Saving Time and Money with Credit By Exam

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  • 0:07 A Different Way to Earn Credit
  • 2:21 Step 1: Choose Your Exams
  • 3:39 Step 2: Prepare for Your Exams
  • 5:07 Step 3: Register for Your Exam
  • 5:50 Step 4: Send Your Scores
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Stacy Redd

Stacy has taught college English and has a master's degree in literature.

College is expensive, but there are ways to cut down on your expenses, even before you set foot on campus! Learn how to use credit by exam to cut the cost and time of your degree program in this video lesson.

A Different Way to Earn Credit

Earning credit by exam is an excellent way to save money and time on your college degree, but it's important that you understand when and how to use credit by exam to make the most of it. A little research up front can ensure that you choose the right exams and maximize the benefit. Choosing a college that accepts credit by exam can help you significantly cut the cost of your degree and make sure that you're done in four years or even less!

You may already be familiar with one kind of credit by exam: Advanced Placement. Advanced Placement, or AP exams, offered by the College Board, are available in a variety of academic subjects, and qualifying scores on these exams can earn students college credit at participating campuses. Because these exams are taken while still in high school, they can allow a student to earn credit towards a bachelor's degree before even setting foot on a campus.

Typically, students need to enroll in an AP course at high school, which prepares them to take the AP exam at the end of the year. The more exams a student passes, the more credit he or she can earn. Coming to college with credits allows a student to spend less time and money on a degree, which can help reduce student debt, so it's no surprise that AP exams are a popular choice for college-bound high school students.

AP may be the most well-known credit-granting exam, but it's certainly not the only one. There are other exams that function on the same premise: qualifying scores can transfer to credit at participating colleges and universities, but the way that students find, prepare for and take these exams differ from AP. Three of the most popular options for credit by exam are College Level Examination Program, or CLEP, UExcel exams and DSST exams. CLEP, like AP, is administered by the College Board, UExcel is offered by Excelsior College and DSST is administered by Prometric.

All exams are accessible to anyone, are affordable (typically under $100 to take) and offer widely transferable credit for those who earn passing scores. Unlike the AP, none of these exams are tied to classes, so students can prepare for them on their own time in any way they choose. All of these exams operate under the principle that learning isn't only measured by hours spent in the classroom. How can you save money on the cost of your degree using credit by exam? Follow these steps:

Step 1: Choose your exams

Some of the most popular credit-by-exam options are psychology, calculus and college composition. Not a surprise, considering these courses are common general education requirements and often prerequisite courses for many different majors and degrees. What may surprise you is that by satisfying these requirements with credit-granting exams, you could be saving yourself a lot of time and frustration, in addition to tuition dollars. Many colleges are so over-enrolled that students have a difficult time getting into popular general education courses and can end up waiting an extra semester or even an extra year trying to get a spot. This can seriously increase the time it takes to earn your degree.

By satisfying GEs and prereqs with credit by exam, you can avoid the stress of trying to add an already over-enrolled course to your schedule, you don't have to sit in a crowded lecture hall, and of course, you don't need to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars earning those credits. As you're making your college decision, it's worth factoring in credit-by-exam acceptance into your criteria.

If you choose the right campus, you may be able to complete all of your general education requirements by exam, essentially cutting the cost of your degree in half! Talk to an academic advisor at the college you are interested in to learn which exams the college accepts and how many credits you can earn from them.

Step 2: Prepare for your exams

Once you've decided which exams you want to take, you need to study! Because there's no course attached to these exams like there is for AP, you'll need to lead your own study effort. This can seem daunting, but we have tips for efficient and effective preparation.

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Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

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