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2021 CLEP Official Study Guide

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This study guide provides practice questions for all 34 CLEP exams. The ideal resource for taking more than one exam. Offered only by the College Board.

CLEP® Principles of Marketing Examination Guide

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The Principles of Marketing exam covers consumer and organizational markets, marketing strategy, and the marketing mix.

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Principles of Marketing


The Principles of Marketing examination covers material that is usually taught in a one-semester introductory course in marketing. Such a course is usually known as Basic Marketing, Introduction to Marketing, Fundamentals of Marketing, Marketing, or Marketing Principles. The exam is concerned with the role of marketing in society and within a firm, understanding consumer and organizational markets, marketing strategy planning, the marketing mix, marketing institutions, and other selected topics, such as international marketing, ethics, marketing research, services, and not-for-profit marketing. You're expected to have a basic knowledge of the economic/demographic, social/cultural, political/legal, and technological trends that are important to marketing.

The examination contains approximately 100 questions to be answered in 90 minutes. Some of these are pretest questions that will not be scored. Any time candidates spend on tutorials and providing personal information is in addition to the actual testing time.

Knowledge and Skills Required

The subject matter of the Principles of Marketing examination is drawn from the following topics in the approximate proportions indicated. The percentages next to the main topics indicate the approximate percentage of exam questions on that topic.

World of Marketing (8%–15%)

  • Marketing concept
  • International marketing
  • Nonprofit marketing
  • Ethics

Role of Marketing in a Firm (17%–24%)

  • Marketing strategy
  • Marketing environment
  • Marketing decision system
    • Marketing research
    • Marketing information system

Target Marketing (22%–27%)

  • Consumer behavior/business buyer behavior
  • Business-to-business markets
  • Segmentation and targeting
  • Positioning

Marketing Mix (40%–48%)

  • Developing/managing products
    • Types of products
    • New product development process
    • Product life cycle
    • Brand identity
  • Promoting products to potential customers
    • Elements of promotional mix
    • Regulation of promotion
    • Digital marketing/Other advertising media
  • Managing the supply chain, channels of distribution and logistics
    • Nature and scope of channel and supply chain management
    • Types of distribution channels for products
    • Logistical components of supply chain
    • Barriers to the use of technology in channel management
    • Effect of regulation on channel management activities
  • Pricing products
    • Nature and scope of the pricing function
    • Legal considerations for pricing
    • Technology use in pricing
    • Factors that affect a product’s selling price

Study Resources

Most textbooks used in college-level principles of marketing courses cover the topics in the outline given earlier, but the approaches to certain topics and the emphases given to them may differ. To prepare for the Principles of Marketing exam, it is advisable to study one or more college textbooks, which can be found in most college bookstores. When selecting a textbook, check the table of contents against the knowledge and skills required for this test. Please note that textbooks are updated frequently; it is important to use the latest editions of the textbooks you choose. Most textbooks have study guides, computer applications, and case studies to accompany them. These learning aids could prove useful in the understanding and application of marketing concepts and principles.


A survey conducted by CLEP found that the following textbooks are among those used by college faculty who teach the equivalent course. You might purchase one or more of these online or at your local college bookstore.

  • Armstrong and Kotler, Marketing: An Introduction (Pearson/Prentice Hall)
  • Bearden, Ingram, and LaForge, Marketing: Principles and Perspectives (McGraw-Hill/Irwin)
  • Boone and Kurtz, Contemporary Marketing (South-Western)
  • Etzel, Walker, and Stanton, Marketing (McGraw-Hill)
  • Kerin, Hartley, Berkowitz, and Rudelius, Marketing (McGraw-Hill/Irwin)
  • Kotler and Armstrong, Principles of Marketing (Prentice Hall)
  • Lamb, Hair, and McDaniel, Essentials of Marketing (South-Western)
  • Lascu and Clow, Marketing Frontiers, Concepts, and Tool (Atomic Dog)
  • Perreault and McCarthy, Basic Marketing: A Global Managerial Approach (McGraw-Hill)
  • Pride and Ferrell, Marketing (Houghton-Mifflin)
  • Solomon, Marshall, and Stuart, Marketing: Real People, Real Choices (Pearson/Prentice Hall)
  • Zikmund and d'Amico, Marketing (South-Western)

You can broaden your understanding of marketing principles and their applications by reading articles in newspapers and business publications such as The Wall Street Journal, Business Week, Harvard Business Review, Fortune, Ad Week, and Advertising Age. Journals like Journal of Marketing, Marketing Today, Journal of the Academy of Marketing Sciences, American Demographics, and Marketing Week can be found in most college libraries.

Online Resources

Score Information

Credit-Granting Score for Principles of Marketing
ACE Recommended Score*: 50
Semester Hours: 3

Each institution reserves the right to set its own credit-granting policy, which may differ from that of ACE. Contact your college as soon as possible to find out the score it requires to grant credit, the number of credit hours granted, and the course(s) that can be bypassed with a satisfactory score.

*The American Council on Education’s College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE CREDIT) has evaluated CLEP processes and procedures for developing, administering, and scoring the exams. The score listed above is equivalent to a grade of C in the corresponding course. The American Council on Education, the major coordinating body for all the nation’s higher education institutions, seeks to provide leadership and a unifying voice on key higher education issues and to influence public policy through advocacy, research, and program initiatives. Visit the ACE CREDIT website for more information.