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Gain Credit with the CLEP (College Level Examination Program)
(Continued from 1)

After that, I was hooked. I continued my night classes at Immaculata-some of them in an accelerated format-while successfully completing CLEP exams in English Literature (6 credits), Principles of Management (3 credits), Information Systems and Computer Applications (3 credits), General Biology (6 credits), College Algebra (6 credits), and Western Civilization II (3 credits). In May 1998, I graduated cum laude with the exact number of credits needed for my degree.

All in all I found the testing experience to be richly rewarding. Granted, there were some topics that I didn't know extremely well prior to registering for the exam. For example, even though I had gained some knowledge about computers through the years, I felt I needed to review an introductory textbook on computers before taking the Information Systems and Computer Applications exam. My knowledge of biology was also not strong when I began, so I borrowed a biology textbook from a friend. Yet, I figured that putting in the extra study time on my own was far preferable to paying for and participating in all the classes necessary to obtain the credits the old-fashioned way.

If you're not completely comfortable with a certain subject-and don't want to spend a lot of time reviewing for an exam-there are a few shortcuts you might consider. For example, I found the Harper Collins College Outline series of books (published in the early 1990s) to be very helpful in reviewing for the English Literature, Introduction to Management, and Western Civilization II exams. Each book in the series-which also covers such exam subjects as chemistry, psychology, and sociology-contains a synopsis of the subject in an easy-to-read format. Check your local library or bookstore for copies.

You might also consider applicable books in the IDG Books For Dummies series and Barron's Easy Way series. I borrowed Biology: The Easy Way from the library as part of my review for the General Biology exam. The CLEP Official Study Guide also provides a list of suggested review texts for each exam.

If you have a thorough knowledge of a large topic area, you might consider taking one of the five General Examinations-English Composition, Humanities, College Mathematics, Natural Sciences, and Social Sciences and History-each eligible for 3 or 6 college credits depending on your grade and your college's policy. For example, the Humanities General Exam covers painting, sculpture, music, film, dance, architecture, drama, poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Since these exams may not have direct application to a particular class, your college is less likely to accept them for credit.

Of course, before you decide to take any CLEP exam check with your college or university's continuing education or counseling/testing office to find out which of the exams it accepts, and for what grade levels you are given credit. Although more than 2,900 colleges participate in the CLEP program, many do not accept all of the tests that the CLEP offers. Also, each college has its own requirements for what it considers to be a suitable passing grade for credit. Even if your college does accept a particular exam, the credits may not apply toward the degree program you have in mind.

Getting a degree does not have to take a lifetime commitment. Take advantage of the CLEP to finish your degree faster than you ever thought possible.

Gregory Lloyd is a financial writer and freelance business writer. He satisfied a third of the credits for his business degree by taking advantage of the College Level Examination Program.

For additional resources for CLEP, see the College Board, CLEP: Promoting Academic Success, and CLEP Study Guides.

CLEP Facts at a Glance
The CLEP (College Level Examination Program) is one of the most widely accepted programs for gaining alternative college credit by exam. Students can earn from 3 to 12 credits for each test.
Exams are offered in 33 college-level introductory subjects (in the areas of History and Social Sciences, Composition and Literature, Science and Mathematics, Business, and World Languages.) CLEP exams cover course work generally taught in the first two years of college.
Each exam costs $80* (*September 2014).
Over 2,900 colleges award undergraduate credit for the CLEP. Each college has its own policy on which exams are accepted, the minimum scores required for credit, and the number of credits awarded. To find colleges that grant credit for CLEP, use the CLEP College Search.
CLEP exams are administered on the computer and are timed (90 minutes each). Except for College Composition, exams are generally multiple-choice (mathematics exams may require fill-in responses.)
Exams are scored on a scale of 20 to 80, with the recommended score of 50 to award college credit, or a 'C' grade. The CLEP score is generally available immediately following the exam.
Source: The College Board

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