CLEP for credit; Pass your way into college

Is there a way to get credit for college-level work done during a student's high school years? The answer is yes, there are several ways to do this. One is known by its initials CLEP (College Level Examination Program).

The experience of a student now at Indiana University demonstrates how CLEP works.

Anthony May, a 1979, high school graduate, earned 55 percent of the requirements for a political science degree before entering IU last September.

He took 13 CLEP tests, passing all of them except college algebra. Other examinations provided even more credit even after Tony arrived at college.

Tony's incentive in taking CLEP exams was largely economic. Shortening the time on campus would save his parents thousands of dollars. Hence, they encouraged him to spend two summers studying instead of working, and preparing for his CLEP exams. Tony took the first CLEP test in May of his junior year and the rest over a period of 15 months.

Tony's high school faculty attribute his remarkable achievements to his habit of doing more than the bare requirements for a substantial portion of his assignments, often reading extra material.

At Blue River Valley High in Mt. Summit, Ind., Tony's grade point average was 3.93 out of 4. At college, as of this writing, it is 3.84.

Tony also found time to serve on the high school student council, to edit the yearbook, obtain letters in track, and to be active in the speech, drama, and Latin clubs. Further, he won an academic scholarship to Indiana University.

Not every college and university in the US accepts CLEP examination passes for full course credit, but almost 2,000 institutions have cooperated with test takers, including credit for older adults entering college and hoping to receive credit for work experience they consider comparable to course work. While a college may not transfer credit for the work itself, it may be willing to offer some credit after successful completion of a CLEP exam.

Numerous locations in each state offer the 90-minute tests, usually the third week of the month. If an applicant lives more than 150 miles from one of these places or is serving in the armed forces, a special site may be arranged. All except military personnel pay a fee of $20. A report of the results can be expected in the mail within about six weeks.

Except for some optional essays, the questions consist of multiple choices. A penalty for wrong answers encourages omitting rather than guessing at what the test taker doesn't know.

Tony is an exception to the rule -- generally most persons take only one or two CLEP examinations.

CLEP was established in 1965. Its major backers are the Carnegie Corporation , Kellogg Foundation, and the National Institute of Health. Four persons enrolled for the first tests. Last year approximately 143,000 took one or more of these special examinations.

Interested readers can get a free booklet, "CLEP May Be for You," by sending a stamped, addressed business-size envelope to College Board Publication Orders, Box 2815, Princeton, N.J. 08541.

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