How to Test Out of College Courses

High school student taking test in classroom
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If you are already familiar with certain subjects, you may be able to test out of those subjects in college. To test out successfully, you must pass an equivalency examination with a minimum score set by the college. Not all colleges accept all tests, and each college is free to set its own requirements and restrictions. Contact an adviser at the college you are considering to make sure that you understand all of the regulations.

Take Advanced Placement classes. If you are still in high school, enroll in as many AP courses as possible. AP classes are designed to mirror college courses and provide a comprehensive overview of the subject matter. At the end of the school year, you will take an AP exam. Depending on the college’s requirements, a passing score could be a 3 or 4 on a scale on 5. If you are not eligible for the AP class, but you feel that you could pass the exam, talk to your academic adviser. Some high schools allow students who just missed the criteria for enrollment in the class to take the exam.

Take College-Level Equivalency Program (CLEP) tests. The College-Level Equivalency Program is a federally standardized program that allows students to earn credit for basic college courses by passing a subject-matter exam. The program is open to college students and potential students of all ages. Members of the armed forces and veterans may be eligible for free CLEP tests. Some communities run occasional promotions that discount the price of the tests.

Some colleges limit the total number of CLEP credit hours that a student may accumulate. If permitted by the college, you may be able to test out of your first two years and enroll as a junior. Most schools do not allow students to CLEP a subject in which they have already tried a college-level course. Required CLEP scores vary among colleges.

Ask about college-based testing programs. Some colleges offer students the opportunity to test out of required classes. If you are a transfer student and your college is reluctant to accept a particular transfer credit, ask if you can take the final exam for the equivalent course or a specific test the school uses for equivalency. Most colleges are willing to work with students who have legitimate needs for testing out of particular courses.

Lisa Fritscher is a freelance writer specializing in disabled adventure travel. She spent 15 years working for Central Florida theme parks and frequently travels with her disabled father. Fritscher's work can be found in both print and online mediums, including She holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of South Florida.