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CLEP Exams Ranked

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People often refer to published pass rates to get a sense of how hard or easy an exam is. While I do think there is something to that perspective, I like to take those rates and regroup them by high school subjects. This ranking system allows you to find the best CLEP for your teen’s high school requirement.

The Spanish Language CLEP has held the position of overall “highest pass rates” for years, but that doesn’t mean every student starting from scratch is more likely to pass the Spanish than College Math! The Spanish pass rate probably more accurately represents the large number of bilingual people we have in this country and the prevalence of colleges using Foreign Language CLEP exams as placement tests rather than the “easiness” of that specific exam relative to other subjects.

In other words, your teen’s interest level, experience in the subject, and motivation to prepare for the exam are all significant factors in their own pass rate.

Foreign LanguageCivilian Pass Rate (2017)Military Pass Rate (2019)
Spanish Language91%84%
French Language78%69%
German Language72%57%
Some college admissions requirements are looking for 2 years of high school foreign language. It is reasonable to attempt a CLEP exam after 2+ years of a foreign language which can then meet a college degree requirement.

Behavioral ScienceCivilian Pass Rate (2017)Military Pass Rate (2019)
Introductory Sociology80%64%
Human Growth and Development75%34%
Introductory Psychology70%36%
Social Sciences and History62%41%
Introduction to Educational Psychology60%36%
May fall under high school elective category. College degrees may require 1 or more courses in the behavioral sciences.

ScienceCivilian Pass Rate (2017)Military Pass Rate (2019)
Natural Sciences57%63%
To follow 1 or more years of high school science. Colleges may award non-lab science credit for CLEP exams.

Social ScienceCivilian Pass Rate (2017)Military Pas Rate (2019)
Principles of Macroeconomics72%35%
Principles of Microeconomics72%32%
History of the United States I69%50%
Western Civilization I68%45%
Social Sciences and History62%41%
History of the United States II56%38%
American Government52%50%
Western Civilization II48%37%
These exams fit well with most high school requirements. College degrees may require 1 or more course from this category.

Language ArtsCivilian Pass Rate (2017)Military Pass Rate (2019)
College Composition Modular (no essay)83%82%
College Composition81%74%
Analyzing and Interpreting Literature75%66%
English Literature60%29%
American Literature51%16%
College Composition is recommended over the College Composition Modular since most colleges do require the essay component. Most colleges consider Literature a different subject than composition.

MathematicsCivilian Pass Rate (2017)Military Pass Rate (2019)
College Mathematics76%64%
Calculus 53%53%34%
College Algebra52%24%
College Mathematics fits in well after Algebra 1 but College Algebra requires the completion of Algebra 2 and a little precalculus. Most non-STEM college degrees only require 1 math course.

BusinessCivilian Pass Rate (2017)Military Pass Rate (2019)
Principles of Marketing79%54%
Information Systems71%69%
Principles of Management67%33%
Financial Accounting55%14%
Intro. Business Law51%20%
Use as high school electives. Business credits do not fill general education requirements, but they do meet requirements of a business degree.

Fine ArtsCivilian Pass Rate (2017)Military Pass Rate (2019)
This is an interdisciplinary exam that includes art and literature.

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