Advocates for Home Education in Massachusetts, Inc.

Tips and Tricks for CLEP Exams

By Emma Smith

Editor’s Note: The College Level Examination ProgramĀ® (CLEP) is a series of exams offered by the College Board. Students who take these exams may be able to get college credit which can save tuition dollars in the long run. These exams can be taken before college but also while the student is in college. The information below presents the experience of one young woman. Because policies may change, you should check the College Board website for updated information.

I’m not a fan of multiple-choice tests but I have had very good luck with CLEPs. You usually only need a 50/80 to pass, which is roughly a C, so it is a good option for someone who does meh but good enough on standardized tests. If you fail, you can retake any exam after waiting three months. As I have been taking CLEP exams, I have been steadily improving my confidence for standardized tests which is awesome because I was pretty bad at them. I have taken two tests so far and I plan on taking four to five more.

Where to take CLEP exams

Note: You do need a government-issued ID for testing.

Websites/Books for learning

Websites for general questions

CLEPs to Take

If you know where you want to go, see if you can get the class requirements for the major AND the CLEP policy. You should be able to pick out the 101 classes that you can CLEP out of and see what score you will need to get. In general, the lower ranking the college is, the easier it is to get credits accepted. Elite colleges like Harvard don’t take very much for transfer credit at all; Johnson & Wales/the UMass System take everything above a certain score (50) but may not accept certain exams, and most community colleges will take pretty much any credit you have. If you CLEP correctly, there is a possibility you could skip community college all together.*

The easiest CLEP is Analyzing and Interpreting Literature OR the College Composition test. These would be good options to start with and get a student out of the general required English class. After that I would recommend:

If the student is a business major I would also recommend:

*Editor's note: While CLEP tests can be a great way to get college credit for required classes, they may not be the best way to learn and cement knowledge for subjects in your main area of study. For your major area or for classes which build on one another (eg. a math sequence) you may want to opt for the class over the test.

There are also DSST exams (a very similar program to CLEP). I will be taking one of those soon, but I know very little about them and have no experience in them yet.

Emma Smith is a homeschool graduate entering her second year at Johnson and Wales University. She is majoring in Sports, Entertainment,and Event Management with a specialization in Live Entertainment Management. To date she has taken two CLEP exams and is preparing to take more. In addition to taking CLEP exams and her regular classes, Emma also works for Student Engagement and is the Marketing director for two student organizations. In her spare time, she likes to write, read, and learn about alligators.