College Level Examination Program

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The College Level Examination Program (CLEP) is a group of standardized tests that assess college-level knowledge in several subject areas. Many colleges grant credit to students who meet their minimum qualifying score. Qualifying scores vary by school but are typically 50. The tests are useful for students who have obtained knowledge outside the classroom, such as through independent study, job experience, or cultural interaction. CLEP also offers international and homeschooled students the opportunity to demonstrate their proficiency in subject areas and bypass undergraduate coursework.
Source: Wikipedia

CLEPs are created and administered by the College Board, the same organization that develops the SAT and AP tests. There are many CLEP tests available covering a large variety of subjects including composition, literature, history, social sciences, math, science, business administration, foreign languages, and more. Most tests cover the equivalent of a semester course in the same subject and are worth 3 credits each, though some are more comprehensive (broad, not deep) covering 2 semesters in a subject and are worth 6 credits each. The tests are computerized, and you get your score immediately after completing the test.

To take a CLEP test you must find a local testing center in your area that will administer the test. Pretty much any college nearby will do, but don't forget to check your local library as well because that may be another option.

A common question is "What is the minimum passing score for X?" Each school sets its own minimum passing score, but many accept the recommended passing score provided by College Board.

Big 3 Acceptance[edit]

As of January 2021, COSC, TESU, and Excelsior still accept CLEP exams. However, TESU and COSC both limit students to 90 credits from alternate sources. This includes CLEP exams as well as credits from ACE and NCCRS recommended courses. Students must be strategic with their choice of CLEP exams in order to ensure that they will be able to complete the degree that they are seeking.


As of 2020, the current cost per exam is $85, plus proctoring fee. The proctor fee will vary depending on the location where you take the exam; some proctors charge more than others. If you complete the Modern States prep course for a given exam, you will earn a voucher that will cover the exam cost. Once you have taken the exam, you may also file for reimbursement of the proctor fee.

If saving costs is a concern and a lot of credit is needed, it may be worth exploring Several Sources Of Cheap Credit.

Lower Level Credit[edit]

CLEP tests are mainly accepted as lower-level credit by the Big 3 with a few exceptions at Thomas Edison State University (see college catalog). Many other colleges accept CLEP tests as well; usually at a more limited number.


  • Get the CLEP Official Study Guide that has all the tests in it for less than $15 (example tests only, no study guide, but it is very accurate in terms of difficulty and what to expect on the real test)
  • Sign up for's flashcards, and also get access to the Specific Feedback Forum which is where fellow test-takers discuss test-specific study guides and tips for passing the current edition of each test.
  • Sign up for Modern States, they offer free, high-quality online courses taught by college professors that prepare you for the CLEP exam.
  • Use Free Clep Prep to find study material and take free practice exams.