Journey to an accelerated bachelor’s degree – Frequently Asked Questions
Several people have asked me a bunch of questions via Youtube and e-mail and I wanted to collect them into a space to answer the most common ones (and some of the more obscure that I felt were really important)
What is the easiest CLEP or DSST?
The one you already know everything about.
A CLEP or DSST is a test that checks your knowledge of the subject matter covered in a typical college course about that subject.
That means if you have a lot of experience writing, and you’re asking which CLEP is easiest, I’m going to tell you that for you, any of the writing ones will probably be the easiest. This is because you likely already know everything you would have learned from that college course, making it much more likely that the test will be easy.
See this video I did for a longer breakdown on how to tell if you can do a CLEP or DSST super easy.
Why hasn’t my adviser told me about this?
I’m not even going to go down the whole “colleges don’t want you to know this secret!” road – that’s a little silly. I actually don’t think that it’s malicious or even a negative perception of the tests – I think it’s a case of simple ignorance.
The reality is that these tests aren’t part of the normal day to day for college staff, so why would they learn about them? There’s really no inventive for an academic adviser to learn about this method that has nothing to do with their school.
I’ve taken a few tests at local colleges that are set up as testing centers where the test admins don’t even know how the testing works, and I’ve had to walk them through it.
So, my theory is that it’s simply because schools are motivated to help you do well at their school – they’re not necessarily motivated to help you “finish your degree” at any cost, if that makes sense.
What is the easiest degree to test out of?
in general, the easiest degrees to test out of (meaning the degrees you could probably take the most tests towards) are things that have more “rote” information contained in them, and very little practicum required. So, an accounting degree would probably be easy, because the information doesn’t change, so it’s easy to turn it into tests. History is another good example. An extremely difficult one would be nursing, since it requires that practicum, that hands on stuff. Always, the easiest degree to test out of is the one where you have the most prior expertise or knowledge, because it likely cuts the time you have to spend studying by a significant amount.
How do I find a testing center?
For CLEP exams, you can search for testing centers here: https://clep.collegeboard.org/test-center-search If that doesn’t get you a testing center near you, call the CLEP support line. I just did that a couple weeks ago for a person who commented on another video from Armenia. The support people were really cool and helpful. For DSST exams, you can search for testing centers here: https://www.prometric.com/en-us/for-test-takers/pages/locate-a-test-center.aspx?Type=locate If there isn’t a school near you, you might be able to work with your school to get them to BECOME a testing center. There should be links to that on the CLEP and Prometric websites as well.
If I fail a test, how long do I have to wait to take it again?
3 months. For both CLEP and DSST exams.
Here’s a snippet from clep.collegeboard.org – the official CLEP site:
“Repeating Examinations – You may not repeat an exam of the same title within three months of the initial testing date. If you retake an exam within the three-month period, your administration will be considered invalid, your score will be canceled, and any test fees will be forfeited.”
If I take a CLEP/DSST at one school, can I transfer that to another school?
Yup. So, CLEP and DSST credits are actually provided by College Board and Prometric. The school you take your test at is just serving as a ‘testing center’ for those organizations. College Board and Prometric actually provide the transcripts for your tests, so you can get those transcripts from the college board or prometric websites, and you can have those transcripts sent to any school.
Does all CLEP count towards credits, regardless of my degree program?
Yes, every CLEP and DSST can count for credit. BUT, it’s good to know your degree program, because each CLEP and DSST can be used towards different requirements. Your degree may not have any space for some CLEP or DSST tests, which means that even if you take one and you have “3 credits in american history”, you may not actually be able to USE those credits toward your degree. Degree programs are like Lego instructions. Credits are like Lego bricks. Sometimes you can use ANY piece, sometimes you need a specific piece, but of any color, and sometimes you need a specific piece AND specific color. It’s all depends on what you’re building. Check your degree program and know it very well. Do not rely on your academic adviser blindly for this.
What’s the difference between a course and a credit?
First, I break down how degree programs and courses/credits work in this video, so I’d recommend watching that.
A course is a “Class.” So, you might be taking English 101. That’s a course(class). If you’re taking English 101 and College Algebra 101, you’re taking “2 Courses” or “2 Classes.” Class and Course are basically interchangeable words.
Credits (sometimes called “Credit Hours”) are the “point values” given to each course that you take. (I’m going to use points and credits interchangeably for second)
You need a certain amount of those points(credits) in order to get a degree. An associates degree is 60 points(credits). A bachelors degree is 120 points(credits). Different classes are worth different amounts of points (credits).
For example: You sign up for the course(class) College Algebra 101, which is worth 3 points(credits). That means if pass the class, you’ll be awarded 3 points(credits), and you will now need either 57 more to get your associates degree, or 117 more to get your bachelor’s degree.
Some classes are worth less points(credits) and some are worth more. This semester, I took 3 Classes. One class was worth 3 credits, one class was worth 2 credits, and the last class was worth 1 credit. So, I took 3 classes, and earned 6 points(credits).
Can I finish (x degree) in one year?
If you check my 2nd diary video, I talk through the process of putting your degree plan together and seeing if you have the background or self learning chops that will be required to accomplish your degree in one year. If you’re not sure what a degree plan is, I explain that here. I also link to a template of what my own degree plan looks like, so you can get an idea of some general education courses you might be able to take towards any degree. I’d need to know a lot more about your background and what school you’d like to go to in order to have any chance at answering your question appropriately for you, because everyone is different. If you want to see what tests you might be able to pass easily, I have a video that teaches you how to do that here. Here is my video recap of my 1 year progress, and more of my thoughts on this question.
Are these tests similar to Finals at a traditional college where you have to try and stuff around 3 months of course content into your head to take a test?
They don’t provide study packs, but they do provide practice tests I’ve found that I can study for about 15-20 hours total for most of the tests, in order to have enough information to pass. I do that in 2 ways – I study specifically toward the test prep books/tests that the DSST/CLEP websites, and then I also just watch youtube videos or read a book on the concepts of the field itself. I’ve found that most information, from the conceptual level, is very similar – so a late of information transfers over to a new subject. Something that I’ve had to do for many finals is write a super long paper….whereas I do NOT have to do that for these tests, so no matter what, I think the tests are easier. (I like writing, I HATE test prompt typing)
TESU, Excelsior, or Charter Oak?
I only have experience with Thomas Edison State University, so I really can’t speak to this. I have it in my list to find more information on this if I can.
What University are you going to that’s letting you go this fast?
I’m doing my degree through Thomas Edison State University. That being said, there’s really no such thing as a University that doesn’t let you go at your own pace, whatever that pace is. Some exceptions exist, like the occasional higher level class that’s only offered in the fall and has a pre-requisite that is only offered in the spring. (Like a 400 level course in the fall with a 300 level course in the spring only) But there are usually ways around even that. For the most part – it’s all about how much you can handle and how you’re getting the credits. I’m getting most of my credits outside the University and transferring them in (DSST/CLEP/STUDY.com/Straighterline/ETC) so you just need to pick a University that has a generous policy for allowing transfer credits. TESU, Excelsior, and Charter Oak are the most popular fully accredited Universities that I know of for this effort.
Is it possible for foreigners to take these tests?
Yes! There are CLEP and DSST testing centers in several countries around the world. Also, I have heard from people in my YouTube comments and who have contacted me that they have been able to take them without being citizens, so if they’re visiting another country they can knock out a few. Ability to test has much more to do with the school than it does the residence.
Is it possible to register at TESU etc if I’m not a US citizen?
To my knowledge, this is not possible; however, this is likely to change at any given time, and so I would check the TESU website. Tesu.edu
How did you handle videogames AND studying?
How to balance school and free time is something people are asking me a lot as they hear about the “cram” that it sounds like I’m managing. How to balance school and work is even harder – but it all comes down to scheduling yourself and sticking to it. You don’t HAVE to be organized – but if you are, you will go further in whatever you want to do than if you’re not. Videogames specifically are something that I use to relax. They basically force me to take my mind off of whatever else I have going on, but they continue to give me that sense of accomplishing something. For some people that can be really addicting – but I’ve learned over twenty years how to get myself to put the controller down. Mostly – I just don’t schedule myself to be productive after I pick up a controller or sit at my keyboard to play games. So if I sit down at 8pm to play, I know that the next thing I’m doing is waking up at 6am to get ready for tomorrow. My personal study schedule is 7am to 8:45am, Monday through Friday. That has been enough for me to maintain classes or studying for tests or whatever I’ve needed to do.