This blog is centered towards making your college years more efficient and easy, so I must tell you about the CLEP test and how it can help you make a huge gain in time and more money in your pocket. The CLEP tests are $85 (as of August 2017) college-credit-by-examination tests. CLEP offers 33 intro-level college subject exams.

CLEP is currently celebrating 50 years of business and by clicking this link you can can get 50% off a second exam or retest until the end of August 2017. Also, military personnel get to take the test for free through US government program DANTES (Defense Activity for Non Traditional Education Support). In some instances, spouses can also take CLEP free of charge as well. Check this link to find out.

What Are CLEP Tests?

The College-Level Examination Program ® (CLEP) tests are 90- to 120-minute exams that you take on your own time at one of the 1,800 testing centers across the country. Additionally, a lot of colleges even have their own CLEP testing center on campus making it even more convenient on you to take them.

Basically, you pass a test, send the results to your school (if it is one of the 2,900 colleges/universities that accepts the test), and you have one less course to take.

There are some very helpful books you can buy to help prepare for the tests. Considering that price of the books + test are only a fraction of what you would spend on a course, it is worth your time to purchase one and study up on your own time. If you are planning far enough ahead, you can even do these tests while you are still in high school! Also, Amazon has some test prep books for under $5, check my links below.

Tests Offered

Composition and Literature

If you already have solid writing skills, I recommend trying these tests.

American Literature

Analyzing & Interpreting Literature

College Composition

College Composition Modular

English Literature


World Languages

If you’ve already taken a foreign language in high school, you might be prove that you can get out of one year of French, German, or Spanish.

French 1 & 2

German 1 & 2

Spanish 1 & 2

History & Social Sciences

I found in college when I took required courses for history and government that I ended up sitting in these mass lecture classes where we were basically assessed by a midterm and final. In comparison, a class midterm and final become so much more expensive when juxtaposed with CLEP. If you already excelled in these courses in high school, study up with some CLEP prep books and get these out of the way.

American Government

History of the United States I

History of the United States II

Human Growth and Development

Introduction to Educational Psychology

Introductory Psychology

Introductory Sociology

Principles of Macroeconomics

Principles of Microeconomics

Social Sciences and History

Western Civilization I: Ancient Near East to 1648

Western Civilization II: 1648 to the Present

Science & Mathematics

Use my Amazon search bar below just to check the prices of calculus books. I think you will find that learning on your own (even with a tutor) will be far less expensive in the long run.




College Algebra

College Mathematics

Natural Sciences



These are intro courses that most business majors need to take. Pass these to get ahead.

Financial Accounting

Information Systems

Introductory Business Law

Principles of Management

Principles of Marketing


Notable Colleges/ Universities Not Accepting CLEP Tests

Make sure that taking a CLEP test is worth your time and money. There are some pretty famous schools that will not accept CLEP results. If you are wondering whether your school is accepting CLEP tests, you might check out their transfer student page in the section on tranferring credits to see which credits are accepted. Below is a short list of universities that will NOT accept your CLEP credits.

Harvard University

University of Pennsylvania

Stanford University

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Cornell University

Vanderbilt University

Rice University

Brown University

In general, most top-rated private schools will not accept CLEP tests, and if they do they are very selective about the tests that they will accept. Furthermore, some schools that accept CLEP may not accept all tests. You will need to call ahead to make sure so that you are not wasting your money on a test you can’t use.

My Experience with CLEP Tests

I completed my undergraduate degree at a state university in Texas that accepted these scores. I took two exams that I passed and used it towards my undergraduate degree. Two $85 tests at 120 minutes each saved me around $2,000 in tuition and around 90 lecture hours. The tests I took were English and Humanities. I did not study for either one.

When I tried to avoid taking American Government, I failed my CLEP because I didn’t study for it figuring that whatever I learned as a senior in high school would be enough. However, 4 years had passed since then. Anyway, I gave up and took the course anyway. It cost me an extra summer in college. I wish I had just gotten the book and just studied for a few hours.

I wish I had taken more CLEP tests in retrospect. I could have cut at least 1 year of college (plus tuition and fees) from my whole college experience. Alternatively, I could have taken the minimum load of coursework each semester and had extra time to socialize, study, work, workout, or just experience college life.


I’d love to hear your experience taking the CLEP tests by posting in the comment section below.

If you like saving money in college, see some of my other posts about getting college textbooks cheap, or how to get high-quality prescription glasses cheap.

Author: College Mamma

College Mamma is a professor who blogs for students. She is also a mother of two and a lover of coffee.