How CLEP Works

CLEP exams are designed to correspond to college level courses.

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How the CLEP Program Works

The College Board’s College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) has been the most widely trusted credit-by-examination program for over 40 years, accepted by 2,900 colleges and universities and administered in more than 1,800 test centers. This rigorous program allows students from a wide range of ages and backgrounds to demonstrate their mastery of introductory college-level material and earn college credit. Students can earn credit for what they already know by getting qualifying scores on any of the 33 examinations.

While CLEP is sponsored by the College Board, only colleges may grant credit toward a degree. Not all colleges have the same CLEP policies—some colleges accept credit for a few exams, while others accept credit for all of them. A college often grants the same amount of credit to a student who earns satisfactory scores on a CLEP examination as it does for a student who successfully completes the related course.

How the Exams Are Developed

Most CLEP exams are designed to correspond to one-semester courses, although some tests correspond to full-year or two-year courses. Faculty at individual colleges review the exams to ensure that they cover the material that is currently taught in their corresponding college courses.

The format of most questions is multiple choice. Other types of questions require students to fill in a numeric answer, to shade an answer option, or to order items correctly. Questions using these skills are called zone, shade, grid, scale, fraction, numeric entry, histogram, and order-match questions. Some of the exams also include required or optional essays. Language exams include a listening section.

The American Literature, Analyzing and Interpreting Literature, College Composition Modular and English Literature exams have optional essays that some colleges and universities may require. Whether a student needs to take an optional essay for the above subjects is up to the discretion of the institution they are or will be attending. The College Composition exam requires test takers to type two essays.