How to Get College Credits Fast
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… because we’ve done it!
Fastest ways to get college credits:
- 90-minute multiple choice exams (Most colleges let you test out of 15 to 30 college credits. That’s between one semester to an entire year of college!)
- Use your life and work experience to get college credits
- Enroll in accelerated online classes (classes are just 6 weeks long!)
College credits are essential, but you don’t have to spend years in college to finish your degree.
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.
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?
By using the step-by-step guide below, you can free up 880 hours of your life by shaving an entire semester of classes and study time from your degree plan.
How to get 15 college credits fast
- Option 1 – Take 3 CLEP Exams
- Option 2 – Take 5 DSST Exams
- Option 3 – Get 15 College Credits for Your Life Experience
- Option 4 – Take 5 TECEP Exams
- Option 5 – Take 3 Excelsior College Exams
- Option 6 – Take 1 NYU Language Exam
- Option 7 – Take 1 GRE Subject Exam
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.
Option 1 – 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 1,000+ 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
- Social Sciences and History
- College Mathematics
- Natural Sciences
- French Language Level 1 proficiency
- German Language Level 1 Proficiency
- Spanish Language Level 1 Proficiency
There’s a subject for everybody in this list. Using your own area of expertise could help you get college credits even faster.
2 — Choose 1 exam worth 3 college credits.
Select your preferred subject from this list of CLEP exams.
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 anyways!
9 — Take a selfie once you’re done and caption it “I just got 6 credits in 2 hours! Genius!”
Option 2 – Take 5 DSST Exams
Like the CLEP, DSST exams are widely accepted with over 1,900 colleges honoring credits earned through this method.
DSST exams are 100 multiple choice questions and you have 2 hours to complete the exam. You do the exam either with good old fashioned paper and pencil or online.
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!
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, with your free time. Because you are not in class.
Option 3 – 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 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? Here’s a list of colleges that accept credit for prior learning credits.
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.
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 4 – 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 5 – 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 6 – 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, hypothesizes 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.
- Know exams are done 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 7 – Take 1 GRE Subject Exam
This is the big money option! You can take one GRE with Charter Oaks 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 Oaks. A good option if you are not currently attending college or university. If Charter Oak State doesn’t interest you, you can still get college credits fast using one of the other 6 options outlined above.
If you score in the top 40th percentile on the exam you can earn up to 24 credits in:
- Computer Science
Literature in English and Psychology could net you 18 credits. See the list of exams and credit values.
To score these big ticket exams you would first:
- Enroll at Charter Oaks
- Take the 2 hour and 50 minute exam that is offered 3 times a year at one of the major university campuses.
Writing the GRE will take a lot of study time to prepare but will be worth it if you have a strong background in any of the exam topics.
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.
Taking advantage of these options to get college credits fast will free you up to do what matters most to you. But you still can further your education. Win-win.
What would you do with the extra 880 hours to live your life? Beach vacation? Write your novel?