CLEP tests: What are they and why should seniors care?


Modern States dashboard with just some of the classes you could possibly take.

When thinking about college, you may get overwhelmed with the thought of all of the classes that you will have to take. Usually your first two years of college are your general education classes, and then junior and senior years you get into chosen major classes. Depending on your major, these years can be filled with classes that you have to take before you can get to the interesting ones that you actually care about. Some of these are the basics like math, English, science, history, or some other random classes. Since we take these classes in high school, these college courses will expand upon what you already know. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. For those of you who hate math, you can choose to CLEP (College Level Examination Program) out of some college math classes. 

Every college has a list of classes that can be CLEPed. This is a test that tries to make sure that you know the material at a college level, and if you pass, then you don’t have to take that class in college. You still get the credits and it has no effect on your college GPA. The CLEP test is usually 90 minutes long and has 50-100 questions. Now that may sound very intimidating, yet you usually only have to get a 50 out of 80 on the test. This is basically equivalent to a C grade, and it gets you credit for that class, for the entire year.  The CLEP costs $89, but if you think about it, the actual cost of the class (On average, one college credit costs about $600, but most classes are worth 3 credits, so more like $1,800) and that doesn’t even include books. 

There are lots of resources to help you study for these CLEP tests. The best one available for high schoolers and the first year of college is a website called Modern States. They have a “freshman year for free” program in which they offer you all of their resources for free. They teach you multiple courses, and if you finish all of the lessons, they pay for your CLEP test. This is an amazing resource that offers hundreds of classes to students. Some of the most common CLEP tests to take are Spanish language, with a pass rate of 91%, Introduction to Sociology (80%), and lots of others that are also relatively easy and passable if you study for them. Some of the CLEP tests offered are for courses we have already taken in high school such as American government, History of the United States, Biology, Chemistry, Calculus, Algebra, precalculus, financial accounting, and many others. Since we have taken these classes, it is easier to study for them and then not have to suffer through them in college. Just ask your preferred college which CLEP exams they accept. 

CLEP tests are easier than AP tests and take less time. If you are willing to suffer through sitting through a test for 90 minutes to save yourself from sitting through months of classes, it will be worth it then to be able to take electives that you actually want to take in college. 

In the end, CLEP tests will save you lots of time and money in college. It gets some of the hard work out of the way so that you can enjoy college and live life to the fullest.