Think you need to take a college course to earn college credits? These days, more and more colleges recognize that learning doesn’t have to take place inside four walls. For many working adults, years of experience and specific knowledge trumps anything that they would learn in a classroom, and they have the chops to prove it. Working adults are turning to alternative ways to gain college credits and earn their degrees. And one of those ways is through a Credit-by-Exam program called DSST.
What is DSST?
To understand what DSST exams are, you first have to understand the history of the program. The DSST program started in 1974 as a way to help service members earn their degrees.
The program was initially designed to ensure that people in the military could earn college credits outside of the classroom. The exams allowed military personnel and their families to further their educational goals even when deployed. The only catch was they had to prove their knowledge of a subject by passing a single test.
By 2006, the tests were made available to the general public. Now anyone can take them. Today, degree-seekers of all ages take DSST tests to speed up their education and earn their college degrees faster.
Taking a DSST test is a great investment, not only because of the time you save but also because of possible money savings too.
Here is what you need to know before taking a DSST Exam.
- DSST (or the DANTES Subject Standardized Tests) is accepted as credit by nearly 2,000 colleges and universities nationwide.
- DSST tests are scored on a scale from 200 to 500, with a 400 being a passing score.
- Most questions are multiple-choice, and you’re not penalized for wrong answers.
- The DSST includes 30 exam subjects.
- A passing score will earn you 3-4 college credit hours.
How Much Do DSST Exams Cost?
A DSST exam will cost you around $130 (including test center and administrative fees) but, veterans with Post 9/11-GI Bill benefits may be eligible for reimbursement of their DSST exams. Compared to the equivalent college course, at over $1000 each, you can save a ton of money on the cost of schooling with DSST.
What Type of Exams Can You Take?
The DSST has 30 subject exams range from topics in Business to Humanities. The six main exam categories include…
- Social Sciences
- Physical Sciences
Where Can I Take A DSST Exam?
When you’re ready to take your exams, you have more than 1,200 testing centers in the U.S. Your college or university may already be a testing center. Find a DSST test center here.
To register for your exam, contact the test center of your choice. Some test centers require that you register in advance, while others allow walk-ins. Be sure you know the policy of your chosen test center. Each testing location sets its own independent testing schedule and testing frequency.
On the day of the exam, make sure to arrive at least 30 minutes early. Bring a form of identification like your government ID and, if you are military, your Common Access Card. DSST exams can be computer-based and taken online or paper-based. Either way, in both instances, you will be completing your exam at a testing center. In addition to multiple-choice questions, you can expect essay questions on some exams.
How are DSST Credits Applied?
Every school will have its own policy on how DSST credits are accepted and applied. Be sure to meet with your school’s advisor to get the answers to the following questions:
- Are DSST exams accepted?
- How many credits is each test worth?
- Are DSST tests appropriate for my selected degree?
- How many total credits will you accept through DSST?
- What is the minimum score required for DSST tests?
How to Prepare for DSST Exams?
One of the best ways to prep for your DSST exam is to prep with Smarter with Achieve.
We offer exam guidance to help you study to pass your DSST exams and CLEP and ECE exams. We’re prepared to help you pass your exams, often on the first try. We offer expert instruction with educators who will help you brush up on your knowledge before test day. Plus, we’ll give you insider information on how your exam is structured and what you can expect on test day.
We also offer:
- A library of study materials. When you register with Smarter, you get practice tests and guidelines, so you’ll be confident when facing your exam.
- Exam-specific questions. Get access to exam-specific questions to help you prep for DSST, CLEP, and ECE exams.
DSST Retake Policy
If you don’t pass your DSST test, there is a waiting period of 30 days before you can attempt a retake. If you try to retake a test before that time, any score you receive from your new test will be considered invalid. Luckily, if you prep with Smarter, we offer free refresher courses and 1:1 tutoring if you don’t pass your exam.
Prepare Your Exam with Smarter with Achieve
Taking and passing DSST exams are a great way to earn college credits, save money and get your degree faster than traditional methods.
Want to find out how many credits you can earn with DSST 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.