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Credit-by-Exam: Higher Education's Best Kept Secret

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Posted: Monday, February 24, 2014 7:38 am | Updated: 1:32 am, Tue Feb 25, 2014.

(NewsUSA) - For most college students, the path to earning credit typically involves several weeks of listening to lectures, taking notes, completing assignments and passing a mid-term and final exam.

But if you could earn that credit in less time and at a fraction of the cost of taking a formal course, would you be interested? There would be no assignments to complete and no lectures or classes to attend, just an exam to pass.

Students looking for a more efficient model to earn a college degree should consider credit-by-exam programs, which have become popular among those who want to accelerate their pace and contain costs.

"Credit-by-exam programs have been used for decades and continue to grow today because they offer real value to students and enable them to complete degree requirements more efficiently than taking traditional courses," noted Marc Singer, vice provost of the Center for the Assessment of Learning at Thomas Edison State College (www.tesc.edu), which recently aligned several of its credit-by-exam programs with open courses to create new pathways for students to earn credit.

Nearly 3,000 colleges and universities in the U.S. accept credit-by-exam as transfer credit. The programs enable students to earn credit by passing a single exam and tend to be a good fit for independent learners, students who possess college-level knowledge and students who are good test takers.

Credit-by-exam programs are not for everyone, especially students who prefer a structured environment and interacting with a professor and fellow students. Deciding to earn college credit by preparing for an exam that covers a semester's worth of content means you have to be self-motivated and disciplined. This approach appeals to many busy adult students who have competing demands on their time and who prefer to work independently.

Two of the most popular credit-by-exam programs in the U.S. are the College-Level Exam Program (CLEP exams) and DSST exams.

"Students considering credit-by-exam programs should talk with their academic advisor to make sure credits from the exam they are planning to take can be transferred to satisfy a requirement in their degree program," said Singer.

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