How Smarter Helps You Finish College Faster

How Smarter Helps You Finish College Faster

Are you looking for ways you can finish your degree faster?

You may have heard of the different methods, like taking on more classes per semester or choosing AP classes in high school. 

While there are many methods, none allow you the same flexibility and ease as Credit-by-Exam (CBE). Plus, unlike AP tests, you don’t have to be a high schooler to take advantage of CBE.

All About Credit-by-Exam

How Smarter with Achieve Uses Credit-by-Exam

If you heard of CLEP exams, you might already have a good idea about what Credit-by-Exam is. 

Credit-by-Exam tests your proficiency in core subjects and allows you to earn college credits if you pass your exam. CBE tests like CLEP tests allow you to test out of your gen-ed courses, so you can start completing your degree requirements quicker. Credit-by-Exam tests include CLEP, ECE, and DSST exams. Each test type has different requirements and offers different options for earning college credits if you pass your exams. Credit-by-Exam tests help you to finish your degree faster because you earn college credits without taking a class. 

Unlike the AP tests you took in high school, you can take CBE tests before or while you’re in college. You also don’t have to wait for a specific time period to take your test either. Instead, Credit-by-Exam tests are available year-round, and you can take them whenever you feel ready. 

Credit-by-Exam tests reward you for the knowledge you already know (although you can also prep for exams using Smarter with Achieve). 

Credit-by-Exam saves you time.

Credit-by-Exam helps you save time, especially if you’re thinking of double majoring or graduating earlier. With Credit-by-Exam, you’ll get to knock out your general education college courses without having to take a class. In addition, with your Gen Ed courses out of the way, you can take your major-specific coursework sooner. This means that double majoring can be less stressful with Credit-by-Exam. 

Credit-by-Exam saves you money.

Not only does Credit-by-Exam save you time, but it can save you money as well. A college credit typically costs anywhere from $200 to $1200, depending on your school. Considering a typical college course is three to four credits, costs can quickly pile up. 

Since a single CBE test typically costs $85, you can save around $520 to $2915 for each course you pass with Credit-by-Exam. 

With so much extra money saved, you can have more to purchase textbooks, spend time traveling or move off-campus. 

Where can you take Credit-by-Exam tests?

Credit-by-Exam offers 30 exams subjects, and credits for the program are accepted at 3,000 colleges nationwide. Additionally, there are over 2,000 test centers around the country, and even an option to test at home.

You can register for a CBE exam on the College Board. You can also search for a testing center near you using the website. 

Save Time on College with Smarter with Achieve

At Smarter with Achieve, we combine the convenience of accelerated online courses with the speed of Credit-by-Exam. We give you exam guidance to help you pass CLEP, ECE, and DSST Credit-by-Exam tests. Each learner who signs up with Smarter with Achieve receives:

  • Instructor guidance. All of our prep courses are held virtually in real-time. Our dedicated instructors will prepare you for what to expect on your exams and give you exclusive information on how the exams are structured.
  • Resource library. When you register with Smarter, you’ll have access to a library of resource material, including practice tests and the exact exam guidelines you need to pass your exam. 
  • Exam-specific questions. Get access to exam-specific questions to help you prep for your Credit-by-Exam test. 

Ready to prep? Chat with us today and see how we can help.

College Degree: A Dream Deferred for Many Americans?

College Degree: A Dream Deferred for Many Americans?

What happens to a dream deferred?

– Langston Hughes

Why are more and more first-year students putting off college?

If you were planning to go to college last year or this year, you may know the feeling.

The last year and a half forced us to adjust how we work, socialize, and even go to school. It wouldn’t be premature to say COVID-19 changed life as we know it.

And this is especially true if you’re a prospective first-year college student. With many colleges and universities shutting down campuses and going remote, you may have chosen to take the time off instead.

You’re not alone. According to the Junior Achievement report, one-fourth of high school seniors chose to delay their plans to attend college due to the pandemic.

The reasons why are many. Maybe you wanted the full college experience, and with campuses shut down, internships canceled, and study abroad opportunities pushed out a year, you wouldn’t get it. Maybe, like most of us, you’ve been experiencing pandemic burnout, and the stress and worry associated with it caused you to change plans.

But probably one of the biggest reasons is finance. The simple fact is many people simply cannot afford college anymore, and there is a good reason why.

Finish College Faster with Smarter with Achieve. 

Who pays for the cost of college?

It’s no secret that many young adults rely on their parents to pay the cost of college, and the pandemic has damaged many household finances.

The cost of higher education has always been frustrating for parents, but the pandemic has exacerbated things.

Even if your parents aren’t covering for your entire tuition, it’s likely they’re paying at least some of it, whether through Parent PLUS loans or dipping into savings. But COVID-19 has affected many people’s ability to pay for college. Nearly 8.4 million jobs have been lost since February 2020. Paying for college with reduced incomes and decimated savings can be problematic. Of the high school seniors who reported their parents would contribute to their college tuition, 37% stated their financial support was being cut back due to the pandemic.

But, if you’re a high school senior still willing to start your college career, you have options without breaking the bank. There are a few things you and your parents can do to help save college costs, and one of those is Credit-by-Exam.

What is Credit-by-Exam, and How Does it Work?

Did you know that you could earn college credits if you pass subject-specific tests? That’s the basis of Credit-by-Exam. So, instead of taking a course like American Government, you can take a single test on the subject, and once passed, receive the same credits as if you’d taken the course!

The number of courses you can test out of and how those credits will be applied depends on the college you attend. Discuss with your college’s advisor your school’s exact policy on Credit-by-Exam.

How many credits you can earn and how those credits are applied will vary depending on the college. Check with your academic advisor to find out your college’s exact policy on Credit-by-Exam.

Who Uses Credit-by-Exam?

Credit-by-Exam (CBE) tests are proficiency tests, which means usually people who are at least somewhat familiar with the subjects take them. But with programs like Smarter with Achieve, you can prep to pass CBE tests whether you’re familiar with the subject or not.
It isn’t as difficult as it sounds. Credit-by-Exam tests are usually an overview of the subject, not an exam that would require specialized knowledge. Secondly, Smarter with Achieve offers prep courses with virtual, live instruction, resources, and study guides to ensure you’re successful on your exams.

Prep for Credit-by-Exam. Take the Free Assessment.

Credit-by-Exam Test Types


Exam fee: $85 for each subject test
Credits: 3 – 6 credit hours per exam

You may have heard of CLEP. The College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) has been around for decades and is recognized by thousands of accredited colleges and universities. The same company responsible for CLEP exams, The College Board, is also responsible for SAT and Advanced Placement (AP) tests.

There are 30 CLEP exams on different subjects, with each exam falling into five major categories:

  • World Languages
  • History and Social Sciences
  • Science and Mathematics
  • Composition and Literature
  • Business

There are over 2,000 CLEP testing centers nationwide. But if you can’t find a testing center, don’t sweat it; you can now even take your CLEP exam at home.

Prep for CLEP Exams with Smarter with Achieve. Learn more here.


Exam fee: $85 for each exam; free for service members
Credits: 3 per exam

The DSST (DANTES Subject Standardized Test) was started in 1974 for people in the military. The program was intended to enable active service members and their spouses to earn college credit for training received on the job.

But, in 2006, DSST tests became available to everyone. Now anyone who wants to take DSST tests can earn college credits.

The DSST program offers over 30 exams on different subjects. The cost of each exam is $85, but military service members and their spouses can take DSST tests with fees waived.

You don’t have to put off college

Your college plans may have been put on hold, but Credit-by-Exam can help you make up for the missed time. A typical college course takes 16 weeks. Using Smarter with Achieve, and Credit-by-Exam, you can test out of college courses in as little as 4-6 weeks. When added up, you save 10 weeks of class time.

Look at it this way: in a traditional college, each course would take a semester. You’d meet several times a week, complete multiple assignments, possibly do group projects, write research papers, take several exams, and much more. All for the hefty price tag of $1,460 per course.

Smarter with Achieve has a different way. You’ll meet just once per week online to prepare to pass a Credit-by-Exam test. All you have to do is pay for your Smarter prep courses. Exam fees are waived*. Plus, you’ll get one condensed book free of charge.

So instead of missing out on a year of college, you can graduate on time and even earlier!

Smarter with Achieve Can Help

Smarter with Achieve provides a smart way to finish college faster through our credit by exam test prep solutions. Chat with us today. We’ll walk you through the smart way to earn college credits.

Why We Regret Not Finishing Our Education

Why We Regret Not Finishing Our Education

What is life’s biggest regret?

That may be too far to think ahead for you, especially if you’re a freshman or sophomore college student. But, if you could guess, you may think it would be past relationships, missed opportunities, or severed connections with old friends. 

While all of these are good guesses, you would be wrong. According to one study by the University of Illinois, people are most likely to regret not finishing their education. 

Why? At the end of life, we regret not taking education seriously more than anything else because of the Opportunity Principle. The opportunity principle means we regret things that are most in our power to control. 

To put it in another way, missing out on education particularly stings because it is something you can fix at any time. You may never be able to reconnect with old friends from high school, but anyone can go back to school.

As someone just starting their college career, this puts you in the best position possible. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, just 41.6% of students graduate from college within four years. For each additional semester, you spend in school, you may rack up additional student loan debt. But, you can do a few things to ensure that you finish your degree on time. And one of those things is testing out of college courses through Credit-by-Exam. 

What is Credit-by-Exam, and How Does It Work?

Credit-by-exam is a program that allows you to test out of general education college courses. With Credit-by-Exam, instead of attending a sixteen-week college course, you would take one exam and receive college credits after you pass your exam. Which means you can finish your degree faster and on time. 

Seems too good to be true, right? But thousands of accredited colleges and universities recognize Credit-by-Exam, and the most popular Credit-by-Exam test is CLEP. 

What is CLEP?

CLEP or the College Level Examination Program is probably one of the most widely known and accepted Credit-by-Exam tests.

A few quick things about CLEP:

  • Over 3,000 colleges and universities accept CLEP exam credits.
  • There are nearly 2,000 CLEP testing centers around the country. 
  • Thirty different CLEP exams cover a wide range of subjects, including science, literature, and math. 
  • The tests typically last 90 minutes and cost roughly $85.

Remember, colleges may have different policies on the number of CLEP credits they will accept. Make sure to check with your university’s academic advisor before taking any CLEP exam. Some colleges may accept up to 15 credits, which is about five college courses. Another popular Credit-by-Exam test is DSST.

What is DSST?

DSST (DANTES Subject Standardized Tests) is another common Credit-by-Exam exam type. A few additional facts on DSST exams:

  • DSST exams are typically 120 minutes long with 100 questions each. 
  • Testing centers are located across the country 
  • DSST exams typically cost $80, not including fees. 
  • Military members may be able to test out with DSST for free.

Like CLEP, DSST allows you to take tests on various subjects and earn credits once you pass your exam. DSST tests are widely accepted, with more than 2,000 accredited colleges and universities recognizing DSST as transfer credits. 

Prep for Credit-by-Exam with Smarter with Achieve 

Finishing college is no small feat, but Credit-by-Exam can make it easier. However, there’s one small catch. Unlike a regular college course, Credit-by-Exam offers no instruction, meaning you have to prepare to test out of a cumulative subject by yourself. And if you’re anything like most people, finding the time, suitable material, and self-discipline to do so is nearly impossible. Further troubling is that many colleges and universities won’t allow you to retake a Credit-by-Exam test if you failed the first time. 

But that’s where Smarter with Achieve comes in. We help you prepare and pass your CLEP or DSST exam the first time. 

Smarter with Achieve is a test prep company that allows you to test out of your nursing prerequisites and earn college credits so that you can earn your RN degree faster.  

Here are some benefits of the Achieve Test Prep model: 

  • No waiting list and courses can start as soon as a week
  • Live virtual instruction in a collaborative environment
  • Once a week courses that fit your schedule 
  • No quizzes, term papers, or busywork 
  • A 94% customer success rate 

Are you ready to get started? Then, contact one of our dedicated advisors today!

Note-taking tips that actually work

Note-taking tips that actually work

Why are good note-taking tips so essential? First, developing good note-taking strategies is proven to help boost your GPA. Second, learning effective note-taking strategies can help you save time, energy, and confusion when it’s time to study for exams. And we all know how difficult exams could already be on their own, so why not make taking notes for them easier?

Prepping for a CLEP, DSST, or UEXCEL exam? Smarter with Achieve can help!

If you’re searching for new note-taking tips or new note-taking methods, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll share ten tips on how to make your note-taking more fluid and easier to understand so that you can face your next exam with confidence.

The Top 10 Most Effective Note-Taking Tips 

  1. Designate a specific notebook or document for your notes on each subject. Whether you use a physical notebook or the Notes app on your iPhone, make sure that you keep each subject separate. In other words, your notes for Sociology shouldn’t be in the same place as your College Math notes. 
  2. Organize your notes in a simple system. A simple note-taking system like the one developed by Cornell University is best. 
  3. Opt for shorthand instead of paragraphs. Keep notes in bite-sized, digestible fragments. Avoid using complete sentences and even paragraphs for faster note-taking. 
  4. Preview the course material. Before attending a course, the night before, review what the instructor will cover during the session. Take a few minutes to look over the material. Take a mental note of headings, unfamiliar terms, and any graphs or visual learning aids. Previewing the material will give you a good idea of what to pay special attention to during the course. 
  5. Write down your questions as you’re reading. As you’re reading, you may have questions about some of the content. Jot down any questions you have, and be ready to share them with your instructor. 
  6. Jot down any new facts you learn. If the instructor goes over anything you’re not familiar with during the lecture, make a quick note of it. Keeping notes this way will help you memorize new information.
  7. Do a little research. Research any new concepts, ideas, or terms during your study time. 
  8. Review your notes immediately. Review any notes you’ve written within 24 hours after the lecture. Immediately reviewing your notes will help the information ‘stick’ in your mind. 
  9. Revise your notes accordingly.  The notes you wrote on the fly during the lecture are not going to be cohesive or coherent. You should spend a few minutes revising your notes as you are reviewing them. 
  10. Review your notes every day. Make it a habit to review your notes every day. Your knowledge of the subject will improve plus it’ll prevent you from cramming on test day. 

That wraps up our tips. Mastering good note-taking may take a bit to get used to, but the critical thing to remember is that note-taking is a skill. What works for one person may not work for the next. That’s why it’s essential that you experiment and find the note-taking strategy that is right for you. We hope our tips help you better prepare yourself for your next course or exam.

Smarter with Achieve Can Help!

Do you need help prepping to test-out with CLEP, DSST, or UEXCEL? Smarter with Achieve can help.

Smarter with Achieve is an exam guidance company, which means we help you prep to pass CLEP, EXCEL, and DSST exams. 

Want to find out more? Contact one of our advisors today! 

Should you take summer college courses?

Should you take summer college courses?

Summer is here. 

How do you plan to spend the next few months? Do you plan to start a part-time job, read more books, travel, or learn a new skill? Summer has always been a time to do things you didn’t have time for during the school year. After semesters of attending courses, studying, taking exams, and doing group projects, you’re probably ready for a well-deserved break…if you can get one. For some of us, the pandemic meant attending scant Zoom classes, dealing with canceled courses, or delaying the first year of college altogether. Which means summer can look very different for some of us, as we grapple between making up for missed courses or enjoying our first summer out in a year. 

Being forced to spend several hours a week attending multiple courses can put a damper on your summer plans. Not to mention the summer internships, job shadowing, and fellowships opportunities you’ll miss.  

But there’s a way you can still take the general education courses you missed during the school year and have time to pursue your summer activities. It’s through a process called CLEP. 

What is CLEP?

CLEP is a Credit-by-Exam test. Credit-by-Exam allows you to earn college credits if you pass subject-specific exams. For example, with Credit-by-Exam, you can take a College Math exam and, once you pass, earn credits that you can transfer to your preferred college. How many credits you earn and how those credits are applied will depend on your school. Check with your academic advisor first to find out your college’s exact policy on Credit-by-Exam.

Prep for Credit-by-Exam Tests with Smarter. Learn how. 

Usually, you’d use Credit-by-Exam tests like CLEP to take and pass tests on subjects you’ve already studied. But, with a bit of preparation, like the prep courses offered by Smarter with Achieve, you can take and pass exams on subjects you aren’t familiar with! This isn’t as difficult as it sounds. For one, Credit-by-Exam tests usually cover a general overview of the subject. And secondly, the resources, study guides, and virtual instruction offered by Smarter with Achieve will give you a solid head-start in prepping for your exams.

How College Students Spend Their Time

To really appreciate how much time you can save with CLEP, let’s compare it to taking a traditional college course. Just how much time would you spend taking general education courses the traditional way, anyway? 

The typical degree-seeker spends up to 15 hours a week just attending college courses. Then you’ll have to factor in the time you’ll take studying, socializing with friends, and being involved in any on-campus activities: a total of 22 additional hours weekly. When you add it all up, that leaves very little time, if any, to explore alternative learning methods, like getting an internship to gain hands-on experience or working a part-time job. 

The CLEP Difference 

If you take advantage of CLEP exams, you can save up to 1.5 years on college.  

The Fastest Way to Your Degree Path
  • Individuals who took CLEP exams and earned bachelor’s degrees saved an average of 10 months of classroom time. 
  • People who used CLEP and earned an associate’s degree saved an average of 5 months to degree completion. 

As you take more and more exams, the number of credits you earn will add up, potentially reducing the amount of time you spend on your degree. You can expect to save up to 100 hours of coursework and homework with every CLEP exam you take. 

Not only can CLEP help you save time, but you can also save money on the cost of college. For example, if you earn 15 CLEP credits, you could potentially save up to $5,000 on the cost of schooling. Your college’s policy on CLEP will be a significant determining factor in this. While some institutions may accept as many as 60 credits, other colleges limit the amount of CLEP credits you can earn to just 12. Check with your admissions advisor for more details. 

Should I Take Summer Courses at College?

While taking summer courses at your local college can shorten the time spend on your degree, but there are some significant downsides:

  • There’s a smaller number of courses with limited availability. Most everyone goes on vacation during the summer, meaning there are fewer students and professors on campus. To make up for this, colleges often have limited course availability during the summer. 
  • Summer courses can be pretty pricey, and you’re not likely to have them covered by scholarships either. Since most students only take one or two courses, most likely, you’ll have to pay out of pocket by credit hour. 
  • There are other opportunity costs to consider. What else could you be doing with your summer? Having a summer internship could lead to a job offer after you graduate. Not to mention, it’ll allow you to start building a post-graduate network. Even if you cannot land an internship for the summer, volunteering at a non-profit would look great on your resume. Taking summer courses on campus can limit your time to do other things for your future. 

The Smarter Way  

If you still need to take general education courses and have knowledge of the subject, why sit through a course when you can test out with CLEP? Then, all you’d have to do is take a single exam that’ll only cost you about $85, not including fees. Plus, if you prep with Smarter, you can be prepared to pass your exam in as little as four prep sessions. Then, instead of spending your summer sitting in a classroom, you can take and pass your CLEP exams and have the credits you earned transferred to the college of your choice. 

CLEP exams are the best way to accelerate your degree. In addition, they are often a cheaper alternative to college credits. There are 30 exams available in the CLEP program that you can take and pass for college credits. And over 3,000 colleges offer credits for qualifying CLEP exam scores.

It’s that easy. With Smarter, you can time and even money on your degree. And the best part is, you don’t have to sacrifice your summer to do it. Our prep sessions only meet once a week and have just one condensed book. So you can still take a summer internship, go on vacation or go on an alternative break trip. 

Ready to learn more about CLEP? Reach out to one of our advisors today!

Navigating a Career Change

Navigating a Career Change

Did you know that the full-time American worker spends one-third of their waking hours on the job? Since you spend so much of your life working, having a career you can feel happy with is essential. Studies show that a poor work environment can have silent, cumulative effects on your physical and mental well-being.

For this and other reasons, you may be thinking of making a midlife career change. Midlife career changes are often fraught with unique challenges. Luckily, adding to your education, whether through a certification or degree, can make the transition smoother.

How Job Satisfaction Impacts Your Health 

Did you know that job burnout is highly correlated to more emergency room visits? Approximately two in three American workers have experienced burnout on the job. And there are other consequences to burnout. A study by the American Psychological Association shows that work stress leads to hypertension, cardiovascular disease, back problems, and more.

If you want to experience good health and happiness, working at a job you enjoy is vital. A midlife career change can help you reach those goals. Maybe you figured out that the career you worked at since college just doesn’t quite fit anymore. Or perhaps there’s a passion you’ve always wanted to pursue. Whatever the reason, when you decide to switch careers, it’s best to have a plan in place to avoid common obstacles you may face in pursuit of your dream.

Consider Why You Want a New Career 

Before looking for a new position, you should analyze why you’re unhappy at your current job. While feeling unsatisfied with your job is a good sign that something has to change, the answer isn’t always switching industries or roles. Leaving your job based solely on occasional dissatisfaction is ill-advised. Before committing to such a big step, examine your motivations. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What do you find unsatisfactory about your current job or industry?
  • In what ways would a new career benefit your life?
  • Is the company culture or values an issue?
  • Would a different manager, coworkers, or employer satisfy your need for change?

It’s essential to analyze your reasons for wanting to make a career switch. If you don’t figure out what you dislike about your current role, you may end up in another job that isn’t a fit.

Make a Plan Forward 

Next, think about what you want in this next role. Study the industry you want to go into and list your ideal companies, role titles, and responsibilities.

  • What are your day-to-day responsibilities like in your ideal role?
  • What are you not doing? What tasks don’t you like?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years with this new position?
  • What’s title do you want?

Create Milestones to Achieve 

After you figured out your desired title and made a list of ideal companies to apply to, separate your goal into milestones. Be sure to include skills you need to gain and certification or education you need to complete.

Then make daily or weekly tasks to track your progress. Although this may seem small, tiny steps like these make a huge impact, giving you the momentum and confidence to move forward.

Are you thinking of switching to a new industry? A degree can help. See how Smarter with Achieve makes it possible.

Navigating a Career Change with Continuing Education

Getting New Certifications 

Industries are constantly evolving. Getting more certifications can help you stay on top of current trends in your chosen field. Certifications can also make you more competitive in the job market.

Remember, you don’t have to start from square one by going entry-level into a new career. Learn how to leverage your new certifications plus skills you’ve already developed, like leadership and interpersonal skills, to achieve a comparable position in your new field.

Consider Going Back for a Degree

One fundamental way to stand out in your job search is continued education. For one, taking extra college courses or even pursuing your bachelor’s degree can open up previously closed doors. A degree can lead to better job opportunities and improve your chances for promotions. In some cases, you have to get a degree or specialized training to qualify for some management roles. Not only can a degree help you gain access to those roles, but your education may also put you in a better position to negotiate higher pay.

Navigating a career change and need to continue your education? Smarter with Achieve can help.

Is Continuing Your Education Possible? 

With your busy life and schedule, you may wonder if pursuing an education is even possible for you.

Thanks to online programs, like the one offered by Smarter with Achieve, you can learn and study on your own time without sitting in a physical class or relocating yourself or your family.

Smarter with Achieve is an exam guidance company that offers a faster and more convenient way to finish your degree. We help you test-out of college courses through a process called Credit-by-Exam. With our prep courses, you can knock out what would usually be a 16-week college course in as little as 4-6 weeks. We offer flexible day, evening, and night courses. Plus, no term papers, quizzes, or assignments. We prep you to pass exams for college credits so you can finish faster and pursue your next career move.

Always Be Ready for What’s Next

Navigating a midlife career change can be difficult, but adding to your education can make it easier.
You can show future employers your initiative by developing new skills through continuing your education.

If you need to pursue a degree for a career change, Smarter with Achieve can help. You can test-out of a variety of subjects and learn on your schedule. Speak with an advisor today to find out if Smarter with Achieve is a good fit for you.