Standardized Exam/Testing Frequently Asked Questions

Exam Basics

Q: What exam should I take?

A: Ultimately, only you can decide which exam(s) best meet your goals. However, in making your decision it is very important that you consult with your Admissions or Academic Counselor who can help you choose an exam that will appropriately fit into your chosen degree program. In addition, your Academic Counselor can direct you to study guides that can help you prepare for the exam.

Q: What exams does Charter Oak State College accept for credit?

A: Charter Oak State College accepts most (but not all) standardized exams. A chart of all of the major test providers, along with their contact information, can be viewed under Exam Resources.

Registering for / Taking Exams

Q. Where are the exams held?

A: In Connecticut, students take their CLEP or DSST exam in-person at one of the centers. Please see our Exam Information.

Q: How do I register for an early childhood exam at Charter Oak State College?

A: Review our Pathways registration information.

Preparing for Exams

Q: How do I study for an exam?

A: The various test companies publish information describing their exams. You should carefully review this information, as it is the best resource regarding exam content. There is a wealth of information is on the CLEP and DANTES/DSST Web sites. In addition, we have assembled a list of resources at Exam Resources.

Q: How long will it take to study for an exam?

A: Your study habits have a lot to do with the time needed. Most exams are worth 3 semester hours of college credit. We suggest that you provide yourself with ample time that suits your learning style. Some test takers may be able to complete their study in less than the time of a typical course. However, this varies by the individual. The key to remember is "time" is not your focus. Learning the subject matter is what counts.

Q: Where do I find the textbooks to study for the exam?

A: DSST includes a list of recommended books with their exam information. Barnes & Noble, and other booksellers can special order any book you choose. CLEP suggests that you contact a local college that offers a course comparable to the CLEP exam you plan to take and find out what textbook(s) are required for that college's course to help you prepare. Likewise, you may want to find the textbook information for courses in the subject-area that you are interested in completing your exam. Most course materials can be purchased through Charter Oak's Online Bookstore.

Q: I need more assistance to complete my self-study for a standardized exam. What should I do?

A: Commercial test preparation guides are available in larger bookstores or online. They may provide some secondary assistance in your study regimen. Modern States Education Alliance also offers study courses which are professional, concise, and free. Watch the lecture videos, study the reading material, do the practice exams to prepare for the CLEP test(s).

Exam Scores/Credits

Q: I am a matriculated Charter Oak student, how do I have my exam score added to my transcript?

A: In order for Charter Oak to receive your score, you must let the test company know that Charter Oak State College is your designated score recipient. Your Advising Worksheet will be updated each time you have earned credit for exams. The Charter Oak code for CLEP exams is 3292; for DSST it is 9928

Q: If I am not matriculated and do not plan to earn a degree at Charter Oak State College, will you automatically place credits on a transcript?

A: No. If you are not matriculated (enrolled) at Charter Oak State College and would like a transcript of credits for exam(s) passed, you will need to use our credit registry service. Contact our Associate Registrar, Paul Morganti, at or (860) 515-3823 for more information on this service. If you are matriculated at another college you should have the test company send the score directly to your college.

Q: I took my exam at Charter Oak State College; do you have the score?

A: Not necessarily. Charter Oak State College is only a test center for your exam. We will only be sent your score if you specifically tell the test company that Charter Oak State College should be a score recipient. If you have not designated Charter Oak State College as your score recipient, you will need to contact the test company directly to access your score.

Q: How long does it take to receive my exam score?

A: CLEP scores are shown immediately (with the exception of College Composition) with the official scores mailed from CLEP in approximately two weeks. DSST scores are sent approximately 2 weeks after the test date. 

Q: If I don't pass an exam, when can I re-take it?

A: In most cases, you will need to wait at least 3 months to re-take an exam.

Q: What score do I need to pass?

A: The American Council on Education (ACE) recommends that each standardized test have a cut-off score. However, each institution has its own policy on accepting exams and the scores required. CLEP exams have a cut-off score of 50 for credit awards; DSST exams' cut-off scores range from 400-800, depending on the exam. Charter Oak State College uses the ACE-recommended passing scores to award credit. If you are not a Charter Oak student, check with your home institution for its policy.

Q: Will Charter Oak State College provide a grade for passing my exam?

A: CLEP and DSST exams are not standardized/normed and therefore no grade other than "P" (pass) can be issued for those exams.

Q: Do exams offer different levels of credit?

A: Yes. Exams are offered at different levels of difficulty. The chart below indicates the level as they are typically designated by test providers:

B/LBasic or Lower (introductory) Level
IIntermediate Level
UUpper (junior/senior) Level
B, I, UCombination of Basic, Intermediate, Upper Level

Note: you can use to locate exams and courses based on Lower or Upper levels. This is important since Charter Oak State College degree concentrations require attainment of both upper and lower level credits.