CLEP examinations are offered by the same company that develops the SAT exam. The website is: http://clep.collegeboard.org/started
You study for the exam in the subject of your choice, and when you are ready, you sign up for a computerized test at one of their approved testing locations. If you make a minimum score (equivalent to a "C" in a graded class), participating colleges and universities grant you credit for taking that course. It's a lot like Excelsior Exams... you read and study your butt off, pay the fees, sign up to take the computerized exam, and take the exam.
Advantages to CLEP:
- Cheap education: the CLEP test is only $80. But, you may have an additional testing center fee that is paid separately. For example, at my local university, the testing center charges $39 to administer the test. Still a whole lot less expensive than sitting in a classroom.
- You study for how long you need to study, and schedule the test to fit your needs... not the college's calendar.
- Human Growth and Development is the CLEP test offered that will fulfill the Life Span Development Psychology Core requirement for Excelsior.
- The College Board offers recommended textbooks for the exam. Usually, if you just pick a good-sized one and study it well, it'll get you through the test with flying colors.
Disadvantages to CLEP:
- Some colleges and universities limit how many CLEP subjects you can apply towards your degree. For example, a number of community colleges in my area of Texas limits it to 15 equivalent units (5 CLEP exams).
- CLEP exams usually do not help your GPA unless the college or university chooses otherwise. It is the same as a "pass/fail" when computing GPA for most institutions, including Excelsior.
- Unlike a classroom setting, you do not take quizzes or do homework to gage your performance in your studies. One big exam covers one or more books... better know your stuff. However, there are third-party books available to help you with studying for the exam, and I highly recommend getting one of them.
- There is no CLEP for microbiology. Excelsior does offer Microbiology with its exam, so you do have that option.
Hope it helps!