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Taking CLEP exams is a great way to earn college credit, saving you both time and money. While earning college credit through credit by exam can help you shorten your time to a degree, there are some things to learn and consider. Ultimately, individual colleges and universities determine how many CLEP credits can be applied and may award credits differently. It’s important to become familiar with the credit-granting policies and any limitations of your school. 

Before taking CLEP exams, here are some questions to ask your college or university: 

  1. Do you accept CLEP credit or any other kind of prior learning credit?

    More than 2,900 U.S. colleges and universities accept credit for CLEP and DSST exams. Check if your institution accepts credits prior to taking a CLEP exam.

  2. Is there a limit to how many credits I can accumulate?

    Colleges and universities have different policies regarding how many prior learning credits can be applied. Some institutions allow you to earn up to 25 percent of your undergraduate degree by using CLEP credits, but this varies. Contact your school for more information about their specific credit policies.

  3. What CLEP score do I need to earn credit for this institution?

    Just as the number of permissible CLEP credits applied to your undergraduate program varies, so does the score needed to pass the exam. Passing scores not only vary by school, but by exam. Most schools require a minimum score of 50 to earn college credit.

  4. Are there any restrictions for CLEP credits for specific majors?

    Some colleges will only allow you to use prior learning credit for general education credit, meaning that it cannot be applied as credit toward your major or minor area of study. For example, if you plan to major in biology, many colleges will not award credit for a passing CLEP Biology score. In these instances colleges and universities feel that it behooves the student to take courses in the scope and sequence set forth by their faculty.

  5. Do CLEP credits expire?

    CLEP credits don’t expire, but don’t wait to have your transcripts sent to your college as the College Board only keeps your transcripts on record for 20 years after the exam date. Also, if you took a STEM-focused exam 10 or more years ago, it may not be accepted by your university, as developments in the field have changed.

When it comes to earning college credit, knowing the requirements and limitations of your institution will ensure that the time and money invested in taking CLEP exams or other prior learning credit is well spent.

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