CLEP Test Overview for Army Soldiers

As an Army Soldier you are eligible to take CLEP tests.  A CLEP test is a test designed to find out what you already know about a certain subject.  If you can pass the CLEP test with a certain score, you can earn college credit for it.  This can save you the hassle (and money) from having to take that college class.

As of 2013, CLEP offers 33 different tests in five different subjects.  Some of the CLEP exams include History of the United States, Human Growth and Development, Introduction to Educational Psychology, Introduction to Sociology, Western Civilization, Macroeconomics, Microeconomics, French, German, Spanish, and more.  Most CLEP exams are the equivalent of one semester worth of college and others are worth up to 12 credits.

Where to Take a CLEP Test

There are more than 1700 CLEP Centers across the United States.  Most of these locations are at colleges or universities and some are right on military installations.   Once you find the one closest to you, you need to register (there might be fees required).  When I took the tests I think they were free, but that was nearly 20 years ago.

How to Get College Credit with CLEP

It’s important to know that not every college will accept your CLEP tests.  So it’s important to find out if your university or college accepts them BEFORE you start taking the tests.  Otherwise you are just wasting your time.  From what I found out online, approximately 3,000 colleges and universities currently accept CLEP tests.

The best thing to do is to talk with the Admissions Office or with your Education Counselor and find out the steps to get your CLEP tests accepted as credit.  In most cases, you have to achieve a certain score on your test for it to be accepted.  Normally, they will want a print out on your AARTS Transcript, or an official CLEP Transcript.  Once again, every college does things differently.

Tips for Success with CLEP

Here are just a few tips for success.

1.  Decide if CLEP is a good route to go for YOU: Some people love taking tests and others hate it.  Personally, I’ve always been pretty good at taking tests, so I chose to go this route.  But it’s not for everyone.

2.  Find a College that Accepts CLEP:  If you decide you want to go the CLEP route, make sure you find a college that accepts CLEP. If you are already enrolled in a college, talk with the Admissions Office or with your Career Counselor.

3.  Prepare Ahead of Time: There are plenty of practice tests you can take.  There are also study guides.

4.  Take as Many Tests As You Can: I highly recommend you take as many CLEP tests as you can, especially if you get good scores.  This will save you time and money in the long run.

5.  If you Fail a Test, Re-Take It in Six Months: If you fail a test you can retake it.  Just make sure you wait six months before doing so.

My Experience

As a young Soldier in the Old Guard, my NCOs educated me about CLEP tests.  I visited the education center and signed up for my first test, which was the Math Test.  I did well on that and ended up taking approximately 20 different tests (I don’t remember the exact amount).  Of those 20 tests, I received a high enough score on about 12 of them to get college credit.  For those 12 tests that I passes, I ended up getting close to 50 or 60 college credits.  That saved me almost two year’s worth of tuition fees and time.  Not a bad deal for a young Soldier.  Best of all it was free (at the time).

Final Thoughts

The Army CLEP program is a great program to take tests that let you earn college credit based upon what you already know.  Nearly 3000 colleges and universities accept CLEP, so if your current college or university does, it might be in your best interest to take a few tests and see how you do.  This lets you save money and time and you can get your degree much faster.  Although the program isn’t for everyone, it’s definitely worth looking into.

What are your thoughts?  If you’ve ever taken CLEP courses, I would love to hear from you.  Please leave a comment to share your story.


chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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5 thoughts on “CLEP Test Overview for Army Soldiers”

  1. I am a huge fan of clep tests. Every high school student I talk to about college, I am always advocating for clep tests. In high school, I took a few in English, Math, and Science. They were also free for me through my high school program and it saved me a whole year of college credits and tuition which truly made all the difference. They are so helpful to young students working their ways toward any professional career to get a head start! Every little bit helps.

  2. You ain’t just whistlin’ Dixie here, Chuck! CLEP tests can really help toward gaining your college degree during and after active duty. You make a good point in that anyone who is going to try CLEP tests should take as many as possible. You might surprise yourself. I took the exams and passed ones I didn’t even know I knew. Who would have thought I could pass American Literature or anything in the Humanities like who painted what famous picture?

    Like I said, CLEPs can be so valuable to any Army Soldier with professional development. They can help save time as well as money…and you might get a nice surprise. I ended up CLEPPING out of an entire year of college. True story!

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