How to Prepare for a DSST Exam in 8 Easy Steps

Posted Thursday, August 28, 2014

By DSST Credit by Exam Program

Congratulations! You’ve made the decision to take a DSST exam, a test that will help you advance your college education without breaking the bank on tuition costs. Now that you’ve taken the leap you’re probably wondering…how do I get started? Do not fear! This quick step-by-step guide will help you prepare in no time!


1. Find out if your school awards credit for DSST exams.

Some schools are more flexible about what types of college credit they will accept, while others are not. Before you spend any time studying, make sure that you contact your institution to find out if they will award you credit for all of your hard work, or if there are any limitations to how many college credits you can apply to your academic record. Use DSST’s institution search tool to find out if your school accepts DSST exams for credit. 

2. Determine which exam you would like to take.

DSST currently offers more than 30 exams on a variety of subjects; these topics range from core academic studies such as algebra and world history, to practical vocational skillsets such as money & banking or their newest exam, Fundamentals of Cybersecurity. Use DSST’s test prep course page to research classes for which you could possibly earn college credits. Be sure to speak to your academic advisor to ensure that the credits earned from the exam will be accepted and are equivalent to your institution’s course requirements. Once you have selected the courses you would like to test out of, contact your institution’s test center (or other nearby test center) to set up a test date. 

3. Locate study materials for your exam.

There are a variety of online and offline tools that you can use to prepare for your DSST exam. DSST provides online practice exams that you can take – a great option because the practice exams show questions that are very similar to the material you will be tested on. iStudySmart is another resource that provides online preparation courses that can be used to study for the exams at your own pace. You can also use Amazon to look up independently published study books online. Also, previous test takers have also recommended InstantCert Academy and Jump Course as additional helpful study resources.

4. Create a study plan that works for you.

This is where things get pretty particular, as your study plan requires you to be introspective. Ask yourself: how do you like to study? Are you someone who stays up late at night? Or are you able to retain more information in the morning? Do you like to study several days a week? Or do you save your work for the weekend? You also need to assess your knowledge on the subject(s) you are studying for - do you know everything there is to know about the topic, or do you need to do a quick brush up and review? Depending on your current knowledge base and your study patterns, your individual study plan may vary. We suggest setting aside enough time to review for a test before you sit for the exam – for most students, this means six to eight weeks, or the same amount of time you would spend in a course. But again, this varies based on your own academic level.

5. Start studying!

During the summer and holidays, it can be really hard to stay focused on studying – especially with constant parties and events to distract you. However, you must remember: the key to succeeding at anything in life is staying disciplined and determined. Instead of wondering what your friends are up to while you are studying, read these tips on how to study while you’re on the go, or how to stay motivated in your studies over the summer. Don’t give up – go for the goal!

6. Relax before test day.

Be sure to rest up and eat well before test day. Whatever you do, do NOT try to cram before your test. Overstimulation of the brain will not only psyche you out emotionally, but it will also reduce your ability to retain all the information you just learned. Use the day before your exam to do something fun and unrelated to testing. Eat a nutritious and healthy breakfast the morning of your exam, and then head to your testing center with confidence!

7. Take your exam.

All of your hard work will come forth on testing day. Be sure to arrive at your testing center on time and with all the necessary materials that you need to check-in, such as a government-issued ID. Listen to your proctor’s instructions and remain calm during your exam so that you can focus and answer as many questions as possible. Speeding through may cause you to miss certain questions that you could successfully have scored higher on.

8. Receive your scores and celebrate!

Once you are done with your DSST exams, a copy of your scores will be sent to your school. You will also receive your scores and be told whether you passed or failed. If you did not pass the first time, do not fret; practice makes perfect. If you did pass, be sure to check with your registrar to ensure that your college credits have been applied to your transcript. And then celebrate your accomplishment!

Still have questions? Visit the DSST FAQ page for more test taker info!


About DSST Credit by Exam Program

The DSST credit by exam program gives students the opportunity to receive college credit for life experience as a form of prior learning assessment. Recommended for credit by the American Council on Education, the 38 exams are offered in diverse subject areas such as health, ethics, finance and technology. The DSST program is owned by Prometric, the global leader in testing and assessment, and has been placing students on the fast track to college degrees since 1974. Learn more at

Tags: Credit by Exam , Study Tips

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9 Things No One Tells You About Choosing Electives

Posted Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Does a course about Children’s Literature sound fascinating? Or perhaps the Dog Behavior and Biology course interests you while you struggle to house train your own Spot or Fido?

One of the many benefits of college is that you have the flexibility to choose what you want to learn. Electives allow you to be picky and select classes that fulfill a general education requirement, help boost your GPA or interest you “just because.” Or they may give you the opportunity to explore new hobbies and develop desirable career skills and abilities. However, your elective choices can be limited, or even nonexistent, if you don’t have the right degree plan and make the wrong course decisions. It all depends on which credits successfully transfer, your degree requirements and what you ultimately want to do. Here’s what you need to know to ensure that you can take electives that meet your personal goals, passions and degree needs.


There’s no one size fits all.

There are three different categories of electives you need to complete your degree: free electives, area of study electives and general education electives. Your degree program lists the credit distribution requirements you need to fulfill each type of elective and provide an overview of your options. Understand the difference so you can avoid taking a course that does not apply to your degree, or even worse, taking the same course twice. 

Take electives after you have satisfied your required courses.

Any course can fulfill your free elective requirements, but not every course can fulfill your area of study and general education requirements. So create a degree plan that ensures you will meet the required courses you need to graduate before you take any electives. After consulting your academic evaluation to determine the courses you still need, use this method to tackle your remaining courses:


First, complete your general education requirements, and then your general education electives. If you have transferred in a significant amount of credits or taken any exams for credit, (think English and math) a majority of those credits will most likely fall into the first and second tier (general education courses and electives). Once these have been satisfied, subsequent credits will attempt to fit into the next possible slot in your degree program.  Then, complete your area of study requirements, followed by your area of study electives. Again, if you have transfer credits that satisfy these requirements, they will apply accordingly to your degree. Lastly, if any of your transfer credits do not fit into your general education and area of study requirements, they will apply as free electives. If your free electives have been filled, then credits will apply as other courses. Once all your degree requirements have been met, then you can take the electives you want, if you still have room to do so.  

Take advantage of your interests and strengths.

When you take a class that appeals to your interests and strengths, it typically contributes to a better learning experience. Also consider electives that will build or increase a specific skill set. For example, if you are pursuing a business degree, why not take a public speaking course? Developing your presentation skills would be a smart career move if you are pursing a leadership role in business.


Free electives are the most flexible.

Free electives are courses that typically fall outside of your required courses and area of study, or are not needed under any other section of your academic evaluation. Any credits that are not required for your degree program will apply as free electives. Review your academic evaluation to find out how many more free electives (if any) you may still need to complete your degree. Then, you can take almost any course to earn those credits. Now, will it be American Cinema, Game Theory or something else? The choice is yours!

Consider area of study electives as your “major” electives.

You can choose these courses from a menu list of possible selections within your degree program. Use this opportunity to explore additional subjects and develop a well-rounded general knowledge of your area of study. For example, a communications degree candidate may decide to take courses in journalism, communication law and voice production to prepare for any number of career paths, further enhancing his/her experience and skills.

You can create your own “minor” with area of study electives.

If you are interested in developing a broader and deeper understanding of a specific subject area, you can use area of study electives to develop your own “minor.” Here, you can choose electives that are relevant to your personal and professional goals. For example, a marketing degree candidate may choose to narrow down his/her degree focus to take only advertising courses to pursue an industry-specific career.

Consult your academic advisor before registering for any electives.

Your academic advisor can help you understand the best options for completing your degree, so obtaining preapproval before you register for any courses/credits is key. Getting classes preapproved ensures that the credits you earn will apply to your degree program and will eliminate the possibility of duplicating a course you have already completed. Your academic advisor can also help you search and select courses at other regionally accredited institutions. This can be especially helpful when your degree program includes courses that are not offered at Thomas Edison State College. A quick email or phone call to your advisor for preapproval can save you the time, money and hassle of taking a course that does not fulfill the credit you’re looking to earn.

You have more options for general education electives than you think.

Your general education courses are designed to provide you with a working knowledge of multiple subjects. These entry-level courses are organized into five main categories: Intellectual and Practical Skills, Personal and Social Responsibility, Human Cultures and the Physical World, Integrative and Applied Learning, and General Education. These courses can be used to satisfy requirements for more than one area, and can be tailored to your own needs and interests. Are you afraid of math? Then you can take Applied Liberal Arts Mathematics (intended for nonmath majors) to fulfill your math requirement. Or are you looking to fill a Humanities course? Introduction to Photography could help you develop (pun intended) your photo-taking skills and fulfill your degree requirements. 

General Education Electives can complement your degree.

Think that taking a Managerial Communications to fulfill an Intellectual and Practical Skills requirement isn’t relevant to an information technology degree? Think again. An IT professional may supervise staff, negotiate with product vendors and develop company procedures - job responsibilities that require basic skills in effective communications. Basic general education electives enable you to take courses that not only strengthen your skills and abilities for future coursework, but also foster the proficiencies employers most value in the workforce.


Maybe you’ve taken an elective simply for fun. Or maybe an elective opened your eyes to a new career path. What fascinating or intriguing electives have you taken?

Tags: Academic Evaluation , Taking Courses , Transfer Credits

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Ask an Expert: Robert Rockmaker, President and CEO of the Flight School Association of North America

Posted Tuesday, August 19, 2014

In honor of National Aviation Day, celebrating famed aviator Orville Wright’s birthday, on Tuesday, August 18th, we sat down with Robert Rockmaker, President and CEO of the Flight School Association of North America (FSANA) for a chat about the flight industry, where it’s going and how your aviation career can take off.

Orville Wright would be proud.

Q: What advice would you give students in the College’s air traffic control, aviation flight technology and aviation maintenance technology programs who are looking for promotions and advancement in the aviation field?

Robert: Having or developing the skill sets to work, process and communicate effectively are important ingredients for success, no matter what the career pathway. In the aviation industry, some of the careers such as airline pilot are almost 100 percent driven based on seniority. This model has been around for decades and will most likely remain in place for many years. People who are open to continuous learning and ongoing personal improvement tend to advance in their careers more than those who stagnate.

Today, with the rapid changing face of our planet brought about by high technology, people need to be open to change. Those that can evolve tend to do better over the long haul. As they say, nothing is forever and there are no guarantees in life. People interested in developing their management skills should focus on how to communicate. I believe that ongoing education is important. Learning for life is a motto that I follow and practice.

Q: What skills and technologies should students continually work on and update?

Robert: Both verbal and written skills are important. These form the backbone for most career pathways. Of course, learning new technical skills and techniques is an important part of the career life cycle. I would suggest that people brush up on their basic math skills. Math forms a core element in almost everything we do in one way or the other. There are many ways to re-explore the world of math, especially with the Internet.

With respect to aircraft maintenance, there will always be the need for trained people to provide maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services on aircraft. The Internet does not provide a platform for the actual work required to maintain aircraft. This is a hands-on career pathway. I encourage people to explore the aircraft technician segment.

Airline and a majority of business jet aircraft require two pilots in the cockpit. On the other hand, it takes a crew of people to perform the maintenance tasks that are required under the FAA regulations. People who enjoy working with their hands should explore the world of aircraft maintenance. Aircraft repair is highly technical and requires ongoing knowledge in order to stay current with the latest trends and techniques.

Q: Why are FAA licensed pilots, commercially licensed pilots and licensed air traffic controllers encouraged to pursue a degree? What is the benefit of returning to college after such experiences?

Robert: Pilots and air traffic controllers must meet specific FAA medical standards in order to be actively involved in their respective careers. In the airline pilot community, a pilot who cannot pass an FAA Class 1 medical exam is not permitted to fly for an airline. In essence, their career as an airline pilot is over unless they are able to regain their FAA medical certificate.

For many years, I have encouraged those who want to fly for a living to consider a post-secondary college degree in another study area. Management, marketing or finance are always good educational pathways when seeking a more diversified educational portfolio. An airline pilot may not be able to fly for a living due to non-passage of the FAA medical exam however he or she, with the appropriate college degree, could move into a management or marketing slot at the airline.

Q: What is the best way for someone to gain experience in the aviation field?

Robert: I have always said that experience is a great teacher. When a person is building and/or expanding their knowledge base, it is almost always beneficial to try and work somewhere within the industry. Becoming a baggage handler or working at an FBO in customer service or pumping fuel can be very educational. Getting a little dirty is OK. The experience cannot be replicated in the classroom or online.

Q: How do you view the future of the aviation? What direction or advances do you see happening?

Robert: Aviation has a bright future and it is an expanding industry, especially outside the United States. The large growth will take place in Asia and the Middle East.

China has just started to open their airspace to civil aviation. China is building over 80 new airports to help accommodate the large growth that is just starting in that region of the world. Up until recently, the airspace over China was totally controlled by the military. It was next to impossible to operate a general aviation (GA) aircraft in China. Today, that is changing. Just three years ago, there was one flight school in China. Today, there are six schools and more on the drawing boards.

In the United States, airline passenger enplanements will grow but at a modest rate. People who want to get to their destination with a rapid deployment will continue to utilize the U.S. airline system that has been developed. Across the U.S., many commercial service airports have seen declines in their passenger traffic. This has been due to the modern day economic depression that we are still coming through. Over time, passenger counts will again rise as the economy continues to stabilize and grow.

As I noted earlier, the large growth in both airline and general aviation will be in China and the Middle East. There are opportunities for Americans to start their aviation careers both in the U.S. and abroad if they so choose.


What other questions do you have for Robert? Leave them in the comments below!  

 Robert Rockmaker, A.A.E. has been in the aviation industry for 47 years, and serves as  President and CEO of the Flight School Association of  North America (FSANA), the first  trade association dedicated to the flight training industry. As a commercial pilot with  instrument, multiengine,  glider and seaplane ratings, Robert also earned an A.S. in Air  Transportation and a B.S. in Air Commerce and continues to study business and  aviation  management. 





Tags: Aviation , Majors and Degree Programs , School of Applied Science and Technology

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Is History the Key to Our Future?

Posted Friday, August 15, 2014

By Dr. John R. Woznicki, Dean
Heavin School of Arts and Sciences

It was the philosopher George Santayana who most famously spoke to the ultimate benefit of knowing our history: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

You know this quote, or some version of it, and I am willing to wager that you also have an inherent sense that history, and our knowledge of it, is indeed important to us in some way. Historians are those who, ultimately, chronicle and, in many cases, preserve history.  And they do so not necessarily for the sake of earning a paycheck, but for our benefit. 

That’s why, while reading The New York Times’ article “In Church Attics, Clues to the Private Life of Early America,” it struck me how important it is to still train people as historians. As dean, I oversee the College’s history program, and I was delighted that the article expertly addressed the kind of work that our present-day historians do, work that has components both conventional and progressive.  It is work supported by the kind of skills that would benefit just about anyone in the workforce, from the criminal investigator to the human resources manager and just about everyone in between.


Historians: The Modern Investigators

History work entails looking for information in customary style, painstakingly seeking clues from both primary and secondary sources for leads that will get them closer to the holy grail, the ultimate primary source—in this case, to the actual church records still held at Colonial-era churches.  Ask any detective if this work is akin to a historian’s (or watch any of the episodes in the CSI television franchise). You may also ask any human resource manager if she or he has ever had to research the background of a potential candidate or look back through institutional records for seldom evoked but now relevant policies or interview employees to gain a sense of an undocumented institutional history that might be relevant for their development of a new training program.

As they seek to preserve those primary sources, those original documents that are so valuable to us, they will increasingly require skills in digital media for the preservation or retrieval of information. 

We will depend more and more on folks who are cross-trained with solid skills in communication, research, and in digital information storage, retrieval and analysis as life in the 21st century—life in the information age—becomes increasingly more complex. This will benefit those who are criminal investigators, anthropologists, insurance claim adjusters, human resource managers, etc. 

In the way they tracked down those church records, I believe the historians mentioned in the article would have done very well in any of those professions.

But they chose history. And without the benefit of conducting an interview with them, I might suppose that perhaps part of their decision to choose history as a profession may have been based on our shared sense of the importance of history and our need to know it, to preserve it.

You see, those church records, as the article suggests, hold all kinds of interesting and important (yes, important!) personal information that can offer us many insights into colonial culture and perhaps, our culture at large. Who were we as Americans? Who are we now as Americans? Why is it important to know that Sarah Wood apologized for denouncing infant baptisms? Or that Sarah Blanchard was sorry she skipped a worship service?

How important will the information in those records be 300 years from now?  How important will it be for us to digitize and preserve our history so it is not lost to the ravages of time? 


Using the Past to Change the Future

What we can be sure of is that the historian’s search, even when completed, is never over. It opens up new questions, and it prompts a new search.  Historians give us the opportunity for perpetual examination, so that we may lead interesting, fulfilling lives worth living, and so we may preserve the opportunity for improvement as humans and learn from our mistakes, not doomed to repeat ourselves.

Without our historians and the recording of history, we may lose those opportunities. Preserving the past, and understanding it, should be a shared priority. In that, we can then shape our future.

Tags: Majors and Degree Programs

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7 Essential Student Resources to Ease Your Schoolwork Pains

Posted Wednesday, August 06, 2014

By Kay Howard
Student Affairs Specialist, Learner Support Center


When you have multiple papers and projects due, research topics to brainstorm and exams to study for, time management, or actually finding any time at all, can be a real challenge. How can you keep up with all your assignments, avoid distractions and stay focused?

To increase your productivity and concentration, there is a collection of resources available to you as a Thomas Edison State College student. From 24/7 tutoring to citation shortcuts, use these tools to make your school life easier and get the job done in the time you do have.


This free online plagiarism prevention service offers timely feedback and suggestions to help you improve your writing and citation skills. Turnitin matches the content of your assignment against online resources, research papers, student papers and published articles in order to detect unoriginal content or citation errors. If you have questions on how to use the service, create a profile or submit an assignment, you can review the Turnitin Manual for Students.

Time Saved: Two hours spent reading the same sentence over again and second-guessing yourself. Even longer if you are faced with allegations of plagiarism.



Get writing assistance and live, on-demand tutoring help from expert tutors 24/7. As a free online tutoring service, Smarthinking offers the help you need, when you need it. To set up a personal account, you can find a link to the service in each online course you are taking.

Time Saved: A frustrating evening trying to understand how to solve a confusing math problem. 


New Jersey State Library

As a student at the College, you can get special, free online resources through The New Jersey State Library. Register for a library ID card online and get electronic access to the library’s databases, electronic journals, eBooks, audiobooks and more.

Time Saved: 20 minutes wondering if a source is scholarly enough for your research paper.


Virtual Academic Library Environment (VALE)

VALE provides electronic access to research databases, e-journals and data, digitized primary sources, and newspapers, as well as the world’s largest collection of dissertations and theses. Use ProQuest and EBSCOhost to find relevant sources, and click on the “Cite” link to generate a citation according to the style you need. You can access VALE through myEdison®, under the "Educational" tab in "My Resources.”

Time Saved: Ten minutes figuring out how to properly format an APA citation for a single journal article.


LearningExpress Library

If you are looking for practice tests, tutorials or skill-building exercises, the LearningExpress Library is a one-stop-shop for your academic and career needs. Explore strategies and advice on writing and math skills, prepare for graduate school admissions exams and learn key job interview skills. The LearningExpress Library is located in myEdison® under the "Educational" tab in "My Resources.”

Time Saved: Three hours spent scoring and assessing your own homemade practice test.


myEdison® Student Discussion Board/Textbook Swap

Often an overlooked resource, the Student Discussion Board/Textbook Swap is a forum to post your perspectives on a variety of topics, such as courses, exams, mentors and much more. Buy and sell used textbooks for courses and TECEP® exams from other students. The open discussions are located under the “Student” tab, within “My Resources” and under “Tools & Forums.”

Time Saved: Five minutes per Google search looking for mentor reviews in your upcoming courses.



ProctorU is a convenient testing option that allows you to take a test on your home computer with a live proctor, in real time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To use this option, you must have a webcam, specific computer requirements and audio capabilities. You can schedule an exam with ProctorU through a link available in your course space.  

Time Saved: One hour to commute to an appropriate testing location and take an exam in the pen/paper format.

Bonus Time Saved: Several hours of panic realizing that you forgot to schedule your final exam, and the grade must be submitted by midnight.

Do you have any essential time-saving tips that other students might want to know?

Tags: Online Tools and Resources , Study Tips , Time Management

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