The College Board’s College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) consists of credit-by-examination tests that provide students an opportunity to demonstrate mastery of introductory college-level material. While not all colleges and universities have the same policies, many institutions offer college credit for related courses to individuals who earn qualifying scores. CLEP exams are currently accepted by 2,900 different schools in the United States.
Resources for Before and After College
How Many Exams Does CLEP Offer?
There are 34 different CLEP exams available which are divided into five disciplines: Composition and Literature, World Languages, History and Social Sciences, Science and Mathematics, and Business.
Exams cover the following topics:
- American Literature
- Analyzing and Interpreting Literature
- College Composition
- College Composition Modular
- English Literature
- French Language (Levels 1 and 2)
- German Language (Levels 1 and 2)
- Spanish Language (Levels 1 and 2)
- Spanish with Writing (Levels 1 and 2)
- American Government
- History of the United States I
- History of the United States II
- Human Growth and Development
- Introduction to Educational Psychology
- Introductory Psychology
- Introductory Sociology
- Principles of Macroeconomics
- Principles of Microeconomics
- Social Sciences and History
- Western Civilization I (Ancient Near East to 1648)
- Western Civilization II (1648 to the Present)
- College Algebra
- College Mathematics
- Natural Sciences
- Financial Accounting
- Information Systems
- Introductory Business Law
- Principles of Management
- Principles of Marketing
The College Board provides a list of knowledge and skills required for each exam, as well as a wide variety of helpful study resources to help test takers better prepare. We have also prepared more information about approved test centers and dates when you can take the exams.
How Much Do They Cost?
It costs $89 to register for each CELP exam, a process that can be completed online. Acceptable payment methods include debit and credit cards (Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover, and JCB). Registrants may also contact a nearby CLEP test center for assistance; most facilities charge an additional $25 administration fee.
Test takers should submit the name(s) of the institution(s) where they want their scores to be sent when registering. The College Board will send exam results for free. While it is possible to wait until after the exam to specify colleges and universities, there is an additional $10 fee for doing so.
It is also important to note that military service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and US Coast Guard, as well as eligible spouses and civil employees, can have their CLEP exams funded through the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES).
Refunds are not available to students who do not earn the required minimum qualifying scores.
How Many Credits is Each Test Worth?
A passing CLEP exam score is usually equivalent to three to six credit hours, depending on difficulty. Ultimately, however, it is up to the specific college or university to determine how many, if any, credits each test is worth. Only educational institutions are capable of granting credits toward offered degrees. In some cases, test takers are awarded a set number of credits per test that can be applied to core curriculum or general education requirements. Alternatively, an institution may exempt students from a specific, required course but award no credits. Prospective test takers should research each individual school’s CLEP policies thoroughly to determine minimum qualifying scores and credit regulations. If you are already attending a college, you can discuss this with your academic advisor.
In addition to potential college credit, there are many other benefits to taking CLEP exams. Students who earn credit through CLEP generally have better academic outcomes and an increased likelihood of degree completion.
Other noteworthy benefits include:
- Higher GPAs
- Better Course Performance
- Shorter Graduation Times
- Significant Cost Savings
The multiple-choice questions on a CLEP exam are scored by a computer, whereas written essays are graded by professional English professors. A single point is awarded for each question answered correctly, but no points are deducted for wrong answers. The multiple-choice and essay scores are combined into a raw score, which is the number of correctly answered questions. A raw score is then converted to a scaled score ranging from 20 to 80. This is the result that is ultimately sent to colleges and universities.
While many institutions grant credit for scores of 50 or higher, every college and university has the right to set their own CLEP scoring policies. Schools can establish any minimum qualifying score they want.
It is also important to realize that CLEP exam scores do not impact current student GPAs, either negatively or positively. Performing poorly on test day has no academic consequence, as scores are simplified to “pass” or “fail.”