLEP tests, publishes *official CLEP study guides. Several other companies also publish study guides, however.
  • I personally have used the REA CLEP study guides with good success.
  • Whichever brand you choose, I strongly recommend going with some form of study guide designed specifically for the CLEP test rather than, say, a random American History textbook. These are specifically designed to help you learn information that will be on your exam.

Studying Tips

  • The REA study guides that I use are usually 7-10 chapters long and contain 2 full-length practice tests in the back of the book, along with a score conversion chart in the front. The method that has worked well for me is to read through the chapters and define each bolded term.
  • After finishing the guide, I take practice test 1 to see how much information I retained from just reading and defining terms. This gives me a good idea of how much studying I need to do.
  • I then study the important terms I defined and may re-read the textbook before taking practice test 2.

This method has worked well for me. However, people learn in many different styles and what helps me may not work for another student. I would suggest starting with the method outlined above and then making any necessary or helpful modifications as you go.

How to know when you’re ready

As I said at the beginning of this article, there is reasonable incentive to pass your CLEP test the first time. But how will you know when you’re ready? The answer to this question is the reason I like the REA CLEP guides: full-length practice tests. If you know what score you need to pass the exam, you can take a practice test, score yourself, and convert the score using the chart at the front of the book. This will give you a good idea of how ready you are for the test. My recommendation would be that the student should be scoring several points higher than the required score on a practice test before going on to the real thing, especially if it is very important that the first attempt is successful.

Now that you’ve studied, you’re ready to take the test! Part 4 of this series will go over the details of scheduling and taking a CLEP test, as well as how to transfer your credit to a college. Be sure to check back for the end of the series!

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  1. Actually, the rules changed last October in regards to how long you need to wait before retaking a CLEP exam. There is now only a 3 month wait between retaking exams. Here is the blurb for the CLEP website:

    Repeating Examinations
    You may not repeat an examination of the same title
    within three months of the initial testing date. If you
    retake the examination within the three-month period, your
    administration will be considered invalid, your score will be
    canceled and any test fees will be forfeited.

    For the complete link: http://media.collegeboard.com/digitalServices/pdf/clep/clep-information-for-test-takers-booklet-c.pdf

    Also, my dd has found INSTANTCERT.com be very valuable in studying for her CLEP exams. Not only do they have fill in the blank and multiple choice online flashcards, but they also have forums where students who have taken the test share feedback on where to concentrate your studies. She’s passed all 4 she’s taken so far.

  2. Thank you to Madison for this series. I printed it out, so that I can re-visit it when we get closer to making the decision to go that route. Thanks again!

  3. Thank you so much for putting together all of this information. It’s a huge help!!!


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