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Human Growth and Development

Description of the Examination

The Human Growth and Development examination (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 examination contains approximately 90 questions to be answered in 90 minutes. Some of them are pretest questions that will not be scored.

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).

Knowledge and Skills Required

Questions on the Human Growth and Development examination require candidates 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 examination 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

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

Research Strategies and Methodology

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

Biological Development Throughout the Life Span

  • 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

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

Cognitive Development Throughout the Life Span

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

Language Development

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

Intelligence Throughout the Life Span

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

Social Development Throughout the Life Span

  • 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

  • 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

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


Schooling, Work, and Interventions

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


Developmental Psychopathology

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

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