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Homeschooling Thru High School
You can Before H.S. During H.S. After H.S. Resources FAQs Blog

Carol Becker

Diane Kummer
Diane Kummer

Upcoming Speaking Engagements

We would love to meet you
in person!

April 28-30, 2016: Mass HOPE—Worcester, MA (Diane)

May 21, 2016: Christian Home Educators of West Virginia (CHEWV)—Clarksburg, WV (Getting Started High School Workshops with Carol)

June 16-18, 2016: Christian Home Educators of Colorado (CHEC)—Denver, CO (Diane)

July 15-16, 2016: Arizona Families for Home Education (AFHE)—Phoenix, AZ (Carol)

August 6, 2016: HSLDA Symposium—Purcellville, VA (Carol and Diane)

January 28, 2017: Home Educators of Grove—Richmond, VA (Diane)

Not able to attend one of Carol or Diane’s high school events? Purchase a recording of HSLDA’s High School at Home: Turning Possibility into Reality event and watch sessions on developing a high school plan, creating transcripts, charting a course for post-high school plans, and receiving encouragement for the high school years!

“Both of HSLDA’s high school consultants homeschooled their children from kindergarten through the 12th grade.” Learn more >>

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The Benefits of AP® and CLEP Tests for College-Bound Teens

Dear Friends, April 7, 2016

With the end of the school year fast approaching, thoughts turn to plans for the next school year. As you consider options, some families want to know more about the College Level Examination Process (CLEP) tests or Advanced Placement (AP®) exams. Parents of college-bound teens sometimes find these options and acronyms confusing, so let’s look at the pros and cons of each to give you confidence in your homeschool decisions.

CLEP and AP® testing provide academically motivated teens with the opportunity to earn college credit inexpensively. Every teen’s situation is different, so weigh all of the factors before choosing CLEP or AP®, because not every student is ready to tackle college-level work while in high school. Be reassured that these tests are possibilities not requirements.

College-Level Examination Program (CLEP)

Throughout the school year, the College Board offers 33 CLEP tests in many subject areas. The abundance of CLEP testing centers, the low cost of registering, and the pass/fail nature of the test make CLEP a popular choice. To register for a CLEP test, purchase the CLEP test from the College Board website and then schedule an appointment to take the test at a local testing center. Although 2,900 institutions of higher learning accept CLEP scores, college-bound students should first visit the website of any college of interest to learn that college’s policy on what specific CLEP tests it accepts and the required minimum score to earn college credit. Some colleges limit the total number of credits they will award for CLEP tests. However, the primary drawback of CLEP tests is that scholarship organizations and selective colleges do not favor them.

Students can purchase a CLEP Official Study Guide which describes all 33 tests, offers practice questions, and lists study tips for preparation. In addition, the College Board posts practice test questions on its website. You can find test locations on its website, and register your teen for a specific CLEP test at a cost of $80-$85 per test.

With the exception of the College Composition CLEP that requires three to four weeks to obtain results, students may see their raw scores at the end of an exam. However, a student who feels that he did not perform well on the test can instead opt not to score it. Once a student requests the instant score report, the CLEP test score record is final and not erasable. CLEP exam scores are valid for 20 years, and students may retake an exam after a predetermined minimum waiting period. All recorded test scores (including multiple sittings) are reported to colleges.

For recordkeeping purposes, CLEP test scores can appear in the note section on a high school transcript. In order to receive college credit, most colleges require the student to contact the College Board directly and request that an official copy of the student’s test results be sent to the college. Students must submit a CLEP Transcript Request Form and pay a $20 fee.

Advanced Placement (AP®) Exams

Each May, the College Board offers Advanced Placement® exams in 39 subjects, including arts and sciences, English and foreign languages, history and government, and mathematics. The rigor of these exams and their graduated scoring levels (1 to 5) mean that motivated students can compete for selective college admissions and competitive scholarships by scoring well on these exams. The primary drawbacks are that these exams are more rigorous than CLEP and are offered only once a year. We recommend that you select exams in your teen’s areas of academic strength.

Most students profit from completing an AP® course prior to sitting for the exam. AP® courses typically cover not only the subject matter, but also devote course time to prepare students for what they are likely to see on the exam. However, taking an AP® prep course is not a requirement for the exam. We encourage all students to purchase the College Board’s AP® study guides and regularly review course materials to prepare for the May exam. The College Board also offers free practice exam questions. Students can retake an AP® exam the following May.

Students can view their May exam scores online typically in July, but to receive college credit teens must request that the College Board send official exam scores directly to a college. To minimize fees, a student should request that the College Board send AP® exam scores to the one college the student plans to attend. For recordkeeping purposes, AP® exam scores can appear in the note section of a high school transcript.

Because not all testing centers offer the full range of AP® exams, parents should begin looking for an AP® testing center in early January. If possible, visit an AP® coordinator in person. Most schools will allow a homeschool student to take an exam if the school already plans to offer that particular exam. The College Board offers advice and answers frequently-asked questions for homeschool students considering AP® exams.

Students with disabilities must apply first to the College Board to receive testing accommodations, and this process can take several months. HSLDA members can speak directly with one of our special needs consultants for help with the process.

If your teen takes an AP® course from an approved provider, the instructor will provide an AP® course provider code to use when registering for the exam. Most testing sites prefer that homeschooled students not use the testing site code. For homeschool students who do not have an AP course provider code, state-specific generic homeschool AP® codes are provided in the AP® Coordinator’s Manual found on the College Board website.

Stateside exam fees are $92, and schools outside the United States charge $122 per exam. Low income families can apply for a $30 fee waiver.

Advanced Placement (AP®) Courses

All college-bound teens need to develop independent learning, study, and time management skills, and AP® courses offer these opportunities.

Some students dream of attending highly selective colleges. The college-level rigor of AP® courses, the breadth of material covered, and the GPA weighting on the transcript make these courses desirable for ambitious teens who plan to apply to selective colleges. AP® courses are challenging and require 10–15 hours per week of study and preparation time.

Early spring is the time to register for fall AP® courses to take advantage of early bird discounts. Because these courses use college-level materials, we recommend that most teens wait until 11th or 12th grade before taking AP® courses. Use 9th and 10th grade to test the waters with some honors courses in your student’s areas of strength.

HSLDA Online Academy lists 10 benefits for taking AP® courses. All of the Academy’s AP® courses are taught from a Christian worldview and feature live online class sessions and personalized interaction with experienced instructors. HSLDA also provides a sampling of AP® course providers on the website.

AP® is a copyright-protected trademark of the College Board. A course labeled “AP®” or “Advanced Placement®” indicates that the College Board has approved the course’s content and syllabus to ensure it meets the College Board’s AP® standards. Be aware that when a curriculum provider uses the phrase “AP® equivalent,” this does not mean that the course can be designated AP® on a student’s transcript. For recordkeeping purposes, include AP® in the course title on the high school transcript for College Board-approved courses only. Learn more about the AP® course audit approval process here.

Because approved AP® courses use college-level materials, grades in these courses carry extra weight when a parent calculates a student’s grade point average (GPA). Use the following quality points to calculate a weighted GPA for an approved AP® course (A=5.0, A-=4.7, B+=4.3, B=4.0, B-=3.7, C+=3.3, C=3.0, C-=2.7). We encourage parents to keep all grade reports received from approved AP® course providers as part of your permanent records.

Whew! That’s a lot of information to digest! Please know that HSLDA members may call or email us with questions relating to CLEP or AP®. We’re happy to help you determine whether CLEP or AP® makes sense for your teen.

Next month we’ll get into the nitty-gritty of computing GPAs for transcripts.

Enjoying the sights and sounds of April,

Carol Becker and Diane Kummer
HSLDA High School Consultants