Human Growth and Development

The Human Growth and Development exam covers theories and research related to physical, cognitive, and social development.

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The Human Growth and Development exam (infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and aging) covers material that is generally taught in a one-semester introductory course in developmental psychology or human development. An understanding of the major theories and research related to the broad categories of physical development, cognitive development, and social development is required, as is the ability to apply this knowledge.

The questions on the CLEP Human Growth and Development exam adhere to the terminology, criteria, and classifications referred to in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

The exam contains approximately 90 questions to be answered in 90 minutes. Some of them are pretest questions that will not be scored.

Knowledge and Skills Required

Questions on the Human Growth and Development exam require test takers to demonstrate one or more of the following abilities:

  • Knowledge of basic facts and terminology
  • Understanding of generally accepted concepts and principles
  • Understanding of theories and recurrent developmental issues
  • Applications of knowledge to particular problems or situations

The subject matter of the Human Growth and Development exam is drawn from the following categories. For each category, several key words and phrases identify topics with which candidates should be familiar. The percentages next to the main categories indicate the approximate percentage of exam questions on that topic.

Theoretical Perspectives (10%)

  • Cognitive developmental
  • Evolutionary
  • Learning
  • Psychodynamic
  • Social cognitive
  • Sociocultural
  • Biological
  • Ecological

Research Strategies and Methodology (6%)

  • Case study
  • Correlational
  • Cross sectional
  • Cross sequential
  • Experimental
  • Longitudinal
  • Observational

Biological Development Throughout the Life Span (12%)

  • Development of the brain and nervous system
  • Genetic disorders
  • Heredity, genetics, and genetic testing
  • Hormonal influences
  • Influences of drugs
  • Motor development
  • Nutritional influences
  • Perinatal influences
  • Physical growth and maturation; aging
  • Prenatal influences
  • Sexual maturation
  • Teratogens

Perceptual Development Throughout the Life Span (6%)

  • Habituation
  • Sensitive periods
  • Sensorimotor activities
  • Sensory acuity
  • Sensory deprivation

Cognitive Development Throughout the Life Span (12%)

  • Attention
  • Environmental influences
  • Executive function
  • Expertise
  • Information processing
  • Memory
  • Jean Piaget's cognitive development theory
  • Play
  • Problem solving and planning
  • Thinking
  • Lev Vygotsky's sociocultural theory
  • Wisdom

Language Development (8%)

  • Bilingualism
  • Development of syntax
  • Environmental, cultural, and genetic influences
  • Language and thought
  • Pragmatics
  • Semantic development
  • Vocalization and sound

Intelligence Throughout the Life Span (6%)

  • Concepts of intelligence and creativity
  • Developmental stability and change
  • Giftedness
  • Heredity and environment
  • Intelligence tests
  • Reaction range

Social Development Throughout the Life Span (12%)

  • Aggression
  • Attachment
  • Gender
  • Interpersonal relationships
  • Moral development
  • Prosocial behavior
  • Risk and resilience
  • Self
  • Social cognition
  • Social learning and modeling
  • Wellness

Family, Home, and Society Throughout the Life Span (8%)

  • Abuse and neglect
  • Bronfenbrenner, Urie
  • Death and dying
  • Family relationships
  • Family structures
  • Media and technology
  • Multicultural perspectives
  • Parenting styles
  • Social and class influences

Personality and Emotion (8%)

  • Attribution styles
  • Development of emotions
  • Emotional expression and regulation
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Erikson, Erik
  • Freud, Sigmund
  • Psychosocial theory
  • Stability and change
  • Temperament

Schooling, Work, and Interventions (6%)

  • Applications of developmental principles
  • Facilitation of role transitions
  • Intervention programs and services
  • Learning styles
  • Occupational development
  • Operant conditioning
  • Preschool care, day care, and elder care
  • Retirement

Developmental Psychopathology (6%)

  • Antisocial behavior
  • Anxiety and mood disorders
  • Asocial behavior, fears, phobias, and obsessions
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Chronic illnesses and physical disabilities
  • Cognitive disorders, including dementia
  • Learning disabilities
  • Intellectual disability
  • Trauma-based syndromes

Score Information

ACE Recommendation for Human Growth and Development

Credit-granting Score 50
Semester Hours 3

Note: Each institution reserves the right to set its own credit-granting policy, which may differ from the American Council on Education (ACE). Contact your college to find out the score required for credit and the number of credit hours granted.

Add Study Guides

CLEP Human Growth and Development Examination Guide

The Human Growth and Development exam covers theories and research related to physical, cognitive, and social development.

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Study Resources: Human Growth and Development

A study plan and list of online resources.


ACE Credit Recommendations

Recommendations for credit-granting scores from the American Council on Education.