CLEP stands for College Level Examination Program. CLEP is a group of tests offered by College Board (maker of the SAT, as well as those delightful AP tests you’re so looking forward to). One of the major differences between AP tests and CLEP tests are that CLEP tests are often offered by a college or university for students already enrolled at that school.

Where are they offered?

CLEP exams are offered at many colleges and universities across the country, and are designed to provide college credit for material you may have covered in previous classes, or experiences you’ve had outside of formal school environments. For this reason, CLEP tests are often popular with people who have been in the military, but they can also be useful for people who’ve done independent research on a topic or learned about the topic through work or other experiences. There are tests for foreign languages, sciences, math, history and social science, and other subjects. CLEP exams can save time and money in college, so knowing a little bit about how they work can be useful!

Do all colleges and universities offer them?

While many colleges and universities do participate in the CLEP program, some don’t, and some only offer some of the possible tests or place limits on how much credit you can earn through the program. For example, KU accepts many – but not all – of the exams, and different programs within the University have different requirements or standards. Depending on the test and your score, taking a CLEP exam at KU might earn you an exemption from a pre-requisite (but zero course credit), or it might count as 3 or 6 credits towards graduation.

Saint Louis University also allows student to earn college credit by taking CLEP exams, but the exams must be completed within the student’s first year at SLU. The University of Colorado – Boulder lists a short group of exams accepted, but notes that “This credit is applied toward degree requirements at the discretion of the student’s dean.” Southern Methodist University gives credit for 4 CLEP exams (a total of 33 CLEP exams are offered by the College Board).

Do your research.

Many colleges who accept CLEP credit conduct “open” testing at their testing centers – meaning people from the community or from other schools can come to the testing center to take their CLEP tests. This means that just because a college offers a certain test, that doesn’t mean that same school will accept it. It’s important to get a good feeling for the credit by examination policy at your college or university before you sign up to take any CLEP tests. Also, keep in mind that policies can change from year to year. Make sure you have the most current information about your school’s policy in order to get the most out of the CLEP program.

Audrey Hazzard is a Tutor at Get Smarter Prep.