CLEP exams – An “easy” way to get college credit

CLEP Exams… How I earned 12 hours in one day

I’ve known about CLEP exams for quite a while, but my online semesters are only 8 weeks, so I figured taking the class was easier than cramming for an exam I might not pass anyway. That is, until last week.

I will be graduating in 9 weeks, but I had a few pesky credits to earn in classes I did not want to take. To graduate on time, I decided to give CLEP exams a try. After checking with my college to see what exams would give me the credits I needed, I opted for CLEP Natural Sciences and CLEP Analyzing and Interpreting Literature. Each one of these exams is worth 6 credit hours… provided you score a 50.

For the Natural Sciences CLEP, I spent 3 weeks studying. For the Analyzing and Interpreting Literature CLEP, I spent about 30 minutes studying. Last week, I made an appointment to take both CLEPs on the same day (each CLEP is 90 minutes in length)… and I passed them both. I have to say, earning 12 credit hours in one day (or 3 weeks if you count the study time) is a great feeling.

UPDATE 3/31/08: I also just received 3 credit hours in Public Speaking (WOO HOO!) by taking the DSST Public Speaking exam. Here’s an earlier post on DSST exams (formerly DANTES exams) which are open to both civilians and military personnel: DANTES / DSST exams.

Studying for a CLEP Exam

There are tons of study aides on the market to help you study for a CLEP exam. I used the following publishers to help me with my exams:

  • Peterson’s – Their practice exams WILL prepare you better than any other practice exams on the market
  • REA – Their review books are useful, but unless you have a strong background in the subject, I would not use them as your only resource.
  • Wikipedia – Great resource for understanding concepts in greater depth

CLEP Checklist

  1. First, check with your school. Each school specifies the minimum score and credit to be granted. If you aren’t enrolled at a school yet, a score of 50 or above will typically be enough to earn credit.
  2. Purchase or borrow study materials (Amazon is a good place to start)
  3. Take practice exams (like Peterson’s) and be sure to read all the answer explanations, especially the ones you missed.
  4. Once you are confident that you know the material (and are making decent scores on practice exams), schedule your exam at a local college or testing center.

There are dozens of CLEP exams available in the following categories:

  • Business
  • Foreign Languages 
  • Composition
  • Literature
  • History
  • Social Sciences
  • Science
  • Math 

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