What is the CLT?

In the world of US college admissions exams, there are usually three options: take the ACT, take the SAT, or take nothing.

Now, depending on where you’re applying, there’s a fourth. As of September 8th, 2023, students applying to schools in Florida’s state university system can submit scores from the Classic Learning Test (CLT) in place of the SAT or ACT.

As an admissions test, the CLT has attracted controversy for its content, for concerns about the soundness of the methodology underpinning its design, and for the ways in which it has been tied to the political platform of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

However, in this post, we’ll focus purely on answering the practical questions that students and families have about the CLT: what it is, how to use it in your college applications, and how you can prepare for it.

What is the CLT?

The CLT is a multiple-choice college admissions test, similar to the ACT and paper-based SAT, but its content is more explicitly focused on Christian thought and on foundational works of the Western canon.

As for its format, the CLT is a computer-based test that can be taken at home or at an approved testing center. And at just 2 hours long, it’s more than an hour shorter than the ACT or the paper-based SAT—meaning the CLT may be an easier testing experience for students who struggle with test-taking endurance.

The CLT's scoring is much more simplistic than that of the SAT or ACT. It’s scored on a scale between 0 and 120 points (one point per question); unlike other standardized tests, the CLT’s raw scores are not curved or scaled in any way to ensure a normal distribution of the results.

Apart from these differences, the test will seem very familiar for students who have prepared for the SAT and ACT.

So let's dig down into what the CLT actually tests. The exam includes three sections and an optional essay:

  • Verbal Reasoning—40 questions in 40 minutes. This is the equivalent of the Reading sections of the paper-based SAT and ACT, with four passages (a mix of history, science, philosophy/religion, and literature) accompanied by ten questions each. Among other things, the questions ask you to accurately restate details from the passage, analyze the author’s purpose, and identify evidence to support claims.
  • Grammar/Writing—40 questions in 35 minutes. This section is roughly equivalent to the English section of the ACT and the Writing section of the paper-based SAT. The majority of the questions test your knowledge of things like punctuation, verb conjugation, and other mechanics of Standard Written English.
  • Quantitative Reasoning—40 questions in 45 minutes. The questions in this section test your knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, statistics, and trigonometry in a way that closely resembles the ACT’s Math section. Students are given a short list of formulas (similar to the SAT's Math sections) and are not allowed to use calculators to solve the questions.

How (and where) can I use my CLT scores?

Compared to the SAT and ACT, the CLT is accepted by far fewer schools—mostly smaller private and faith-based universities. As of September 8th, 2023, it is also accepted by Florida’s state university system.

Students applying to state universities in Florida can start to include CLT scores in their applications right away. However, it’s important to keep in mind that most schools do not yet accept the CLT, so especially if you’re applying to schools outside of Florida, you may still need to take the ACT or SAT. For those schools that do accept the CLT, you can still submit either SAT or ACT scores—the CLT is just another option.

By scoring high enough on the CLT, students may also qualify for certain scholarships.

How do I prep for the CLT?

If you’ve already been preparing for the SAT or ACT, here's the good news: because the content of the tests is so similar, the prep you’ve already done will also apply to the CLT.

By registering on the CLT’s website, you can access official prep material, including online practice tests, a student guide, and an author bank.

If you're not sure where to start, or whether the CLT is even right for you, take a diagnostic test. With that result in hand, a tutor can identify your strengths and your greatest opportunities for growth, then work with you to put together a plan to close the gap between the score you have and the score you need.

Need more individualized advice?

The recommendations above are general suggestions. If you have specific questions, or want to start working with a tutor who specializes in the CLT, reach out to us here. We’re happy to help in any way we can.


About ArborBridge

ArborBridge is the global leader in innovative, digital, one-on-one tutoring. With nearly a decade of experience teaching students online, ArborBridge supports students of all kinds: home schoolers, AP students, test preppers, and more. Our tutors specialize in creating personalized plans and in providing compassionate support for students and families.

Jordan Browne

About Jordan Browne

In addition to graduating summa cum laude from Emerson College and holding an M.F.A. from Columbia University, Jordan was a Fulbright scholar to Montenegro, where he taught seven courses for the University of Montenegro. Along with teaching writing, rhetoric, and literature at the college level, Jordan has taught test prep for several years in New York public schools and across three continents. Ever since he was young, he’s been the weird one who actually enjoys standardized tests, and, for several years now, he’s taught students of every skill level and background how to like them too—or, at least, how to get the scores they need.

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