One of the easiest ways to reduce the soaring cost of college tuition is to come to campus armed with several existing college credits, and the so-called CLEP examination system is designed to help students do just that. Several ways are out there for a person to start college with an existing array of credits: Advanced Placement classes, college coursework taken while in high school through a partnership program, and the College Level Examination Program. Each option works for a different kind of student and a different type of required course, but they all have the same result: A more advanced standing early in a student’s college career, and a reduction in required tuition expenses over the course of a four-year degree program. So, how does the College Level Examination Program work, and what does it do for students?
Exams Cover a Variety of Common General Education Topics
Generally speaking, the College Level Examination Program is designed to help students power through their general education requirements, or core requirements, before they set foot on campus. This allows students to start taking job-related classes earlier, and reduces the number of credits they must take on-campus in order to graduate. Some of these credits can be earned through AP classes, but not every school offers a robust AP program. Some don’t even offer these classes at all. The CLEP program fills in and offers exams in five distinct subject areas:
– History and Social Science
– Foreign Language
– Science and Math
– General Sciences
Most of the examinations in this group allow students to bypass up to two semesters of study in the area where the test was taken. This means up to six credit of math, science, business, foreign language, or English classes, and adds up to a total of approximately 30 credits overall. That cuts out one full year of general education coursework, and can mean a real savings for students who only need three years of study in order to graduate.
Students Must Achieve a Passing Score to Earn College Credit
As with the AP exam system, which typically requires students to earn at least a grade of “3” in order to gain college credit for their studies, the College Level Examination Program requires students to meet a minimum score as well. That minimum score is set by individual universities, but the vast majority of today’s schools require a minimum score of 50 on each examination. Students who fall short of this threshold will have the opportunity to either retake the exam or simply register for the class on-campus when it’s available to them.
It’s worth noting that getting a satisfactory score on this examination is financially rewarding in and of itself: The College Board, which administers the examinations to students, charges 80 dollars per test. That fee must be paid even if the same test is taken multiple times. This fee falls far short of the typical cost of three or six college credits, but it can still end up being a significant burden for some students.
An Exciting Way to Cut College Short and Make it More Affordable
Students are increasingly concerned about rising tuition rates and overall levels of indebtedness after graduation. The good news is that there are many ways to shorten college, reduce its cost and still gain the same benefits of a four-year degree in the end. These tests, with satisfactory scores, can take away many general education requirements and significantly reduce a student’s debt burden after they graduate.