Want to save a lot of time and money? You need to take a CLEP!
Ok, you might be thinking what the CLEP is. The CLEP means College-Level Examination Program, and it’s managed by CollegeBoard. You can take a CLEP exam instead of taking the class. For instance, I didn’t want to take Marketing 301, so I took a CLEP instead. For me, that saved me a month of summer school, and the test wasn’t that difficult. Plus, not having to pay for the almost $1,000 price tag of the class was nice!
I got to a relatively cheap state school. So, my class cost less than $1,000. But, what about you?
Ready to take a CLEP Exam to save some money and time?
Step 1: See if you can use a CLEP at your college to replace a class
It would be wonderful if there were a corresponding CLEP exam for each class you had to take but that’s not the reality. First, you should see which CLEPs you can take to replace your class.
1. Go to https://clep.collegeboard.org/
2. Click on “See Which Colleges Accept CLEP”
3. Enter your college/university’s name and hit “Search”
4. You should see if your university accepts the CLEP and which exams the university allows
Step 2: Write down all your options
Maybe your college doesn’t offer CLEP exams that can be taken instead of classes. That’s okay! There may be cheaper alternatives that you should think about. For example, they might allow you to use AP Exams in the place of classes or use something else. For my university, I can test out of some math classes if I get a certain grade on a test my university offers.
After you write down all the options available, pick which ones will be best for you. For some of your classes, doing a CLEP exam will work out best, while other classes, it wouldn’t work. You can mix match to get the right combination.
Step 3: Talk to your counselor
You might be thinking about why I didn’t make this step one. I think taking the time to evaluate different alternatives on your own helps you look at options your counselor might not think of, and it makes you think about the time it will take to do everything.
Another reason to talk to your counselor is you don’t know what you don’t know. Back in May, I knew I was going to take the Marketing CLEP Exam, and I planned to cancel my marketing summer class once I passed the CLEP. Well, my counselor told me that if I would have dropped the summer class without the CLEP credits transferring, I would be kicked out of my marketing classes for the Fall.
There are wait lists for all my marketing classes for the Fall. I would have been at least a semester behind because I would have been kicked out of 4 required classes. Not a great place to be. Do yourself a favor and take a little time to double check with your counselor.
Step 4: Plan and commit to your study schedule
Let’s face it! We’re busy people. That being said, you’ll need to dedicate some time to study. First, I would think of all the obligations I already have. When I took my exam, it was after the school let out, so only work and club meetings made up the bulk of my obligations. During the school year, I have a lot more going on, so I wouldn’t have as much time to study.
Second, think about the times that work best for you. I didn’t set a specific time. Instead, I would tell myself I want to get a certain study task done in an hour or so. I would aim for the evenings because I tend to study best at that time of day. For other people, having a time frame like 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. works better.
I would recommend giving yourself a reward for sticking with your study plan. Having a reward will keep you going!
Step 5: Buy the material you might need
Since you haven’t taken the class, you’ll need to study up. It’s easy to not buy any study material, but you want to pass the first time around. I recommend buying the official study guide from Collegeboard. It only comes with one practice test, but it will get you familiar with the test. Plus, you can better guess how much you need to study to pass.
If you’re only taking one CLEP exam, you can buy an individual pdf study guide for $10. If you’re going to take 3 tests or more, you should buy the study guide with the practice tests for each CLEP exam. College board also includes a list of other books you can use to help you get familiar with the material.
Here are some questions you should ask yourself before buying study material:
1. Are you familiar with content on the CLEP exam?
2. If you’re unfamiliar with the content, how many books/videos will you need to catch up?
3. Do you learn better doing exercises, reading, or listening audio?
Step 6: Sign-up to take the test
The process to sign-up to take the test is relatively simple.
1. Go to https://clep.collegeboard.org/ and click on the “Sign in” button.
2. Log in to your account.
3. Click on “Register for a CLEP Exam.”
4. Select the CLEP exam(s) you want to do.
5. After you have selected the exam(s) you want, click on “View Cart and Checkout.”
6. You’ll be taken to your shopping cart. If you have a promo code or voucher, now is the time to use it.
7. If everything is correct. Click “Register and Checkout.”
8. Finish the rest of checkout
After you signed up for the exam, you still need to set up an appointment at your local testing center. The cost of getting a testing center to proctor your test varies. For me, I had to pay $40. Most appointments need to be made in advance, so make sure that you have the appointment scheduled ahead of time. You’ll also have to pay the center for proctoring the exam.
Here’s how to set up an appointment with your local testing center:
1. Go to https://clep.collegeboard.org/
2. Click on “Find a Testing Center Near You”
3. Fill out the country, state, and city you live in
4. Select the testing center closest to you
5. Schedule an appointment
Step 7: Study and pass
You have a plan, and you have motivation! As a mentioned before, consistency can be a lot harder to do than getting started. Your job is to pass and eliminate the obstacles that get in your way.
Here are some ways to keep yourself on the right track:
– Get an accountability partner
– Set aside time each day to study
– Give yourself a reward for sticking to your study plan
I saved almost $1,000 and a ton of time by taking 1 CLEP exam. I could’ve saved so much more if I had done this for a few of my other classes. Don’t make the same mistake.
Have you taken a CLEP Exam before?