Earning College Credit by Examination
With the ever-increasing cost of attending college, students and their families are constantly looking for ways to save money. One of the best ways to save some money is to earn credit by examination or “test out” of college credit. In most cases, the only expense involved in earning college credit by examination is the exam fee. Most colleges do not charge tuition for credit awarded through examination.
“Testing out” involves passing a test in an area you are knowledgeable about, and receiving college credit for an equivalent college class. Examples of testing programs are the Advanced Placement (AP), College Level Examination Program (CLEP) and International Baccalaureate (IB). Minimum score requirements exist for AP, CLEP and IB tests, and may vary from college to college.
Students are often unsure of what subjects to try and test in because they have not determined their college major. You might also discuss the possibility with your teacher from the subject you want to test out of, to discuss past students’ experience with the tests. If you can afford the exam fee I encourage you to test in any subject in which you feel confident. You can then “bank” your credit and when you get to college you may be able to use credit you have earned if it is applicable to your degree program. Even credits not required for graduation will still look good to colleges, scholarship committees and employers. Many students can shave off an entire semester with credit they have earned by examination.
If your high school offers Advanced Placement (AP) classes it means that you would be taking college level curriculum with the opportunity to test for college credit at the end of the course. AP exams are generally administered in May with your score reports arriving in July. Once you have graduated from high school AP is no longer an option.
The International Baccalaureate (IB) program is similar to AP in that students take advanced curriculum before graduation from high school with the opportunity for examinations yielding college credit. IB offers a diploma program for students who complete specified curriculum and have satisfied diploma requirements.
With regard to CLEP exams, it is important to know that there is no age requirement. You can take a CLEP exam at any grade level. Many students make the mistake of waiting too long after taking a high school class to attempt an examination. An excellent example of this is a student who has completed several years of a foreign language in their junior year. If they wait until their freshman year of college, skills have often deteriorated to a point where they can no longer pass the exam. So if you are interested in taking a CLEP test plan to test immediately after you complete your course.
Additionally, once you’ve started college your freshman year, don’t think it’s too late to take a CLEP exam. You may find you know more than you thought in a class like American History, College Algebra or English Composition. As long as you figure that out and take the test early enough in the semester, you may be able to drop that class and take something else.
Each testing program offers you the option to provide score reports/transcripts of your test scores to colleges or universities of your choice. If you have already taken and received scores for an exam it is important to remember to take copies with you when you are visiting schools or when you are enrolling for the first time. It is then possible for you to receive an assessment of your scores and determine what college credit you will receive.
For more information about college credit by examination visit the following websites:
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