In previous articles I have discussed some of the different exams for credit that are available to distance learning students and what some of the advantages are to students. However, taking exams for credit can be a disadvantage to many students. To decide if taking exams for credit is right for you, you need to consider your own educational and life goals and how these exams will help or hinder those goals. The following are some of the factors that can be to your disadvantage.
- Although all distance learning students need to be self-motivated and have great time management skills, you do have a course curriculum, lessons, textbooks, and dates given for completion of work. However, these are not available to you for exams for credit. Also, even though you usually have the knowledge from previous courses or from working when you decide to take an exam for credits, you still need to study. It is necessary for you to decide when you will be ready to take the exam, find out the dates available to take it, locate textbooks and other information for study purposes, pay for these resources, and find out what you need to know for your exam. Then you need to do the studying without any reminders or suggestions from anyone else – instructor or students.
- You may learn less than you would if you actually took the course. This would be especially important if the course is a foundation course for more advanced courses in the same subject. It would also be important to you if you really enjoy learning and may feel that you are missing out on some interesting knowledge that might be available during the course. Instructors usually offer more information than just what the textbook offers. You also miss out on the discussions with other students which offer different viewpoints and experiences than you may have encountered in your work.
- These exams for credit are not an automatic credit at all colleges and universities. Your school may not give credit for any of those exams. You would then need to decide to change the school you wanted to attend or stay with that school and take all the courses rather than taking any of the exams.
- Even when exams for credit are accepted for credit at your college or university, the acceptable score on the test may not be the one that is given as the standard by the college board or the American Council on Education. You may have to earn a higher score in order to have a passing grade at your school. This is more information that you need to check out with your school.
- Some students take exams for credit to cover all of their first two years of college. In this case it is possible that they may not be prepared for the work that will be required in actual college courses. They will be entering upper level classes without that experience of writing essays or working on group projects at the lower level classes. This may make it more difficult for them than if they had started with those lower level courses.
There are many advantages to taking exams for credit but there are some disadvantages too. You need to look closely at your own circumstances – goals, financial circumstances, time available etc., plus all of the advantages and disadvantages to determine what the best course of action is for you.