CLEP tests are free, quick way to kick-start your degree

9 Feb 2007 | Cpl. C. Lindsay

Ever feel like you don’t have time for an eight to 12-week college course? Work schedule unpredictable? Need quick points toward your composite score? College Level Examination Programs may be for you.

College Level Examination Programs, or CLEP tests, are a series of subject tests that a person can take for college credits without taking a class, explained Andrea Hodges, an education services specialist with the Lifelong Learning Center here.

“CLEPs save time and money,” Hodges said. “(Tuition Assistance) has a $4,500 limit, and if someone can CLEP out of a subject they free up money for other classes that have no available CLEP.”

Active duty and family members enrolled in classes on base are eligible for the tests. They are offered free on-base for active duty service members and $120 for military spouses and dependents.

The tests are also available at the Technical College of the Lowcountry for a $20 fee for active duty service members and $75 for all others.

Three types of CLEP tests are available and each is worth different credit hours. The General CLEP is worth six credit hours and covers a broad overview of a specific subject. The Subject CLEP is worth three credit hours and is more specific. Foreign Language CLEPs are worth between three and 12 credit hours each.

Some colleges only accept some types of CLEP tests, Hodges explained. It is important for Marines to check with the college they are getting a degree with to make sure they accept the CLEP test.

However, even if the college doesn’t accept the test, service members can use it toward their education points and future promotions.

The Lifelong Learning Center offers 14 different paper-based CLEP tests. The Technical College offers every available CLEP test in a computer-based format. Study packets are available for each CLEP and it’s recommended students study before each test.

If someone fails a test they have to wait six months before they can retake it, but they may take a different test in the meantime.

Even when there is a high pass rate on a particular subject, CLEP tests are not necessarily easy, they ask very specific questions about the subject, Hodges explained.

“About 75 percent of people pass the tests, particularly if they study and have a beforehand knowledge of the subject,” Hodges said. “I don’t recommend someone who hates (a subject) trying to test out of it because they will need the skills they learned for upper level classes.”

Service members can take as many CLEP tests as they want; however, they cannot receive a degree from the tests alone.

“Colleges require some courses actually be taken,” Hodges said. “If a college does offer a degree (from CLEP test alone) it’s probably not reputable.”

Service members need to be aware of CLEP scams; for example, there is no reason to pay for study materials for a CLEP test.

The tests are offered at the Lifelong Learning Center, located in Bldg. 596, every Wednesday. For reservations with the Lifelong Learning Center call Sarah Porter at 228-7474. For more information on CLEP tests with the Technical College of the Lowcountry visit

To comment on this story, contact Cpl. Lindsay at 228-7225

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