What is a College Level Examination Program?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 29 November 2018
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The College Level Examination Program (CLEP) is a series of tests which people can use to demonstrate academic proficiency in courses taught at the college level. There are 34 separate CLEP tests available in a variety of subjects including foreign languages, mathematics, business, history, and psychology. Students can opt to participate in the College Level Examination Program for a variety of reasons, and many colleges accept CLEP scores from their students.

Each test takes 90 minutes to complete, and consists primarily of multiple choice questions. The tests are designed and administered by the College Board, a testing organization which coordinates the administration of a wide range of standardized tests. The CLEP subject tests cost $70 United States Dollars (USD) each, although certain people may qualify for fee waivers.

For students who are entering college, taking College Level Examination Program tests can allow the students to skip prerequisite courses. This can save substantial amounts of money, as students will not have to pay to take coursework in subjects they are already familiar with, and it can facilitate on-time graduation, as the student will not have to spend several semesters finishing prerequisites. Students also like the flexibility that the College Level Examination Program offers them, as it can permit them to take more electives for pure interest, rather than having to focus on the basic fundamentals of education.


Students in college can use the College Level Examination Program to skip courses they feel they do not need to take, or to satisfy proficiency requirements. For example, a school which offers instruction in English may also require that students have proficiency in a foreign language to graduate, and a bilingual student could take a CLEP test to satisfy this requirement without taking language classes.

Scores in the College Level Examination Program range from 20 to 80 points on each subject. Schools generally require a score of at least 50 to grant credit, and in some cases the amount of credit granted may vary, depending on the score. For example, students might get two units for a score of 50, and four for a score of 73, and so forth. Schedules listing the scores needed for credit are available from the admissions or registrar's offices in colleges which accept CLEP scores.

Before taking a College Level Examination Program subject test, students should make sure that the test score will be accepted by the school of their choice. They may also want to enroll in a study program or purchase study materials to help them pass, especially in schools where the amount of credit awarded is dependent on the final score.



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