If you’re looking to go to college to complete your degree in a field that you already have some experience in, you might want to check into the CLEP, or College-Level Examination Program. This is an exam-for-credits program that is run by the College Board, the same organization that developed and administers the SAT’s and the AP’s. By effectively testing out of coursework that you are already familiar with, you can save a good amount of both time and money on your degree.
1.) Who are they for? The CLEP’s are generally recommended for students with some real-world experience in the subject they are being tested on. Military members, those who have served internships and those who have developed on-the-job skills make strong candidates for receiving credits through examinations. It’s important to know beforehand that the tests are generally recognized as being fairly difficult, so you’ll want to make sure that you have a good understanding of the subject matter, or you’ll wind up throwing away money on the test and then having to take the course anyway.
2.) How much do they cost? Each test is $80, obviously less costly than a college course, but it can add up if you’re trying to test out of a lot of subjects. While the CLEP’s are definitely a cheaper option than a traditional college course, this is by no means an easy way out of college classes. If you don’t have a strong grasp on the topic, it’s probably not advisable to try testing out of something that is required knowledge in your field.
3.) What colleges accept them? While the College Board indicates that CLEP credits are accepted by some 2,900 universities and colleges, it might be of interest to note that there are about 4,600 degree-granting institutions in the U.S., which means there is a very good chance that your school won’t take these credits. Many of the top U.S. schools have stopped taking these credits altogether and many more have put a limit on the number of credits that you can earn in this way. The best way to check is to visit your college or university’s website and look for information on Credit-by-Examination. If they don’t have it posted, you can contact the registrar’s office and they should be able to help you. A couple of schools that are open to giving more credits through testing are Excelsior College and Charter Oak State College.
With some quick research into your school’s policies and a few hours of prep work, it is possible to earn college credits based on your hands-on experience. While not for everyone, those who qualify can save a substantial amount of time and money using the CLEP exams.
To learn more about CLEP visit: http://clep.collegeboard.org/
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