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CLEP exams provide valuable options for students to earn university credits

November 6, 2015

I promise CLEP isn’t an STD, although it might sound like one. In fact, it is actually a form of the Advanced Placement (AP) program put on by the College Board.

CLEP stands for “College-Level Examination Program” and according to the College Board’s website, “CLEP exams test mastery of college-level material acquired in a variety of ways -- through general academic instructions, significant independent study or extracurricular work. CLEP exam-takers include adults just entering or returning to school, military service members and traditional college students.”

I first heard about CLEP after I received an email this summer from the College Board informing me of its significance. I was so enthusiastic I went so far as to purchase the official CLEP Study Guide for about $30 on their website later that week. While I have yet to take a CLEP exam, I feel it will be an extremely similar experience to the five AP exams I have taken in the past three years, noting there won’t be an overly aggressive or annoyingly excited teacher imposing anxiety on me for the remainder of the academic year as I prepare.

The tests are not quite easy to attend, as the university is unable to administer them. (Although one must note that universities in the area including UW-Stout, UW-Eau Claire and the University of Minnesota, among many others are eligible testing centers that you can locate through the College Board’s website). However, that does not diminish the fact that the cost of the exam is only $80 (similar to the cost of an AP exam) which could earn you up to six credits here at the university depending on the subject matter you choose to test on. Students should select exam subject areas they have an experience in, or something they will be able to sufficiently study independently for.

In my contact with the university over the summer, as well as consulting the university’s online document of accepted CLEP exam scores and the credit received as a result of the successful completion of the examination, I found that CLEP exams are a worthwhile experience for all. Students should consult the university’s online document to select the best route for their academic needs and desires. Students should note, they can fulfill such prerequisites as English and college algebra. Personally, I am planning to fulfill part of my Humanities and Fine Arts general education goal through the successful completion of the humanities examination.

Melanie Meyers is a student at UW-River Falls.