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Many colleges and universities will accept credit from CLEP, DSST and other similar programs, but not all will, they say. CLEP exams are the most widely accepted, according to Mark Singer, vice provost of the Center for Assessment and Learning at Thomas Edison State College.
Students should also consider whether their own study habits make them a good candidate to test out of courses, experts say. Some students crave interaction with their classmates, for example, while others like their professors to recommend reading material.
Before pursuing credit by exam, students should also consider whether they would be better served by taking the formal class. Are there certain skills, such as public speaking or critical thinking, that students would miss developing if they tested out of a course?
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Becky Takeda-Tinker, president of Colorado State University—Global Campus, says her school had disappointing results when it allowed students to test out of higher-level classes. Students who took a formal, online course outperformed their counterparts who tested out of class, she says.
The experiment left Tinker and other university leaders concerned about how the testing model would prepare students for the workplace. These days, the school only offers a limited number of beginner courses through which students can earn credit by exam.
"We were very excited that this could lower the cost of education," she says. "But it wasn't as simple as we originally thought."
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