Introduction to CLEP tests for Parents of High School Students

I first learned about CLEP tests at the beginning of high school. Both my mom and I were intrigued by the opportunity to earn college credit that could later be transferred to any of over 2,900 colleges and universities. CLEP tests are an efficient way to demonstrate to a college that a high school student has acquired college-level learning.

To incorporate CLEP testing into your curriculum, begin by educating yourself. For this I recommend Chapter 4: Introducing CLEP Tests from College Without the Campus, Jennifer Cook-DeRosa’s book Homeschooling for College Credit, or Accelerated Distance Learning by Brad Voeller. Any of these resources will explain the process of taking a credit-by-exam test.

Next, educate your high schooler. This step is crucial! When I was in high school, the last thing I wanted to do was take additional tests beyond what was required by my mom and the state. So when I first heard the idea of credit-by-exam tests, I was not enthusiastic. I only became somewhat open to the idea after I read Accelerated Distance Learning for myself and could see the benefit of entering college with college credits. The thought of completing a year’s worth of credit while in high school and entering college in sophomore standing made me willing to study for CLEP exams.

Once you and your high schooler have begun exploring CLEP tests, you are ready to make some goals. How much time will you both devote toward CLEP testing? Which subjects will your student be studying in high school that have a corresponding CLEP test? Say your student wants to earn 30 credits before graduation—how many tests will your student need to take? (Most tests are worth 3 credits, but nine of the exams are worth 6 credits or more.[1]) Asking these questions can help you map out your CLEP test schedule.

For resources, I recommend starting at the official CLEP webpage, Here you will find the exam titles, as well as a free list of suggested resources. I highly recommend The Official CLEP Study Guide for practice tests. However, before you feel obliged to purchase textbooks or study aids specifically designed for CLEP, check your high schooler’s curriculum—it may include all the test topics. Visit for more information regarding resources.

After study, pretests, and review, your high schooler is ready to test! This is the perfect time for students to see if credit-by-exam testing is a good fit for them. It is also a low-risk opportunity, as their CLEP score will not affect their high school GPA. Also, the test score will not affect student’s college GPA until you choose to send the score to the college.

The CLEP testing process is one that seemed out of my reach until I had completed each step and walked out of the test room with six credits to my name. Had I never taken my first CLEP test, I wouldn’t have learned this style of education was helpful for me. I encourage you and your student to give CLEP testing a try. You just might save time and money!

[1] See the “What Your Score Means” document.


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