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CLEP Exams: College Prep's Best-Kept Secret

Updated on September 4, 2011

Looking for a way to skip introductory courses in college? Perhaps you want to avoid those courses to get to the meatier matter, or maybe you're looking for a good way to save money on your college education. Either way, the College Level Entrance Placement (CLEP) exams are well worth your time. CLEP exams are owned by the CollegeBoard (the same people who write the SAT), but their goal is considerably different from that of its better-known counterpart. CLEP exams allow you to earn college credit for university-level courses without actually attending the college. These credits can then be transferred to a college and applied to the corresponding courses; however, not all colleges accept CLEP credits, and some have rigid CLEP acceptance policies.

To take a CLEP exam, first see if there are any CLEP testing centers in your area (a list of them can be found at Once you've ascertained that there is a center in your area, the next step is to check with your end point college (the college you plan to attend) to learn about their CLEP policy, which exam corresponds with what class, how many CLEP credits they accept, or if they accept CLEP credits at all. Be sure to talk to someone who understands what the CLEP is; don't just be satisfied with a student representative that may never have heard of the CLEP. If your college accepts CLEP credits, the next step would be to decide which CLEP you want to take. Almost every college subject has a CLEP exam, so you won't be short of options. Prepare for the exam by studying prep material, of which there is no shortage on the internet. A good site to check is; it has a corresponding Yahoo group called "CLEP for Homeschoolers", but the information is invaluable for anyone looking to take a CLEP exam as people who have passed CLEP exams share resources and tips. Another good site is The two sources I recommend, however, are and the official CLEP study guides published by REA. It's a good idea to study from as many different sources as possible, but in my CLEP studying experience, I found these sources to be the most helpful. All that remains is to schedule the exam and pass! To pass a CLEP exam, you must score a minimum of 50, but some colleges have different bottom scores. If you do not pass the exam on your first try, you must wait six months before taking it again.

Not many people know about CLEP exams, but they are a wonderful way to save money for college. In taking eight exams, I have earned nearly twenty-four college credits without spending time or money for a traditional classroom course. If you're interested in learning more about the CLEP exams, visit Good luck with your college career!

CLEP Study Guide

CLEP General Exams w/ CD-ROM (CLEP Test Preparation)
CLEP General Exams w/ CD-ROM (CLEP Test Preparation)

This is an example of a CLEP study guide published by REA. It contains a general overview of some of the more popular CLEP exams as well as practice exams in the book and on CD.



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