Did you know it’s possible to earn real college-level credit for knowledge you already have (or acquire over the course of two weeks with mad study skills) without taking a full college course?
Well, believe it or not, it’s totally possible! There’s such a thing called credit-by-exam and it can help with affordability and pacing of your college education.
One of the most popular forms of credit-by-exam is the College Level Examination Program which goes by the acronym CLEP.
So what is CLEP and how can it help you earn college credit affordably and efficiently?
The Basics of CLEP
As its name suggests, CLEP is a pass-fail exam that you can take for college-level credit. According to the College Board website, CLEP is designed to “demonstrate [a student’s] mastery of introductory college-level material and earn college credit.”
Anyone can take a CLEP exam. No college admission required!
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You can visit one of over 2,000 testing centers at school campuses across the country and if you earn a passing score you can transfer the credit to an accredited institution that accepts CLEP.
The Benefits of CLEP
The 32 CLEP exams cover a variety of subjects at a general education level. If you’ve studied a particular subject without getting college-level credit, taking a CLEP exam is a fantastic way to make sure that study hasn’t gone to waste!
Alternatively, many students (including Unbound students) take CLEPs as a way of “hacking” the academic part of college, quickly mastering a subject and earning affordable college credit.
At $85 the CLEP exam is much more affordable than taking a college course! Testing centers have fees for use of the testing site but even with these fees, the cost of college-level credit is extremely low compared to a traditional college course.
Furthermore, CLEP exams are scored on a pass-fail basis and, with one or two exceptions, are completely multiple-choice exams with no essay writing.
CLEP may just be the flexible and bank account-friendly credit-earning option you’ve been hoping for!
How Do I Take a CLEP?
You can register for a CLEP exam on the College Board website or incorporate them into one of our Ascend degree plans. After finding a testing center, you can schedule your testing date and start brushing up on the subject!
CLEP Study Materials
You can find a variety of study materials to help you prepare for a CLEP exam. The American Council on Education has developed a series of textbooks that cover important material for CLEP studies. Some of these materials include practice exams so you can familiarize yourself with the kind of questions you may encounter on the exam.
Of course, the best place to find resources and study tips for CLEP exams is from seasoned veterans. The Unbound Forums (available exclusively to our students) are filled with experienced testers. They’re bound by oath to not reveal actual test questions or answers but that doesn’t keep them from sharing study tips and resources that helped them conquer their CLEPs!
Other Credit-by-Exam Options
DANTES (DSST) is another credit-by-exam option very similar to CLEP. To learn more about DSST exams, visit the DSST website.
Use CLEP to Optimize Your College Journey
CLEP exams are great ways to earn college credit on your time and at a limited cost! Here’s to making college education more affordable and more flexible!
Not sure your credits will transfer to your target school? We understand it can be confusing. That’s why our academic program kills the confusion by handling the transfer for you! To learn more about the program that enables you to earn your degree affordably with the best classmates in the world, check out Ascend.
Jace Bower is a Copywriter for Unbound. An Unbound alumnus, he has experienced firsthand the powerful advantages of doing college differently and participating in an intentional community. Jace graduated with his bachelor’s degree in History in 2016 and has worked in restaurant management and marketing since then. He also served on the Unbound Student Cabinet in 2019.
The author of two books and a semi-regular blogger, Jace can often be found doing something with words. When he’s not, chances are he’s reading about theology, listening to music, or playing pool or tennis with his wife Shannon in their Virginia home.