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CLEP vs AP: What Homeschoolers Need to Know

As a homeschooling parent, you’ve probably already considered getting a jump start on your teen’s college education by having them earn credits while in high school.

Both the CLEP (College Level Examination Program) and AP (Advanced Placement) exams offer college credits for high school students who show proficiency in certain subjects.

Both types of exams are administered through the College Board, but there are some significant differences. If your homeschooling high schooler is ready for college-level work, AP and CLEP exams may be the perfect fit. Here’s what you need to know.

CLEP vs AP: What Homeschoolers Need to Know

Advanced Placement Courses and Exams

While it is possible to take an AP exam after studying independently in your homeschool, the College Board strongly recommends taking the correlating AP course at your local participating AP school or online. There are 38 AP subjects available to high school and homeschool students, in subjects ranging from English and history to computer science and studio art.

All AP exams are administered in May, usually at local high schools, but sometimes at independent testing sites.

AP test scores range from 1-5, with a score of 3 being the minimum recommended for earning college credits. The average pass rate for AP exams is 58%, and credits are accepted by most two and four-year colleges and universities.

CLEP Exams

Unlike the AP program, students studying for the CLEP exams are expected to learn the material independently.

Many of the exams cover subjects that have been learned during high school, through a program such as Dual Credit at Home, or independent study. CLEP exams cover 33 general education subjects, typically the subjects covered during the first two years of college.

BONUS RESOURCE: Get our free dual credit e-book to learn how our family used CLEP exams to save over $300,000 on college degrees!

CLEP exams are administered at independent testing centers and are offered throughout the year. The exams are computerized, and the score ranges from 20-80, with 50 being the minimum recommended passing score. Between three and nine credits are earned with each exam, and the credits are accepted at more than 2,900 colleges and universities.

Which Exam is Right for Your Homeschooler?

The exams you choose for your homeschooler will depend on several factors. Are they self-directed, independent learners? Do they want to get a jump start on college by getting some or all of their general education credits earned while they’re in high school? These students will probably do better taking CLEP exams.

Students who want the rigors of an AP course may want to look into AP exams. AP exams may also work well for homeschoolers who have a good relationship with their local high schools, as AP courses must be taught by certified instructors. Remember, a student can take an AP exam without taking a certified AP course.

Whichever you decide, it’s great to know that homeschoolers have lots of alternatives when preparing for college.


Becky Muldrow & the Dual Credit at Home Team
Becky Muldrow & the Dual Credit at Home Team

I'm Becky Muldrow, wife to my high school sweetheart, Gene, and mom to 10 great kids! I love spending my days homeschooling the last 4 of them and sharing (on my website and at homeschool conferences) how we do high school differently - by replacing it with college.