CLEP Preparation and Study Guide

Resources for Preparing and Practicing for CLEP Tests

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Top Resources to Help You Prepare for CLEP Testing

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The College Level Examination Program, also known as CLEP, is a group of examinations that allow students to “test out” of college courses but still earn credit hours. Basically, if you have strong knowledge in a subject and can pass the CLEP exam for that course, you’re awarded the credit hours instead of having to take the entire course. The exams are administered by the College Board and over 2,900 colleges and universities allow students to test out of certain courses via the exam. The subjects the CLEP tests cover include Composition and Literature, World Languages, History, Social Sciences, Science, Math, and Business. Check with the college you plan to attend to see if it accepts exam scores and, if so, which classes qualify. You’ll still have to pay for the exams, but the preparation and exam still cost less than taking an entire course for a semester, so for many students it’s a viable option.

Resources for Before and After College

Where to Find CLEP Study Materials

The College Board offers study materials such as study guides and practice tests for purchase on its website. If you’re looking for cheaper or free alternatives, Modern States offers free study guides and test exams, as well as CLEP courses. Modern States is a non-profit organization that strives to provide free and reduced-cost educational materials for college students. Many high school and college libraries also have copies of the CLEP study guides and practice tests. Some will let you check them out, while others keep then in the resource department and they must be used in the library. You can also access sites such as Free CLEP Prep to find practice exams and study aids for some of the most common CLEP exams.

How Long to Study for a CLEP Test

As a general rule, 20 hours of study time is required to study for a CLEP test, but this can vary depending on several factors:

  • General knowledge of the subject matter:
    If it’s a subject that you’ve studied previously, then your needed study time for the exam might be less.
  • Overall interest:
    If it’s a subject that interests you, then you probably already have a decent grasp of the subject or are interested enough to quickly work through the study materials. This will also reduce your study time.
  • Life Experience:
    If you manage a business but have to take a business management course to complete your degree, your hands-on experience will make studying for the Business CLEP exam that much easier because you’ll have the benefit of practical experience to fall back on.

Steps to Take

Understand the Testing Platform

The CLEP exam is computer based. All questions will be answered on the computer. No pen, pencils or paper are required. For exams that require a calculator, online calculators are accessible during the exam process.

Learn Your Exam’s Format

All exams have multiple-choice questions, but other exams might have other types of formats as well. For example, World Language CLEP exams require test takers to not just answer multiple-choice or fill-in-the-blank questions but also require a listening exam. Literature, History, or Social Science exams often require essay questions as well as multiple-choice questions. CLEP exams in math or science might require you create a histogram or interpret the data in a graph or chart. The format of the exams, especially the essay portion, is at the discretion of the school that is offering the CLEP option.

Learn Your Exam’s Question Types

There are several types of exam questions.

Here’s a list:

  • Multiple Choice:
    Select A, B, C, D, etc. as the correct answer
  • Zone:
    fill in a numerical value based on information provided
  • Shade:
    shade in the correct response to an asked question.
  • Grid:
    decipher or create a grid with the information provided
  • Histogram:
    creating or deciphering a graph and selecting the best answer
  • Essays:
    Students are given a topic and they must provide a well-written and well-thought-out response.
  • Question Formats:
    Learn more about the question formats and types of questions

Learn How the Scoring Works

Each question has a difficulty level. Only the question that are answered correctly are counted in the overall score, so there is no penalty for guessing on a question. The Raw Score is the number of correctly answered questions, but it’s the scaled score, the questions with the difficulty calculated, that is sent to the school. All questions are graded by computer except for essay questions. Those are graded by either college professors who work for the College Board or by the school that requested the essays as part of the exam.