to Accelerate Your Degree Plan
Wish you could return to college but think it's an impossible
dream? With the arrival of distance education and increasing
flexibility, there are now many more options available
to adult students. These include testing out through examination and advanced placement, getting credit for military,
corporate, or professional training, and receiving credit
for life experience through portfolio assessment. These
options generally cost less than a traditional classroom
education and can help save signficant time and money
toward a college degree.
Credit by Examination
Did you know that you can "skip" many core
courses and receive credit for them through college
credit examinations and advanced placement? College
credit examinations are widely accepted by colleges
and universities. By passing these examinations, individuals
can earn one-third or more of the credits required for
a degree. These examinations are available in more than
150 subject areas and are similar to final examinations
given by colleges and universities. Credit by examination
is a relatively fast, low cost way to receive college
credit. There is a small fee involved for the exams.
Council on Education* (ACE) recommends college credit
for all of the following credit by examination programs:
College Board Advanced Placement Examinations
College Board offers exams specifically for students
who wish to earn college credit in preparation for college
entrance. Exams in thirteen subject areas are offered.
According to the Board, almost one-fifth of students
entering four-year colleges are eligible for credit
Placement. The AP (Advanced Placement) program provides
testing in arts and languages, computer science, history,
mathematics, the natural sciences, and social sciences.
Most tests are multiple choice or essay questions and
can take two to three hours to complete. Each exam costs
$94; but assistance is available for those with financial need. AP examinations are especially helpful for the
adult student who is about to or has completed a GED
(General Education Diploma) and will be entering college. Find colleges and universities that offer credit or placement for AP scores.
CLEP College Credit by Examination
CLEP (College Level Examination Program) is the
most widely accepted credit by examination program in
the United States. Over 2,900 colleges and
universities award credit for satisfactory scores on
CLEP exams and these tests are inexpensive (Each exam is $87. Administrative fees may be included by the test center. Military service members may be eligible for free exam.) The 33 exams are divided into two categories: General Examinations
and Subject Examinations, and take approximately 90
minutes to complete.
CLEP General Examinations. Students can attain as many
as 30 semester hours of college credit by successfully passing the
CLEP General Examinations. These exams test the five basic areas of
general education: English Composition, Humanities, Mathematics, the
Natural Sciences, and Social Sciences and History.
- CLEP Subject Examinations. The CLEP Subject Examinations
measure knowledge of basic concepts, principles, relationships, and
applications involved in college courses. The American Council of Education
recommends 3 semester hours of credit for most of the CLEP Subject Examinations,
with some recommended for 6 or even 12 semester hours depending on the
institution's credit policy. Tests include
College Algebra, American Government, Literature, Psychology, and the
The College Board provides a directory of colleges and universities accepting the CLEP, and provides test and study preparation materials.
For one student's personal experience, see Gain Credit with the CLEP.
DANTES Subject Standardized Tests (DSSTs)
DSST program is an extensive series of examinations
in college and technical subjects that are comparable
to the final examinations in undergraduate courses.
DANTES is used by colleges and universities to award
credit to students who can demonstrate knowledge of
subjects commonly taught in introductory college courses (prior learning).
DANTES is also useful for active and reserve military
personnel. Thirty eight tests cover business, physical
science, humanities, social science, and applied technology.
Most of the exams are multiple choice. DANTES is recognized
by almost 2,000 colleges and universities, which
administer the exams all year round. The test fee for
a DANTES exam is $80 plus a possible test center administrative fee. It may take up to two hours to complete each test.
To locate institutions accepting DANTES testing, you can search the online database at GetCollegeCredit, as well as find resources for test preparation.
*The American Council on Education (ACE ) is the major coordinating body for all higher education institutions nationwide, representing over 1,600 college and university administrators, and 200+ related associations. ACE is a leader in key higher education issues and an influential advocate for public policy.