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Not only do students who earn credit through CLEP have better academic outcomes than their non-CLEP counterparts, they also increase their likelihood of degree completion.

Higher GPA and Better Course Performance​

  • CLEP students have significantly higher cumulative GPAs than non-CLEP students, when controlling for demographics and prior achievement.3
  • Students who earn course credit through CLEP perform as well as or better in sequent or subsequent courses than their non-CLEP classmates who took the introductory course at the institution.1

Learn more about CLEP students’ academic performance in college. Download the CLEP Placement Validity Study Research Brief.

Increased Likelihood of Degree Completion

  • Among students enrolled at two-year colleges, earning just one credit-granting CLEP score increases the probability of completing an associate degree by 5.7 percentage points, or 17%.2
  • Among students enrolled at four-year colleges, earning a credit-granting CLEP score increases the probability of completing a bachelor’s degree by 1.2 percentage points, or 2.6%.2
  • As a group, students affiliated with the U.S. military services experience uniquely large completion effects—2.6 (11%) and 8.6 (18%) increases in probability of earning a bachelor’s and associate degree, respectively.2

Read more about CLEP’s impact on degree completion. Download the CLEP and Completion Research Brief.

    Shorter Time to Degree

    • Students who took prior learning assessments (PLA) like CLEP and earned bachelor’s degrees saved an average of  2.5–10.1 months earning their degrees, compared to non-PLA students earning degrees.4
    • PLA students who earned an associate degree saved an average of 1.5–4.5 months to degree completion.4
    • With 13–24 PLA credits, black non-Hispanic PLA students saved an average of 14.2 months to their bachelor’s degree.4
    • 92% of institutions offer PLA credits to accelerate the time to degree completion.5

    Significant Cost Savings

    An adult student who earns 15 CLEP credits to apply toward a degree could save nearly $5,000 at the average public 4-year institution and more than $17,000 at the average private nonprofit institution.6

    1. Godfrey, Kelly E., and Sanja Jagesic. Validating College Course Placement Decisions Based on CLEP Exam Scores: CLEP Placement Validity Study Results. College Board Research Report, 2AD (New York: The College Board, 2016)
    2. Boatman, Angela, et al., CLEP Me Out of Here: The Impact of Prior Learning Assessments on College Completion (Atlanta: W.J. Usery Workplace Research Group, 2017)
    3. 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)
    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, Rebecca Klein-Collins, ed. (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. Ma, Jennifer, Sandy Baum, Matea Pender, and Meredith Welch,
    Trends in College Pricing 2017 (New York: The College Board, 2017)