For many homeschoolers, standardized testing is a foreign concept. The entire purpose of homeschooling is to get away from the standard, one-size-fits-all educational model, right? While this may be true for the majority of standardized exams, there are some tests that can be beneficial to all students in the long run, especially those who plan to attend college.
Credit-Granting Exam Options
Some of the most valuable options for homeschool students are credit-granting exams. These allow students to earn college credit for their existing knowledge by simply passing a test. One of these is the College Level Examination Program (CLEP). There are 33 CLEP exams to choose from, in subjects ranging from college level algebra to world history and writing composition. Earning a passing score on one of these exams will translate to actual college credit, meaning you won’t need to take the course as part of your college study.
Another option is the DANTES Subject Standardized Tests (DSST). These assessments originally began as an avenue for U.S. military personnel to earn college credit for skills they acquired on-the-job, outside of the conventional college setting. Today, that same flexibility can translate to college credit at more than 1900 colleges and universities. Best of all, anybody can take these exams, not just members of the military! Since many of these DSST exams cover different subjects than CLEP exams, these are a great addition to any homeschool student’s arsenal of college credit options.
Earn College Credit
The four years spent in pursuit of a college degree are more akin to a marathon than a sprint. If you’re interested in getting ahead of the game, earning college credit in advance of entering college can help you do that. Not only will you enter college ahead of your classmates, but students who earn college credit prior to entering college are able to focus on the courses that matter most: the core of the major. This sets students up to graduate early, provides increased opportunities to begin a career sooner, and advances earning potential, which segues into the next benefit: saving money.
No one says college is cheap—even students with scholarships. Costs add up quickly: tuition, room and board, books, and incidentals. According to the College Board, the average in-state tuition for 2017-2018 at public four-year institutions has risen by 20% or more since the 2012-2013 school year. College savings and scholarships haven’t increased by the same amount, but you can offset this cost by earning credits before entering college. The more college credit you earn in advance of entering college, the less debt you’ll have to incur and the more money you’ll save.
Add Credibility to Your Education
While homeschooling continues to grow in popularity, there are still a lot of misconceptions out there about what exactly homeschooling is. If you’ve ever gotten questions about what you actually study and learn or received misguided jokes about how homeschoolers can wake up at noon, taking credit-granting exams can add credibility to your homeschool education. Researchers at the National Home Education Research Institute (NHERI) point out that while homeschooling is certainly not new, it is becoming more ubiquitous in society. Additionally, their research shows that students score higher on standardized achievement tests than their more traditionally educated peers, confirming the credibility and success of the homeschool movement. You’ve got the knowledge—show it off with a passing score on a credit-granting exam.
Learn College-Level Skills
In the process of gaining college-level credit comes the acquisition of college-level skills. Studying for credit-bearing assessments can better prepare students for college-level work, in a way that few other options can. If you want to know firsthand what college-level course material is like, take a CLEP or DSST practice test. If you’re unsure about whether you’re ready for the challenge, browse around DSST and CLEP options to learn about the practice options and see how you can maximize your learning potential.
Increase College Acceptance
With higher numbers of students applying to colleges, the rejection rates, unfortunately, must increase, too. As just one example, The Boston Globe reports that 33% of applicants were accepted to Tufts University 20 years ago. Today, just 15% were accepted. Help your transcript stand out and ensure you won’t be on the receiving side of a rejection letter by demonstrating to your future college or university your commitment to learning. Students who begin their four-year college study with credits already in hand are more likely to succeed than their credit-less peers.
Are you ready to start earning college credit today? Take these practice tests to see how close you are to earning that college credit! Follow these links to CLEP practice tests and DSST practice tests.