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Taking GRE Exams for College Credit

written by: Jenny Rae Armstrong•edited by: Sarah Malburg•updated: 12/22/2009

Think you could earn thirty undergraduate credits in three hours, for just $130.00? Ask about getting college credit for taking a GRE exam.

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    Taking a Subject Graduate Record Exam (GRE Subject Test) for undergraduate credit is non-traditional to say the least, but can be a great way to earn a lot of credits quickly and at a cheap price. A handful of accredited colleges, including Excelsior College and Charter Oak State College, will grant college credit based on how well you score on a GRE exam. Some universities will take GRE test scores into account when awarding credits for prior learning, and others will allow you to transfer credits awarded by Excelsior, Charter Oak, or other accredited colleges to their degree programs. Ask your academic advisor about receiving college credit for these specific tests.

    Here’s how it works. There are eight different GRE Subject Tests : Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, English Literature, Mathematics, Physics, and Psychology. Traditionally college seniors majoring in those areas take these tests to prove their proficiency to grad schools they are applying to. However, many colleges acknowledge that online and distance learners who attain a good score on a GRE test have a similar level of proficiency as students who majored in the subject, and award anywhere from three to thirty lower and upper-level credits to successful test-takers. Excelsior College, for example, grants thirty credits to anyone who scores above the eightieth percentile on a test, which automatically completes Excelsior’s requirements for a major. So, if an Excelsior student majoring in English took the Literature in English GRE and scored in the eighty-second percentile, they would have completed all the requirements necessary for their major.

    Subject GREs are rigorous, but people with a deep knowledge of the subject should be able to do well. These types of tests are paper-based multiple-choice exams that test-takers are given two hours and fifty minutes to complete. The general consensus among people who have taken them is that three hours is not long enough; students taking a Subject GRE need to speed through the test and come back to any questions they are not sure about later. As with AP exams, a quarter of a point is subtracted from your score for every question answered incorrectly, so random guessing is likely to lower your score, while educated guesses work in your favor. Free study guides and sample tests are available for download a

    GRE exams are given three times a year, in October, November, and April. A complete list of testing centers is available at the ETS website, and you can register for the exam online while you’re there. A GRE exam costs $130.00, which makes these kind of tests one of the best values in online education if you score well. Thirty credits completed in three hours, for less than five dollars a piece? You don’t need to ace the GRE Subject Test in Mathematics to know that’s a deal.

Testing Out--How to Earn College Credit by Examination.

Don't want to spend months slogging through tedious online classes? Here's an overview of some of the most popular credit-by-examination programs, and how they can help you earn college credit fast.
  1. Taking Advanced Placement (AP) Exams for College Credit
  2. Taking GRE Exams for College Credit