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2022 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® Human Growth and Development Examination Guide

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

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Human Growth and Development


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. Any time test takers spend on tutorials and providing personal information is in addition to the actual testing time.

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

Study Resources

Most textbooks used in college-level human growth and development 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 Human Growth and Development 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.

Parents and others who work with children may have gained some preparation for this test through experience. However, knowledge of the basic facts, theories, and principles of child psychology and development is necessary to provide background for taking the exam.

You may find it helpful to supplement your reading with books and articles listed in the bibliographies found in most developmental psychology textbooks.


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.

  • Belsky, Experiencing the Lifespan (Worth)
  • Berger, The Developing Person Through the Life Span (Worth)
  • Berk, Exploring Lifespan Development (Allyn & Bacon)
  • Berryman et al., Developmental Psychology and You (Wiley)
  • Boyd and Bee, Lifespan Development (Allyn & Bacon)
  • Brown, Developmental Psychology: A Course Companion (SAGE)
  • Craig and Dunn, Understanding Human Development (Prentice Hall)
  • Feldman, Development Across the Life Span (Prentice Hall)
  • Harris and Butterworth, Developmental Psychology: A Student's Handbook (Psychology Press)
  • Kail and Cavanaugh, Human Development: A Life-Span View (Wadsworth)
  • Newman and Newman, Development Through Life: A Psychosocial Approach (Wadsworth)
  • Papalia et al., Human Development (McGraw-Hill)
  • Sigelman and Rider, Life-Span Human Development (Wadsworth)
  • Santrock, Essentials of Life-Span Development (McGraw-Hill)
  • Slater and Bremner, An Introduction to Developmental Psychology (Wiley-Blackwell)
  • Thornton, Understanding Human Development (Macmillan)

Online Resources

These resources, compiled by the CLEP test development committee and staff members, may help you study for your exam. However, none of these sources are designed specifically to provide preparation for a CLEP exam. The College Board has no control over their content and cannot vouch for accuracy.

Score Information

Credit Granting Score for Human Growth and Development
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.