Credit by Exam: Will my teen’s future college take it?

In the world of earning college credit YEARS before enrollment, parents have to play the odds a bit and hope that the college credit they’ve so carefully injected into their high school plan actually works later! Credit by exam is a *super* popular option, and with good reason. You can use any high school curriculum, test prep resources are bountiful, and the likelihood of acceptance is really good!

Good Transferability

Good transferability means at least 1,500 regionally accredited
colleges accept this credit regularly and are familiar with this
resource. You can generally find a specific college’s acceptance policy
for credit in this category on their website or catalog. Credit in
this category can be pursued with confidence, though limits usually

There are other brands of credit by exam, but these three are BY FAR the most popular and wildly available to homeschoolers. You can read each exam’s official HS4CC entry by clicking on the title. .

Advanced Placement Exam (AP)

Not just for public / private schools! Anyone (even adults) can take AP exams for college credit. Each year, over 2 million high school students take AP exams, and a good percentage of them score high enough to yield college credit. At under $100, it’s a good risk for academically strong students aiming for competitive colleges.

  • A word about AP’s “most accepted exam” title: While it is true that “nearly all colleges accept AP credit” what isn’t true is that they all award college credit for your exam. Many colleges make that list because the award advanced standing or placement when that doesn’t save you money or time. If you are planning to use AP in your Homeschooling for College Credit plan, be sure to look carefully at what exactly your target college is awarding for those hard-earned AP scores.

College Level Exam Program (CLEP)

Same author as AP but a much easier option. Unlike the free response graded AP exams, CLEP exams are simply multiple-choice tests graded instantly by a computer. Most colleges that accept CLEP award college credit for any score at or above a specific number and are simply pass or fail. Since failed scores are confidential and CLEP exams can be taken for free, this is clearly the #1 choice in the homeschool community for earning college credit by exam.


Like CLEP, this multiple-choice test is graded instantly by a computer and most colleges that accept DSST will award college credit for any score at or above a specific number. Also like CLEP, DSST scores generally result in pass/fail credit. Failed scores do not need to be disclosed, so this is also a confidential way to earn college credit without risk! At under $100 per exam, don’t forget to look at their upper-level credit exams too. AP and CLEP don’t have this option, so it’s a nice perk!


Executive Director of Homeschooling for College Credit