Understanding the Differences Between CLEP Tests and AP Exams

A high school senior getting ready to pursue some form of university studies will often encounter a variety of tests required for college entrance. Often, students may be confused by exams required for college entrance, such as the ACT or SAT and exams that can grant college credits, such as CLEP (College Level Examination Program) tests and AP (Advanced Placement) exams. Both CLEP and AP exams can be beneficial for students entering higher education, but they serve different purposes and are approached in different ways. Learning these differences will help students maximize the academic benefits from each type of exam.

CLEP is designed to give students a chance to gain college credit without taking college courses. These exams cover material taught in introductory or general education college courses and require students to demonstrate knowledge of a subject equivalent to that of a student who has taken the course. CLEP exams can be taken at any time before or during a student’s college career, providing the opportunity to pick up credits before actually enrolling in college, during the freshman or sophomore year of college, or even right before college graduation. Preparing for a CLEP may involve a simple review of previous knowledge for students who are already familiar with the material or few days or weeks of studying for students who have no background knowledge of a subject. Students register to take their test at an official testing center and often can test when their schedule best allows. Students can earn between 3 and 12 college credits by simply passing a CLEP exam.

Unlike CLEP tests, AP exams are designed for students who are already taking advanced placement courses in high school. After a year-long high school AP course, a student can take an AP exam that will offer college credit based on the score that a student receives. A student’s score is based on a one to five scale; many colleges and universities will grant credits to students who obtain a score of three or higher on the AP exam. These tests are only taken by high school students who complete an AP class and sit for the exam on a designated date. Each college of university will determine the number of credits it will grant to a student based on the specific AP exam they take and the score they obtain.

CLEP tests and AP tests both serve the same purpose by giving students the opportunity to earn college credit without taking college courses. Since CLEP exams are available year round at any level of study, students have a wider window of opportunity to earn credits using these exams. That said, there is a greater variety of AP tests available for students to take, and they are offered for more specialized courses. On occasion, a passing grade on an AP exam can result in credit for more than one college course, essentially killing two birds with one stone.

Preparation for a CLEP is usually far less rigorous than that which is involved for AP testing as the student can study in a matter of a couple of days and then take the exam. Both tests cost about the same amount of money, but for some states, students only have to pay for the first AP exam they take every year. This allows students to pursue multiple tests without having to shell out a lot of money along the way like they may have to when taking multiple CLEP tests. As a whole though, the $70+ it takes for each exam is well worth the tuition savings that will occur, so paying for individual tests in either situation is not something to fret about.

Overall, a student can vastly benefit from both AP and CLEP tests. Both offer college credit without taking college courses, and both act as a way to enhance university studies. Students don’t have to choose one or the other as they can use their time in high school to take AP tests and then move on to CLEP exams during college. The opportunities are endless with CLEP and AP tests, and a student could literally enter college as a sophomore or better with the right amount of testing under his or her belt.

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Article Source:  Rober Ron

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