As more and more colleges realize that traditional, standardized ways of learning need to be reconstructed to meet the ever-evolving education system, many people are finding alternative ways to gain college credits and obtain a degree.
Instead of taking a class for college credit, you can turn to take tests such as the DSST exam, which reinforces the idea that learning need not be confined to just four walls. But is DSST only for military? Numerous people tend to ask this question, as it typically was administered only to military personnel.
What Does DSST Stand For?
Known as the DANTES Subject Standardized Tests, the company Prometric produces these tests, a leading provider in trusted market-leading test development and delivery solutions.
Prometic started the DSST program in 1974 to make it easier for service members to earn their degrees. It was initially for military personnel to complete college credits outside the classroom.
This gave way for people in the military and their families to achieve their educational goals even when deployed. All they had to do was pass a test to prove their knowledge of a subject.
Now, DSST is accepted nationwide as equivalent to credit by more than 1900 colleges and universities. These tests scores range on a scale of 200 to 500, with a 400 being the passing score.
The DSST consists of more than 30 exam subjects. It entails mostly multiple-choice questions without penalization for wrong answers. Earning a passing score is equal to 3-4 college credit hours.
DSSTs can make life easier by saving money as you will not have to pay for the whole class. They help you finish up your degree and get into programs without taking more classes.
They can help you attain your degree on time or even early and can be used to add flexibility to your degree program. ACE (American Council on Education) has been evaluated and recommended as college credit.
Can Anyone Take DSST Exams?
People often wonder about DSST exams: “Is DSST only for the military? Can civilians take DSST exams?” Traditionally, military personnel used it to get a degree. Fortunately, now they are available to be taken by anyone who wants to receive college credit.
While there is a misconception that DSST exams are only for adult learners and that high schoolers are likely to earn credits through AP tests, there is no minimum age for taking these exams.
Due to its convenience of independent study, it is catered more towards adult learners, but people studying in high school or college are also open to taking it. Many homeschooled students take advantage of DSST credits.
The DSST examination stems from the DANTES program and consists of a comprehensive list of 33 tests. These examinations address different college subjects, which you can equate to your end-of-course studies taken in college.
This program is a more non-traditional way of pursuing a degree and is often tied to the CLEP examinations. However, the significant difference is that CLEP exams are exclusively for lower-level credit. You can use DSST for both higher-level and upper-level.
Who Can Take DSST Exams?
So, who can take the DSST exams? Everyone is eligible to take the DSST exams. In this section, we include some examples:
- Active service duty military members, veterans, and their families
- Regular and returning college students
- Master’s degree program applications who still need to fulfill some undergraduate prerequisites
- Students requiring upper-division or open elective units
What Type of Exams Can You Take?
You can choose the list of DSST exams from the following six categories:
- Social Sciences
- Physical Science
You can find specific information regarding tests from each category online on websites such as Military.com. The most accessible exams are:
- Ethics in Technology
- Computing and Information Technology
- Technical Writing
- Fundamentals of Cyber Security
- Management Information Systems
- Introduction to Law Enforcement
- Personal Finance
Where Can You Take Your DSST Exam?
Testing is conducted at colleges and universities nationwide. Dantes Subject Two types characterize standardized Test locations:
- Fully funded: you can find these locations on college campuses or military bases, which allow DANTES to pay any fees.
- Non sponsored: you can find the places on campuses that do not accept payment or reimbursement from DANTES
Using the DSST website (getcollegecredit.com), you can locate both funded and fully funded areas near you. You can narrow down the search for fully funded centers, and you can even use the search tool to select those schools that give credit for DSST exams.
It is essential to double-check that the school you wish to attend extends the credit for the specific exam you will give. Some test centers offer only paper-based exams, but can you take DSST exams online?
Some test centers allow you to take the tests over the internet. Therefore, before you register, you should figure out which option works best for your convenience and select that testing option.
Corresponding to the test centers, the way you are required to register for these exams may vary. You may need to sign up in advance or be expected to walk in. You should contact the institution you want to give the test in and determine whether they have any additional requirements before registering for the DSST exam.
Accommodation is for candidates with disabilities, which vary according to the location. Every location determines the frequency and schedule of the exams. It would help if you also were reasonable and informed ahead of the test date.
You should arrive at least 30 minutes early on the exam day and bring your government ID card or your Common Access Card if you are in the military. If you arrive late, you may miss the opportunity to take the exam.
Upon arrival, you should check in and fill in some paperwork before starting your exam. You will also be informing your test center where you would like your credit to be reported.
The exam results become available to candidates instantly after the online exams are taken. You can log in to the testing platform anytime to review and reprint their score report. Students who have given the exam in person will receive their scores in the mail.
How Many Times Can You Take a DSST Exam?
DSST tests have a pass/fail policy and do not affect students’ GPAs. If you do not score well, you can retake the same test after 30 days and pay the fees again.
Individuals should make sure that they complete the required waiting period; otherwise, the credit from their retakes scores will not be considered. Other than this policy, you can take the exam as many times as you want.
How Much Does a DSST Exam Cost?
On their first attempt on a DSST exam, individuals within the military personnel may be exempt from paying the test fees. But if they are retaking the test, they will need to pay the test fees.
The standard test fee is $85. Some test centers also charge additional testing fees that are around $25. However, this extra charge is waived off for military test-takers taking the exam at a fully funded test center.
Test sites such as the Prometric sites commonly allow payment in credit cards or debit cards.
What is CLEP?
The CLEP examination stands for the College-level Examination Program. This program covers preliminary college-level material, accommodating students to earn college credit for topics they are already familiar with.
CLEP benefits students of different ages and experiences, including high school students and grads, college students, military students, and homeschoolers.
CLEP provides around 34 exams in business, history and social sciences, science and mathematics, composition and literature, and world languages.
DSST vs. CLEP
DSST vs. CLEP; which is better? Both these examination methods allow students to earn college credit which enables them to achieve their goals, jumpstart their career, or save money. Both exams are compiled of multiple-choice questions administered on a computer. Paper versions are also available.
Despite this, they have some differences. The CLEP exam takes 90 minutes, while the duration for DSST exams is 2 hours. CLEP exam credit is more widely accepted (at about 2900 schools) than DSST credit (at about 1900 schools).
Prometric offers DSST, and the College Board provides the CLEP, leading to the two exams covering different content. CLEP is mostly for lower-level credit, whereas DSST is for upper and lower-level credit.
DSST exams are a bit more specific concerning the subject levels. The CLEP exam gives the choice of five potential answers to a question, while the DSST offers four. Some subjects of the CLEP exam contain an additional essay component.
How to Prepare for DSST Exams?
There are various ways to prepare for the DSST tests. The options differ for military personnel and civilians. However, both groups can find study guides and practice exams on the DSST website.
You should go through these available study materials to better understand the type of questions you will encounter on the exams.
You can even take a prep course online to help attain your desired score. Study.com lists DSST exam courses that relay information for business ethics and mathematics, geology, history, health, the physical sciences, and more.
These courses include short video lessons that are extremely handy when it comes to reviewing the necessary details for the test day, practice quizzes, and exams that put your knowledge to test.
There are also expert instructors available that you can reach out to for help if you don’t fully understand any of the content of a course. This way, you are in charge of deciding when and how you prefer to study for these tests.
Wrapping Things Up: Is DSST Only for the Military?
A type of prior learning assessment, DSSTs are a great cost-effective, time-saving way for students to use the knowledge they have received outside of the classroom. This includes information gathered through reading, on-the-job training, independent study, etc. It would be best to optimize these to accomplish your educational and career goals.
Throughout the United States, these tests are administered year-round by colleges, universities, and corporations. As of 2006, they are available to be taken by anyone who is seeking a non-traditional way of earning college credits.
If you are interested in earning more college credit or are struggling to graduate on time, you should check out the DSST exams to see if some could be worth taking. To succeed, you should register for DSST exam carefully, and you should prepare thoroughly.