College is expensive. Even after scholarships, financial aid, and junior college, it still requires a chunk of change. So today I am ecstatic to talk about another way to save money- AND time: CLEP tests. In a nutshell: I took an exam for which I was granted 6 credits and it only cost me $135. Sound too good to be true? I thought so too, at one point!
What are CLEP tests?
CLEP tests are standardized exams put together by the College Board (The same people who do the SAT). The basic premise is that if you pass the test, you earn the credits. They have over 30 credit-granting tests available, available to transfer to over 2,900 universities. That’s important to note- not all colleges accept CLEP credits! So before you dive into studying for a test, make sure that you check with your college about CLEP credits.
(Pst… There’s other college course alternatives besides CLEP tests! Read more here.)
How much does it cost?
There are two costs associated with taking a CLEP test. You will need to purchase the exam through the College Board website for $85, then use their handy tool to look for a testing location to schedule your test. After you find a testing center, you will likely have to pay them as well for proctoring (watching you to make sure you don’t cheat). The local university I take my CLEP tests at charges $50, bringing the total cost up to $135. Dividing that number by 6 means that I spent $22.50 per credit. A STEAL.
The average cost per credit for colleges (from public 2 years to private 4 years) comes out to $594. If we multiply that number by 6, we get a average cost of $3,564 for a 6-credit course. (Sound expensive? I think so too! Read about how I’m getting my degree for under $5000 TOTAL here.) The exam is only $135, and took me 3 hours to take. 6 credits in 3 hours. That’s the equivalent of HALF A SEMESTER.
I took the College Composition CLEP with very little studying, and my college (Thomas Edison State University) grants 6 credits for a passing score. I passed with no problem and you can too!
Before you start considering signing up for that English 1 course at your local community college… save your time. That’s the reason I went for the CLEP option. Not only did I save myself from sitting in lectures, I only had to write 2 essays as opposed to weeks of homework I would have had in an actual course. It’s a no brainer. The CLEP exam consists of some multiple choice questions, and 2 timed essays. If CLEPs are an option at your school, the College Composition exam should be on your list of ones to take.
How I studied
I didn’t. All I did was read the exam description page and looked through this forum to find posts from people who had taken the test previously. Once I knew what to expect, I had a hunch that I could rely on my writing skills to sail through this one. And I was right. If you love to read, are comfortable writing, and have good grammar sense, this test should be a walk in the park for you.
There are also a few sample questions on the exam page that you can go through to get an idea of the types of questions they will ask. Something to keep in mind though- there is a time limit on the essays. They give you your topic and then the time starts, so you will want to quickly put together an outline and start typing.
If you do want to put some studying time in before taking the test, check out this website. They have a great breakdown of the test, as well as several resources for studying with.
If I can do it, you can do it!
My whole point of writing this post… YOU can take this test too! I hope that I’ve made it feel super simple, because it is. After you check with your college about their CLEP transfer policy, it’s just a matter of purchasing and scheduling the exam, studying (or not!), and then driving to your testing location and taking the test. Actually, waiting for your results is probably one of the most taxing parts. In other CLEP tests that I’ve taken they give you your score right away, but because this one has essays that need to be graded, it takes a little more time and they mail your results to you.
Now go and get those credits!