CLEP Exams – Everything you Need to Know

CLEP Exams – Everything you Need to Know

(The following is a guest post from Sara Porras.)

If you’ve homeschooled for any length of time, you’ve heard the question, “But, what about high school?” or “How will they ever get into college?” They don’t understand that you don’t really teach high school, but rather you become their guidance counselor. You choose or help your students, select curriculum, books to read, or even help them find co-op classes or a few online live courses where they learn subjects like Algebra, Latin, or history from a more learned teacher.

When starting my research on homeschooling high school, everyone’s advice seemed to have to do with getting the students into college. Teens take courses to prepare themselves for the college entrance exams, the ACT and the SAT, they volunteer in the community, participate in sports, and they might even earn a few college credits all to appease those college admission counselors. I started to wonder how hard it could be to “get in?”  And although I’m in no hurry to rush them off into a college classroom and or onto a college campus, couldn’t they just start by taking some classes while in high school? What about college-level exams?

The first time I learned about CLEP exams, College Level Examination Program, my understanding was that they were a great way to prove your student had taken courses with academic rigor and that they had mastery of the material they had studied. Honestly, I didn’t know if my bright, but mostly average kids could pass a college-level exam. I had also heard horror stories of kids earning multiple college credits from one source or another, later to learn their student’s college of choice would never accept the credits. I was skeptical.

CLEP Exams can save time and money!

My research quickly led me to some astonishing information. While watching a wonderful webinar by Becky Muldrow of Dual Credit at Home, I learned that not only are homeschool high school students passing these exams and earning college credit, they are also earning associate degrees, and some are earning four year Bachelor degrees.

Wait! What?

They are doing it for a small fraction of the cost of attending a brick and mortar school. There are accredited colleges that accept many college credits via college equivalency exams, dual credit exams, and more! Consider Liberty University, which accepts 75% of 120 credits needed for most bachelor’s degree as transfer credits. Three colleges, known as “The Big Three,” accept almost all credits via transfer. Charter Oak State College, a regionally accredited online college, accepts 114 transfer credits. They offer Bachelor degrees that, if carefully planned, can be obtained for less than $6,000! Our college funds are currently pretty small. However, if we can combine college and high school at the same time, I believe they can finish their undergraduate degree debt-free.

Planning is Key

When planning to do college and high school simultaneously, it’s important to plan well.  You want to make sure your student meets at least your state’s homeschool high school requirements if any. You also need to know the transfer policies at the college your student plans to complete their studies with. Most of the general education or lower-level classes needed for a Bachelor degree are the same subject high school students study. Your student will study subjects at a high school level, add in some extra study and then take and pass a 90-120 minute college-level exam which helps them bank college credit and you can issue them high school credit for their time and effort while studying to learn the material.

CLEP Prep Courses

Our CLEP Exam Journey Begins

Not one to enjoy wasting time or money and enjoying a good challenge, I plunged in with this journey last fall, my twins’ Freshman year of high school. I recommend starting with a subject your student enjoys as your first exam. For our boys, it was US History, and I had already planned to have them study this subject. They began high school history, Omnibus III from Veritas Press in the fall. They did extra studying using Quizlet’s free games, and online flashcards with Speedyprep (HSLDA offers members a discount for Speedyprep.) By February, they were ready to take the plunge and just see how the testing would go with CLEP US History I.

Our First Test!

The staff was quiet and calm when we arrived, and all eyes were on us as they noticed the ages of our kids. They asked if we knew these were college-level exams and there was no guarantee of passing. We paid the $25 proctor fee, per test; fees vary among testing centers. The boys were sent into the testing room and out of my line of sight.

I waited in the lobby for the first hour of the 90-minute exam and returned to wait for the rest of the time in the small testing office just outside the exam room. The receptionist asked where the boys went to school and how old they were. She said quietly, “Oh, I see. Well, a passing score is 50, for most colleges, and we typically see scores just under that or slightly over. Occasionally, someone studies hard and manages a score in the 60’s.”

I told her that I honestly, just wanted them to pass. These exams are pass or fail, and at most schools, will not earn a grade. Ten minutes later, our son Luke emerged from the exam room with a large smile on his face. The receptionist took his printed score off the printer and said, “Nice job, young man!” as she mouthed the words “Seventy-one!” to her co-workers. Two other staff members came out from behind their cubicles to congratulate them.  They also asked about homeschooling and when we planned to return for the next test!  In the meantime, our other son completed his test with a respectable 68! We were elated.

Banking College Credits

Since then, they have banked 12 college credits by passing the Civil War and Reconstruction DSST, which is another college exam worth a 400 level college history course at most schools that accept CLEP, the CLEP American Government, and CLEP US History II. They could also take CLEP American History, which we plan to take next year, which will earn 3-6 credits depending on the transfer school.

The Practicalities

Day to day while preparing for an exam and doing high school? We are currently working on studying a few high school classes, like Algebra II and Spanish, plus one exam at a time. On an average day during this past spring, they would spend an hour doing their high school level history curriculum, thirty minutes practicing online flashcards with SpeedyPrep or Instantcert, around 45 minutes watching videos reviewing the material with Study.com, and around 15 minutes doing the review questions from the free membership with Modern States.

After completing the courses with Modern States, they offer a free voucher to pay for the $89 CLEP exam and will even reimburse the proctor fee. They offer this to the first 10,000 students to apply each year.)  After getting through the Study.com videos, about three weeks per exam, they would spend a week doing practice tests from either Peterson’s or REA and reviewing any areas they were weak in and then they took the exam. The practice exams were equal to or harder than the actual exam. It is a lot of work.  Some subjects will require more time for us. But their success has motivated us to press forward.

Planning for Success

Our son, Luke, has zeroed in on a Bachelor degree in Government with a concentration in Policy and Politics from Liberty University Online.  They accept up to 90 credits of the 120 needed for a degree to be transfer credits.  Because several CLEP exams are worth 6 credits and some language exams are worth up to 12 credits, I believe they can finish all of their general education credits within the next year. We won’t have Luke actually apply to Liberty until he has earned around 80 credits including all of his general education credits which he will earn through these examinations.

During high school, he also plans to volunteer or intern for a non-profit lobbying group which defends school choice, life, and the freedom of religion. Our son Grant is working on his general education requirements and considering all his options including aviation, biology, or cartography. They are working hard toward their goals to complete high school along with a degree at the same time or shortly after and are already eager to work in an area of their interests to make a difference.  We’re enjoying the ride.

(Are you interested in CLEP courses for your high school student?  Check out our CLEP Prep Course offerings at True North Homeschool Academy.)

College Credit in High School
Sara Porras is married to her active-duty military sweetheart, has been homeschooling their three boys since 2011, she enjoys portrait photography, prepping schoolwork plans and tutors online part-time.
To begin your homework on this journey, I recommend checking out Academic Advising and Orienteering at True North Homeschool Academy, Becky Muldrow’s Dual Credit At Home,  Homeschooling for College Credit, and Free-Clep-Prep.

 

 

 

Are you considering CLEP exams for your homeschool student during their high school years?  CLEP exams are a great way to save time and money! #TrueNorthHomeschoolAcademy #CLEPPrep #Homeschooling

CLEP 101 (College Level Exam Program) for Homeschoolers

CLEP 101 (College Level Exam Program) for Homeschoolers

At True North Homeschool Academy, we are all about launching our kid successfully as young adults.  Ideally, we like this launch to be with little to no debt, and in a way that equips them to succeed vocationally, as well as in life. One of the ways we are doing this is by providing CLEP prep classes.

What is CLEP?

CLEP is College level Exam Program. There are over 33 exams available that are accepted by 2900 colleges and universities in the following areas:

  • Literature & Composition
  • World Languages
  • History & Social Science
  • Science & Mathematics

By taking a CLEP test, you can save “Hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars.” CLEP exams have been in existence for over 50 years and had over 1800 test centers. This program allows students to demonstrate mastery in college-level material and earn college credit through testing. There is no minimum age at which your kids can start taking CLEP exams and your test scores will “bank” for up to ten years!

Not every college accepts every CLEP exam, and if you know where your high school student plans to attend college, you can check with their admissions counselor or website. If it’s not stated on the website, and you are assured by someone on staff or faculty that the CLEP exam will be accepted for credit, get that in writing. In my state, the state college system will take up to 10 CLEP exams toward a degree, but it varies by major and school.

If you are interested in taking some CLEPs as upper-level high school courses, I would suggest starting with some basic general education requirements: College Algebra, English Comp I and II, Environmental or Natural Science, Psychology or World Religions or Government. Taking just 5 Clep exams totals 15 College Credits (and can go on a High School Transcript for one credit as well and can be counted for a higher weight, which affects the G.P.A.) which is an entire semester’s worth of college. Considering that even inexpensive school cost around $20,000 a year, half of that is significant savings!

If you are looking to earn you Associates degree or even entire undergraduate degree through Clepping, Dual Enrollment, and other less conventional methods, be sure to check out the “Big Three”; Thomas Edison State College, Excelsior State College, and Charter Oak State College.  All of these consider life experiences, extensive CLEP exams, and dual enrollment creidts towards an Associate of Arts or a Bachelor’s Degree.

We have a friend who got their entire undergraduate degree in two years through Clepping and then went on to Medical School.  Of course, he had terrific MCAT scores and references along with his degree, but it is doable to take an unconventionally earned Bachelor’s degree and go on to a competitive graduate program.

True North Homeschools Academy is committed to utilizing the freedom and unique opportunities we have as homeschoolers to bring classes to you that prepare your students to take CLEP exam.

This fall, for instance, we have an amazing group of young adults (10th-12th graders) meeting weekly for 90 minutes to study Psychology. This class has been challenging and thought-provoking, required a boatload of homework, reading, studying and learning vocabulary, provided great discussions and some good laughs and readied participants to take the CLEP exam at the end of the semester.

This class is offered for one semester (just like a college class would be) and uses Zoom and Moodle (also, like many college classes) and counts for 1 High School Credit.  If the CLEP exam is taken and passed 3 College Credits under the General Education requirement of Social Science will be earned. Not only are our students receiving college credit for pennies on the dollar but they are avoiding the social indoctrination that is so prevalent on College campuses, especially in the area of Social Sciences.

Why pay for these classes when our kids can study and take a CLEP test on their own?

For the simple reason, that upper-level classes are challenging, and difficult things are often more exciting and enjoyable when done with others (Ecc 4:9), the teacher brings their experience and expertise to bear,  and the kids have incentive to keep going even when the going gets tough!

If CLEP tests are not something you’ve considered before, I hope you take a look at them. We’d love to partner with you to guide your student through some fun and challenging High School classes that also prepare your students well for CLEP exams!

(This spring we will be offering Civics as well as Environmental Science– both count towards one credit of High School and are also CLEP prep classes.  Check those out today!)

Would you like your high school student to get a jumpstart on college credits?  Then you need CLEP classes!  Check out this post to find out the whys and hows of CLEP Exams for homeschool students! #homeschool #TrueNorthHomeschoolAcademy #CLEP

High School Credit in Junior High? You betcha!

High School Credit in Junior High? You betcha!

High School Credit in Jr. High? 


High Credits in Jr. High? Is this even do-able? I’ve done Academic Advising for homschoolers around the world for several years and one thing I find interesting is how rigid homeschoolers tend to be in their thinking about High School credits. For instance, what about 8th grade? 8th grade is a big transition year for most kids. They have gained in maturity (and usually height) and academic skills. Many of them are developing their own interests and often are out-reading their parents.

A Word About Rigor

Can a homeschooler count 8th grade classes for High School Credit? The answer to that is predicated on one simple question. Is it High School level rigor? Some classes, like Apologia’s Biology or Algebra I are easy answers. But what about Mock Trial, the Handyman course you designed yourself, Logic, Latin I or American History? Again, it depends on the level of rigor.

For instance, our daughter participated in Mock Trial in 8th grade with a group of homeschoolers. The kids spent the semester digging into the case, doing some difficult research, defining terms and preparing their parts. They had the good fortune of presenting the trial in front of a group of lawyers, had amazing feed-back and were relieved when it was over, satisfied with a difficult job well-done. In my economy, the work they did definitely warranted High School Credit. Not only did they fulfill hourly credit requirements, but the level of work demanded was every bit a high school class.

While I appreciate The Fallacy Detective and many other informal Logic programs, I would not use them for High School Credit, as they are easily accessible, digestible and learned at an upper level elementary level. Formal Logic programs such as Jim Nance or Martin Cothran’s, however, are every bit High School credit worthy.

How do you determine High School Credit worthy?

Elementary courses are really geared to be an introduction to subject material, Middle School (or Junior High) is the time when students are shown how to apply the previously acquired material and High School (Sr. High) is the time when students are invited to apply concepts, think for themselves, make connections and understand the bigger picture.

If a curriculum is focused primarily on introducing basic concepts or how to apply those concepts, it is probably not a High School level course.

The Benefits of Hacking 8th Grade

If your student is able to do High School level work in Junior High, there is no reason to keep them from doing so (especially if you plan to home school throughout High School). This allows your student time to CLEP or take DE courses during traditional High School years, saving parents and students literally thousands of dollars. This is also an exceptional way to make “room” in one’s schedule to pursue areas of interest or passion.

As seasoned Homeschoolers, we at True North Homeschool Academy fully support parents and families to think outside the box in regards to Jr. and Sr. High School, as well as College. We are here to help you succeed throughout High School, and beyond!

You might be interested in our Guidance Counseling Service. And don’t forget to check out our Course Catalog! 

<script async defer src=”//assets.pinterest.com/js/pinit.js”></script>

The What and Why of Clep Exams

The What and Why of Clep Exams

Considering hacking college? You’ll want to consider Clep Prep as a tool in your toolkit. Youu many have heard of Clep exams but are not quite sure what they are. I’d like to take a minute to inform you on how this powerful little tool can save you time and money, enrich your homeschool high school and give your student a step up as they move on to higher education. What is a Clep? Clep is short for College Level Examination Program. Cleps tests are a  group of standardized tests created and administered by College Board. Cleps are accepted by over 2900 colleges and universities in lieu of college classes! Students can take Clep exams when they choose. There is no minimum age requirement and the College Board will “save” Clep scores for up to 10 years. That means that a student who has the ability and drive to take an exam can take an exam at say, age 12, and, with a high enough score, count it towards their college credit. It also means that anyone who hasn’t completed college can finish more quickly than a traditional degree might take by Clepping at least some of the required credits.. Some colleges and universities list specific Clep exams that they will accept on their web-site. It’s a safe bet to start with General Education exams such as College Composition, College Algebra, a Social Science such as Psychology or Sociology, and a basic Science exam. Cleps are not necessarily “easy,” anyone can pass them type of tests. I would encourage everyone to study for a Clep exam. You can purchase specific clep test books, or a general Clep Prep test book, or take on-line prep courses, such as what we offer through True North Homeschool Academy. Take free on-line practice tests as well. If you score 50 or above (this is not a percentage based score) then you should be in good shape to pass the Clep exam! Think Cleps are just for a class or two? We have a homeschooled friend who clepped their entire undergraduate degree and paid cash as he went. He is now happily sailing through Medical School! Cleps are for those who want the degree but not the debt, are busy running a business or want to graduate in months instead of years. If you are a college bound student or the parent of a college bound student, make sure to do your homework on Cleps; it could be a valuable part or your plan to get through college without debt! Buy True North’s Clep Prep Bundle and save! You can find out more about Clepping by visiting the College Board.
Lisa Nehring is always on the look-out for a good deal, and believes that parents should approach launching their young adults into the wide world with creativity and pray and students should consider well the rising costs of college.

Pin It on Pinterest