How to Get College Credits Fast [2020 Ultimate Guide]
Wondering how to get college credits fast?
Maybe you only need to know how to get 15 college credits fast?
We can tell you how to get college credits at blazing fast speeds… because we’ve done it!
Fastest ways to get college credits:
- Take accelerated online classes from an accredited university like Purdue (just 6 weeks long!)
- Use life experience to get college credits
- Take a few multiple choice exams. Get up to 30 college credits. That’s 1 year of college.
You do not have to spend years in college to finish your degree!
Ready to get started? Here we go…
By using our step-by-step guide below, you can free up 880 hours of your life by shaving an entire semester (or year) of classes and study time from your degree plan.
How to get 15 college credits fast
Although this guide focuses on showing you how to earn 15 credits fast, you can earn 30 credits or more using these methods. The key is checking your target school’s credit policies to maximize your accelerated learning options.
- Accelerated Online Courses
- CLEP Exams
- DSST Exams
- College Credit for Your Experience
- TECEP Exams
- Excelsior College Exams
- NYU Language Exam
- GRE Subject Exam
These 8 methods can help you get college credits at a faster pace. But they are just a starting point. Feel free to mix and mingle these methods to maximize the number of credits you can apply to your degree plan.
Is it possible to get 15 college credits fast?
Yes. And depending on your current knowledge and past experiences, you can even get 15 college credits in a single day.
It might seem far-fetched, but it’s true — and we will walk you through the process step-by-step in this guide.
- If you have a great deal of work or life experience, use your life experience to get college credit.
- Feel confident taking multiple choice tests? Get 6 college credits in 90 minutes.
- Prefer taking actual college classes? Several universities offer fast-track courses online.
We prefer to use a mixture to maximize our credit opportunities: Test out of classes + Credit for experience + Accelerated classes.
Option 1 – Accelerated Online Courses
You DO NOT have to sit in a classroom for 16 weeks to get college credits.
The fastest way to get college credits is to go to a college that offers accelerated classes online.
At these universities, you can finish classes online in just 6 to 8 weeks. That’s fast!
If you want to put those courses towards a bachelor’s degree, most universities offer dozens of accredited online degree programs. And if you already have some college credits under your belt, schools accept most transfer credits from other accredited universities.
Option 2 – Take 3 CLEP Exams
Getting credit for classes that you did not attend may sound like cheating, but this method is completely legitimate. College Level Examination Program (CLEP) exams are accepted by 2,000+ accredited universities across the nation.
To get the most bang for your buck, choose 2 exams worth 6 credits and 1 exam worth 3 credits. Most exams are multiple choice and last just 90 minutes, so they’re pretty painless.
Here are the steps to get 15 college credits with CLEP exams:
1 — Choose 2 exams worth 6 credits each from this list:
- College Composition
- French Language: Level 1
- French Language: Level 2 (9 credits)
- German Language: Level 1
- German Language: Level 2 (9 credits)
- Spanish Language: Level 1
- Spanish Language: Level 2 (9 credits)
- Spanish with Writing: Level 1
- Spanish with Writing: Level 2 (12 credits)
- Social Sciences and History
- College Mathematics
- Natural Sciences
There’s a subject for everybody on this list. Using your own area of expertise could help you get college credits even faster.
2 — Choose 1 exam worth 3 college credits.
- American Literature
- Analyzing and Interpreting Literature
- College Composition Modular
- English Literature
- American Government
- History of the United States I: Early Colonization to 1877
- History of the United States II: 1865 to the Present
- Human Growth and Development
- Introduction to Educational Psychology
- Introductory Psychology
- Introductory Sociology
- Principles of Macroeconomics
- Principles of Microeconomics
- Western Civilization I: Ancient Near East to 1648
- Western Civilization II: 1648 to the Present
- Calculus (4 credits)
- College Algebra
- Financial Accounting
- Information Systems
- Introductory Business Law
- Principles of Management
- Principles of Marketing
3 — Make sure the university YOU want to apply to will give you credit for these exams.
How you do this is:
- Visit your school’s website
- Use the website search feature and type “CLEP” and perform a search. NYU’s website is a perfect example of how you can find this info in just a few seconds.
4 — Register for your CLEP exams and pay the fee of $85.
Military service members may qualify for free exams. Yay!
5 — Choose your study guide.
This pops up when you register for the exam. Easy-peasy! The CLEP Official Study Guide is $24.99 and offers practice questions for all 33 possible CLEP exams. A good idea if you are taking more than one exam. There is also the choice of questions for each individual exam for only $10.
6 — Set up your appointment with a test center near you.
7 — Practice, practice, practice.
I’m not promising that this will be easy. This is hard. But remember it is quicker than taking a class. You might already know this stuff anyway!
8 — Take your exam.
9 — Take a selfie once you’re done and caption it “I just got 6 credits in 2 hours! Genius!”
Option 3 – Take 5 DSST Exams
Like CLEP exams, DSST exams are widely accepted with over 1,500 colleges honoring credits earned through this method.
DSST exams are two hours long and multiple choice.
1 — Check that your college accepts DSST credit.
Don’t you love that I am saving you from wasting your time? Always check first!
2 — Choose your favorite exam from this list of exams.
There are a lot of choices from Astronomy, Finances, and even Public Speaking. You can earn 3 credits for each exam you pass.
3 — Locate your testing center by searching the database.
You can also use that page to double check which schools accept DSST credit.
4 — Call the testing center before you plan to take the exam.
Some centers schedule exam times and some do walk-ins. Sometimes there are extra fees. Find out!
5 — Go online and practice for your test.
You can take up to 3 full length tests online. Your brain will grow so much!
6 — Go to the testing center, bring your $85 test fee
7 — Show that test who’s boss!
You may be all alone in the exam room so give yourself a high five after you finish, knowing you scored 3 credits for $80 and 2 hours of exam time.
That wasn’t so hard, was it? You would probably put more effort into planning a vacation. Which you could do now, in your free time. Because you are not in class.
Option 4 – Get 15 College Credits for Your Life Experience
Yep. I said it. College credit for life experience. It doesn’t get any easier than that!
Credit for Prior Learning (CPL) is a credit that you can earn for any work experiences or training that would be similar to something you would learn in a classroom.
I have a friend who was a stay at home mom for 17 years who was able to use her experience in management, organization, scheduling, and teaching to earn credit for a college degree. You have skills too that are JUST as valid as any classroom education.
Here’s how to get college credit for your life experience:
I’m going to use Columbia College in Missouri as an example of how the process works, but most schools will use similar methods to award credit. Also, each school will put a limit on how much credit for prior learning credit you can get. For some schools, it’s 15 hours, for others it can be as high as 30.
1 — Check if your college awards credit for prior learning credits.
Always check first. Did you remember reading that anywhere else?
2 — Read over the course descriptions.
You’ll want to figure out which classes most closely align with your work and life experience.
As an example, Columbia College in Missouri has 45 classes that are available using credit for prior learning in classes that range from Watercolor to Personal selling (Etsy shop anybody?)
3 — Meet with your academic advisor.
You’ll want to get the full picture of what your school requires and familiarize yourself with the rules. Always important to follow the rules.
4 — Write up your portfolio. This will take a lot of work. Just being honest. You’re welcome.
Your school will have a specific way to compile your portfolio. Right down to font and page numbers. This is your chance to show them your skill of attention to detail!
Then start writing about what you’ve done. Life experiences, clubs, volunteering, training, hobbies, recreation, travel. Describe your competencies, your goals and demonstrate how you have covered the material from the course description.
Include any documents, awards or letters of recommendation that you have received.
5 — Hand in your portfolio to your advisor.
Be sure to smile politely and shake hands like you were taught. Pay the required fees. That’s more important than shaking hands.
When I applied for credit for prior learning, I spent about 5 hours preparing my portfolio. It took a bit of work, but I was awarded 18 credit hours. Sweet!
Although CPL appears to be a lot of work, it is an amazing way to receive credit for work you have ALREADY done. Also easier and cheaper than just taking the classes.
Option 5 – Take 5 TECEP Exams
Are you keeping up with all these acronyms? Welcome to the academic world. Acronyms are king.
TECEP exams are another way to use that knowledge you have already gained to get credits.
- Check to see if your school honors TECEP credit. Yes, this again. It’s important.
- Read through the list of TECEP exams and find one that fits you. There are lots of choices from Nutrition, Psychology and Music History.
- Take a look at the test description for your exam as this will tell you what the exam covers, ideas for studying and even sample questions.
- You then register for your exam using the Thomas Edison State University website.
- Don’t forget to pay the $75 registration fee.
- This next part is great, you can take your exam at home. College credit without even leaving your house!
- TECEP exams can be taken online or the traditional pen and paper method with a local professor, university staff member or librarian overseeing your exam.
The Thomas Edison State University even allows you to suggest exams that you would like to have offered. DYOE! Design Your Own Exam!
Option 6 – Take 3 Excelsior College Exams
Excelsior offers 64 credit by exam options with a strong focus on nursing, arts and sciences.
Excelsior even boasts that you can almost complete an entire degree by exam only.
Here’s how to get credits fast with Excelsior Exams:
- Check with….you know what I’m going to say. Check with your school.
- Try out a few of the online practice tests to get an idea of what you already know. Even discover what you still need to learn.
- Register for your exam.
- There’s even a fun option called a Value Package. It costs $145 and allows you to retake the exam. Just in case you didn’t know as much as you thought you did.
- Find your closest testing center using and schedule a time in the next 8-16 weeks to take your exam.
There are a variety of supports offered through Excelsior including online tutoring, tutorials, library access and practice exams. They want you to succeed!
Option 7 – Take 1 New York University Language Exam
Do you speak a second language? Or better yet can you listen, read and write in another language. That skill alone could earn you 16 credits. Muy bien!
Through the New York University School of Professional Studies, you can take a language exam worth 12 – 16 credits.
Here’s what the exam involves:
- Answering multiple choice and short answer questions
- Write one essay
- Translate a passage into the target language
- Respond to two audio sections
- For the full 16 credits, you also have to write a 350 word essay on a complex subject using abstract ideas, supportive arguments hypothesize and longer paragraphs
Make sure you:
- Check with your chosen school what credits would be granted.
- Register by calling 212-998-7030
- Pay the exam fee, $450 for the 16 point exam and a $20 registration fee.
- Exams are administered onsite at NYU, although arrangements can be made to take the exam off-site for an extra fee of $20. You would have to set up a proctor who is a college faculty member, administrator or government/company official.
Learning a second language is hard work. But if you have already done the work, you should get the credit for it, too.
Option 8 – Take 1 GRE Subject Exam
This is the big money option! You can take one GRE with Charter Oak State College and receive 24 credits. That’s 8 classes worth of credits in one exam!
The catch is you have to be an enrolled student with Charter Oak. But that’s not a big deal if you aren’t currently attending a college or university. If Charter Oak State doesn’t interest you, you can still get college credits fast using one of the other 7 options outlined above.
You can earn up to 24 credits in:
- Computer Science
You can earn up to 18 credits in:
- Literature in English
To use this method, you will need to:
- Enroll at Charter Oak
- Take the 2 hour and 50 minute GRE subject exam that is offered 3 times a year at a testing center.
Completing the GRE will take a lot of study time to prepare, but could be worth the effort if you have a strong background in any of the exam topics.
Can you test out of college courses and get credit?
Yes, it depends on each university’s policies, but most universities will allow you to test out of 15 to 30 credit hours.
You can read more about testing out of college courses here.
Can work experience equal college credits?
Yes, some colleges award college credit for prior learning and experience. Usually, you will have to submit your resume along with a portfolio that outlines your relevant experience in order to be considered for prior learning credit.
How can I get college credits before college?
The fastest way to get college credits before you attend is to take CLEP exams or DSST exams. Most accredited universities award college credit for these exams.
In addition, if you are currently a high school student, your school may offer a dual-enrollment program that awards both high school and college credit for taking a single course.
How long does it take to get 30 college credits?
If you attend college on a traditional campus, it will take one year to complete 30 college credits. However, if you test out of 30 college credit hours using CLEP or DSST exams, you can get 30 college credits in just a few weeks, assuming you want to take one week to study for each exam.
Alternately, you can enroll in accelerated online classes and finish 30 college credits in about 30 weeks — assuming you take two classes at a time and enroll in 6-week online courses.
How long does it take to earn 60 college credits?
If you attend college on a traditional campus, it will take two years to complete 60 college credits.
However, you may have the option to test out of at least 30 credit hours, speeding the time to completion by one year. In addition, your university might offer credit for prior learning opportunities to help you complete your degree in less time.
If you opt for online classes, you also have the option to enroll at a university offering accelerated 6-week or 8-week online classes which can help you finish your degree in less time.
How long does it take to get 90 college credits?
If you attend college on a traditional campus, it will take three years to complete 90 college credits.
That being said, you can use a combination of credit by exam, credit for prior learning, and accelerated online classes to complete 90 credit hours in two years or less.
How long does it take to get 120 college credits?
If you attend college on a traditional campus, it will take four years to complete 120 college credits.
As an alternative, you can enroll in accelerated 6-week or 8-week online classes and speed up your time to completion considerably.
In addition, you can make use of your university’s credit by exam program and test out of 15 to 30 credit hours in just a few weeks. If you have work or military experience, you may also be able to submit credit for prior learning portfolio that awards college credit for your experience.
Get college credits fast so you can focus more on what matters most to you!
The world is changing and how we do education is changing just as quickly. You have loads of experience, skills and knowledge but you may not have extra time and money.
Take the next step!
Taking advantage of accelerated classes can help you get college credits fast so you can spend more time on what matters most to you.