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Credit-by-Exam FAQs

what does credit by examination mean


What is the CLEP/DSST program?

CLEP (the College-Level Examination Program) and DSST (DANTES Subject Standardized Test) are credit-by-exam programs that allow testing candidates to earn credit for college courses by taking and passing comprehensive subject exams.

What does CLEP stand for?

CLEP stands for College Level Examination Program. You can find more information about the CLEP exam at the CLEP website.

DSST stands for DANTES Subject Standardized Test and was formerly referred to as DANTES. For more information on DSST visit the DSST website.

No. You can only take one exam per testing session.

Each university determines which credit-by-exam tests to accept for specific courses and the required score testing candidates need for course credit. Non-SEU testing candidates should check with their schools about required scores and equivalents. The CLEP equivalents and DSST equivalents pages list information specific to St. Edward's. If you have additional questions about credit-by-exam testing please contact the testing center at (512) 464-8848.

You should speak with your academic advisor to determine what credit-by-exam tests to take and how those tests will affect your college transcript.

Should I take the Spanish/French I or II exam? Which Foreign Language exam should I take?

CLEP offers only one version of the World Language exams (Spanish, French, and German). The score you receive on this test determines how many credit hours you are awarded, and the credit hours can range from 3-15hrs (for St. Edward's). This tiered scoring system is misleading and causes many testing candidates to think there are multiple versions of the test (the CLEP website also adds to the confusion by titling the exams with levels, such as “French Language Level 2”). There is, however, only one version of each test.

What should I expect on exam day?

All tests take place in Moody Hall 126. Testing candidates should arrive 15 minutes before the start time. Testing candidates must bring two forms of ID to the exam.

  • A government issued photo ID that includes your name, signature, and a photo is required to test (examples include driver’s license, state ID card, passport).
  • Secondary ID can be either a photo or signature ID (examples include a school or work ID with the individual’s photo).

Use of cell phones, books, and calculators is not allowed during the exam (with the exception of some DSST exams). If a calculator is permitted for use on a CLEP exam, there will be one available on the computer through the testing software. There is no admittance to the testing room 15 minutes after the test session has begun. Testing candidates who fail to show on time must repeat the entire registration process, including registration fee.

Testing candidates will check into the testing session by signing in when they first enter the testing room and presenting their IDs to the testing administrator. The candidate will then be assigned to a testing station. Candidates paying with a credit card will make payments at their testing stations once they have logged into the testing software. Candidates paying with a check or money order will present the payment to the testing administrator after signing in and await further instructions.

What types of ID are considered acceptable for the ID requirement?

All testing candidates are required to present two forms of ID to take an exam:

  • A government issued photo ID that includes your name, signature, and photo is required to test.
  • A secondary ID that contains either a photo or signature

You can find more information about the ID requirements here.

How do I transfer my CLEP/DSST credit? Why is my CLEP/DSST credit not transferring?

Each college determines which CLEP/DSST exams will be accepted for credit and what credits a CLEP/DSST exam will award you. Therefore, CLEP and DSST credits do not typically transfer from one university to another. If you are transferring to a new university you should consult your academic advisor to see what CLEP/DSST credits your new university accepts. You will then need to have an official CLEP/DSST transcript mailed to your new university. To contact CLEP call (800) 257-9558, and to contact DSST call (877) 471-9860.

What if I require testing accommodations?

CLEP: If you require special arrangements, please submit official documentation of the disability to the testing center. The testing administrator will make the appropriate accommodations. The testing center requires advanced notice of at least one week for all special accommodations

DSST: If you require special arrangements, please submit official documentation of the disability to the testing center. This will be forwarded to Prometric for review in determining the necessary arrangements, which are provided at no additional cost. Prometric requires 30 days advance notice for all special accommodations.


How do I register for an exam?

You can register for most of our exams online, over the phone, or in person.

CLEP & DSST: There is an online CLEP & DSST registration form available here.

Foreign Language Placement: Modern Language Placement exams are now being scheduled through the School of Humanities. For more information please visit their website.

Yes, you can register for an exam in person. The main office of the testing center is currently located in Moody Hall, Room 155. The Testing Coordinator will be able to aid you in registering for an exam during regular business hours, Monday through Friday, 8:00am to 5:00pm.

No, we do not take registrations for full exams, but we do have a waiting list for exams. If you feel you desperately need to take an exam during a session that is already full, please contact the Testing Coordinator.

Exams fill at different rates so there is no standard answer to this question. My advice is to register one to two weeks in advance of the exam session and pay your registration fee as soon as possible to secure your seat for the exam.


What fees are associated with the exam?

Most exams charge two fees, a registration fee that is paid to the testing center and an examination fee that is paid to the examination company.

Registration Fee: CLEP exams require

a registration fee to St. Edward’s University of $25 for current St. Edward’s University students and $30 for all other testing candidates.

Examination Fee: The CLEP exam fee is currently $80 but is subject to change. The CLEP fee can be paid by credit card or money order made out to the College Level Examination Program (C.L. E.P.).

Registration Fee: DSST exams require a registration fee to St. Edward’s University of $40 for all testing candidates.

Examination Fee. The DSST exam fee is currently $80 but is subject to change. The DSST fee can be paid by Visa or MasterCard.

How can I pay the registration fee?

Testing candidates can pay the registration fee any of the following ways:

  • Over the phone with a credit card. (Discover, Mastercard, or Visa only)
  • In person during office hours in Moody Hall 155 with a credit card.
  • Cash, money order, or check is NOT accepted for payment.

Can I pay my registration fee on the day of the exam?

No. Because the exam seats are reserved in advance, there is no way to guarantee your seat will be available if you wait until exam day to pay the registration fee. The testing center prefers you pay your registration fee at least 48 hours in advance of your intended exam session. Please be aware that your seat is not considered reserved until your registration fee has been paid. Exam seats are reserved on the basis of registration fees, so regardless of when you submitted your online registration form, the exam session may be filled by other testing candidates if you do not pay your registration fee in a timely fashion.

What types of payment does CLEP/DSST accept?

The CLEP exam fee can be paid with a credit card or money order made out to the College Level Examination Program (C.L.E.P.). The DSST exam fee can be paid with a Visa or MasterCard credit card only.

Exam Content and Scoring

What types of questions will be on the exam?

CLEP offers 32 exams in 5 areas.

  • Most CLEP tests are multiple choice and timed (90 minutes maximum). The tests are usually broken up into sections, and testing candidates can take breaks before beginning the next section.
  • The World Languages exams have listening sections where testing candidates will be provided headphones in order to answer the questions.

DSST offers 38 exams in 6 areas.

  • DSST tests are multiple choice and timed (two hours maximum). Testing candidates receive an unofficial score report immediately after taking the test, and the official score report is sent to the school of their choice within 1-2 weeks.

CLEP and DSST exams are completed on the computer and are in multiple choice format.

CLEP exam scores are “scaled scores” that range from 20, the lowest, to 80, the highest. A score of “80” however, does not mean you correctly answered 80 questions out of 100 because the scaled score includes how many questions you answered correctly (your “raw score”) as well as other statistical inputs. More information from CLEP is available here.

DSST exams are scored using two different methods: Criterion-Referenced and Norm-Referenced Standard Setting. DSST exams that are scored under the Norm-Referenced method have scores between 20 and 80. DSST exams that are scored using the Criterion-Referenced method have scores between 200 and 500. The DSST recommended passing scores on Norm-Referenced exams range from 44 to 48. The Criterion-Referenced standard passing score is 400. More information from DSST is available here.

The “50” passing score is the mid-point in the score range from 20 to 80. However, getting a 50 does not necessarily mean you got 50 questions correct on the exam because CLEP uses its own internal algorithm to determine your score. My advice to testing candidates studying for the CLEP exam and using the 100 question practice exams is to aim for a score higher than 70. A score of 70 percent is the most comparable to the “50” CLEP passing standard. For example, if a CLEP “50” is a 70 percent, then a CLEP “60” would be an 80 percent, a CLEP “70” would be a 90 percent, and the highest possible CLEP score of “80” would translate to a 100 percent. Thus, I always advise candidates to use a 70 percent pass standard when studying for CLEP exams.

Should I guess on a CLEP/DSST test if I don’t know the answer to a question?

Guessing is not penalized and could potentially increase your raw score. Your raw score increases by one point for each question answered correctly, and no points are gained or lost when a question is not answered or is answered incorrectly. So the short answer is, “Yes, if you can guess, it is to your advantage to do so.” You can find more information about scoring here:

When will I know if I passed?

For most exams, you will know your score right away. When you submit your exam, a page will appear on your screen that has your score.

CLEP: You will also receive an unofficial paper copy of your score before you leave the testing room. The only exam that does not allow for an immediate score is the College Composition exam, which includes two essays that must be scored. College Composition score reports usually take from four to six weeks to arrive.

DSST: Testing candidates can choose to print an unofficial score report upon completing the exam, and the official report is sent to the designated school in 1-2 weeks.


How should I study for the exam?

CLEP: The College Board has a website that provides information about each CLEP exam. You can take practice tests and download study guides from the CLEP website. You can also get more information on CLEP study guides from our website.

DSST: Prometric, the company that administers DSST exams, offers test prep materials such as recommended text books and online courses, an online practice exam, and a fact sheet with sample questions. These resources can be found online.

Can I take practice CLEP/DSST tests?

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