Credit-by-Exam: Colleges’ Best Kept Secret

Posted Tuesday, February 25, 2014

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 an exam 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, credit-by-exam programs have become instrumental in developing new pathways for students to earn credit, including the University’s new open course option that capitalizes on the value these programs offer.

Nearly 3,000 colleges and universities in the U.S. accept credit-by-exam as transfer credit. The programs enable students to earn credit by passing a single exam and 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 interacting with a professor and fellow students. Deciding to earn college credit by preparing for an exam 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 credit-by-exam programs in the U.S. are the College-Level Exam Program (CLEP exams) and DSST exams, while the University offers TECEP®, its own credit-by exam program.

If you are considering credit-by-exam programs, talk with your academic advisor to make sure credits from the exam 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 you for your exam. Show up on your test date, which you select, and be ready to take a comprehensive final exam.

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

Tags: Credit by Exam , Majors and Degree Programs , Transfer Credits


Todd 03/10/14 9:02 AM

For our many students who speak a second language, the re are two exams that offer significant credit. New York University (NYU) offers exams in 51 different languages. Students can earn up to 16 credits through the NYU program. The American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) offers the Oral Proficiency International (OPI) exam conducted by telephone. Students can earn up to 14 additional upper level language credits. Both exams are reasonably priced for the number of credits that can be earned.
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