Test out of freshman year: Your guide to CLEP and DSST exams

What if you could skip college classes because you already learned the material in high school? Better yet, what if you could graduate a semester early and jump start your career, saving yourself time and money? If you take a College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) or DANTES Subject Standardized Test (DSST) exam after your senior year of high school, getting out of freshman-level courses could be at your fingertips. CLEP and DSST exams are standardized tests that allow you to ‘test out’ of lower-level college courses in certain subjects.  Sounds like a pretty sweet deal, right? Read on for more information about college policies, available exams and study materials.

Check your school’s policy

Before you register to take a CLEP or DSST exam, be sure to check out your school’s policy on credit by examination. Colleges will select what exams they accept and determine the score you need to receive credit. They will also establish the amount of credits granted per exam. Some schools place a limit on the number of credits you can earn through CLEP or DSST, while others may grant you exemption from a course but no credit toward your degree.

Available exams

CLEP offers exams in composition, literature, world languages, history, economics, psychology, science, math and business. DSST also offers exams in history, science, math and business with additional tests for art history, ethics, education, technology and public speaking courses.

How to study

Test takers can sign up for a free online CLEP course through Modern States’ Freshman Year for Free Program. The program provides courses in over 30 subjects with instruction from some of the world’s top universities and professors. CLEP course textbooks, lectures, quizzes and tests are available online, free of charge. CLEP also offers study guides and individual exam resources on their website. DSST offers online practice tests for most of their exam titles.

Cost of exams

There is a fee associated with CLEP and DSST exams, but the cost is significantly less than what you would pay for a college class. A CLEP exam costs $87 and a DSST exam costs $85. Some test sites may also charge an administration fee. Both tests are free to U.S. military personnel.

Whether you’re looking to graduate early or save money on tuition, CLEP and DSST exams are a great way to get a head start on your college career and begin earning college credit. For more information about CLEP and DSST exams, check out our College Handbook.