We believe that students have the ability to prepare for and pass a CLEP exam. As you prepare for test day, create a study plan and consider important tips to help you do your best.
Become Familiar with the Exams
- Review the exam description and the suggested study resources. Learn how much time is allowed for the test and whether there are timed subsections.
- Become familiar with sample questions. You can find them in the free At a Glance sheets for each exam, as well as in the individual examination guides or CLEP Official Study Guide which are both for sale on each exam page.
- Optional essay: The American Literature, Analyzing and Interpreting Literature, College Composition Modular, and English Literature exams have optional essays that may be required by some colleges and universities. These essays are scored by faculty at the institutions that require them. If you are taking any of these exams and have questions about whether the optional essay is required, contact the institution that will receive your scores. If you do not select an institution to receive your optional essay on exam day, CLEP will retain your essay for 18 months.
Please note that while scores are provided immediately upon completion for other CLEP exams, scores for the College Composition exam are mailed to test takers two to three weeks after the test date. View the complete College Composition Scoring and Mailing Dates.
Get Familiar with the Testing Platform
This tutorial guides you through the testing platform to help you become familiar with the testing tools, the types of examination questions and the types of calculators that will appear in a CLEP exam.
Practice with Graphing and Scientific Calculators
Graphing calculators are used in the Calculus and Precalculus exams. Scientific (nongraphing) calculators are used in the Chemistry, College Algebra, and College Mathematics exams. You are expected to know when it is appropriate to use a calculator. Get more information about the graphing calculator and download a trial version.
- Read What Your CLEP Score Means (.pdf/573 KB) to learn how your test score will be calculated.
Get Official CLEP Study Materials
CLEP Official Study Guide
Developed and published by the College Board, this guide is the official study resource for all 33 CLEP exams. It includes practice questions for all exams, exam descriptions, information on getting credit for CLEP, and test-taking tips and strategies. Ideal for test takers planning to take more than two exams.
CLEP Individual Exam Guides
If you're taking just one or two CLEP exams, consider purchasing individual exam guides. These contain the same content for each subject that appears in the CLEP Official Study Guide.
- Read the entire question and all of the answer choices before answering a question. Instructions usually tell you to select the best answer. Sometimes one answer choice is partially correct, but another option is better. Read all of the answers before you choose one, even if the first or second answer choice seems like the correct choice.
- Pace yourself. Keep an eye on the clock. As you proceed, make sure that you are not working too slowly. You should have answered at least half of the questions in a section when half of the time for that section has passed.
- Don't spend too much time on any one question. If you don't know the answer after you've considered it briefly, go on to the next question. Use the mark tool at the bottom of the screen to mark that question, and go back to it later.
- Make educated guesses. There are no penalties for incorrect answers. If you have some knowledge of the question and are able to eliminate one or more of the answer choices, you have a better chance of choosing the correct answer.
- Don't waste your time looking for flaws in the exam questions or a pattern of correct answers. CLEP puts a great deal of effort into developing valid, reliable, and fair exams.
If your college requires the essay portion of the exam, you may want to do some additional preparation.
- Estimate how much time you can spend on each question. Once you know which questions you plan to answer and in what order, determine how much testing time remains and estimate how many minutes you have to spend on each question.
- Pay attention to these key words that often appear in free-response questions. Be sure you know the exact meaning of these words before taking the exam.
If a question asks you to outline, define, or summarize, do not write a detailed explanation. If a question asks you to analyze, explain, illustrate, interpret, or show, then you must do more than briefly describe the topic. Organize your thoughts. Write a brief outline on the scratch paper provided by the test center before you write your essay response.
Textbooks and Other Resources
As you gather study materials, consider textbooks and other materials used in comparable college courses. Check with your college bookstore to find out which books and materials are used for the related course.
Check with your librarian about locating study aids relevant to the exam you plan to take. These materials may include, for example, videos made by education-oriented companies and organizations, language audio files, and computer software.
Check out the resources below, compiled by the CLEP test development committee and staff members. (But be aware that these sources aren’t designed specifically to provide preparation for a CLEP exam. And we, of course, have no control over their content and cannot vouch for their accuracy.)
- Online Education Database Library
This library links to open courseware, broadcast learning, educational video, archives, lecture webcasts, and podcasts from a range of colleges and scholarly journals.
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
MIT offers 1,800 free lecture notes, exams, and videos in a variety of subjects, along with supplemental resources.
- University of California, Berkeley
The University of California, Berkeley, presents free podcasts and webcasts of its current and archived courses.
- Open Learning Initiative
Carnegie Mellon University provides free online courses and course material in modern biology, French, economics, chemistry, and other subjects.
The Annenberg Foundation's website for teacher professional development offers streaming video and course materials in a variety of subjects.
This site contains multimedia lessons and course materials.
CLEP Study Materials: A Word of Warning
Many private companies offer preparation service for CLEP exams. Some are legitimate, but others make promises they cannot keep and sell services and products that you don't need. You should investigate test preparation companies thoroughly before making a purchase.
We have received complaints from students regarding the following practices, which we consider to be unfair or inappropriate:
- Attempts to sell preparation services for many CLEP exams at once, with sizable payment up front or on credit
- Credit agreements with a company other than the one selling the preparation materials
- Salespeople contacting you or your family at home
- Promises that you can receive college credit without enrolling in college
- Efforts to sell you dictionaries or encyclopedias as part of the test preparation packages