How Are CLEP Scores Sent to Colleges and Universities?

If you took the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests, now you can find out how the process works for sending your CLEP scores to colleges.

How Are CLEP Scores Sent to Colleges and Universities?
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The College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) is a group of standardized tests created and administered by the College Board, the same organization that oversees the SAT and AP (Advanced Placement) programs. These exams allow students to demonstrate their knowledge in certain subject areas, much like an end-of-course exam would.

The purpose of the CLEP tests is to allow students to earn college credit for what they already know, regardless of where or how they learned it. This could be through general academic instruction, independent study, work experience, or cultural interactions. Essentially, it provides a way for students to prove their competency in a subject and bypass certain college courses, saving both time and money.

For this BrokeScholar article, we’re going to break down how CLEP scores are sent to colleges and universities and what steps you need to take to ensure they’re received by the schools you’re interested in.

Features, Benefits, and Drawbacks of CLEP Scores

CLEP offers exams in a variety of subjects such as literature, mathematics, science, business, and foreign languages. If a student passes a CLEP test, they may be awarded college credits, which can be used towards their degree program. It's important to note that not all colleges and universities accept CLEP credits, and those that do may have varying policies on how many credits they will award for a given CLEP exam.

CLEP scores can play a significant role in college admissions and credit transfer, but their importance varies based on the policies of individual institutions. For students applying to colleges that accept CLEP credits, a high score on a relevant CLEP exam could potentially demonstrate a student's proficiency in a subject area, strengthen their application, and even accelerate their college career by allowing them to skip introductory courses.

However, CLEP scores typically don't hold as much weight in admissions decisions as factors like high school GPA, SAT or ACT scores, and extracurricular activities. In many cases, CLEP exams are more commonly used by enrolled students seeking to gain credit for general education requirements or to test out of courses in their major.

Lastly, it's important to note that while CLEP exams can provide benefits, they may not be the right choice for everyone. Some students may benefit more from taking the actual college courses, particularly if they need the foundational knowledge for more advanced coursework or if their chosen college doesn't accept CLEP credits. Therefore, students should carefully research their options and consult with academic advisors before deciding to take a CLEP exam.

With the essentials of what CLEP tests are, let’s get into how your CLEP scores are sent to colleges and universities.

1. Selecting Score Recipients

When you register for a CLEP exam, you have the opportunity to choose a score recipient, or the college or university that will receive your CLEP score. This is done through the CLEP registration portal on the College Board's website.

To indicate a score recipient:

  • Once you've selected your exam and are proceeding with registration, you'll be asked to select a score recipient.

  • You can search for colleges and universities by name or by their CLEP college code. You can select the one you want from the search results.

  • The institution you select will be listed on your registration ticket and will automatically receive your score after you take the test.

If you want to send your score to more than one institution, you'll need to order additional score reports after your exam. This can also be done through the CLEP registration portal and there is a fee for each additional score report.

Choosing your score recipients is an important part of the CLEP process. Here's why:

  • Each institution has its own CLEP policy: Not every college or university accepts CLEP scores, and those that do may accept different exams for different amounts of credit. Before you take a CLEP exam, you should check the CLEP policy of any institution you're interested in.

  • Your CLEP score can help you earn college credit: If you pass your CLEP exam and have selected an institution that accepts CLEP scores, you could earn college credit and potentially save time and money in your degree program.

  • There's a fee for additional score reports: When you register for a CLEP exam, you can select one score recipient for free. If you want to send your score to additional institutions, you'll have to pay a fee for each one. It's more cost-effective to carefully select your score recipients ahead of time.

  • You can't change your score recipient after testing: Once you've taken your CLEP exam, you can't change the score recipient for that administration of the test. If you decide after testing that you want to send your score to a different institution, you'll have to order and pay for an additional score report.

Ultimately, your choice of score recipients should align with your personal goals and the policies of the institutions you're interested in. If you're unsure, you may want to speak with an academic advisor or counselor for guidance.

2. CLEP Score Reporting

After you complete a CLEP exam, the score reporting process begins immediately. Here's a general overview of what happens:

Instant Scoring for Multiple-Choice Exams

For most CLEP exams, which are primarily multiple-choice, you'll receive an instant unofficial score report at the testing center immediately after you complete the test. This does not apply to exams that include essays, such as College Composition.

Score Processing by Testing Center

The testing center where you took the exam processes your CLEP scores. If your exam included essays or other components that require manual scoring, these will be scored at this stage.

Transmission to College Board and Score Recipients

After your scores have been processed, they are sent to the College Board and to the score recipient(s) you selected when you registered for the exam. This typically takes two to three weeks.

Score Report Access

You can access your official score report online through the CLEP My Account portal. This report is typically available within one day after your scores have been processed and sent.

Receipt by Score Recipients

The college or university you selected as your score recipient should receive your scores about one week after they are sent. However, the time it takes for a score recipient to process and apply your scores can vary, so it's a good idea to check with the institution's admissions or registrar's office about their specific timeline.

Additional Score Reports

If you decide after testing that you want to send your scores to additional institutions, you can order additional score reports through the CLEP My Account portal. There is a fee for this service.

Remember, while the testing center and the College Board strive to process and send scores as quickly as possible, there can sometimes be delays, especially during peak testing times. Therefore, it's a good idea to take your CLEP exam well in advance of any deadlines to ensure your scores arrive on time.

3. Electronic Transmission

CLEP scores are transmitted electronically from the College Board to the colleges and universities designated as score recipients by the test taker. This electronic transmission process is facilitated by a secure network system developed and managed by the College Board. The steps for the transmission of CLEP scores are as follows:

Processing and Validation

Once a CLEP exam is completed, the testing center processes the scores. For most exams, this involves automated scoring of multiple-choice questions. For exams with essays or other manually scored components, this involves scoring by qualified individuals.

Submission to College Board

After processing, the scores are sent to the College Board. The College Board then validates the scores to ensure accuracy.

Electronic Transmission to Score Recipients

Once validated, the scores are electronically transmitted to the colleges and universities selected by the student during the registration process.

The College Board takes the security and confidentiality of students' scores very seriously. Here are a few of the security measures in place to protect score data during transmission:

  • Secure Networks: The College Board uses secure networks for the transmission of scores. This involves encryption, which converts the data into a code to prevent unauthorized access.

  • Firewalls and Intrusion Detection Systems: The College Board's networks are protected by firewalls and intrusion detection systems, which help prevent unauthorized access and detect any attempts at intrusion.

  • Access Controls: Only authorized individuals at the College Board and the recipient institutions have access to score data.

  • Data Privacy Policies: The College Board follows strict data privacy policies and complies with relevant laws and regulations, including the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which protects the privacy of student education records.

However, students should also be aware that while these security measures greatly reduce the risk of unauthorized access to score data, no system can be 100% secure. Students should take their own precautions to protect their personal information, such as keeping their login credentials for the CLEP My Account portal secure.

4. The College Board Reporting System

The College Board uses a sophisticated reporting system for sending CLEP scores to colleges and universities. This system is designed for efficiency, reliability, and security, ensuring that scores are transmitted accurately and promptly. Here's a brief overview of how it works:

Colleges and Universities Registration

Colleges and universities that wish to receive CLEP scores must first register with the College Board. During this process, they provide necessary information such as their institution name, location, and the contact details of the office or individual responsible for receiving score data. Each institution is then assigned a unique CLEP college code.

Student Score Recipient Selection

When students register for a CLEP exam, they can select a score recipient using the institution's name or CLEP college code. This recipient will automatically receive the student's score after the exam.

Score Processing and Validation

After a student completes a CLEP exam, the testing center processes the scores, which are then validated by the College Board.

Score Transmission

The validated scores are transmitted to the score recipients through the College Board's secure reporting system.

The reporting system used by the College Board is highly efficient and reliable:

  • Efficiency: The system is largely automated, which greatly speeds up the process of score transmission. Most scores are sent within two to three weeks of the exam date. Electronic transmission also eliminates the need for physical mail, reducing both time and environmental impact.

  • Reliability: The College Board has a long history of administering standardized tests and has developed robust systems for handling score data. Their system is designed to ensure that scores are transmitted accurately and promptly, reducing the risk of errors or delays.

  • Security: The College Board's reporting system uses advanced security measures, including encryption and access controls, to protect the confidentiality of students' scores.

  • Standardization: Because all scores are transmitted through the same system, colleges and universities can be confident in the consistency and fairness of the process.

However, as reliable as this system is, it's always a good idea for students to confirm receipt of their scores with their chosen institutions, as processing times can vary.

5. Receiving CLEP Scores

Once CLEP scores are transmitted by the College Board, they are received electronically by the designated colleges and universities. This process is highly secure and efficient, ensuring that the scores arrive promptly and accurately. Here's a brief overview of what happens once the scores are transmitted:

Receipt by Admissions or Registrar's Office

The scores are typically sent to the admissions or registrar's office at the designated institution. These offices are responsible for managing student records, including test scores. The specific office might vary depending on the institution's internal policies and whether the student is an applicant or already enrolled.

Updating Student Records or Application Files

Once the office receives the CLEP scores, they update the student's record or application file accordingly. This might involve entering the scores into a database, attaching them to the student's file, or both. The exact process can vary by institution.

Evaluation and Application of Credit

If the student passed the CLEP exam and the institution accepts CLEP scores for credit, the relevant department or committee will evaluate the scores and determine how many credits to award. The awarded credits are then added to the student's record.

Notification of Student

After the scores have been processed and any credits awarded, the student is typically notified. This could be through an update to their online student account, an email, or a letter. The notification might include information about the scores received, the number of credits awarded, and any next steps for the student.

Take note that, while the process is generally similar across institutions, the specifics can vary. Some institutions might process scores faster than others or have different policies for awarding credit. Thus, it's a sound idea for students to check with the specific institution about their process and timeline for receiving and processing CLEP scores.

6. Score Recipient Notification

Once colleges and universities have received and processed your CLEP scores, they often send a notification to the student. This notification serves a few important purposes:

  • Confirmation of Score Receipt: The notification lets you know that the institution has successfully received your CLEP scores. This can give you peace of mind and confirms that your scores didn't get lost in transit.

  • Update on Admissions Process: If you're applying to a college or university, the notification might provide information about the next steps in the admissions process. For instance, it might tell you if you need to submit any additional information or documents.

  • Credit Award Information: If you've passed the CLEP exam and the institution awards credit for it, the notification should tell you how many credits you've been awarded. It might also explain how these credits apply towards your degree requirements.

  • Next Steps for Enrollment or Course Registration: If you're already enrolled at the institution, the notification might provide information about how to register for courses, particularly if earning CLEP credit allows you to skip certain prerequisites.

Given the important information these notifications can contain, it's essential to check your email or physical mail regularly and read any notifications thoroughly. If the notification includes any instructions or next steps, be sure to follow them promptly. If you have any questions or concerns about the information in the notification, don't hesitate to reach out to the admissions or registrar's office for clarification.

Bear in mind that the exact process and timeline for sending notifications can vary by institution. If you're expecting a notification and haven't received it within a reasonable time frame, it's a good idea to contact the institution to confirm that they've received your scores.

The Bottom Line on CLEP Scores

CLEP tests offer students viable options besides the traditional route of standardized tests like the SAT or ACT. Equally important, by earning good CLEP scores, you may be able to earn credit at the college of your choice if its policies align with granting credit for this. What’s more, the process for how CLEP scores are sent to colleges and universities is highly efficient, electronic, and much of it automated. You will need to keep track of important college deadlines and make sure to check your email or snail mail for confirmation from schools that they received your CLEP scores.

Andrew DePietro

Author: Andrew DePietro

Senior Researcher, and Content Strategist

Andrew DePietro is a finance writer covering topics such as entrepreneurship, investing, real estate and college for BrokeScholar, Forbes, CreditKarma, and more.