To CLEP or not to CLEP?

Recently there has been some buzz in Houston among high school students and their parents about CLEP tests. CLEP stands for College Level Examination Program and is run by The College Board. These tests are offered in 33 subjects and are designed to allow students to demonstrate their knowledge and test out of some lower level college courses. The main benefit to testing out of lower level courses is cost – taking a test is cheaper than a college course (only $80!) – and that it frees up time to take other classes that will count toward graduation so there is potential to graduate earlier than if you had earned all of your credits through course hours. This is a great way to get ahead – but it only works well in certain scenarios. Is it right for you? Read on to find out!

Are you attending a community college with the hope of transferring to a larger 4-year university? If so, you’ll need to mind your GPA. Schools like The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University will want to see a very high GPA from transfer applicants. Taking a CLEP test will not go toward your GPA – you’ll just have your score printed on your transcript. This means that with fewer classes being calculated into your GPA, each one will carry more weight. And since CLEP tests are lower level courses, you might be giving up an “Easy A” that could have helped your GPA in favor of some easy credit.

Another thing to consider is what is your intended major? While there are 33 CLEP tests available (see the list here), only 9 of them are transferable to UT and A&M will accept 16. (See UT’s list here and A&M’s here, or search for another school here) Before you delve into a test, make sure that the course you will be testing out of is one that you would have to take, and one that your desired university will accept.

If you are a community college student planning on transferring, the CLEP tests can be a great way to get ahead of the game… as long as you’ve done your homework and know that you wouldn’t be better off just taking the class for a high grade, your desired school would have you taking the class anyway, and that your desired school will accept the score for credit. Click here to be taken to the College Board’s CLEP website.