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Kick-Start your Online Education with the Use of Credit-by-Exam Programs

written by: Jenny Rae Armstrong•edited by: Sarah Malburg•updated: 12/3/2009

Here you will find the least you need to know about using credit-by-exam programs to further your distance learning goals.

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    Credit-by-examination (credit by exam) is one of the fastest and most economical ways to earn college credit and further your online learning goals. While credit by exam isn’t for everyone, it’s ideal for independent learners who want to study at their own pace, or people looking to get credit for things they already know. If calculus comes as easily as breathing, or you’ve picked up a fair bit of German on your business travels, or have not only seen but own every documentary the History Channel has ever aired on the Civil War, you might as well get credit for your expertise.

    Certain tests such as the CLEP, the DSST, and AP exams are widely accepted, but every college’s credit granting policies differ. The three tests mentioned above are endorsed by the American Council on Education (ACE) which recommends awarding a certain amount of lower or upper-level credits for each successfully completed test, but universities reserve the right to choose what they will grant credit for. Ask your academic advisor which credit by exam tests can be counted toward your degree program, and don’t be afraid to mention programs he or she may have never heard of. A good academic advisor should be thrilled to learn about programs that could help their students succeed.

    Many colleges offer their own credit by exam programs, and most will accept credits transferred from other university’s credit by exam programs. Ohio University and the University of North Carolina have large catalogs of courses available in credit-by-examination format, and carry the clout of big-name universities. It is often easier to transfer credits awarded by a college like Ohio University to the school of your choice than to try to get your college to grant credit for examinations themselves.

    If you’ve always been a good test-taker and want to finish your degree in a hurry, consider enrolling in an online college with a strong credit by exam program. Excelsior College, Charter Oak State College, and Thomas Edison State College are accredited universities that will allow you to complete your degree entirely through credit-by-examination. If you are not currently enrolled in a degree program but want to further your education through credit-by-examination, try to choose tests that meet the requirements of your university of choice. Then when you are ready to start a degree program, you will have a significant head-start. Good luck!