“The CLEP exam process is a solid academic and research validated approach to ensure that individuals have grasped the basic concepts of a specific subject matter. The exams are developed in concert with content experts. Questions are created, vetted, tested, and reviewed throughout the development process to ensure validity and reliability, as well as to ensure coverage of the entire scope of the specific subject matter being tested.”
Jeffrey P. Lineman, Ph.D., Professor of Management
Northwest Nazarene University
All aspects of the CLEP test development process are informed by the belief that the exams must be rigorous and relevant to their respective disciplines. More than 600 faculty members from institutions across the country are involved in the test development and standard-setting processes.
Learn more about CLEP test development.
"Success in college often depends on the individual's degree of preparation before starting the course of study. Every course builds on prior experience and knowledge. The Biology CLEP exam is an excellent way to gauge a person's readiness to move ahead and identify those areas of Biology where background preparation now will promote future achievement."
Douglas Ure, Professor of Life Sciences
Chemeketa Community College
A 2010 study by the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) funded by the Lumina Foundation, Fueling the Race to Postsecondary Success, showed that students with prior-learning assessment (PLA), such as CLEP, had better academic outcomes than students without prior learning assessment. The study focused on:
- Persistence: PLA students earned more institutional credits, on average, than non-PLA students.
- Time to degree: PLA students earning bachelor's degrees saved an average of 2.5 to 10.1 months of time in earning their degrees. PLA students earning associate degrees saved an average of 1.5 to 4.5 months.
- Graduation rates: More than half of PLA students earned a degree in seven years; only 21% of non-PLA students did so.
Learn more about student success.
CLEP exams help open up space in introductory classes and place students in the courses that are right for them. CLEP also improves affordability for those students who may find rising college costs increasingly challenging.
Learn how to inform students about CLEP.
Students who earn credits through CLEP tend to complete their degrees at a higher rate than students who don’t earn credit-by-examination. A study by the Council of Adult and Experiential Learning indicates that more than 50% of prior-learning students earned a degree in seven years, compared to 21% of students with no prior-learning experience. In a survey conducted by the College Board of more than 4,000 CLEP candidates, 91% of CLEP test takers reported that CLEP made a difference in helping them complete their degrees.
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 relevance 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%).5
- More than 50% of PLA students earned a degree in seven years, compared to 21% of non-PLA students.4
- Hispanic PLA students earned bachelor’s degrees at a rate that was almost 8 times higher than that of Hispanic non-PLA students.5
- 91% of CLEP test takers said CLEP made a difference in helping them to complete their degrees.6
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.4
- PLA students who earned an associate degree saved an average of 1.5 to 4.5 months to degree completion.4
- With 13-24 PLA credits, black non-Hispanic PLA students saved an average of 14.2 months in completeing their bachelor’s degree.5
- 92% of institutions offer PLA credits to provide a time-saving avenue for degree completion.5
- 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% of CLEP test takers said their CLEP credits made a difference in their ability to finance tuition and other fees.6
1 Brad 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).
2 Carol 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)
3 Nancy 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).
4 Council 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.
5 Council 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)
6 The College Board, 2004 Survey