How CLEP Exams Are Scored

Multiple-choice exams are scored by computer.

Essays written for the College Composition exam are graded by college English professors, who are selected by the College Board from the faculty of two- and four-year institutions. The grade is combined with the multiple-choice score and the result is reported as a scaled score.

Optional essays for CLEP College Composition Modular and Literature exams are evaluated and graded by the colleges that require them, rather than by ETS or the College Board. A test-taker’s optional essay is sent with a copy of his or her score report, which includes multiple-choice results only, to the test-taker’s designated institution.

Computing Scores

To reach the total score that students see on their score reports, we perform two calculations.

First, we calculate the "raw score." This is the number of questions answered correctly. The raw score increases by one point for each question answered correctly, and no points are gained or lost when a question is either unanswered or incorrectly answered.

Next, the raw score is converted into a "scaled score" by a statistical process called equating. Equating maintains the consistency of standards for test scores over time by adjusting for slight differences in difficulty between test forms. This ensures that the score does not depend on the specific test form or how well others did on the same form. The raw score is converted to a scaled score that ranges from 20 (lowest) to 80 (highest). The final scaled score is the score that appears on the score report.

Receiving CLEP Exam Scores

Scores are provided onscreen immediately upon completion of an exam. Test administrators are instructed to print out a copy of the score report and provide it to students before they leave the test center. Scores for the College Composition exam, which are mailed to test-takers two to three weeks after the test date, are the exception. (CLEP essays are scored twice a month.)

Comparing Scores

CLEP exams are developed and evaluated independently and are not linked to each other except by the program's common purpose, format and method of reporting results. For this reason, direct comparisons should not be made from one CLEP exam to another.

Sending Score Reports to Institutions

If test-takers want to send their scores to a college, employer or certifying agency, they are given the opportunity to select this option on the day of the exam. This service is free of charge only if they select their score recipients at the time of testing.

Canceling Scores

If test-takers don't want their scores reported to the institution they have selected, they are given the option to cancel their scores in the testing software. They are asked to verify this decision several times before the score is canceled. Scores cannot be canceled once students have seen their instant score reports. Canceled scores cannot be reinstated, and canceled exams cannot be retaken for three months. Learn more about CLEP's policy.