Differences Between CLEP and AP Tests

What's the Difference Between CLEP and AP Tests?

Preparing for college can be a long process, sometimes starting as early as middle school, and for people looking to save some cash and get ahead in college, AP and CLEP exams tend to stand out as a great option.

While AP tests are pretty widely known, I wanted to help provide some clarification on what sets these two specific tests apart.

What are the AP and CLEP exams?

These exams were designed to allow students to obtain college credit by taking a test to show their understanding of a subject. Grades are offered on varying scales, most institutions requiring the equivalent of a "C" to earn credit. (A “C” is 50 for the CLEP and three for AP.)

Most of the tests offered cover entry level college course material, allowing future students to bypass the early classes in their major, as well as get a head start on general education requirements.

In general the cost is pretty similar. Most AP tests (in the United States) cost $94, and CLEP exams cost $85 - though some CLEP testing centers charge their own fee as well.

With AP exams you can get anywhere from three to five college credits, and with CLEP you're looking at anywhere from three to nine.

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What are the key differences?

One of the most significant differences is that for CLEP tests, no course is taken prior to testing. With AP tests, most students take an AP class at their high school (though this isn't required) and then take the test near the end of the school year.

This means that for students taking the CLEP test, they must prepare independently. Whether or not independent study is effective for you will factor into determining if the CLEP test would be better for you than the AP for credits where both are an option.

Another difference - CLEP tests can be taken by students (and military members) of any age. Whether you're a high school student or a student getting ready to apply for their Master’s degree, you can register and take CLEP tests at your convenience. AP tests are much stricter, requiring testers to be high schoolers and homeschoolers only.

The final key difference that I'd like to note here: CLEP tests can be taken year round. AP tests are only taken in late spring, on specific, predetermined dates. With CLEP tests, you can schedule them for pretty much any time that your local testing center has an available slot.

Now, of course, I would recommend these tests to anyone who can take them. You can end up saving thousands of dollars in tuition, and get to graduate that much sooner. But, of course, it's important to do your own research, and determine what works best for you. Hopefully this information helped you on your journey to doing just that!

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