How to Test Out of Classes

Testing out of classes in this fashion is relatively simple, but once you get past the SAT/ACT it becomes a bit more difficult. The ability to test well and learn quickly is a must, and sometimes this rapidly-learned information cannot simply be forgotten since your classes in upper-division will build upon it. For the most part, though, most of the courses you will bypass are just for general education requirements.

There are four primary reasons to test out of classes:

  1. You may graduate sooner. I hear of kids all the time who graduate high school and enter college as sophomores.
  2. You save money. I’ll give you an example a bit later.
  3. You establish yourself as a good student. If somebody gets a chance, they will peek at your record. Why not make the most of human beings’ curiosity?
  4. You have the option of taking it easy. If you are burnt out after high school, you can take fewer classes than the majority if you have earned enough credit beforehand.

Depending on which college you plan to attend, it is possible to begin testing out of college classes as early as the 7th grade by scoring well on the ACT/SAT talent search. It doesn’t matter when you start, but the more credits you get when you are younger, the easier it will be when you are older.

You have many options to test out of or simply be exempt from college courses:

SAT/ACT scores.

It is most likely that you will be able to get out of some lower-level English or Math classes with a high score in either subject. I am not aware of how many schools do this, but definitely be sure that you do some investigating at your college.

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Advanced Placement Classes (AP)

Around your junior year of high school you can start signing up for AP classes. Not only do these give you a nice GPA boost, but they can also give you college credit, depending on your score. The general cutoff is a 3/5 to get college credit. (If Bad Boys II can get 3 out of 5 stars, so can you.) How good your grade in the class is matters much less than your exam score, so even if you are failing the class go ahead and study so you can pass the AP test.

International Baccalaureate Courses (IB)

Not all schools offer the IB program, but it is the best secondary education available. The coursework is rigorous and the exams are difficult, but you will be better prepared than other students. Here are some sample exam papers.

College Level Examination Program (CLEP)

I love CLEP tests with all of my heart. I passed my first two, American History II and American Government, just with the general knowledge I had floating around in my head. Luck or not, I recommend CLEP tests above all other options because of how easy they are and how little time they take.

College Board is the boss for CLEP tests. It has a list of all available CLEP exam descriptions, a CLEP test center search, and answers for any questions you may have.

Things to know about CLEP:

Score reports are given immediately after you finish a CLEP test.

If you need special accommodation for whatever reason, it can be arranged.

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If you fail a CLEP test, you can’t take the same one again for six months.

If you are a Minnesota high school student, six CLEP tests are on the house until June 2008! Read more about the CLEP in Minnesota.

CLEP tests are administered on computers, but if you want to do a pencil and paper test you may. This costs 120 dollars, requires 2-3 weeks for your score report, and is only available for the following tests:

  • Analyzing and Interpreting Literature
  • College Algebra
  • College Mathematics
  • English Composition
  • Freshman College Composition
  • History of the United States I: Early Colonization to 1877
  • History of the United States II: 1865 to the Present
  • Humanities
  • Information Systems and Computer Applications
  • Management, Principles of
  • Natural Sciences
  • Psychology, Introductory
  • Social Sciences and History
  • Sociology, Introductory

DANTES Subject Standardized Tests (DSST)

I don’t know much about the DSST, but it is for those in the military. Take a look at the DANTES home page to learn more.

High School Dual-Enrollment Program

Some high schools collaborate with local universities or community colleges to provide a program which gives both high school and college credit at the same time. These classes are generally not much more difficult than an honors level high school class.

Life Experience

If you speak a foreign language or have some prior musical experience, you may be able to get credit for it, depending on your major. Things such as management experience or another field of expertise may work as well, but it requires much more convincing.

Internships/Co-op Programs

Whether it’s a summer, a semester, or a year, you can find something to do outside of school that lets you earn college credit while getting your first professional experience. There are more opportunities for technical majors, but if you dig deep enough you may find some other programs as well. Check with your adviser if it is possible to get any credit. If it isn’t, consider doing something during the summer anyway.

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Still go to a school with a PE requirement? See if it may be possible for your whiplash to unexpectedly return. 😀

Some of you may be deterred by the costs required for study materials, exam fees, and the amount of time you will spend studying. Think about this:


2 Semesters Full-Time.

Credits Earned – 30.

Tuition – $4,000.00 Dorm – $3,000.00 Books – $300.00

Time spent each week working on college-related assignments/studying – 30 hours.

10 CLEP Tests.

Whenever you want.

Credits Earned – 30+ depending on which tests you take.

Test Fees – $800.00 Study Materials – Free, if you are lucky.

Time spent each week studying – 10 hours or less.

Getting out of classes is really a no-brainer. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by getting out of as many as possible, so go do it!