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When Do You Take CLEP Exams?

Did you get any college credit from CLEP exams?  When?  Senior year?  Did you do it on your own or use that CollegePlus! website you have to pay for their services?

Dear Susan,
Thank you for asking this question at my "Preparing to Homeschool High School" seminar last weekend!

We did do college credit by exam, and our college allows each student to earn up to one year of college credit through CLEP exams.  One son had many more CLEP exams than they accepted, and he ended up with one year of credit.  My other son didn't have quite a whole year of credit, but he was still given college credit for the 7 exams he passed. Of course, college credit is completely at the discretion of the college, and policies will vary widely.  Our exams were accepted by 3 of the 4 colleges we applied to.  The fourth college didn't give us college credit, but it did help us with our application and admission to that college.

Here's a link to the College Board's College Search Engine. You can use this to locate information about tests and scores accepted by colleges of your choice. However, you should always verify this with the institution directly.

We took the exams over the summer before senior year, so that I could include them on their transcript when they applied to college.  I did it myself using the techniques in these two books:
Accelerated Distance Learning and Bears' Guide.

CollegePlus! is an organization that will help you through the process of coordinating exams.  If you are just taking a few course, you may not need it.  If you have a complicated situation, or you want to obtain a degree with distance learning, then you may decide it's worth it to get their help.

Here is a link to CollegePlus!

You might also find my High School Testing Parent Training audio cd helpful as well!

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I have written an article about our experience homeschooling college, in case you are interested.  It's called "Homeschool College This Summer."
Is it Rebellion or Just Growing Up?
Homeschooling High School: The Joy of Delight!
 

Comments 7

Guest - J W on Monday, 09 March 2009 17:34

I remember 20 1/2 years ago some sort of exams in foreign language and English that got me a total of 1 semester of credit - were those the CLEP exams, or did the CLEP exams not exist "back when?" I took the exams at the University the week before classes started.

I remember 20 1/2 years ago some sort of exams in foreign language and English that got me a total of 1 semester of credit - were those the CLEP exams, or did the CLEP exams not exist "back when?" I took the exams at the University the week before classes started.
Guest - Shawn Cohen (website) on Tuesday, 10 March 2009 06:11

Thank you so much for directing families to CollegePlus! We appreciate the work you're doing and hope we can be as much of a blessing to you as you've been to us!

Sincerely,
Shawn Cohen
CollegePlus! Public Relations
866.989.5432
http://www.collegeplus.org/?requestinfo?promocode=hscholar

Thank you so much for directing families to CollegePlus! We appreciate the work you're doing and hope we can be as much of a blessing to you as you've been to us! Sincerely, Shawn Cohen CollegePlus! Public Relations 866.989.5432 http://www.collegeplus.org/?requestinfo?promocode=hscholar
Guest - Linda Walkup on Wednesday, 29 June 2011 12:53

We found that many more selective schools do not take accept CLEP tests, and some actually want a couple of SAT subject tests as another gauge of what your child knows compared to others, homeschooled or not. This would be an alternative to taking CLEP tests, though they are harder to schedule. However, several of the schools not accepting CLEP accepted community college credits, though this of course opens up exposure at times to undesirable influences as well. My daughter also took AP tests for credit and class placement, which are usually accepted everywhere, though only offered in May.

We found that many more selective schools do not take accept CLEP tests, and some actually want a couple of SAT subject tests as another gauge of what your child knows compared to others, homeschooled or not. This would be an alternative to taking CLEP tests, though they are harder to schedule. However, several of the schools not accepting CLEP accepted community college credits, though this of course opens up exposure at times to undesirable influences as well. My daughter also took AP tests for credit and class placement, which are usually accepted everywhere, though only offered in May.
Guest - Lee (website) on Wednesday, 29 June 2011 13:55

Hi Linda,
Life would be so much easier if every college had the same policies. Or if every class of colleges had the same policies. Sadly, it isn't the case. Each college will have their own unique decision about AP tests, CLEP exams, SAT Subject Tests, and even community college classes.

Some colleges require a certain number of SAT Subject Tests for admission. They are not flexible, and will not even accept an AP as a substitution.

Some college do not accept community college courses, but will accept an AP test in the same subject, which means students have to take an AP after every community college class.

Some college will accept some kinds of CLEP tests, but not others, or only CLEPs with very high scores, but not average scores.

Some colleges will use CLEP as if it was an SAT Subject test, and other colleges will use it to give college credits.

Some colleges require a certain number of AP tests, and they will accept no alternatives.

Many colleges have a policy of holistic evaluation. If you do not meet the exact admission requirements, they may look at the application holistically, and make a determination based on the full portfolio of information. That takes more time, so it's not their first choice.

With all these different factors in play, I don't think there is an easy answer. You can't really say definitively that "selective schools don't accept CLEP" without checking the policy of each and every school. Each parent only knows the admission policy of the schools they research - and even then you can't really determine how flexible their policy would be on a holistic review of an applicant.

Sadly, that leaves us with only one definitive answer: check with the college where you plan to apply. Only they will know the policies they have and the tests they will accept. Yes, it's frustrating! But they hold all the cards. They control the admission and scholarship decisions. If you want admission into their college or scholarship from their endowment, then you have to play their game. The first step in playing their game is reading their rules. If you want what they have, you need to play by their rules.

You also have to play nicely. In other words, don't just play by their rules, but give them everything they might want. Because the true is that you don't just want them to play with you, you want them to LIKE you. You want them to like you so much they are willing to give you admission and scholarships.

Decisions about which tests to take are difficult. Check with each college to determine their policy and learn about high school testing before making decisions.

Blessings,
Lee

Hi Linda, Life would be so much easier if every college had the same policies. Or if every class of colleges had the same policies. Sadly, it isn't the case. Each college will have their own unique decision about AP tests, CLEP exams, SAT Subject Tests, and even community college classes. Some colleges require a certain number of SAT Subject Tests for admission. They are not flexible, and will not even accept an AP as a substitution. Some college do not accept community college courses, but will accept an AP test in the same subject, which means students have to take an AP after every community college class. Some college will accept some kinds of CLEP tests, but not others, or only CLEPs with very high scores, but not average scores. Some colleges will use CLEP as if it was an SAT Subject test, and other colleges will use it to give college credits. Some colleges require a certain number of AP tests, and they will accept no alternatives. Many colleges have a policy of holistic evaluation. If you do not meet the exact admission requirements, they may look at the application holistically, and make a determination based on the full portfolio of information. That takes more time, so it's not their first choice. With all these different factors in play, I don't think there is an easy answer. You can't really say definitively that "selective schools don't accept CLEP" without checking the policy of each and every school. Each parent only knows the admission policy of the schools they research - and even then you can't really determine how flexible their policy would be on a holistic review of an applicant. Sadly, that leaves us with only one definitive answer: check with the college where you plan to apply. Only they will know the policies they have and the tests they will accept. Yes, it's frustrating! But they hold all the cards. They control the admission and scholarship decisions. If you want admission into their college or scholarship from their endowment, then you have to play their game. The first step in playing their game is reading their rules. If you want what they have, you need to play by their rules. You also have to play nicely. In other words, don't just play by their rules, but give them everything they might want. Because the true is that you don't just want them to play with you, you want them to LIKE you. You want them to like you so much they are willing to give you admission and scholarships. Decisions about which tests to take are difficult. Check with each college to determine their policy and learn about high school testing before making decisions. Blessings, Lee
Guest - Rachel on Tuesday, 08 May 2012 18:55

Thanks for more wonderful advice, Lee! I am wondering if it could make sense to take the CLEP on a subject right after the student has successfully completed it, rather than waiting until the last year of high school and taking several then. Are there any disadvantages to this method (taking them as the subjects are "completed")that you can think of? Thanks!

Thanks for more wonderful advice, Lee! I am wondering if it could make sense to take the CLEP on a subject right after the student has successfully completed it, rather than waiting until the last year of high school and taking several then. Are there any disadvantages to this method (taking them as the subjects are "completed")that you can think of? Thanks!
Guest - Lee (website) on Wednesday, 09 May 2012 14:57

Rachel,

It's helpful to take the test when you are "done" - the problem is knowing what "done" means.

When you are done studying a subject at the end of a school year, then it makes sense to study and take the test as soon as possible after the subject is complete.

Other times a student will continue learning about a subject all the way through high school. In that instance it makes sense to take the test close to the end of high school, when they are as knowledgeable as they are going to be in that area.

It's probably not helpful to take a subject test and then take another test in a more advanced topic of the same area. In other words, taking multiple CLEP or AP exams in math, for example.

I hope that helps!
Blessings,
Lee

Rachel, It's helpful to take the test when you are "done" - the problem is knowing what "done" means. When you are done studying a subject at the end of a school year, then it makes sense to study and take the test as soon as possible after the subject is complete. Other times a student will continue learning about a subject all the way through high school. In that instance it makes sense to take the test close to the end of high school, when they are as knowledgeable as they are going to be in that area. It's probably not helpful to take a subject test and then take another test in a more advanced topic of the same area. In other words, taking multiple CLEP or AP exams in math, for example. I hope that helps! Blessings, Lee
Guest - Sherry on Thursday, 03 April 2014 08:40

Some colleges only accept CLEP exams for a certain time period before entering their college, such as 6 months prior. Be careful about taking these too early.

Some colleges only accept CLEP exams for a certain time period before entering their college, such as 6 months prior. Be careful about taking these too early.
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