How to Prepare for CLEP Exams

Wondering how you can save both time and money when it comes to getting a college degree? All it takes is a little extra effort during your high school years—this effort includes the CLEP exam.

The College Board administers the CLEP, or “College Level Examination Program,” exams, most of which correspond with one-semester college courses. For $80, high school students may sign up to take one or more of the 33 available 90- to 120-minute CLEP exams at a testing center. If they earn a qualifying score on an exam and end up studying at one of the 2,900 colleges that accept CLEP exams, they will receive college credit.

While these exams cover college-level material, high school students can prepare for CLEP exams by taking practice tests and keeping an organized schedule, among other things.

1. Review the CLEP exam overviews

The College Board lists on its website all 33 of its CLEP exams. Read through the exam offerings and review their overviews to gain familiarity with exactly what you’ll encounter on a given exam.

Use this information to help guide your preparation. For instance, you may think you’re prepared to take the CLEP exam in English Literature because you’re taking AP English. However, what you learn in class and what you encounter on the exam may vary. Make note of any gaps in your knowledge and focus on those when studying for your CLEP exam.

Before your CLEP exam, be sure to familiarize yourself with the following:

  • CLEP exam content

  • Exam guidelines

  • Exam structure

Some exams have timed subsections. Knowing how much time you have to take your exam, and for each section, can help you pace yourself both when practicing and on test day.

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2. Take CLEP practice exams

One of the best ways to study for CLEP exams is by taking CLEP practice tests. You can purchase a study booklet from the College Board or access free questions in the “At a Glance” sheets listed online with each exam description. You can use these resources to study on your own, in a group, or through CLEP tutoring.

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3. Create a study schedule leading up to the CLEP exam

Most CLEP exam content was designed for learning over the course of the average 15-week college semester. With a busy high school schedule, it can sound daunting to study for such a test. The trick is to set up a regular study schedule and to hold yourself accountable for seeing your studying through.

Depending on your learning style, studying for a CLEP exam could take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. As a general rule, the more time you have to study, the better. Keep a calendar and block out an hour or two every day or every other day to devote to studying for your exam. Make it a priority to get your studying done.

Cramming is a study habit to avoid the night before your CLEP exam, and a regular study schedule can help prevent this. Remember, cramming a strategy that’s never advisable for any exam!

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