College is expensive. Scholarships can help, but the total bill can be mind blowing. Yet, for many, this is a debt they need to incur to enter the workforce in a career that calls to them. Thankfully, there are ways to earn college credit from home including taking CLEP exams for credit. Using a CLEP Prep plan will allow for success.
Earn College Credit from Home
For many of us, we did all of our coursework at the same college or university we attended after high school. There has been a growing trend of people seeking alternative ways to get a degree beyond high school without spending a sheer fortune doing it. Nontraditional Credit is the term used by schools for this path and there are many ways to go about it.
What is a CLEP?
I’ll be honest and say that I had not heard of CLEP exams until my eldest was entering high school. Even though they existed when I attended high school, they were a closely guarded secret. I took a few AP classes and the exams to help lighten my college load, although I still ended up taking many of the subjects. But, no one mentioned the CLEP exams to me.
CLEP stands for College-Level Examination Program® and is part of the College Board. This is the entity which provides the PSAT and SAT test for college admissions. Additionally, they run the AP tests and what is called the Accuplacer used by colleges to help place students in the correct math or language arts course.
The CLEP exams allow students of any age to demonstrate college-level achievement through a program of exams in undergraduate college courses. Many colleges and universities accept test results above a minimum score to be translated into college credit. The CLEP exams just certify that you possess knowledge of the subject at a level equivalent to a passing grade.
Why take CLEP exams instead of full classes at the university?
If you haven’t started pricing out the cost of a college education, I recommend taking a quick look. Classes are priced by the credit hour with a fixed fee per credit hour. How much it costs varies based on the level of the course. General education classes are usually numbered as 100s or 200s and are typically less than the upper-level courses.
When you add in associated fees and the cost of attending class (e.g. gas if they are commuting), then you may find a single 3 credit class costing upwards of a thousand dollars or more.
My eldest son is a commuter student at the University of Alaska Anchorage where a credit for an instate student is $202 for the lower level course. That means $606 per 3 credit hour course not including books, student fees or living expenses.
The cost for him to take a CLEP exam? $80 to the College Board and then $33 to UAA for proctoring fee. That’s a grand total of $113.
Hmmm….. $113 for a general education course credited via CLEP versus $606+ for attending a class.
For courses where a CLEP exam is accepted, the cost savings is HUGE.$606 or $113 for a college course? See how @SpeedyPrep can help you save $$ #CLEPPrep #hsreviewsClick To Tweet
How to Do CLEP Prep
While some kids might feel all they need to do is read a few books and take a test, the best chance of success comes from completing CLEP Prep. Just as some students opt for study programs when preparing for standardized tests, you can do CLEP Prep in your home.
You can find practice questions on the College Board website. And, they offer print materials for purchase.
However, that approach can leave some students primed for failure.
SpeedyPrep for CLEP Prep
They offer a subscription program where students can study for individual CLEP exams.
24 courses are in their current offering. That is a majority of the 33 CLEP exams offered.
You do not need to purchase any materials beyond the subscription. It is all self-contained and accessible through a web browser.
They are so certain the program works, that they have a 100% pass guarantee. A student who achieves 90% course completion on their system is assured they will pass the CLEP exam. If you hit that level on SpeedyPrep and don’t pass the CLEP, they will refund your money.
Subscriptions are available by the month, quarterly (3 months) or annually. How long you need access would be determined by factors such as the knowledge level you already have, how many courses you plan to complete, and how much time you have to dedicate to using the program.
It is highly recommended that students have taken a high school level of the course before they begin to study for the CLEP exam. So, Algebra I and II should be done before attempting College Algebra.
How SpeedyPrep Works
For each course the student wants to study, you need to select which sections will be covered in the study session. You can pick just one, a subset of similar topics, or the whole list.
The method used by this program reminds me a bit of immersion learning which is popular for languages. You are literally thrown into the mix rather than being spoonfed before assessment.
Each student works through a series of flashcard questions which are drawn from the College Board’s CLEP exam guidelines. This is the cornerstone of the program.
Students either select the best response or actually fill in the blank.
There is immediate feedback on whether your entered response is correct or not. The correct answer is shown regardless of your answer. And, there are times when a link to a video further explaining the material is present. Those videos add background and context to the question but are not meant to be the preparation for the exam.
SpeedyPrep considers their platform to fit with what is known as Mastery Learning.
This means that you have to show that you really know the material by answering correctly multiple times over time.
Repetition of exposure to the same facts, terms, and concepts you need to know for the CLEP exam is the ‘secret sauce’ for success. So, no relying upon lucky guessing to hit the threshold!
Each class you are working on has a progress bar. This is how you see when you are ready for the CLEP exam. Hit the 90% mark (or higher) and you can then sign up and take the test in short order.
Our Experience with SpeedyPrep for CLEP Prep
For this review, it is my college son who eagerly sought the privilege of using the materials for review. He has a few general education classes to complete and thought he’d study for the Introduction to Psychology CLEP exam.
Sadly, he has not found as much ‘free’ time to do it as he thought. And, I thought I was being the trusting mom who wasn’t going to nag him to log into the program on spring break. He has plans to start in earnest after exams at the start of May.
So, I opted to reacquaint myself with a topic where I have taken several graduate courses and worked in the field: Principles of Marketing
Ever heard the term use it or lose it?
Well, that’s how I have felt going through the material thus far!
I can see that many terms are difficult to recall. I get the practical aspect of marketing, but not the theoretical stuff. Or, I come really close to the correct answer on a fill in the blank question, yet miss it.
I suspect that I would progress quicker with a platform that was all “multiple guess.” However, that wouldn’t demonstrate my knowledge of the material. The fill in the blank demands that I KNOW the material.
My boys and I tend to be individuals who want to read the material and then start quizzing. Call it the “cram and regurgitate” form of test taking that some of us are all too familiar with.
Keys to Success
You always have the option to read through a general text for overview or review before beginning use of SpeedyPrep. Even without that, I can see how this overall method sets you up for success.
The repetitive exposure helps to ingrain the information onto your brain. They do not leave a large margin for luck in this program. If you want to see progress, you need to be making real progress.
Having the immediate grading with additional explanation through text and/or video is extremely helpful. There is no need to wade through textbooks looking for the correct response. It is just provided for you.
Final Thoughts on SpeedyPrep
If you have a student who is at least a junior in high school and they plan to seek higher education, then definitely take a look SpeedyPrep. A truly motivated student could easily complete 1 to 2 CLEP Prep courses in the 3 months of summer. The out of pocket expense is a little under $300, yet they can receive 6 credit hours of college done.
I recommend looking at the institution they plan to attend to see if they will accept the CLEP exams. As I said, many do accept some or all of them. However, others do not. So, as great as this is as a way to save money on college expenses, you need to ensure it is going to work for you.
We found that the history CLEP exams are available to TAKE at UAA, but they do not accept them for credit. The few minutes navigating the website to find that information was worth it.
Overall, SpeedyPrep offers a great service for students wanting to CLEP out of general education requirements. That means less money spent on their college degree and potentially a shorter time needed to complete the degree.
Do you have kids ages 16+ who are preparing for college?
Would they prefer to earn college credit through CLEP using a program like SpeedyPrep to help prepare?
Don’t just take my word for how we found this to be. Visit SpeedyPrep Reviews on the Homeschool Review Crew website to see what other homeschooling parents thought about this service.