College Credit from Taking CLEP Exams

Eligibility for this Free Test

College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) credits are accepted by 2,900 colleges and universities. Because the exams are funded by the United States government through the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES), this allows the test to be free for eligible personnel:

  • Active duty, reserve and National Guard members in all branches including the Army and Air Force National Guard
  • Spouses and civilians (case-by-case)
  • Department of Defense Acquisition Personnel

If you are not eligible, then the exam costs $80 and the test site generally tacks on a fee for administering the test. Nonetheless, you could save hundreds, even thousands, of dollars toward your degree if you pass the tests.

clep testing

Colleges and Awarding Credit

Each college has their own unique rules on how they accept CLEP testing — there are 33 different subjects for testing. Some have limits on the number of credits that can be awarded. Some accept CLEP scores for only certain subjects.

You should always check with the school to see if they will honor your test scores. Call the admissions office if you cannot find their policy in their general handbook.

If you have already taken a college course and passed, your CLEP test that relates to the college course may not be acceptable. You may not take the same type of CLEP exam within a six-month period. If you do, your test results will simply be cancelled.


There are some free samples for download so you can get a closer look at the test style. The College Board has created an Official Study Guide that can be purchased for about $25. If you want to pass several exams, and your school is generous in its allowance, then it is recommended. If you are taking only a few select exams, then you may purchase an Exam Guide for that one exam, available for download. If you are strong in one or more particular fields, you may not need a guide for that subject.

Test Time

The tests are administered through 1,700 colleges and universities in the United States, so you should not have trouble finding a location. Make sure to be aware of where your test facility is located and how to get there, which room it will be held in and what time it starts. You don’t want to be late.

You must show two forms of personal identification to be admitted to the testing room: primary and secondary. You must also have the exam payment in hand.

Exams are approximately 90 minutes long, with the exception of composition, which is 120 minutes. Exams contain mainly multiple-choice questions. Composition and a few other exams contain other types of questions and essays.

The total score, or formula score, ranges from 20 and 80. Unanswered questions do count against you, so be sure to put down something, even if you are guessing. If you don’t pass the first time, don’t worry. Candidates may repeat an examination of the same title six months after the initial testing date. Eligible military personnel who take the exam for free must pay for the second exam.

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