Thomas Edison State College Blog

Credit-by-Exam: Colleges’ Best Kept Secret

February 25, 2014

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.

Sounds like a dream come true? It’s actually a method that’s been used for decades.

Credit-by-exam programs have become popular among students who want to complete their degree requirements more efficiently than taking traditional courses, and who want to accelerate their pace and contain costs. Today, credit-by-exam programs have become instrumental in developing new pathways for students to earn credit, including the College’s new open course option that capitalizes on the value these programs offer.

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, while the College offers TECEP®, its own credit-by exam program.

If you are considering credit-by-exam programs, talk with your academic advisor to make sure credits from the exam you are planning to take can be transferred to satisfy a requirement in your degree program.

Then, the rest is up to you. Establish and follow your own study schedule, and brush up on a few test-taking tips to prepare you for your exam. Show up on your test date, which you select, and be ready to take a comprehensive final exam.


Want to learn more about credit-by-exam programs? Check out our list of credit-by-exam programs available for students to earn credit, here.
 

Tags: CLEP , DSST , TECEP , tips and advice

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For our many students who speak a second language, the re are two exams that offer significant credit. New York University (NYU) offers exams in 51 different languages. Students can earn up to 16 credits through the NYU program. The American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) offers the Oral Proficiency International (OPI) exam conducted by telephone. Students can earn up to 14 additional upper level language credits. Both exams are reasonably priced for the number of credits that can be earned.
Todd 9:02AM 03/10/14

10 Signs You Have More College-Level Knowledge Than You Think

February 18, 2014

All too often, students think that only the courses taken sitting in a classroom will transfer as college credit. However, credit can be so much more than a list of courses on a transcript. Transfer credit can include professional licenses and certifications, military training and professional training. You can also earn credit through exams and portfolio assessment.

With so many options to earn transfer credit, students should really explore what works for them so they do not have to put their lives and careers on hold by taking courses that, chances are, they already know everything about. Your goal is our goal – to finish your college degree – and the more options you have, the quicker you’ll get there.

Here are 10 signs that you probably already have more college-level knowledge than you think. If at any point you stop and say, “hey, that’s me!” – just follow the links to learn how you can get earn those credits ASAP.

1. You brag about your professional license or certification.

You’ve already studied, taken a test and passed. If you possess a current and valid license and certification in one of more than 60 fields ranging from aviation to healthcare, law enforcement to business, you could earn college credit. The College’s Office for Assessment of Professional Workplace Learning, the American Council on Education (ACE) and the National College Credit Recommendation Service (NCCRS)
have already evaluated and approved several licenses and certifications for college credit. You can find them organized by topic, here.


2. You show off what you learned after completing a training program for your profession.

If you participated in any apprenticeships and courses taken at your workplace, be it through a corporation, government agency, professional association or union, or any specialized training program, your professional license and certification may have already been evaluated for college credit. You can create a transcript of your training, with appropriate documentation, to send to the Registrar for review.


3. You’ve become the “in-house expert” at your organization on something.

Are you the person who trains new recruits? Or are you always the go-to person whenever a colleague has a question? It can be anything, from project planning to editing, or budget balancing to problem solving. Obviously, your colleagues already recognize your extensive knowledge, and you can too by documenting and equating what you know with a college-level course through portfolio assessment.


4. You have military experience or attended a military service school.

If you have military experience, depending on the military training documented in the Joint Service Transcripts (JST), transcripts from the Community College of the Air Force and the Coast Guard Institute or, you are a service member who left the military before 1886, you may be able earn additional college credit. Learn how you can submit official transcripts and receive credit, here.


5. You have taught college-level courses, for college credit, at a regionally accredited college or university.

Were you the primary instructor? Or the person responsible for determining and submitting course grades? There are instances where a regionally accredited college or university may employ a faculty instructor who is without a completed baccalaureate degree. There is a certain level of expertise in teaching such courses, and you can earn Credit for Courses Taught.


6. You practically have a second job volunteering in your community.

Do you volunteer beyond the occasional bake sale? Does your community service work read like a resume? Your extensive real-world expertise in a specific subject or content area can equate to what you would learn in a college course. If this sounds like you, then you may be a good candidate for portfolio assessment.


7. You are passionate about a subject and can’t stop reading (or talking) about it.

Whether you are a Civil War buff, or you have read every how-to book on leadership ever published, the knowledge you developed from your independent study could help you pass an exam for credit instead of taking the course. Look through the College’s TECEP® offerings, its own credit-by exam program, and other exam programs, to find out if your passion can earn you college credit by simply taking a final exam.


8. You live for your art (or just really, really enjoy it).

If you are a writer, painter, actor, musician, photographer, performer, artisan, sculptor, dancer - essentially, the creative type - you probably have a portfolio of work that demonstrates your talent or skill. Your achievements, whether they are on CDs or DVDs, printed in playbills, painted on canvas or written as online reviews, are an excellent source that demonstrates your knowledge. Your latest project could be your ticket to earning college credit through portfolio assessment.


9. You are much sought-after master in your hobby field.

Are you a respected hobbyist in a specific field? Have you written published articles about your interests? If your recreational activities and knowledge have placed you in an esteemed position, or your peers are looking to learn from you, you probably already know what would be taught in a college course. The expertise and skills developed through your hobby are perfect for portfolio assessment.


10. You have trouble fitting all your experience, skills, knowledge and work into a 1- or 2-page resume.

Your extensive background is filled with significant responsibilities and accomplishments that may not fit into 1 or 2 pages, but will work great in a multi-page portfolio assessment. Identify your learning and experiences that best equate to a college course by utilizing the College’s PLA Course Description Database to earn credit for what you already know.


College-level knowledge doesn’t only come from a classroom. And neither does credit. Find out more ways you can earn college credit for what you already know, here.
 

Tags: Academic Credit , ACE , CLEP , credit-by-exam , DSST , Going Back to College , PLA , portfolio assessment , prior learning assessment , Prior Learning Assessment and Portfolio , Registrar , Studying at Thomas Edison State College , TECEP , tips and advice

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Going Back to College: How to Get Maximum Transfer Credit Towards Your Degree

October 03, 2013

Think long and hard on how you would answer this question:

Would you take the same course twice, if you didn’t have to?

Hopefully, you answered no. Or, even better, answered no way!

Then why not get maximum transfer credit towards your degree by applying a little extra effort?

There are several ways to ensure that you get the optimal amount of previously earned credit to fit into your curriculum so that you can quickly finish your college degree. As an invaluable planning tool, you’ll want your customized academic evaluation to be accurate the first time around to effectively assess which courses you have left to take. Education is never wasted, so here are some smart ways to get college credit for your hard-earned past efforts:

  1. Send official transcripts from every institution you have attended.
    Whether you attended a regionally accredited community college or a four-year institution, or multiple institutions, send all official, sealed transcripts of your past college credits for evaluation. Even if you attended five or 25 years ago, earning a grade of C or better. If you feel unsure how the credits might apply, send the transcripts regardless. They may be better suited to a specific course objective, or a different degree program should you change your mind. Credits don’t expire.
  2. Submit official, notarized copies of all licenses and certifications.
    You may already possess specialized licenses and certifications for your workplace, and not only will you be able to earn college credit for them, but some degree programs actually require them. The complete list is extensive; it includes everything from pilot’s licenses to real estate licenses, nuclear regulatory certifications to testing certifications, and more. The list of licenses and certifications reviewed by ACE (American Council on Education) and NCCRS (National College Credit Recommendation Service) are continuously being updated, and yours can end up saving you lots of time.
  3. Submit official transcripts or documentation of any professional training, programs and courses.
    Any apprenticeships or courses taken in your workplace, through your company, government agencies, professional associations or unions, are also evaluated for college credit. Many of these specialized training programs, like military or EMT training, or online course programs like Straighterline, have already been reviewed by ACE and NCCRS, and through Thomas Edison State College’s Office for Assessment of Professional and Workplace Learning. These credit-awarding organizations, particularly branches of the military, require individual transcripts and documentation, so make sure you submit the proper paperwork to guarantee your efforts didn’t go to waste.
  4. Submit all official examination or credit-by-exam scores.
    If you took CLEP exams, the College’s own TECEP program, or another accredited testing option, make sure your final scores are recognized. The content reflected in the tests demonstrate that you have the knowledge and skills equivalent to that of students who learn the material in a college classroom, thereby earning you credit towards your degree.
  5. Determine how your knowledge acquired outside the classroom can apply toward your degree program.
    Prior Learning Assessment, including portfolio assessment, demonstrates that what you already know is equivalent to the course objectives that would have been learned in an equivalent course. Your past work, independent reading and study, training programs or in-service courses, volunteer service, cultural or artistic pursuits, hobbies and recreational pastimes, community or religious activities, organizational memberships, adult education, non-credit courses, study abroad, military training not evaluated for credit by ACE, or other experiences enables you to develop a portfolio for this knowledge, and potentially earn credit for it.

Ultimately, your goal is to leverage all that you bring to this endeavor, which validates the work you have completed and the expertise you have developed. Understanding how to transfer the maximum amount of credit can be a key to success.

Want to learn more about the many ways to earn credit for knowledge obtained in noncollegiate settings? Check out our Methods of Learning and Earning Credit section.
 

Tags: Academic Credit , ACE , CLEP , credit-by-exam , Going Back to College , military , prior learning assessment , Studying at Thomas Edison State College , TECEP , tips and advice

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Tips to Help You Prepare for Credit-by-Exam Programs

April 03, 2013

Emily Carone, Assistant Director, Center for the Assessment of Learning at Thomas Edison State College

Emily Carone, Assistant Director, Center for the Assessment of Learning at Thomas Edison State College

Emily's Posts
by Emily Carone, Assistant Director,
Center for the Assessment of Learning at Thomas Edison State College

I work with TECEP®, the Thomas Edison State College Exam Program, which is the College's own credit-by-exam program, which I wrote about previously in this blog.

While I can't help you study, I can give you some practical advice to help you take tests. If you already have some prior knowledge in any of the subjects we offer, you might be interested in the study tips below. Naturally, these tips apply to all tests and credit-by-exam programs, including common ones like the College-Level Exam Program (CLEP) and our own TECEP®.

Best of all, you don't need to learn any complicated techniques, because most test-taking tips are not rocket science--they're plain old common sense.

So, here are four test-taking tips I hope you find helpful in preparing for your next exam.

  1. Cramming for a test is not as effective as following a consistent study schedule leading up to the test. You will retain more information for a longer period of time if you schedule several shorter study sessions during the days before the test. Of course you should cram if you haven't studied and your test is tomorrow.
  2. Don't study your material in sequence from the beginning to the end. Jump around. If you study "out of order" you are more likely to remember the information. Many tests randomize the order of the questions so if you learn the material in sequence it will be harder for you to recall it during the test.
  3. While you are studying, try to ignore all things digital, like your phone, unless you are using a device to study. Digital distractions—even very brief ones—diminish information retention and recall.
  4. Review difficult material before bedtime (not if you're tired!), then get a good night's sleep. Your brain will process the information overnight.

Hope this is helpful and I'll be back again.

Until then, contact us at [email protected] or add your comment below if you would like to share your own tips with us.

Tags: credit-by-exam , TECEP

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Great article, good job and thank you!
Platos microondas 7:25AM 05/28/13
Also, a good advice for all those who have good visual memory - try to "photograph" with your eyes a piece of text you are going to remember, make a good picture of it in your head. When time for this information will come - try to recall in memory only the picture, and the text will come with it automatically. Try it at home, it helped me a lot
Howard Hill 7:22AM 05/27/13

Testing, Testing: Is Credit-by-Exam for You?

November 29, 2012

Emily Carone, assistant director, Center for the Assessment of Learning at Thomas Edison State College

Emily Carone, assistant director, Center for the Assessment of Learning at Thomas Edison State College

Emily's Posts
by Emily Carone, Assistant Director,
Center for the Assessment of Learning at Thomas Edison State College

TECEP® exams and other credit-by-exam programs are the most efficient way for Thomas Edison State College students to earn credit. If you have some prior knowledge or experience in a subject area and think you are an independent learner, you might be a good candidate for this credit-by-exam method of course completion. And you can feel confident that TECEP® exams will fulfill your degree requirements, just like the College’s online courses.

The best thing about earning credit this way is the ease and flexibility of the process. You do not need to follow a rigid course schedule, prepare assignments by due dates or participate in online discussions. All you need to do is show up on a test date, which you select, and (of course) be prepared to take a comprehensive final exam.

Another appealing feature of testing is the grading system. Credit-by-exam grades are pass/fail only and do not affect your grade point average. Because of this, you only need to demonstrate that you know the subject matter to earn the credit.

So why don't all students decide to earn credit through testing?

There's one big reason: not everyone can successfully work in an unstructured environment. 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. There are no deadlines and there is no mentor to answer your questions or provide feedback. This approach is exactly what appeals to many busy adult students who have competing demands on their time and who prefer to work independently without any interactions with a mentor or other students.

Does this sound like you? If you think you can establish and follow your own study preparation schedule, you should consider "testing out" and try the credit-by-exam method of earning college credit.

TECEP® is the College’s own testing program. The exams are developed by the College’s mentors in order to help our students fulfill their degree requirements.

Students can earn credit using several other credit-by-exam programs available, such as the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) and DSST exams. Learn more about TECEP® and other credit-by-exam programs accepted at Thomas Edison State College.

In my next post, we’ll discuss how to prepare for and take TECEP® exams.

 

Tags: CLEP , credit-by-exam , DSST , TECEP , testing

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Thank you for such informative, it helps so many of them waiting for an exam.... online exam
online exam 5:14AM 06/19/13
I am so glad I found this. Someone had recommended TECEP to me and I was wondering about it
patti 12:11PM 01/13/13
It's a win win situation. It does not get any better than this.. Where you get credit for what you already know. I was able to pack up twelve credits for my ability to speak another language. It automatically propelled me to graduation with a BSN. I remain very grateful.
Ifeoma Egwuonwu 10:09PM 12/27/12

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