5 Tips for Testing Your Way to a Degree

Taking Test

The College-Level Examination Program® (CLEP) offers you the opportunity to earn college credit for what you already know by earning qualifying scores on any of 33 introductory-level college subject examinations. Because the exams are funded by the United States government through the Defense Activity for Non Traditional Education Support (DANTES), you could save hundreds, even thousands, of dollars toward your degree.


  • They Save You Money - An average college course can cost you more than $100 per credit. Through the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES), Credit-By-Exam tests are free to servicemembers. (Note: Civilian students pay more than $80 per exam).
  • They Save You Time - The average college course takes from three to six hours a week spread out over three or more months. Depending on your depth of knowledge, you could spend less than a month preparing for each test.
  • They Help You Skip Ahead - Why spend time and money on boring freshman level courses when you can jump up to the more interesting advanced courses.
  • They Let You Use Study Groups - Find a group of people at your unit with like goals and study together during lunch breaks. This is commonly referred to as "Brown Bag Universities."
  • They Offer You Flexibility - You can set your own deadlines and choose your own study materials: videos, college textbooks, or study guides.
  • They Don't Require College Enrollment - Unlike college courses, you don't have to be enrolled in college to take these exams.

Eligible military candidates who take a CLEP exam can have the $80 exam fee for the first attempt per title funded by DANTES. If a candidate tests at an on-base or base-sponsored test center, he or she does not have to pay the test center administrative fee. Eligible military candidates should contact the test center of their choice to find out if they are responsible for payment of the test center's administrative fee.

DANTES does not pay the exam fee for a previously funded CLEP exam. As of October 17, 2014, if military candidates want to retake an exam previously funded by DANTES, they need to wait three months and pay the $80 exam fee in addition to the administrative fee required by the test center (unless the test center is on base or base-sponsored).

Depending on their benefits election, some veterans can claim full reimbursement for CLEP exams and exam administration fees under their GI Bill.


Tip 1: Be absolutely sure you are ready before you take the exam because you have to wait 90 days to retest on a CLEP examination with the same test title.

Tip 2: Take a practice test first..

Tip 3: Set deadlines. Pre-scheduling your exam dates well in advance will force you to stay focused on studying just like if you were actually in class.

Tip 4: Form study groups. A lunchtime study group also known as the "Brown Bag University," has helped military students be successful by giving them more incentive to study.

Tip 5: Make CLEPs your first step. Taking General CLEPs first is a good idea because the exams are widely accepted, can eliminate the need for freshman level arts and sciences, and they can be FREE!

For a listing of all CLEP tests available see our DANTES CLEP Tests Page.

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