CLEP Test Guide

The AP and CLEP Test Summary
What: Advanced Placement (AP) tests are administered to students to determine if they qualify for advanced college level standing or to grant college credits.
Who: AP tests are administered by the College Board.
Where: Tests are conducted at most local high schools which offer AP coursework. Check with the College Board for schools near to your locale
When: Tests are offered in May of each year.
How: There are 37 subject areas where a student may earn credit or advanced standing.
Type: The AP tests are pencil and paper examinations.
Why: It is possible to earn college credit or advanced standing in college.
Time: Most exams take two to three hours to complete.
Language: AP tests are only administered in English.
Preparation: Tests and test preparation materials are available.
Cost: Examination fee is $86.00 per test.

By Elizabeth M. Burkhart, Tests.com Contributing Writer

Advanced Placement (AP) and College Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests allow students to receive college credit for previously completed coursework or knowledge. This advanced placement can shorten the time a student will spend in college and lower the cost of receiving an undergraduate degree.

For example, if a high school senior completes an AP Biology course, she can take the AP Biology exam. With a passing score, her college can award her credit for the course, and she won’t have to take biology again. This saves her an entire semester of work, plus the cost of taking the class in college. Most colleges and universities have a core curriculum that includes science, math, English and Art classes, and if a student can pass AP tests for any of those classes, she will not have to repeat them again to satisfy the core requirements.
With enough AP or CLEP credits, a student can save several semesters, speeding up graduation time and potentially saving thousands of dollars.

CLEP credits are very popular among members of the military, as the military pays for the cost of the exam, and combined with GI Bill benefits, help keep college free or low cost for service members.

Exam Subjects
AP tests are available for 34 different subject areas:

  1. Art History
  2. Biology
  3. Calculus AB
  4. Calculus BC
  5. Chemistry
  6. Chinese Language and Culture
  7. Computer Science A
  8. Computer Science AB
  9. Macroeconomics
  10. Microeconomics
  11. English Language
  12. English Literature
  13. Environmental Science
  14. European History
  15. French Language
  16. French Literature
  17. German Language
  18. Comp Government & Politics
  19. U.S. Government & Politics
  20. Human Geography
  21. Italian Language and Culture
  22. Japanese Language and Culture
  23. Latin Literature
  24. Latin: Vergil
  25. Music Theory
  26. Physics B
  27. Physics C
  28. Psychology
  29. Spanish Language
  30. Spanish Literature
  31. Statistics
  32. Studio Art
  33. U.S. History
  34. World History

CLEP tests are available for 33 different subject areas:

  1. American Literature
  2. Analyzing and Interpreting Literature
  3. English Composition
  4. English Literature
  5. Freshman College Composition
  6. Humanities
  7. French Language (Levels 1 and 2)
  8. German Language (Levels 1 and 2)
  9. Spanish Language (Levels 1 and 2)
  10. American Government
  11. Human Growth and Development
  12. Introduction to Educational Psychology
  13. Introductory Psychology
  14. Introductory Sociology
  15. Principles of Macroeconomics
  16. Principles of Microeconomics
  17. Social Sciences and History
  18. History of the United States I: Early Colonization to 1877
  19. History of the United States II: 1865 to the Present
  20. Western Civilization I: Ancient Near East to 1648
  21. Western Civilization II: 1648 to the Present
  22. Biology
  23. Calculus
  24. Chemistry
  25. College Algebra
  26. College Mathematics
  27. Natural Sciences
  28. Precalculus
  29. Financial Accounting
  30. Introductory Business Law
  31. Information Systems and Computer Applications
  32. Principles of Management
  33. Principles of Marketing

AP tests are offered annually in May at local high schools, while CLEP tests are offered year-round at local testing centers.

Exam Components
CLEP exams are primarily multiple choice and fill-in (English Composition includes an essay) and typically cover an entire semester’s worth of material. Most CLEP exams take about 90 minutes to complete.

AP exams include multiple-choice and free response questions and take from two to three hours to complete.

Multiple-choice tests are scored by computer while the free response questions are scored in June at an annual AP reading event. College professors and specially-appointed AP teachers evaluate the written tests. The two scores are added together to create a composite score.

AP exam scores are reported on a 5-point scale:

  • 5 Extremely well-qualified
  • 4 Well-qualified
  • 3 Qualified
  • 2 Possibly qualified
  • 1 No recommendation


Students must score at least a two to receive advanced placement credit. Students and schools are notified mid-summer of their scores.

CLEP scores are shown instantly after test completion, but score reports are also sent to a candidate’s home within two to three weeks of the exam date.

Exam Registration
Students can register through their high school with the help of an AP coordinator or guidance counselor. Home schooled students can take the tests at their local high school, or they can contact the College Board to find a nearby high school that offers the exam.

CLEP test registration can be done through a local CLEP test center, which can be found online through the College Board. Each AP exam includes a fee of $86, while CLEP exams cost $70.
Students are advised to study before taking AP and CLEP exams.

Are you ready to start brushing up for the exam? Check out our AP Test Directory and CLEP Test Directory for more information on preparation.


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