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.
AP tests are available for 34 different subject areas:
- Art History
- Calculus AB
- Calculus BC
- Chinese Language and Culture
- Computer Science A
- Computer Science AB
- English Language
- English Literature
- Environmental Science
- European History
- French Language
- French Literature
- German Language
- Comp Government & Politics
- U.S. Government & Politics
- Human Geography
- Italian Language and Culture
- Japanese Language and Culture
- Latin Literature
- Latin: Vergil
- Music Theory
- Physics B
- Physics C
- Spanish Language
- Spanish Literature
- Studio Art
- U.S. History
- World History
CLEP tests are available for 33 different subject areas:
- American Literature
- Analyzing and Interpreting Literature
- English Composition
- English Literature
- Freshman College Composition
- French Language (Levels 1 and 2)
- German Language (Levels 1 and 2)
- Spanish Language (Levels 1 and 2)
- American Government
- Human Growth and Development
- Introduction to Educational Psychology
- Introductory Psychology
- Introductory Sociology
- Principles of Macroeconomics
- Principles of Microeconomics
- Social Sciences and History
- History of the United States I: Early Colonization to 1877
- History of the United States II: 1865 to the Present
- Western Civilization I: Ancient Near East to 1648
- Western Civilization II: 1648 to the Present
- College Algebra
- College Mathematics
- Natural Sciences
- Financial Accounting
- Introductory Business Law
- Information Systems and Computer Applications
- Principles of Management
- 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.
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.
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/CLEP Test Directory for more information on preparation.