How to Study for the DSST?

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Are you looking for a way to earn college credit without having to go through all the hassle of taking that course in college? Well, then you probably have already stumbled upon a few options available for you! These include the DSST and the CLEP examinations, which are fantastic ways to get extra credits. However, we’re going to discuss everything you’ll need to know about how to study for the DSST exam in this article.

Keep in mind that this examination is not targeting one specific topic, and it includes numerous subjects you can sit for. But something you should keep in mind is that the DSST examinations are not “the easy way out” – they’re simply more convenient. That’s because these examinations aren’t a piece of cake, and you should have the same knowledge on the course as a college student would.

What Does DSST Exam Stand For?What Does DSST Exam Stand For?

Prometric offers the DSST examinations. DSST exams stand for Dantes Subject Standardized Tests. Please do not confuse them with the other abbreviation, Denver School of Science and Technology. These examinations will ease your way into college and allow you to earn extra credit before starting.

These examinations started with the United States Department of Defense’s Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support program. It was initially partially created for military personnel to grant access to an educational system. Moreover, that provided them with a more straightforward transition into the world outside of the military.

The DSST examination compromises over 30 subject tests that span over the following topics:

  • Business
  • Humanities
  • Mathematics
  • Physical Science
  • Social Sciences
  • Technology

While DSST and CLEP examinations are often interrelated, and students take them alongside one another, a minor difference distinguishes them. CLEP tests are primarily used for lower-level credit at regional institutes, while the DSST examinations are for lower and upper levels.

What Is a Passing Score for DSST?

What Is a Passing Score for DSST?

Before 2008, DSST administrators graded the examinations based on a curved grading system. That means that after evaluation and grading of papers, many students fail, and others pass the test.

Hence, your passing or failing was not based on the number of correct answers you get but solely on your performance compared to others. This grading system is what is known as norm-referenced standard grading.

However, after 2008, the criteria started to change. The administration adopted a new grading system known as criterion-referenced standard grading. The criterion-referenced system scores your grade according to how knowledgable you are in the subject, not compared to other performers.

Hence, your test would be graded according to how many correct answers you got. This method evaluates your performance and works as opposed to comparing your test skills to others.

DSST test scores range anywhere from 200 to 500, with 400 passing for all examinations. Remember that this range is simply a scale that all the grades are converted to allow a fair comparison between different test results on various subjects.

Moreover, you might notice that not all DSST examinations are graded this way; some still adopt the old grading method. That’s simply because they have not yet been updated, and Prometric is slowly refreshing the DSST examinations to include the updated grading system.

Keep in mind that you need a score of 400 to pass, which is equivalent to a “C”. The grade itself does not matter, as it does not affect your transcript. However, you must prepare correctly for the DSST examination to pass the minimum required score.

What are the Easiest DSST Exams?

What are the Easiest DSST Exams?

Any credit-providing examination largely depends on your prior knowledge of the subject. However, some topics are generally much more manageable than others. With over 35 DSST studies that you can sit for, it can be unclear to decide which ones you can score much higher in without a blink.

To figure out which examinations are more manageable, you must understand how the grading system works. See, there is still a specific number of questions you need to answer for each examination to pass. This percentage is a pre-set percentage and is a measure of the difficulty of the test.

Hence, the administrative unit would ask you to answer fewer questions if the examination is complex and more questions if the exam is relatively easy. Below is a list of the top 10 highest percentages, on average (subjects that required the highest number of correct answers):

  • Fundamentals of Counseling
  • Introduction to Business
  • Principles of Supervision
  • Technical Writing
  • Introduction to Computing
  • General Anthropology
  • Lifespan Development Psychology
  • Introduction to Law Enforcement
  • Foundations of Education
  • Introduction to World Religions

But we honestly believe that it all depends on a mix of your prior knowledge and how hard you study for the examination. We recommend you go for the best DSST study guide out there to ace all your subject tests. We recommend checking out as they have a set of videos and lessons for every subject.

How Long is the DSST Exam?

How Long is the DSST Exam?

Unlike the CLEP examinations, which are an hour and a half long (1.5h), the DSST examinations are two hours long. You’ll have to answer between 80-120 multiple choice questions, so you’ll have one minute for every question.

Having only 120 minutes for 120 questions might seem like a tight-fit, but not all the questions are at the same difficulty. Moreover, since you’re not required to get all the answers correct, you can spare a few of them.

However, we recommend choosing any answer if you’re unfamiliar with the question. That’s because no one will deduct marks for any wrong answers and be scored according to the correct ones.

The only way you can get through these two hours without much effort is through the best DSST prep. That includes several different things, including flashcards, study material, sample questions, FAQs, and much more.

How to Sign up for DSST Exam?

How to Sign up for DSST Exam?

Before registering for the DSST examination, you must know some extra information you might need. First of all, before even proceeding with the registration, you should contact your college or university and ask them whether DSST examinations are accepted or not. After that, everything becomes a tad bit easier.

Once you confirm that the college accepts the credits from those examinations, you should keep the following in mind:

  • The total cost for one DSST examination is $120.50
  • To register, you must pay an online fee of $40.50, which cannot be refunded
  • The examination fee itself is $80.00, which you pay the day of the test
  • You are required to bring in two forms of identification, including a government-issued photo ID with signature (passport, license …etc.) and secondary ID (Social Security card, student ID …etc.)

This is how to sign up for the DSST exam in a few simple steps:

  1. You can register and create an account through the Prometric website locatethe nearest DSST Test Center through that website.
  2. You can schedule the examination through the website or contact the nearest DSST Center.
  3. Visit Prometric’s websiteto schedule your test date and place.

More than 1,900 colleges and universities in the USA accept DSST examinations. As for the number of test centers, there are more than 1,200 around the USA, so you’re bound to find something close enough to you.

7 Preparation Tips for the DSST Exam

7 Preparation Tips for the DSST Exam

Check College

As mentioned earlier, the most important thing you should do before proceeding with registration is to contact your desired college or university. Ask them if they do accept DSST examinations as college credit. If not, then taking DSST exams could be a waste of your time.

Moreover, we recommend you ask the college how many credits they usually offer per passed test.

Fact Sheets

Before even deciding on the topic, we recommend checking the factsheets. These provide you with an outline of everything mentioned in that particular examination. That includes the topics covered, the details required, and the percentage of questions in the test.

The fact sheets will give you a general idea of the topics discussed and provide a more precise picture. That will help you settle on the subjects you would want to take.

Decide on Subject Test

Well, this is no walk in the park, is it? We all want to take the easiest exams and pass with flying colors simply, but the easy ones can vary from one person to the other. The thing is, we do recommend taking a subject test you’re already familiar with.

For instance, if you took a lot of writing classes during high school, then maybe technical writing is the way to go. However, if you’ve always been a history fanatic, look into related areas instead.

Study Material

There is no shortage of study material for the DSST examination. However, deciding which ones to purchase or use is quite a headache. That’s because you have too many options to choose from, and that can take you down a rabbit hole.

However, we recommend evaluating a few things. Do you want to spend money on study material? What’s the easiest way for you to memorize stuff? Do you prefer hard copies or online resources?

All in all, we recommend you look into the following:

Study Guides: One of our favorite books out there are the Mometrix Test Preparation Study Guides. They have books on numerous subjects, offering insight into the examinations. They also include some examination secrets along with sample questions and tests.

Flashcards: While you can always create your flashcards, we know how time-consuming that could be. Hence, another great alternative would be’s flashcards. Keep in mind that they do not offer flashcards for all subjects.

Online Resources: There are numerous online resources for the DSST examinations. Some of them are in the video, while others are pdf files or online tests. The following resources could help you find free CLEP and DSST practice tests.

Study Plan

Do not rush yourself into studying all the material in two weeks. Take your time with it, and schedule it beforehand, so you have the luxury of taking your time. However, we do not recommend following online study plans as everyone has their own study pace.

Hence, draw out a map of what you want to do. Think about how many hours a day you can scare. Then, consider if you’re going to study every day of the week or not. We recommend putting in around 60 hours of study per subject test, hence evaluating how long that would take you according to your time.

Past Exams

The most important thing when it comes to any examination is practice. Hence, we recommend you get your hand on as many past exams as possible and solve them. Moreover, you should put a timer of 2 hours if you’re planning on solving a whole past examination. That way, you can evaluate your performance in the actual test.

Moreover, doing DSST Practice Exams will strengthen your weak points; you will be able to pinpoint what your weak points are and will be able to work on them by studying more for them.

Space Out

We do not recommend you take multiple courses simultaneously unless you are already familiar with them. Hence, don’t overstress yourself with a small time frame. Take your time and find a way to enjoy what you’re studying to make things easier on yourself.

Hence, the final piece of advice we would like to leave you with is to be prepared mentally and physically. Do not stress yourself, and think logically about tackling an examination.

Wrapping Things Up: How to Study for the DSST

All things summed up, the DSST exam, while once targeting only military personnel, is available for everyone who wants some extra credit. However, it still is not as widespread as the CLEP examination, and not as many centers offer it.

Things can be much simpler than you think! If you’re considering taking the DSST exam, whichever one it might be, first call your college and ask them whether they accept these credits. Then, set a proper plan in mind and take action.

Picture of Professor Conquer
Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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