Using AP and CLEP Tests in Your Homeschool

September 10, 2020
Written by:
Jamie Gaddy

Have you started looking into the costs of tuition at your high schooler’s college of choice? If you haven’t, you might want to sit down first. It is truly a life altering experience. Sticker shock is simply an understatement. So, with that in mind… what are you going to do to help your student prepare to increase his or her chance of acceptance? Not sure? Well, using AP (Advanced Placement) or CLEP (College Level Examination Program) courses/tests are a great option.

Most 4 year colleges/universities accept AP/CLEP courses for either credit or advanced placement. What does this mean? Well, it means that your student doesn’t have to take that course when they get to college. That translates into less tuition, and less time spent at college (which also translates into less room and board!) Sure, high school students at government schools can take these courses easily and test out the same. Homeschoolers have a different option.

More About AP and CLEP Testing

Homeschoolers can either plan an AP course that follows the scope and sequence of the similar course taught at the public school, or they can purchase an AP test prep book. Either way the student takes time to study through the material. This can be a full year course, or just as long as takes for them to get through the material. The only difficulty is that AP tests are only offered once a year in the spring. Students wanting to take these tests need to have prepared prior to May. The tests are quite affordable – – each running under $100.

The other option is the CLEP course. These test are designed to help people receive college credit for what they already know. Students can purchase the CLEP test study guide which runs under $20 at, or can take practice tests online after taking a corresponding course. Testing centers are usually at 4-year institutions, cost less than $100, are a little cheaper (right now) than the AP test, and are offered more frequently than the AP tests.

One word of caution, check to see what your high schooler’s preferred college accepts along these lines. Don’t waste your money by taking CLEP courses if the college doesn’t consider them.

FAQ About CLEP Testing

CLEP testing is a great way to earn college credit for what you already know. You can also use CLEP testing to earn college credit without actually taking a paid course. You can study independently and then take the CLEP test to earn the credit you need. Here are a few of the most commonly asked questions about CLEP tests.

1. What is a CLEP test?

A CLEP test or College Level Examination Program is a credit by exam program that has been in existence for over 40 years.

2. Are CLEP tests difficult?

CLEP tests require academic instruction or significant independent study of the subject matter. The CLEP test covers an entire college class or more. Each CLEP test will assess the student’s varying levels of content related knowledge and award credit based on that mastery level. For example, you can acquire up to 12 credit hours for the Spanish CLEP test depending on your level of mastery.

3. How are CLEP tests administered?

CLEP tests are administered at over 1,800 various testing centers throughout our country and overseas.

 4. Where can you take a CLEP test?

Most testing centers are located on college campuses, yet some centers are available on military bases.

5. Do CLEP credits count as college credit?

Yes, CLEP credits count as college credit. Over 2,800 U.S. and international colleges and universities will accept CLEP credit.

6. Do all colleges accept CLEP credits?

Before taking a CLEP test check with the colleges or universities you are interested in admission to. Some of the more elite schools will not accept CLEP credits directly. One college in Georgia, for example, doesn’t accept CLEP credits directly, but will allow them to be transferred to a sister college and then transferred into their college.

 7. How do CLEP credits transfer?

CLEP credits are essentially “banked” by the College Board until you need to transfer them to your college.

8. What CLEP tests are available?

There are 33 CLEP exams available in core subject areas as well as some specific subject areas. For a complete listing of CLEP exams visit the College Board CLEP Test listing.

9. So you need to take an actual course to prepare?

Some students may not need to take a course to prepare, while others might need instruction. For example, if you were taught Spanish as a child, you may be able to several hours of credit through the test without taking a course.

10. What study resources are available?

There are a variety of free CLEP prep courses and even CLEP practice tests through various online resources. If you prefer to study with paper and pencil, you might want to look into the College Boards CLEP Test Prep Book.

11. How do I register for the CLEP test?

You can visit the College Board website to register.

More About High School AP Courses

First off, what are AP courses?

AP/Advanced Placement is a program that is run by the College Board. This program gives high school students the opportunity to take college credit courses while they are still in high school. These classes will earn your student college credit and/or qualify them for more advanced classes when they start college. To earn the credit they must pass the AP Exam.


Well, what are AP Exams?

An AP Exam is the test of all that you learn while in an AP class. Some students choose to skip the AP class and instead study for the AP exam itself, this is a good option for students that are self-starters.  You earn college credit if you pass the exam which is given at the end of the year in May with a score of at least 3 as the AP tests are scored between a 1 and 5. Passing an AP course is a good indicator that a student is capable of handling College level classes.


Why should my student take an AP course?

  • If homeschoolers take and pass enough of them, they can sometimes skip a semester of college.
  • These courses can prepare students for college writing assignments.
  • It’s no surprise that colleges are excited to enroll eager students and if you can show you’ve taken a difficult course it will be a sure sign that you are worth taking a second look at.
  • Homeschoolers who score well on AP exams before their senior year (the scores are not available until July, which is too late to help seniors) often get scholarship offers from colleges.
  • Taking an AP course and passing the test is a sign that you’re capable of handling college-level work, which will strengthen your college applications immensely.

How can we include AP classes in our homeschooling?

You can get the textbooks and information and treat it like any other homeschool class but another really good option would be to do an online class. There are at least four sources of AP Internet courses available to homeschooled students;, APEX at, and/or Stanford University’s Academic Enrichment Programs at

Helpful Articles for High School Homeschooling

High School Homeschool Transcript Template

How to Homeschool High School

Jamie Gaddy

Jamie Gaddy, B.S., M.Ed., Ed.D. has been a college education professor for over 17 years. Education has been a part of her life in both the classroom and as a principal. Six children later found her dissatisfied with traditional school and homeschool became the better fit. She is also a pastor’s wife, editor, and entrepreneur who now homeschools four of her six children in Georgia. Jamie loves to share about her homeschool experience to help other homeschoolers find success. Connect with her at [email protected].