Credit By Exam: Colleges’ Best Kept Secret

Credit by exam programs

For most college students, the path to earning credit typically involves several weeks of listening to lectures, taking notes, completing assignments and passing a mid-term and final exam.

But if you could earn that credit in less time and at a fraction of the cost of taking a formal course, would you be interested? There would be no assignments to complete and no lectures or classes to attend, just a test to pass.

Sounds like a dream come true? It’s actually a method that’s been used for decades.

Credit-by-exam programs have become popular among students who want to complete their degree requirements more efficiently than taking traditional courses, and who want to accelerate their pace and contain costs. Today, these tests have become instrumental in developing new pathways for students to earn credit, including the College’s new open course option that capitalizes on the value these programs offer.

Nearly 3,000 colleges and universities in the U.S. accept these tests as transfer credit, enabling students to earn credit by passing a single exam. Programs tend to be a good fit for independent learners, students who possess college-level knowledge and students who are good test takers.

Credit by exam programs are not for everyone, especially students who prefer a structured environment and like interacting with professors and classmates. Deciding to earn college credit by preparing for a test that covers a semester's worth of content means you have to be self-motivated and disciplined. This approach appeals to many busy adult students who have competing demands on their time and who prefer to work independently.

Two of the most popular programs in the U.S. are CLEP and DSST, while the College offers TECEP®, our own credit-by-exam program.

If you are considering these programs, talk with your academic advisor to make sure credits from the test you are planning to take can be transferred to satisfy a requirement in your degree program.

Then, the rest is up to you. Establish and follow your own study schedule, and brush up on a few test-taking tips to prepare. Show up on your scheduled testing date, selected by you, and be ready to take a comprehensive final exam.

Want to learn more about credit-by-exam programs? Check out our list of programs available for students to earn credit, here.

Topics: Transferring College Credit, Credit by Exam, Areas of Study and Degree Programs