College Credit by Examination: Getting a Jump Start on College

It has become very common amongst high school graduates to earn college credit prior to official enrollment – getting a jump start on college. Many college bound students are taking advantage of opportunities through their high school to earn credit through dual enrollment courses or through examination.

What is College Credit by Examination?

Earning college credit through examination is more popular than ever. It provides students a shorter path to graduation while earning a degree from a reputable and accredited college or university.

The two most popular options are Advanced Placement® and the College Level Exam Program® – both of which are subject-specific credit-by-exam programs offered by The College Board. Exam content for both exam programs is developed by a panel of college professors, many who sit on both test development committees.

Advanced Placement (AP)

Advanced Placement courses and the corresponding exams were developed in the 1950’s to provide a way for high-achieving high school students to get a head start on college work. In recent decades, it has turned into a mass program that reaches more than a million students each year.

Read about our experience with the Chinese Language & Culture Advanced Placement exam.

Offered and promoted through public schools, Advanced Placement receives more publicity and is more well-known than other testing programs. Advanced Placement courses help high schools raise their reputation and are suggested to high-achieving students as a way for them to demonstrate their academic ability.

If you are a home-schooled student, you are preparing on your own, or you attend a school that does not offer AP, you can still take the exams by arranging to test at a participating school or authorized test center.

Possible AP Exams to Consider

  • English Literature
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Calculus
  • Computer Science
  • Art History
  • Music Theory
  • Macro and Microeconomics
  • US History
  • World History
  • World Languages (Chinese, French, Italian, Spanish)

With qualifying AP Exam scores, students can earn college credit, advanced placement, or both at the majority of colleges and universities in the United States and Canada. You decide which colleges (if any) receive your AP Exam scores.

College Level Exam Program (CLEP)

College Level Exam Program exams are viewed as a method to demonstrate mastery of material often taught in introductory college-level courses. Since they are not associated with a high school course or curriculum, these exams are not as well marketed or as well-known.

As independent learners, adults and homeschooled students are taking these exams at an ever increasing rate. As they continue to grow in popularity, the test providers have taken notice and are actively reaching out to the homeschool market.

Possible CLEP Exams to Consider

  • American and English Literature
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Natural Sciences
  • Calculus
  • College Algebra
  • Macro and Microeconomics
  • US History
  • World Languages (French, German, Spanish)

Which Test Should I Take? 

The most pronounced difference between the two is their availability: AP is offered only once each year in May whereas CLEP is offered year-round. The difference in cost is near negligible; the AP exam costs $93 whereas the CLEP is $80.

While some colleges will exclusively accept AP exams, it has become common for colleges to award credit for CLEP as well. What tests are accepted and the qualifying score required may also differ so it is important to inquire with your intended university well in advance.

Individual colleges and universities, not the College Board or the AP Program, grant course credit and placement. Inquire with your school(s) of choice and obtain their AP policy in writing. You may find that what is considered a passing score to differ between institutions.

Advantages to Credit by Examination

While affordability, availability, and advancement are just a few reasons to consider earning college credit in your high school years. Obtaining credit through exam also benefits students in other ways.

►  Preparing for for these exams helps students develop the study skills and critical reasoning that prepare them for the transition to college.

►  They give students the confidence that they can successfully handle college-level work.

►  Successfully passing gives students a jump-start towards the completion of their degree.

Students entering college in the near future are encouraged to check the transfer policy of their desired institution to see which type and how many credits can be earned with credit-by-exam options.

Study.com Offers Online Courses to Earn College Credit

With two teens, one entering high school this fall and another in her sophomore year already taking college courses,  I  am constantly seeking out online courses and materials that align with their interests and future career goals. For the past few years, my daughter has been contemplating earning credit by examination.

Study.com seemed like a great opportunity to look into. As I delved farther, I knew the video based lessons would be beneficial to my son and the text based lessons would be most appealing to my daughter.


We received access to the Study.com online learning library in exchange for an honest review. I also received monetary compensation for my time spent in reviewing the product.
All opinions expressed are true and completely our own. Please see my disclosure policy for more information.

 

Study.com is a company that provides high school and college level educational opportunities in the form of online courses, videos, text transcripts, quizzes, practice tests, and a personalized study plan. Students can take courses on a wide variety of subjects through the site – there are presently over 4,000 exclusive courses offered – and gain actual credit hours that can be transferred to thousands of colleges and university programs.

The website was initially launched to accommodate a boom of students looking for flexible supplemental resources online which they could use to study for exams or to learn for fun. Over time, the company learned their lessons were being viewed by both youth and adults – college students were using the website to help study for exams and high school students were even using the resource to prepare for the SAT & ACT.

Study.com Features

Test Prep Courses

The College Level Examination Program (CLEP) offers over 30 exams that can help students earn real college credit. With the increased interest in credit by examination, Study.com has created numerous online courses aimed at helping students pass these CLEP exams for about $80 per course.

The practice quizzes allow students to see what areas they know well and what areas they need to improve. No need to get caught in the mire, slogging through review content. Students can simply jump to the topics of need.

After taking enough of these general education courses, students can possibly test out of their first two years of college in a fraction of the time and a fraction of the cost compared to traditional colleges and universities.

What I love best is that the course materials are presented in several different ways. In this way, my children can work at a pace that best suits their individual learning styles. My daughter finds the text transcripts helpful to review the material whereas my son – a visual/auditory learner – prefers the short, engaging videos. I can rest easy knowing the concepts are taught well.

The beauty of the program is that your child can customize the delivery and use it in the way that works best for him or her!

No matter what the dominant learning style of your child, however, I recommend students watch the videos and read the transcript of the video. Students can take notes from the transcript on the screen or print it out and highlight key facts to help them remember the information. Best of all, they can create their own study plan with the aid of the tools provided.

image of Praxis Biology course on Study.com

Screenshot of Professional Development course – Praxis Biology

Professional Development 

Study.com is not just for my kids, though. I was delighted to discover that it also provides teacher certification exam preparation materials and other professional development and corporate learning courses.

I am strongly thinking of adding a high school science endorsement or even English as a Second Language to my teaching certification.

Additionally, teachers can use the platform to flip their classroom, assigning the videos and accompanying quizzes as homework, which thereby allows the teacher to track the progress and understanding of their students via the quiz scores. Others can choose to show students the videos to supplant the main lesson plan and introduce the day’s lesson to students.

The Nitty Gritty

Though Study.com is not free, there are three subscription based options beginning at just $39.99 per month providing unlimited access to the website’s full library online courses – both video lessons and transcripts. For just $59.99/month, a Premium Edition subscription provides access to the practice quizzes and tests, personalized coaching, certificates of completion, and more!

The exclusive courses are accepted for credit by the American Council of Education (ACE). Students can take these courses at a flexible pace. Upon completion, students take a proctored exam, and if they pass, can submit their scores to thousands of accredited colleges for transfer credit.

Discount

20% off your first 3 months of Study.com’s CLEP test prep product with coupon code HOMESCHOOLFORCLEP. Valid through May 31, 2018 for new members only. HOW TO REDEEM: Click the “Have a Coupon Code?” link on the last page of the registration process, input the coupon code HOMESCHOOLFORCLEP, and click the “Apply Coupon” button.

Don’t Miss the Giveaway!

Five winners will receive a 6-month subscription to Study.com’s CLEP test prep product (each subscription valued at $359.94).

Scholarship Opportunity

Not only that, but Study.com also offers scholarships to students pursuing CLEP credit with the following awards:

First Prize: $500
Second Prize: $250
Third Prize: $250

You can learn more about the scholarship opportunity here.