CLEP exam: college credit by examination

By Veronica De La Torre, Pulse staff  writer     

CLEP is a college-level examination program that provides students college credit if they meet the required scores and expectations.  Palo Alto College offers CLEP testing to current and past students.

This option allows PAC students skip a 16-week semester if they already know the material for the courses.

“I think the CLEP test was moderate. Not too easy, and not too hard,” said Danny Mendez, a Communications major who placed out of Spanish, earning 14 hours of credit.

The credit Mendez received would have cost him $947 during a semester.  The cost of the CLEP exam is $95 versus $480 for one course at PAC for In-District Texas Residents. The fee for a CLEP exam includes a $15 fee to reserve seating. The remaining $80 is due the day of the exam. The balance can be paid with a credit card, check or money order. No cash payments are accepted.

“I highly recommend it, because it allows you to gain credit for a class that you already know and don’t have to take an entire semester of it. Plus, it’s cheaper,” said Yvonne Forey, a financial aid adviser at PAC.

CLEP is a 90-minute exam, unless you decide to take writing composition, which is 120 minutes long. Students may earn up to 12 hours per CLEP exam if passed, except for Foreign Languages, where students may earn up to 14 hours.  Students may not earn more than 32 hours of CLEP credit at PAC. PAC provides 28 introductory-level tests in five subject areas.

To take the CLEP exam, a minimum of 6 completed college hours at any Alamo College must be on record. The CLEP credit will appear on the student’s academic transcript if he or she passes the test.  If the test is passed, the grade is equal to a course credit but will not count toward the student’s GPA. If a student fails to pass the CLEP exam, the student can retest after six months. Students will know immediately after the exam what they scored on the CLEP test with the exception of essays, which take up to four weeks.

“I tell students not to be afraid of CLEP. It will not affect your GPA at all,” said Gil Polanco, a test administrator at PAC.

Study tools are offered for the CLEP test. The College Board website can be very helpful to students studying for the exam. The website provides test preparation, including sample questions and study materials for CLEP testing.  Most libraries hold copies of the books with examples of past exams and study guides to help students. Students may also use a free online study guide on the PAC website found on the Learning Express Library under the Education tab in the databases.

“It is well worth it. It saves a lot of time and money,” said Forey.

Students will need to bring two forms of ID the day of the test. One of those forms needs to be a picture ID. Acceptable forms of photo ID include a valid driver’s license, valid state-issued ID card, military ID, student ID card or a current alien registration card.  Students must also bring the remaining balance for the test.

“It’s the cheapest and fastest way to gain college credit,” said Polanco.

To make an appointment, students will need to visit the Assessment and Testing Center, located in Brazos Hall, Room 100. CLEP testing is offered every second and fourth Tuesday of each month with two different time slots, 9 a.m. or 2 p.m.

                               CLEP exams available at Palo Alto College

History & Social Sciences American Government
History I & History II
Human Growth & Development
Introduction to Psychology
Introduction to Sociology
Principles of Micro & Macroeconomics
Western Civilization I & II
Composition and Literature American Literature
English Composition with Essay
English Composition without Essay
English Literature & Humanities
Science and Mathematics Calculus
College Algebra
College Mathematics
Natural Sciences
Business Information Systems & Computer Applications
Introductory Business Law
Principles of Management
Principles of Marketing
Foreign Languages Spanish Language (Levels 1 & 2)
French Language (Levels 1 & 2)
German Language (Levels 1 & 2)
* The total cost for CLEP exams is $95. CLEP is offered every second and fourth Tuesday of every month at the Testing Center located in Brazos Hall, Room 100.