Research and Statistics
All aspects of the CLEP program’s test development process are informed by the conviction that the exams must be rigorous and relevant to their respective disciplines. The process is supported by scientific validation and empirical evidence at every step, from test development through administration and scoring. Hence, CLEP exams undergo two dozen reviews and quality assurance steps before being released for public use. We regularly analyze the relevancy and rigor of our tests. The surveys and research into the validity and fairness of our exams have shown that students who earned credit through CLEP were found to perform as well as, or better than, students of similar ability who earned credit through course enrollment.
Higher GPA and Better Course Performance
Students who receive credit-by-examination through CLEP for an introductory course are much more likely to earn an A or B in subsequent courses than students who complete the introductory course.1
CLEP students have significantly higher cumulative GPA than non-CLEP students when controlling for demographics and prior achievement.2
PLA students tend to take more advanced courses in the subject area in which they test than non-PLA students who complete the introductory course in the same subject area.3
Higher College Completion Rates
Financial aid recipients earning PLA credit had dramatically higher bachelor’s degree (72%) completion rates than their non-PLA counterparts (16%).4
More than 50% of PLA students earned a degree in seven years, compared to 21% of non-PLA students.5
Hispanic PLA students earned bachelor’s degrees at a rate that was almost 8 times higher than that of Hispanic non-PLA students.6
91 percent of CLEP test-takers said CLEP made a difference in helping them to complete their degrees.7
Time Saving Avenue
PLA students earning bachelor’s degrees saved an average of between 2.5 and 10.1 months of time in earning their degrees, compared to non-PLA students earning degrees.5
PLA students who earned an Associate’s degrees saved an average of 1.5 to 4.5 months to degree completion.5
With 13-24 PLA credits, black non-Hispanic PLA students saved an average of 14.2 months for the bachelor’s degree.6
92% of institutions offer PLA credits to provide a time-saving avenue for degree completion.6
An adult student who earns 15 PLA credits that can be applied toward a degree can save from a low of around $1,605 at a large public university to a high of around $6,000 at other institutions.6
70 percent of CLEP test-takers said their CLEP credits made a difference in their ability to finance tuition and other fees.7
1Brad Moulder, Abdulbaset Abdulla and Deanna L. Morgan,Validity and Fairness of CLEP Exams Study, College Board Research Report RN-22 (New York, The College Board, 2005).
2Carol L. Berry, A Comparison of CLEP and non-CLEP Students with Respect to Postsecondary Outcomes, College Board Research Note 2013-9 (New York, The College Board, 2013)
3Nancy K. Scammacca and Barbara G. Dodd, An Investigation of Educational Outcomes for Students Who Earn College Credit Through the College-Level Examination Program, College Board Research Report No. 2005-5 (New York, The College Board, 2005).
4Council of Adult and Experiential Learning, Underserved Students Who Earn Credit Through Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) Have Higher Degree Completion Rates and Shorter Time-to-Degree, Ed. Rebecca Klein-Collins. April 2011.
5Council of Adult and Experiential Learning, Fueling the Race to Postsecondary Success: A 48-Institution Study of Prior Learning Assessment and Adult Student Outcome, (March 2010)
6Council of Adult and Experiential Learning, Underserved Students Who Earn Credit Through Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) Have Higher Degree Completion Rates and Shorter Time-to-Degree, Ed. Rebecca Klein-Collins. April 2011.
7The College Board, 2004 Survey
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