The College Board administers the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP), which offers affordable exams that help students receive college credits. This article covers the CLEP Biology exam, which tests molecular, cellular, organismal, and population biology.
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What is the CLEP Biology Exam?
CLEP exams are taken by students every year to earn college credits for the things they already know. If you have learned a substantial amount of information about a particular topic through on-the-job training, previous studies, or simple life experience, you can take this one exam and receive college credit as if you took the one-semester course!
By taking and passing the CLEP Biology exam, you can skip the biology class at college. This will potentially:
- Allow you to earn three or more college credits
- Save you money because the test is cheaper than a semester at college
- Allow you to graduate on time or possibly to graduate ahead of schedule
- Add flexibility to your degree program
You should check with your college before taking this exam to make sure they will accept your CLEP scores.
CLEP Biology Exam Eligibility
The CLEP Biology exam is available for anyone to take whenever they want! There are no age restrictions or educational requirements.
Here are some examples of who takes the CLEP Biology exam:
- College students
- High school students who are preparing to graduate
- Homeschool students
- Adults who are returning to school
- Professionals who want to use the exam results to help advance their careers
- Applicants to master’s degree programs that still have undergraduate prerequisites they need to fulfill
CLEP Biology Exam Outline
The CLEP Biology exam contains 115 multiple-choice questions and has a time limit of 90 minutes.
Every question on the exam is designed to test one or more of the following:
- Your knowledge of biology-related facts, processes, and principles
- Your ability to collect and interpret information, hypothesize using available information, and draw conclusions from given information
- Your understanding that science has social consequences
The exam is split into three main sections, each of which contains several subsections.
1. Molecular and Cellular Biology (33%)
The questions in this section cover six main topics:
- Chemical composition of organisms
- Energy transformations
- Cell division
- Chemical nature of the gene
2. Organismal Biology (34%)
The questions in this section cover five main topics:
- Structure and function within plants (with emphasis on angiosperms)
- Structure and function within animals (with emphasis on vertebrates)
- Plant reproduction and development
- Animal reproduction and development
- Principles of heredity
3. Population Biology (34%)
The questions in this section cover four main topics:
- Principles of ecology
- Principles of evolution
- Principles of behavior
- Social biology
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CLEP Biology Exam Registration
You can register for the exam online via the College Board website. The CLEP Biology exam is administered throughout the year on a very flexible schedule.
At the top of the page on the far right-hand side, you will see a heading marked “My CLEP account.” This drop-down menu will allow you to go to the correct page to establish an account manage your profile, see the exams you have taken, and view the grades of the exams you have taken. You can also request a transcript from this page.
During the registration process, you will need to pay the $90 exam fee. You will also choose whether to take the exam at a testing center or remotely. If you are taking the exam in-person, you must ensure that you print out your examination ticket once you have completed the registration process.
Before registering to take the exam remotely, you should ensure that you meet the technical requirements:
- You must have a PC desktop or laptop (Macs, Chromebooks, and tablets are not supported).
- Your computer must be using the Windows 10 operating system (Windows 11 is not supported).
- Your computer must have the most recent version of Google Chrome installed.
- You must have a speaker of some kind, internal or external (headphones are not allowed).
- You must have a camera and microphone, internal or external.
- You must have a reliable internet connection.
Once you have selected the day and time that you want to take the exam, you will need to return to the portal of the CLEP website and download the ETS Online Test application. This application is what allows you to take the exam on your computer at home.
On the day of your test, you should arrive at the testing center at least 15 minutes earlier than the scheduled exam time. When you arrive, you will be asked to provide a form of valid, government-issued photo identification, as well as your printed registration ticket.
Before you enter the testing room, you will be asked to leave all personal items in a provided locker. These include your cell phone, pencils, books, notes, bags, and food items.
On the day of the test, you should log in to your CLEP account 15-30 minutes before the scheduled exam time. Once you have logged in, you will need to download and install the Proctortrack desktop application. Within this app, you will verify your identity with a face scan and a scan of a valid photo ID. You will also be instructed to use your camera to scan your testing room.
Once the verification process is complete, you will need to open the ETS Online Test application. The proctor will then be able to get you set up and begin the exam.
During the exam, you must ensure that no one enters your testing room. If someone does enter, you must ask them to leave, and you cannot say anything else to them.
How the CLEP Biology Exam is Scored
The CLEP Biology exam is scored so that one point is awarded for each correct answer, and you will not have points taken away for any incorrect answers. You will also not have points taken away if you skip a question altogether. The number of correct answers you have will be your raw score.
The raw score will be converted into a scaled score, which is typically in numeric form ranging from 20 to about 80.
Your unofficial score report will be available on your screen as soon as you finish the exam, and an official report will be made available the next day when you log in to your CLEP account.
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How to Pass the CLEP Biology Exam
How to Study Effectively
Your success on CLEP test day depends not only on how many hours you put into preparing but also on whether you prepared the right way. It’s good to check along the way to see whether your studying is paying off. One of the most effective ways to do this is by taking CLEP practice tests to evaluate your progress. Practice tests are useful because they show exactly where you need to improve. Every time you take a free CLEP exam practice test, pay special attention to these three groups of questions:
- The questions you got wrong
- The ones you had to guess on, even if you guessed right
- The ones you found difficult or slow to work through
This will show you exactly what your weak areas are and where you need to devote more study time. Ask yourself why each of these questions gave you trouble. Was it because you didn’t understand the material? Was it because you didn’t remember the vocabulary? Do you need more repetitions on this type of question to build speed and confidence? Dig into those questions and figure out how you can strengthen your weak areas as you go back to review the material.
Additionally, many CLEP Biology practice tests have a section explaining the answer choices. It can be tempting to read the explanation and think that you now have a good understanding of the concept. However, an explanation likely only covers part of the question’s broader context. Even if the explanation makes sense, go back and investigate every concept related to the question until you’re positive you have a thorough understanding.
Comprehend Each Topic
As you go along, keep in mind that the CLEP Biology practice test is just that: practice. Memorizing these questions and answers will not be very helpful on the actual test because it is unlikely to have any of the same exact questions. If you only know the right answers to the sample questions, you won’t be prepared for the real thing. Study the concepts until you understand them fully, and then you’ll be able to answer any question that shows up on the test.
Strategy for CLEP Biology Practice
When you’re ready to start taking practice tests, follow this strategy:
- Remove Limitations. Take the first test with no time constraints and with your notes and CLEP Biology study guide handy. Take your time and focus on applying the strategies you’ve learned.
- Time Yourself. Take the second practice test “open book” as well, but set a timer and practice pacing yourself to finish in time.
- Simulate Test Day. Take any other practice tests as if it were test day. Set a timer and put away your study materials. Sit at a table or desk in a quiet room, imagine yourself at the testing center, and answer questions as quickly and accurately as possible.
- Keep Practicing. Keep taking practice tests on a regular basis until you run out of practice tests or it’s time for the actual test. Your mind will be ready for the schedule and stress of test day, and you’ll be able to focus on recalling the material you’ve learned.
How many questions are on the CLEP Biology exam?
There are 115 multiple-choice questions on the exam.
How long is the CLEP Biology exam?
The time limit for the exam is 90 minutes (1.5 hours).
What is the passing score for the CLEP Biology exam?
There is no set passing score for this exam. Every college has its own scoring standards.
How much does the CLEP Biology exam cost?
The exam fee is $90.