Let’s be honest: colleges and universities are expensive. Almost every college student graduates university or college with student debts, which can be incredibly stressful and could take years to fully pay it.
As you probably already know, you can always apply for scholarships, try to take more courses per semester to finish earlier, or simply take out student loans. But did you know you have others, less expensive ways of getting through college? We’re not talking about side hustles; we’re talking about CLEP exams.
While money is a valuable asset, time is even more worthwhile. That makes CLEP exams the ideal program to finish college earlier AND with less debt on your mind. This article will thoroughly discuss the CLEP examination and whether going through the program is worth it or now.
What Is the CLEP Exam?
In a nutshell, CLEP stands for College Level Examination Program, which consists of many examinations that test your understanding, knowledge, and abilities on various subjects. Passing the examination means it could be counted as part of your degree and replace some credits.
The most significant advantage of CLEP examinations is that they are cheaper than other programs or courses offered outside of the university. It also provides you with the flexibility to study at your own pace whenever you have free time instead of going through the rigor of the college’s course load.
The CLEP examinations are administered by College Board and are accepted in over 2,900 colleges around the state. It was initially designed for adults considering returning to colleges as students. Still, it was later adapted to be more accessible and cheaper access to academic course credits.
There are currently 34 offered exams that cover introductory level college course material that is spread across a range of topics that are:
- Composition and Language
- World Languages
- History and Social Sciences
- Science and Mathematics
But are CLEP exams worth it? Many students would argue that they are, as they are relatively cheap and provide an easy way of gaining credits. However, there have also been some complaints about the exams being too easy for college-level, making it slightly unfair to get academic credits.
Why Take CLEP Exam?
Have you ever been annoyed while sitting through a class or examinations about a subject that you are already very proficient in? These boring electives you have to take or the mandatory random courses subjected from your college can be very tedious.
You sometimes know everything about the course that’s in your curriculum. Still, you desperately want to get out of it and avoid spending the whole semester sitting through its classes. But again, are CLEP tests worth it? Yes, and simply because most colleges require you to pass instead of getting high scores.
There are several reasons students choose to sit for the CLEP examinations, and you should too if:
- You are already very confident and capable in specific topics and subjects offered in your curriculum. If these courses are mandatory and you feel like you can sit for it alone without going through classes, opt for the CLEP examinations.
- You are short on time. Some students cannot handle a lot of student debt and would instead find cheaper ways to graduate from university. If time is of incredible value to you, then consider taking the CLEP examinations to gain credit.
- Do you struggle with the pace at which your college or university teaches a specific subject? If that’s the case, CLEP exams provide you with an opportunity to study some topics at your own pace without the external pressure from professors or students.
- Saving up money. Suppose you are short on cash or aim to save money, work, or provide for your family. In that case, you must have realized by now that university and college courses are far more expensive than external exams offered by boards and centers.
What are the Benefits of Taking the CLEP Exam?
Before we discuss the benefits of taking the CLEP tests thoroughly, are CLEP exams hard? The short answer is: no, they are not. While some subjects are more complicated and harder to pass, CLEP examinations have been designed to provide students and adults with alternatives to typical college courses.
That does not mean they are more manageable, but here’s the thing: most examinations consist of multiple-choice questions, except for a few subjects that have an essay section. Moreover, most students agree that CLEP exams are more straightforward than AP or SAT examinations.
However, let’s further breakdown the benefits of taking CLEP tests:
- You save up an incredible amount of money. The average cost of one college course is around $1,677. In contrast, one CLEP examination costs $89, with an additional fee of approximately $25 that some examination centers charge.
- You also save up money when you do not buy classroom material. The average student spends $1,240 a year on classroom material. However, students often only need to buy the study guide for the specific subject for CLEP examinations, which is usually around $25.
- You could expand your knowledge in specific topics. Some students take CLEP exams to measure how skilled they are in particular subjects, or they simply want to know more through studying and taking exams.
- Instead of having to spend a semester taking one specific course, you can study for a CLEP examination at your own pace. If you already feel confident in a subject, you can take it as soon as the exam is offered instead of going through months of classes.
However, one problem arises: not all colleges and universities accept CLEP examinations in place of their courses. One example of that is the IVY league school, Harvard, which has never accepted CLEP credits. So, make sure you verify with your college if you’re thinking about taking up this program.
How Much Does It Cost to Take the CLEP Exam?
The cost for the CLEP examinations depends on how many you are going to take. However, one test, so one topic, costs $89. This amount is the amount you pay through the College Board CLEP examination application.
However, aside from the examination itself, there might be a proctoring fee at the CLEP testing centers, usually around $25.
On the other hand, things can get a little messy and confusing the deeper you go. Some people are offered free examinations, for instance. And what about if you fail your exam? Well, how much would a study guide cost?
As mentioned above, the direct costs of taking the CLEP examinations would be $89 per test and an extra $25 to the CLEP testing centers.
Eligible Service Member
If you are an eligible service member, you won’t have to pay a dollar for your CLEP test as long as it’s your first attempt in that subject. If you have failed a subject and intend on repeating it, you will still have to pay the total price of $89.
Insane CLEP Testing Centers Fee
While these are rare occasions, some CLEP examination centers take up to $50 per person for proctoring. Sounds insane, right? However, this happens in Alaska, for example, as there are hardly any test centers there.
Other Ways to Save
Every now and then, College Board offers some discounts on its CLEP examinations. It could be 50% off your second exam if you take more than one exam within a specific period. Some other offers include $20 off if you register before a particular date.
The Modern States is a non-profit program that encourages students to study. So basically, if you sign up and complete all their online study material and resources for the specific subject, they will pay the full examination fee on your behalf.
While some study resources online are offered for free, some of them are not. If you’re thinking about using study materials, online or not, consider the fact that you might be spending up to $50 per month. Moreover, past exam tests can be costly, where you pay $30 per subject and receive three past exams.
How to Prepare for the CLEP Exams? 5 Study Tips
Know the Exam Outline
To prepare appropriately for your CLEP examination, go over the specific subject’s outline and determine the objectives. Which topics are going to be in the examination? To what extent will the questions go?
While you might think you know everything about the topics, such as American Government, sometimes you miss out on essential information. Look at the outline as a start, and then find out which areas you lack, and focus on those.
Know What the Passing Grade Is
While generally, a 50 out of 80 is considered a passing grade, some colleges and universities ask for a higher grade. Hence, reach out to the counselor or your advisor and ask about the specifications for CLEP examinations.
Moreover, do not stress out too much about the passing grade. The CLEP examinations are listed as “P” for Pass on your transcript. So don’t worry about passing with flying colors; a “D” is a good enough grade in CLEP examinations.
You might find ready-made, free flashcards on Varsity Tutors, Quizlet, and InsantCert. However, make sure you look for flashcards related to your specific examination, as there are a lot of resources on the internet. Moreover, you can always make your own flashcards while you’re studying.
You need flashcards because there are specific terminology and definitions that you need to remember, as these often pop up in the multiple-choice section of examinations. Flashcards have also been proven to help students and adults alike to retain information and definitions.
CLEP Study Guide
If you feel lost with all the online resources, there is one straightforward and quick solution. Find the best CLEP study guide online, and purchase it. The great ones are often more pricey. Despite accessible sources being available, the priced ones are always lengthy and more in-depth.
The best study guides for CLEP examinations are The CLEP Official Study Guide, REA Prep for CLEP, InstantCert Academy, and Free CLEP Prep. Make sure you reach out for the best CLEP study guides, as you do not want to risk failing and paying total exam fees again.
Take Practice Tests
This is the most critical action you need to follow. Make sure you go through as many past exams as possible, as there is no better way to prepare for anything than practice exams. These are offered on many websites, including the official CLEP examination website, College Board.
While they are often priced, don’t let that discourage you. We do believe you should purchase at least 3 practice tests to be well prepared for the examination. Make sure you mimic the examination environment, too, so sit in a quiet place, place a timer, and use all the tools you will have in the exam.
Wrapping Things Up: Are CLEP Exams Worth It?
To sum things up, we believe that the CLEP examinations are definitely worth it. However, make sure you are well prepared, even if you think you’re incredibly proficient in the subject. There is no such thing as being too prepared, so make sure you take all the measures you can for your next CLEP exam!