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Does anyone have any information to help me understand the benefits, pros and cons of each? I am looking forward with my oldest DD and trying to come up with a general game plan for her studies, subject to change of course. Right now she is planning on taking some classes at the CC during her chronological junior and senior years of high school under dual enrollment. Our high school has to pay for CC under certain conditional if the student has shown mastery in their required classes. She plans to test out of many classes they require or show completion with course materials, depending on what they will require at the time.

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There was a recent thread about this. I think the consensus I've seen here and on other lists is that CLEP is a lot easier than AP, but fewer colleges accept CLEPs for credit.


CLEP is:

* multiple choice, done on a computer

* 90 minutes long

* can be taken at any time at any local testing center (e.g. CC or university)

* graded on a scale of 20-80, with 50 considered "passing"


AP is:

* all pencil & paper, and it includes free response questions as well as multiple choice

* around 3 hours long

* offered once per year, in early May, through local high schools

* graded on a scale of 1-5, with 3 considered passing


(NOTE: Although scores of 50 or 3 are considered "passing" by the College Board, many colleges require higher than the minimum scores for credit. E.g., our state uni requires a 63 on the Chemistry CLEP for credit, the Physics Dept requires a 4 for Physics credit, etc.)


Also, while they offer some of the same subjects (e.g. Bio & Chem), many of the subjects don't overlap: CLEP offers a lot of business courses, for example, but not Physics; AP offers Physics B & C but no business courses. AP offers World History but not Western Civ; CLEP has Western Civ I & II but not World History. You can see a list of CLEPs offered here:


AP tests offered:



APs are seen as more prestigious and are accepted by more colleges, so the choice of whether to take APs or CLEPs really depends on the student and what kind of college they plan to attend. In my son's case, we know that he will be attending our state university (guaranteed full tuition scholarship, plus they have good programs in his majors), and they accept CLEPs for credit, so I will have him do CLEPs.


A word of warning, though: even universities that accept CLEP may have restrictions on using them for major requirements. I was originally planning to have my son CLEP Chemistry & Calculus, but then I discovered that since both those courses are required for Biology majors, the university would accept AP/CLEP for credit, but the Bio Dept would not. So if you decide to do some CLEPs, I would focus on subjects you're pretty sure your student will not major in -- unless you just want to use them as proof of mastery. But you might be better off taking SATII tests in subjects your student is thinking of majoring in:




Edited by Corraleno
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There are several main differences between CLEPs and APs:

- Not all subjects are covered by each format. For instance, there are two types of AP Physics tests, but no CLEP Physics. CLEP offers a College Algebra exam, while AP does not. Compare the offerings and see what works for you.

- CLEPs are administered by colleges. You must call ahead (usually a week is adequate) and reserve a computer. You must also register online at the College Board. APs are administered by high schools. To register for an AP, you must contact the high school by the middle of March. The high school does the paperwork and orders the test for you. If you go the AP route, make sure you find a good high school guidance office to work with (ask around). If you find that a particular high school has unpleasant staff members or does not return your calls, find another school.

- APs are 3-hour exams; CLEPS are 90 minutes.

- APs have multiple-choice questions + free response questions. Most CLEPs have only Multiple-Choice questions (MCs), a few require essays - see http://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/clep/prep_hint_e.html.

- APs are only offered once a year in May; CLEPs can be taken anytime they are offered by the administering college..

- You may take an AP test again, but you must wait until the next year; there is a 6-month wait to retake a failed CLEP test.

- CLEPs ($72 for the test + $30 usually for administration) are slightly more expensive than APs ($86).

- CLEPs are taken exclusively on the computer, even the essays (good typing skills are a must for these exams); APs are strictly pencil and paper tests, although an ink pen is required for all free response questions.

- Some colleges award credit for APs, not CLEPs. Some colleges award for both, some for neither. ALWAYS check with the college first!


My ds has taken both CLEPs and APs and considers CLEPs to be easier because they are shorter and usually only have MCs. He did the CLEP English Composition with Essay - it only had one essay vs. the AP English Language and Composition exam dd took that had three essays. He was awarded 6 credits for his CLEP, dd will be awarded 3 credits for her more difficult AP at a different school. YMMV.


You must check with your student's college to figure out credits awarded for particular tests, and whether they provide useful credit toward his/her chosen degree. If your student plans to get an associate's degree using CLEPs and then hopes to transfer to a 4-year college, make sure the CLEP credits will transfer. Ask the 4-year college - the 2-year college may not know.


And finally - my students have found instantcert.com to be a very useful study aid for the tests it covers. Ds used it for his English CLEP and Microecon AP; dd used it for her MicroEcon AP as well. Be sure to mark the date you need to cancel on your calendar and cancel about two days before it automatically renews.




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