Are CLEP Exams Hard?

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If you are looking to earn a few extra college credits, or be ahead of your courses, then the CLEP Exam might just be the examination for you. Sometimes students simply want an easier, more their-pace academic life instead of going through the typical courses, credits, and time attending classes.

For that reason, numerous college students resort to the CLEP exams, which are standardized college examinations. It is an intelligent mechanism of earning college credit without having to take courses. You might be thinking that this is such a great window of opportunity, but are CLEP exams hard?

CLEP Exams: What Is It?CLEP Exams: What Is It?

CLEP examinations have been around for approximately 50 years. They have aided numerous students with their academics, life course, and saving tuition fees.

The exam questions constitute mainly multiple-choice questions. However, in some topics, such as Spanish with Writing or English, an essay will be graded by two real people from a third-party grading service.

CLEP stands for College Level Examination Program, and they are administered by the College Board. This organization, College Board, is the same one responsible for holding Advanced Placement (AP) examinations and classes and SAT. Other multiple-choice answers are graded by a computer.

CLEP exams cover a range of over 30 subjects that are spread across a few topics, including:

  • Business
  • Composition and Literature
  • History and Social Sciences
  • Science and Mathematics
  • World History

But there is more; you can always take any offered CLEP exams to test your own knowledge and learn more about the world. However, over 2,900 universities and colleges recognize the CLEP examinations and reward students’ credit for them.

On the other hand, the CLEP passing score required from one university or college to the other might vary slightly depending on their requirements. Hence, you should always make sure you contact your college administration and ask about the specific passing score for the CLEP exams.

Which CLEP Exam is the Hardest?

Which CLEP Exam is the Hardest?

If you ask anyone if CLEP exams are complex, you will get many different controversial answers. That is because other people have gone through different experiences and have varying capabilities when it comes to specific topics.

For instance, some people have a debilitating fear of mathematics and find psychology a much more manageable topic to handle. On the other hand, a lot of students enjoy solving mathematical equations and despise memorizing things.

However, let us break down what the most challenging CLEP exams are according to the subject it falls under:

Hardest Composition and Literature CLEP Exams

  • American Literature: you can actually notice the difference in difficulty when looking at the required passing score, which is drastically lower than other subjects.
  • English Literature: you might not think it is that difficult, but others find absolutely no interest in taking English Literature.

Hardest Social Sciences & History CLEP Exams

  • Principles of Macroeconomics: the difficulty comes from the extensive amount of material you are expected to know, analyze, and apply.
  • American Government: this can be an incredibly easy or challenging CLEP exam depending on your interests and knowledge of the government

Hardest Mathematics CLEP Exams

  • Calculus: by far, Mathematics is the most common subject people struggle with. Calculus is considered to be the most complicated exam among all other subjects actually.
  • Precalculus: is not as advanced as Calculus. However, Precalculus is harder than College Mathematics.

Hardest Sciences CLEP Exams

  • Biology: it really depends; the concept of a hard science CLEP subject depends on your interest. However, biology is more technical and memorization-based.
  • Chemistry: by far, Chemistry is the most complex CLEP science examination. It has the lowest passing rate for consecutive years, and most students seem to struggle with it.

Hardest Business CLEP Exams

  • Business Law: if you have a specific inkling for law, this subject would be a fun challenge. However, do not go into it thinking you know everything.
  • Financial Accounting: it isn’t a problematic CLEP exam, at least not specifically. It just includes numerous terms and formulas that you need a solid understanding of.

So, are CLEP exams difficult? Yes, some of them might be presented as a challenge. However, choose the topics you feel most confident in. If you are a Mathematics whiz, opt for all the mathematics courses. You might find them much more manageable than others.

However, if you like memorization more than analysis and equations, try reaching for biology, social sciences, or history.

Which CLEP is the Easiest?

Which CLEP is the Easiest?

Again, the concept of an easy CLEP exam will vary from one person to another. However, there seems to be a few examinations that most CLEP students agree are the easiest, and these are broken down for you according to the subject:

Easiest English Composition and Literature CLEP Exams

  • College Composition and College Modular: they have slightly higher passing rates than other subjects from this category. However, they are graded by an invigilator, so it might be subjective.
  • Analyzing and Interpreting Literature: if you are a fan of poetry, then this exam might be the perfect one for you.

Easiest Social Sciences and History CLEP Exams

  • Introduction to Sociology: Sociology, in general, is considered to be an easy topic and requires some analysis and a lot of interpretation of society, which is regarded as more straightforward than others.
  • Introduction to Psychology: it is hit-or-miss. Psychology requires a lot of terminologies, but most students find it enjoyable as it helps you understand human nature on a deeper level.

Easiest Mathematics CLEP Exams

  • College Algebra: usually, students do best in College Algebra compared to the other Mathematics CLEP exams.
  • College Mathematics: while broader than Algebra, it has a higher passing rate. It is not a great indicator that it’s easier, but it is one of the easiest out of all Mathematics exams.

Easiest Science CLEP Exams

  • Natural Sciences: it is broader than all other specific topics, which means it has more material. However, it also means that the material is not as in-depth as others.
  • Biology: while it is narrower and more technical. However, if you do enjoy Biology, then this will be a piece of cake.

How are CLEP Exams Graded?

How are CLEP Exams Graded?

How are CLEP exams scored? It depends on numerous factors: who grades them, the college you are attending, and the method the grades are given. You probably heard that the CLEP passing score is 50 points. While this might be correct, it does not necessarily mean it is set in stone.

The exams are graded using a computer system that will convert your raw score into a scaled score between 20 and 80 points. As you know by now, the essay part of an exam is graded by a third party. However, some colleges will require a higher passing grade to award you the credits you have earned.

However, the first thing you have to do before even studying for the exam is to find out what score your college requires. You can find it on your college’s website, or you can contact the registrar’s office to find out.

However, there are 3 essential methods of grading CLEP exams, and these are:

  1. Rights Only Scoring: basically, you are credited for all your correct answers, while your wrong answers receive no penalty. But, how do you use this to your advantage? You should never leave anything blank, even if you are running out of time. Some answers will inevitably give you some grade, and your wrong answers will not deduct any marks from your score either.
  2. Scaled score: the computer takes your raw mark and converts it to a grade on a scale of 20 to 80. It does so through two metrics: reliability and validity. This is done because there are a couple of versions of the same subject exam, and they try to make them all fair and equal. However, it is not often the case, which is why they used the scaled score system.
  3. Essay Scoring: while other exams will show you your score right away, the essay will take around 3-4 weeks. Essays are scored on a scale of 0-6 by two different people, then their scores are combined and averaged. English Composition’s piece weighs 50% of your grade, while Spanish Writing’s essay contributes only 25% to your overall score.

Are CLEP Exams Harder than AP?

Are CLEP Exams Harder than AP?

Below, you can find a comparison between CLEP exams and AP exams. It provides a breakdown of the most essential details, which would kind of give you an idea of which one is typically thought to be more difficult.

  • Pre-exam courses: CLEP exams are not offered any pre-courses or a College Board curriculum. On the other hand, AP students are expected to take an AP course before taking the exam.
  • Who takes the exam: CLEP students are offered for pretty much anyone from adults returning to school to master’s applicants. AP is usually taken by high school students or independent students.
  • Score range: CLEP exams are graded on a scale of 20 to 80, while AP examinations are graded on a scale of 1 (no recommendation) to 5 (exceptionally well-qualified).
  • Passing score: minimum of 50 on the CLEP exam and a minimum of 3 on the AP exam. These are more recommended passing grades.

All in all, CLEP exams are found to be much easier than AP exams. CLEP exams have a 68% passing rate, while AP exams have a passing rate of 65%. However, these very close scores might be that AP examinees are usually more prepared and spend way more time studying and pre-courses.

How to Study Effectively for the CLEP Exam?

How to Study Effectively for the CLEP Exam?

Sometimes, students opt to take the exam with minimal or even zero preparation. This usually happens if you already have a solid knowledge of the material due to personal interest, a course you have already taken, or prior expertise.

However, we always recommend students be fully prepared for anything on the exam, which will require preparation.

CLEP exam preparation is not complex and requires less time than you might think. You should be aware of what is covered on the CLEP exam, make a study plan, find online resources, use CLEP study guides, and join a student forum of some sort.

1. What is covered? The curriculum is based on American colleges. In other words, make sure you know the typical and usual information covered in college courses related to the subject. Ensure you have access to the one for the year you’re admitting the exam.

2. Prepare a study plan. The easiest way to start is to head to CollegeBoard’s Website and find the exam you will study for. When you scroll down, you can find information on the outlined topics covered, along with recommended material to go over and explore.

3. Online resources. If you have been studying at a university or college, you probably have already stumbled upon a few free websites. These include Quizlet, Khan Academy, and Chegg. However, another website is used mainly for CLEP preparation, and it’s known as Free CLEP Prep.

4. Study guides. Petersons sample tests are among the most popular, offering “mock exams” to practice. You can also use online flashcards and other resources to go over the material or find your own outline online for someone who already took the exam.

5. Student forums. Joining an online platform with other students who are sitting for the CLEP exam might help you. Whether you have questions, inquiries, or answers, it is always a good idea to consult with other people and discuss your topics and issues.

All in all, CLEP exam preparation does not require a lot of time or effort. Most resources are free, but if you do need a more extensive guide or a guided study plan, then you might have to spend some extra money for the sake of your education.

Wrapping Things Up: Are CLEP Exams Hard?

CLEP exams are evidently not as tricky as other exams, so do not stress about it. However, CLEP exams are complex enough to find the proper way to prepare and be ready for the examination. “Winging it” is not an option here, as the benefits of getting a good score outweigh failing it.

Put effort into your CLEP examinations. Imagine it’s a college exam; make sure you study well, practice questions, and go over all the material before your exam.

Professor Conquer
Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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