A group of standardized tests used to evaluate a college bound student's level of knowledge are available in a program called CLEP - College Level Examination Program. These exams are offered in several subjects so students can gain college level credits for information they already possess through job experience or even independent study. Additionally, CLEP is available for a student who has been home-schooled or has studied abroad. The test gives a student an opportunity to demonstrate the subject's knowledge so that he or she might be able to sidestep some undergraduate classes.
Each exam is offered by the College Board, which was created in the US around the turn of the last century and is available throughout the U.S. Nearly 3,000 universities and colleges utilize the testing program as a way to offer college credits. There is a nominal fee to take a test; however, military personnel may take the test free of charge.
The tests are given mostly as multiple choice (with some requiring an essay) tests. The American Council on Education (ACE) has a say on the minimum scores that test-takers should achieve to receive college credit. The CLEP program offers students a way to potentially earn upwards of 12 college credits.
There are over 30 different tests available that fall within five major categories. Business majors can seek to test their knowledge of financial accounting or business law, to name a few. Foreign language competency is assessed for French, German or Spanish. Social science exams include micro and macro economics as well as the history of United States (given in two parts: before and after the Civil War), for example.
A student who successfully passes any CLEP exam can minimize the length of his or her education path required to attain a college degree. Students who do so will then be able to choose higher level courses in their degree programs because they avoid repeating material previously learned. They also have the opportunity to select more diverse courses which balances their education.