Since my high school days, I have been testing out of different courses for college credit. Now that I’m pursuing my bachelor’s degree online, I continue to do the same. Many universities will accept ACE (American Council on Education) accredited courses. One of the most well-known ACE-accredited testing programs is actually run by the College Board. You probably know this organization because of their more popular standardized tests, the AP exam and the SAT.

The College Board also runs the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP). CLEP has been around for nearly 50 years and enables students to receive college credit at 2,900 colleges in the United States. CLEP exams let you test out introductory courses and accelerate your degree journey. During the pandemic, the College Board introduced a remote proctoring option instead of limiting the exam process to the traditional in-person method. This remote proctoring option is here to stay, and I myself have taken my last 3 CLEP exams through remote proctoring. There are currently 34 different CLEP exams ranging in subjects from Calculus to French Langauge.

CLEP exams are multiple-choice tests that usually consist of anywhere from 90 to 120 questions that must be answered in 120 minutes. Unlike AP exams and the SAT, your test results are immediately available after completing the examination. Testing is available year-round, so whenever you feel like you’re comfortable with the subject material, you can schedule the examination.

So far I’ve passed 9 CLEP exams:

  • Introductory Business Law
  • American Government
  • Introductory Sociology
  • Introductory Psychology
  • Principles of Macroeconomics
  • Principles of Microeconomics
  • Principles of Management
  • French Languages Levels 1 & 2
  • History of the United States I

I have taken eight out of these nine CLEP Exams for free. Right now CLEP exams cost around $89 with additional fees depending on your testing center. While studying for my second CLEP test I discovered a non-profit organization called Modern States. Modern States provide free courses (no credit card info required) taught by actual college professors as well as free vouchers that cover the cost of the CLEP examination and the remote proctoring free. Once you successfully complete all the practice questions and the final practice test with a 70% average or higher (the instructional videos and reading are optional), you can request a free CLEP voucher. Then you can use the code on your voucher to register for the exam on the College Board website. You can also check if your university is one of the 2,900 colleges that accept CLEP exams.

I have a few more CLEP exams to complete for my Bachelor’s. Another resource that can be used to gain college credit is Sophia Learning. This organization also offers ACE-accredited courses. Unlike CLEP exams, where you pay for each exam separately (or use a voucher), Sophia operates on a subscription-based model. For $99 a month you can take as many courses as you want. Each course has graded multiple-choice challenge questions and exams. If you achieve a 70% average upon completing the course, you can transfer the course to your university for college credit. Sophia has a list of partnered universities on their website, and you can contact your own college to see if they will accept credits from Sophia.

I’ve completed 7 courses so far on Sophia:

  • Introduction to Information Technology
  • Introduction to Web Development
  • Project Management
  • Introduction to Business
  • Environmental Science
  • Visual Communications
  • Art History I

My university is a partner school with Sophia, so my credits are guaranteed to transfer. I have been taking a course on Sophia for two and a half months. This current month will be my last. My first month was discounted by $20 because of special promotion. After I complete my final 3 courses, I will have gained 30 college credits for the grand total of $277.

There are other organizations out there that offer similar models for gaining transferable college credits, but these are the two that I have experience with. I have saved a lot of money using CLEP and Sophia Learning and have shaved off a significant amount of time. I hope this blog posts proves to be useful for others in their own pursuit of higher education. Until next time!

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