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Most students are familiar with CLEP exams and how they can help you earn college credit, but did you know DSST® exams are another way to earn college credit for prior knowledge? DSST exams encompass over 30 subject-matter tests in the fields of business, humanities, math, physical science, social sciences, and technology. 

With such a wide variety of topics to choose from, there is sure to be a subject where you are proficient.

DSST Basics

Previously known as the DANTES Subject Standardized Tests, DSST exams began as a way to offer military members college credit. Today, DSST exams are available to anyone seeking to earn college credit outside of the classroom.

DSST exams include 80-120 multiple choice questions which need to be completed in two hours. You are not penalized for wrong answers, so it’s best to make an educated guess for each question instead of leaving an answer blank.

If you fail a DSST exam, there is no limit to how many times you can retake the same test, but you must wait 30 days before retaking the test. You must also pay $85 for the test again (plus any proctoring fees, if applicable).

How DSST differs from CLEP

Though both CLEP and DSST exams provide college credit, there are two key differences. First, CLEP exams take 90 minutes, while DSST exams take two hours to complete. Secondly, CLEP exam credit is accepted at over 2,900 schools; DSST exams are accepted by over 1,900 colleges and universities nationwide. Before taking either a CLEP or DSST exam, make sure exam credit is accepted by your college or university.

Benefits of taking a DSST exam

Taking a DSST exam comes with many benefits, including:

  • Use prior knowledge: Earn college credit for subject(s) in which you are already familiar.
  • Save money: The average college course costs $900+; each DSST exam only costs $85.
  • Reduce course completion time: The average exam takes two hours plus a few hours of study time versus three – six months of course attendance.
  • Decrease time to complete degree: College credit earned outside of the classroom reduces the number of courses you need to take to complete a degree.

Preparing for the exam

Practice tests are an effective way to prepare for the exam since they demonstrate the types of questions you can expect on the exam and simulate the timed testing experience. Peterson’s DSST test prep includes a breakdown of the content areas of the exam, skills and strategies for self-leaning, practice tests, and more. 

For more information about the available DSST exams and how to prepare for them, visit our DSST test prep page. Peterson’s is an official test prep provider of the DSST.