Testing out of college classes helps busy students get more time in their schedules, but does every college accept credit by exam? 2,900 accredited colleges and universities accept this type of credit, but you’ll need to verify whether your school is on this list. Here’s how to determine if your college accepts credit by exam.
What is credit by exam?
Credit-by-exam programs allow you to skip the classroom and earn credits toward your degree by merely passing a proficiency exam. This system allows you to test out of an entire semester-long class, earning general education credits without spending months in a classroom. Credit by exam allows you to knock out your gen-ed courses quicker, so you can start completing the core requirements for your degree. The most popular credit-by-exam tests are CLEP, DSST, and UExcel (AP tests are also part of the credit-by-exam system, but AP is only available to high school students).
Does my school accept credit by exam?
2,900 colleges and universities accept credit by exam, but you should still do your research before assuming your college will accept test-out credits. Not all schools allow these credits, and even those who do still differ in how those credits are applied. You don’t want to take exams for credit that your college won’t acknowledge on your academic record, so here are some tips on verifying credit by exam at your school.
How to find out if your college accepts Credit-by-Exam
Speak with your advisor
The best way to determine if your college accepts credit by exam is to call or visit your school’s admission advisors. If you have not decided which school you will attend, take the time to consider your options carefully. If you plan to use Credit-by-Exam for most of your general education courses, you should check different college’s policies on test-out before selecting the right school for you.
Look in your academic calendar
If you have already received your school’s academic calendar, then the policy is sometimes listed under guidelines within the book.
Sometimes Googling your school’s name and “credit by exam” will bring up the school’s test-out policies. But beware that sometimes you will run into outdated information using this tactic.
Visit the College Board’s website
Visit the College Board’s website and search for your school’s CLEP policy.
- Visit the CLEP website and navigate to the Search Institution Policies tool.
- Type a school in the “Enter a College or University Name” field, then select the school name when it pops up.
- If you’re not sure which school you want to attend, but know you want to use Credit-by-Exam, College Board’s website will show you a list of schools that accept test-out credits.
Questions to ask your academic advisor about credit by exam
Besides finding out if your school accepts credit by exam, what else should you ask when you’re finally in front of your academic advisor? These four simple questions should guide your approach and let you know if credit by exam is the right fit for you and your degree program.
How are Credit-by-Exam credits applied?
After you’ve established that your desired school accepts credit by exam, the next question you should ask is how those credits are applied.
General education credits: Most schools will apply your CLEP credits to general education courses, but some may only apply them in a general sense, such as six credits in math.
Transfer credits: Some colleges treat credit by exam like transfer credits. If you have other credits to transfer, credit by exam may count against the maximum number of credits you can transfer. Plus, you may not be able to get a say in which credits the school will accept as transfer credits. If you have a lot of credits to transfer, credit by exam may not be the right fit for you.
Exemptions: Some schools treat credit by exam tests as exemptions, meaning you are allowed to test out of a prerequisite but will not receive a credit. For example, taking a College Composition CLEP test may exempt you from taking an introductory writing course, but you’ll have to earn those credits in a more challenging course.
Electives: Some colleges only count credit by exam tests as an elective, so you cannot test out of courses required for your major.
How many credits can I test out?
Most colleges limit the number of credits that you can CLEP, and some schools even cap how many students can earn CLEP credits.
The number of credits that you can test out varies from 12 up to 60+. This number may include any previously earned AP tests credits, so be sure to speak with your academic advisor before pursuing credit by exam.
Smarter with Achieve can help
If you’re looking for ways to reduce the cost of college, Credit-by-Exam can help you reach your goals faster. But first, you’d have to understand how the program works within your school and for your degree program.
If you’re already enrolled in a college or plan to enroll soon, it’s essential to speak with your academic advisor on how Credit-by-Exam fits with your career path. You want to ensure the credits you earn will be applied toward your degree program before testing out.
Using CLEP to earn credits is a great way to save money on college and graduate faster.
Want to find out more about how you can use Credit-by-Exam to accelerate your degree at your specific school? Have our team identify all of the eligible courses, and while they’re at it, tell you how much it will cost to prep for each course using Smarter.