Understanding CLEP exams

Perhaps you’ve been told how talented you are in your studies or you may find high school classes to be a breeze. Maybe you’ve even been spending your time studying college textbooks in your free time or you’re already a business professional heading to college to gain the and edge in your career field. Whatever the reason may be, CLEP exams can save you a lot of time and money.

What is CLEP?

CLEP stands for the College Level Examination Program which is a group of standardized tests created by the College Board and is administered at more than 1,800 colleges and universities across the United States. The College Board is a member-led, mission-driven nonprofit organization that is guided from three national assemblies and six regional assemblies. Their focus to ensure that every student in the United States has access to high-quality education and prepared to succeed in college. They offer a variety of College Readiness programs which include Advanced Placement (AP), SpringBoard, RediStep, CollegeED, CLEP, PSAT/NMSQT and EXCELerator.

How can these tests help me?

The College-Level Examination Program offers students an opportunity to receive college credits from things they already know. Credits can be earned on any of the 33 introductory-level college subject examinations and are accepted at over 2,900 colleges and universities.

What tests are available?

There are 33 exams available which cover five subject areas. The tests currently available are:

History & Social Science

American Government

History of the United States I – Early Colonization to 1877

History of the United States II – 1865 to Present

Human Growth & Development

Introduction to Educational Psychology

Introductory Sociology

Principles of Microeconomics

Social Sciences & History

Western Civilization I – Ancient Near East to 1648

Western Civilization II – 1648 to the Present

Composition & Literature

American Literature

Analyzing & Interpreting Literature

College Composition

College Composition Modular

English Literature


Science & Mathematics




College Algebra

College Mathematics

Natural Sciences



Financial Accounting

Information Systems and Computer Applications

Introductory Business Law

Principles of Management

Principles of Marketing

World Languages

French Language (Levels 1 & 2)

German Language (Levels 1 & 2)

Spanish Language (Levels 1 & 2)

What do I need to do to take the test?

If you think taking a CLEP test is right for you, you can begin the process by contacting your advisor. Look into your colleges stipulations towards the credit to make sure they accept the credits earned from taking the test. Each test costs $80 and there are additional study guides and resources available from the College Board website to help students prepare for the test. Most schools require a score of at least 50 to earn credit, but this varies from school to school so be sure to inquire about the score you need to earn credit.

Next, you will need to determine the exams you can take. This will also rely in the guidelines for your school. Both the college credits you need and the credits your school is willing to accept will determines which tests are available options for you. Once you have decided on the tests you will be taking, you will need to find a school in your area which administers CLEP tests. CLEP tests are administered through the year at over 1,800 colleges and universities in the United States and abroad. Once you have located a test center, you will need to contact them directly to schedule a time and register.