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Credit By Exam


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In some cases students might possess knowledge that meets the outcomes/requirements of a particular NOVA course. Nationally recognized exams, such as CLEP and DSST, measure a student's knowledge in a particular subject. Local ABLE exams measure competencies in specific NOVA courses. If the student earns a qualifying score on an exam, NOVA may accept the credits for comparable NOVA courses.

Before proceeding with any prior learning options, please speak with your advisor or counselor to confirm the best option for your personal situation.

Credit by Exam Options

CLEP Program and DSST Program

CLEP and DSST are national exams that must be taken at an official testing center. The CLEP and DSST exams cost less than tuition and usually take only two hours to complete. Exams are offered in many different subject areas and if you pass the exam with an acceptable score, you may be granted credit for the equivalent NOVA course. Before registering to take an exam, you please reference the CLEP chart and the DSST chart, which are both found in the Prior Learning Manual, to determine which exams are accepted by NOVA. 

Both the CLEP exam and DSST exam are offered on NOVA’s Alexandria campus through Workforce Development or at Fort Belvoir or Quantico Marine Corps Base. If you are not local to Alexandria, you need to contact another testing agency for registration and cost details. Additional testing centers can be found on each exam’s website: /

Assessment by Local Exam (ABLE)

Exams prepared by NOVA faculty, called Assessment by Local Exam (ABLE), allow students to earn credit for courses by demonstrating they have the necessary competencies to pass the course. In most cases, students must contact the department offering the exam to determine if they are qualified to take the exam. They may need to pass certain background requirements in order to qualify.

There is no charge for ABLE exams or for having credit recorded on the student's permanent record. Please reference the Prior Learning Manual for the list of ABLE exams.

NOTE: If you are already enrolled in a course that has an ABLE exam option, and you pass the exam, it is your responsibility to drop the course prior to the Census Date if you wish to qualify for a refund.

Other Credit by Exam Opportunities

Other Credit by Exam opportunities can be found in the Prior Learning Manual.