Students often struggle to graduate college within four years. In fact, only 19% of students at public universities and 36% of students at flagship universities graduate within four years.
That number isn’t just shocking, it’s expensive. Every year at a university or college means more tuition, fees, and books – which means more loans and higher debt upon graduating.
If your student wants to get a jump start on college credits, they may be able to reduce the time they need in school by using CLEP tests to get credit for general education requirements.
Here’s what you need to know about how your student can study for CLEP and start college ahead of the game!
What Is CLEP?
CLEP stands for College-Level Examination Program®. It can help your student “test out” of a variety of courses.
CLEP is designed to give college credit for prior knowledge in a college course subject. That knowledge can be obtained through advanced work in high school or independent study.
The program offers 33 exams, but individual schools may not have all of them available. The exact CLEP tests your student can take for credit will vary depending on where they attend college.
The format of each exam is simple. They are taken on a computer at an approved testing center. Each test has multiple choice questions, and the student has between 90 – 120 minutes to complete an exam. Exams are available year-round.
How CLEP Can Benefit Your Student
The primary benefit of taking CLEP for credit before school is to get general education requirements out of the way so that your student can save time and money in school.
If they have chosen a major that has a lot of required courses, having credits already built up will give them space in their schedule to work everything in. It can also help students avoid feeling overloaded when they take their major-specific classes.
Even if your student is focused on a less-intensive major, having CLEP credit can help them have more room for fun electives. It can help them graduate early as well, which can save a significant amount of money.
Over 2900 colleges and universities accept at least one CLEP exam for credit. The specific CLEP credit policy for your student’s target school can help you understand which tests they can take and how much credit they can gain.
CLEP Study Guides and Other Strategies
If your student has recently completed an advanced class in a subject, it’s possible that they can take the CLEP test in that area for credit and do well. This is extremely helpful for homeschooled students and those that don’t have access to AP programs.
Even if they have, however, it’s useful to get the 2021 CLEP study guide. It covers all 33 exams, and offers practice questions and information about what’s covered in each subject area.
This can be a great starting point for your student to dig deeper in self-study. With the guide, your student can access additional information online or in the library to study and become more knowledgeable about the topics the test covers.
The CLEP Experience of Other Families
If you really want to know what something is like, it pays to learn from those who have done it before. In our Facebook group Paying for College 101, parents and professionals share their experience with preparing and paying for college.
Here are some of their stories about CLEP.
One professional shared:
Standard recommendation – if you scored a 2 on an AP Exam – you should go that summer and take a CLEP in that subject if available – you should have sufficient knowledge to make a score of 50 out of 80 to pass and receive College Credit also. Worked so far for most of my 2s.
One parent said:
Going back many years ago I took CLEP tests in every subject I could. It helped me in almost every subject skip the 100 level courses and in some cases 200 level courses. I say why not. Nothing to lose!
My son didn’t take a CLEP test until he was already admitted to the college and found out it was very generous w/ scores. He took the CLEP test for Spanish and scored high enough to receive 8 credits at his school.
Finally, one parent pointed out these resources:
I have looked up the colleges that accept CLEP that my son got into and I’m encouraging him to take as many as he can.
There are free websites that help you learn the material and even pay for the test once you complete the module. Takes 4-6 weeks to study for each test if you know nothing.
Save Time and Money with CLEP
Your student can easily save a lot of time and money by testing out of general education requirements through CLEP. Don’t be shy – if they’re sharp, let them take as many tests as they can to get credit!
Of course, make sure that the school your student is targeting will take CLEP credit in the areas that your child chooses to test in. And, make sure the school is generous in other ways – especially with merit aid.
Interested in learning more? Check out our College Insights Academy!
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