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Sean’s Story: CLEP was a Game-changer

I am thrilled to share with you this homeschooling success story of how Sara used CLEP in her homeschool with her son Sean during 11th (and now 12th) grade. She posted her celebration inside our Illinois HS4CC Facebook group and gave me permission to share it with you here. I know you’ll find it as inspirational as I did!

“Hello! I just found this group (Homeschooling for College Credit). We aren’t sure which school my son will attend, so I made a grid of CLEP scores required to get credit in Illinois public colleges… He hasn’t taken any CLEP tests yet, but he hopes to this winter.

Sara H.

September 29, 2019

Winter 2020

Sean takes and passes his first CLEP exams. Analyzing and Interpreting Literature is consistently recommended as a good “first CLEP” exam. He is also taking classes part time through his local community college’s dual enrollment program. Sara adds “if you’ve prepared for the ACT, you’ve prepared for the Analyzing & Interpreting Literature and College Algebra exams. There really was no extra preparation needed.”

Spring 2020

COVID happens and Sean’s robotics season ends abruptly. He finds he has more free time on his hands and even though their CLEP testing centers are closed, he hits the free Modern States CLEP prep program hard and starts accumulating CLEP vouchers while he waits for them to reopen. (Modern States CLEP voucher program provides free prep and gives you a voucher that pays for your CLEP exam and testing center fees.) Sara shares that many of his CLEP exams were selected based on subjects he’d already studied through homeschooling. In addition to Modern States, Sara suggests using the 2018 CLEP Official Study Guide and YouTube for more content and practice tests. Sean completes the bulk of his CLEP testing preparation during this semester.

Fall 2020

Testing centers resume limited hours, Sean “cashes in” on his stockpile of vouchers.

December 2020

Sara’s post: “My son finished his “Freshman Year for Free” (Modern States CLEP voucher program) yesterday! Our community college accepts 30 CLEP credits towards graduation and this test was the last one of 8 to earn him those credits. This saved him $4500 in tuition.

In Illinois, free dual enrollment is very limited. Though Sara did not have access to free dual enrollment, she took the time to learn her state’s college credit acceptance policy well and used that knowledge to her son’s advantage. Since earning college credit (or a degree) in high school allows you to be exempt from traditional transfer protocol, her son will retain his freshman applicant status.

Sara writes: “It’s absolutely worth it to us to pay $4500 (community college) and then still be able to qualify for freshman merit. My son has several full tuition+ scholarship offers to choose from because he’s considered a freshman. The scholarship offers drop way down for transfers.” To further Sara’s advantage, Illinois public community colleges and state universities have a transfer guarantee, allowing her son to use CLEP in his associate degree and have it flow perfectly into a bachelor’s degree program without fear of it being disqualified. Sara wrote an unofficial guide to using CLEP exams to complete the General Education Core Credential (GECC) under the Illinois Articulation Initiative (IAI) Guidelines for our Illinois Facebook group families. This assures a perfect credit transfer. You can access the guide through the group’s files tab.

Spread out over 11 months, the CLEP exams Sean took:

* not accepted at his college.

“He has been taking classes there part-time since Fall 2019 and if all goes well, he’ll graduate in May with an Associate of Arts degree and a high school diploma. He’s likely going to attend a local 4-year university in the fall. He really enjoyed the process and there really was no downside. Other than one school, every public college & university in our state will accept some or all of these CLEP credits”

Cost to take CLEP exams / 30 college credits earned: $0

Photo by Kaboompics .com on

Sara’s comments about the MATH CLEPs: “He used Teaching Textbooks for high school math. He completed Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry, and Pre-Calc. He then took the quizzes on Modern States to earn the vouchers. He said he could definitely have done the College Math CLEP a couple of years ago. I guess it was pretty easy. He got a 74/80 on that one and a 71/80 on College Algebra. (Jennifer adds: 80 is a perfect score) Here’s a link about when to schedule the math CLEPs in your math sequence. I’d say this is spot on. Or you can be crazy like us, put them all off until the end of high school math and do 3 in 3 weeks. Math in Your Homeschool: CLEP

Sara serves as an HS4CC Illinois Moderator and extends this invitation to our community: “Please let me know if you have any questions about CLEP, Modern States, or anything else. I’m really passionate about this topic. We are not super well off, so saving thousands on college will be a game-changer for my son’s financial future.”

Special thanks to Sara and Sean for sharing their story with us!

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