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About Timewise TN

Timewise TN, otherwise known as prior learning assessment (PLA), is a method of evaluating what you have learned outside school for college credit. Your past experiences and knowledge (from work, hobbies, volunteering, and other sources) may already account for skills that you would have learned in the classroom. If you can demonstrate this knowledge at the college level, many institutions in Tennessee will award college credit for what you already know. Of course, your knowledge must be relevant to your proposed degree, so you may not be able to earn credit for your knowledge of computers for a degree in music; however, there are many options for demonstrating prior learning. By demonstrating your skills and skipping the class, you save time and money.

Generally, students demonstrate PLA in one of three forms: credit by examinationcredit recommendations for past training, and portfolio assessments

Types of PLA credits utilize a wide variety of options to cover many subject areas.

Credit by Examination (Test-based PLA)

Credit by examination is a form of test-based evaluation. A student takes an examination in order to demonstrate what he or she knows.

  • ACT (American College Testing)- The ACT is a standardized exam typically given to high school students and used in college admissions. It covers areas of English, mathematics, reading, science reasoning, and writing. While mostly an admissions tool, some institutions will award college level credit for certain scores on the ACT. For more information, visit http://www.act.org/path/adult/college.html.
  • Advanced Placement (AP) Exams - A series of tests developed by the College Board initially for AP High School courses, including 34 exams in 19 subject areas. For more information visit http://www.collegeboard.com/student/testing/ap/subjects.html
  • College Level Examination Program (CLEP) Exams - The College Board offers 33 CLEP exams in 5 different subject areas. Most CLEP tests cover introductory knowledge of certain subjects, many of which fall within general education requirements. The cost to take an exam is is typically $80-90. For more information, visit http://clep.collegeboard.org/
  • Course Challenge Exams - These are local tests developed by a college to verify learning achievement for a particular course. Often taking the form of a final exam, these tests are usually developed by individual departments or faculty members. 
  • DSST;Credit by Exam Program - Formerly known as the DANTES Program, and owned and administered by Prometric, the DSST tests both lower-level and upper-level college material through 38 exams in 6 subject areas for upper and lower division credit. Originally only available to military personnel, DSST exams have been made available to the general public for a fee of $80 per test. Because of their military origins, some exams have a focus that will be more familiar to military personnel. Also, exams may cover both general topics as well as more specific and advance topic. Military personnel should visit: http://www.dantes.doded.mil/Sub%20Pages/Exams/Exams_Main.html for more information. If you are not in the military or a veteran, please go to: http://www.getcollegecredit.com/.
  • Excelsior College Examinations (formerly, ACT-PEP/RCE) - Excelsior exams are a set of 29 general tests and 17 nursing tests offered by Excelsior College, NY on a wide variety of subjects. While often more specific than other standardized exams, Excelsior exams cover both upper and lower division subject areas for college credit. While most of the exams are paper-based, Excelsior does offer 8 lower division exams in a computer-based format (called UExcel). While the cost of each exam can vary, they typically cost about $95-$375 per exam. For more information, visit http://www.pearsonvue.com/excelsior/
  • International Baccalaureate Programs Exams -The International Baccalaureate (IB) Programme is an internationally accepted qualification for entry into institutes of higher education. The Diploma Program is designed for students aged 16 to 19; it is a demanding two-year curriculum leading to final examinations in 18 different subject areas. Graduates of the IB program must demonstrate competency in languages, social studies, the experimental sciences, and mathematics. Additionally, the program has three core requirements that are included to broaden the educational experience and challenge students to apply their knowledge and understanding of the world. To receive a diploma, students must achieve a minimum score of 24 out of a possible 45 points, as well as satisfactory participation in the creativity, action, service requirements. For more information, visit http://www.ibo.org/who/
  • SAT Reasoning Test - The SAT is a standardized exam typically given to high school students and used in college admissions. It covers areas of critical reading, mathematics, and writing. While the SAT is used mostly by admissions offices to make admissions decisions, some institutions will award college level credit for certain scores on the SAT.
  • Thomas Edison State College Examination Program (TECEP) - TECEP exams are a collection of 22 exams in 7 subject areas for both upper and lower division credit. The topics of TECEP exams, in many cases, are specific and advanced, although some introductory subjects are covered. Each test costs $99. For more information, visit http://www2.tesc.edu/listalltecep.php.

Credit Recommendation Services (past training assessed for credit)

Credit recommendation from past training (or credit recommendation service) is when college credits are awarded based on the evaluation of a particular type of training (often workplace or military). If you have successfully completed the training, you may be recommended for college level credit. There are several national organizations which evaluate thousands of different training programs and make credit recommendations.

  • American Council on Education (ACE) Assessed Training and Examinations ACE CREDIT (Workforce-based credit recommendation service) - This is a service offered through ACE to recognize learning that takes place in the work place in the form of training (corporate, nonprofit, government, etc.) that can be transferred toward a college degree at participating institutions. Over 600 businesses, agencies, and organizations have had their training evaluated by ACE resulting in thousands of evaluated courses. Students request that ACE compile the details of the their training and compile this into an ACE transcript. The credit is kept on file through ACE and transferred by transcript to institutions, which means that students may need to request these transcripts to apply credit. The first transcript costs $40, with copies costing $15 each. Samples of training programs include those offered through McDonald's and Wal-Mart. For more information, visit http://www2.acenet.edu/credit/?fuseaction=browse.main
  • ACE Military Credit - This is a service offered through ACE to recognize learning that takes place in the military. Courses are offered through the military, but ACE records the credit through its transcript service. For more information visit, http://www.militaryguides.acenet.edu/
  • ACE Examinations - ACE does not offer its own examinations, but it does evaluate standardized exams provided by other organizations for college credit. While technically part of the military and CREDIT services, the ACE catalog includes a list of standardized examinations. While this includes CLEP, Excelsior, DSST, and other standardized exams, it also includes others that are less common (such as the Foreign Service Institute, the Defense Language Institute, and the National Institute of Automotive Servicing). These examinations should be taken through their respective providers, but ACE's list of examinations is often helpful to many students. Please see the military and CREDIT sites for details.
  • Assessment of Licensure/Certificate/Apprenticeship Programs - Some institutions and organizations have evaluated professional certifications and apprenticeships for college credit. Also, in some cases, professional qualifications can become part of a portfolio assessment. Please check with your institution for more information or check out our information on portfolio assessment.
  • Locally Assessed Training - Much like ACE's workforce training evaluations, many colleges and universities make special arrangements with local businesses and organizations to evaluate their training for college level credit. Please check with your organization or your local institution for details.
  • National College Credit Recommendation Service - Formerly known as PONSI, NCCRS is a national training evaluation service, offered by the University of the State of New York - Regents Research Fund. 76 Businesses, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations have their trainings evaluated for college level credit. Although most of the participating organizations are from the northeast United States, examples can be found from across the country. For more information, see http://www.nationalccrs.org​


Portfolio Assessments

Portfolio assessments are often used to evaluate past learning that cannot be captured by credit recommendations or exams. Portfolio assessments are akin to reports where a student documents his or her past learning and describes what he or she learned.

  • Portfolio-based Assessments - A portfolio is a compilation of documents or other evidence that demonstrates college-level learning. These are reviewed by faculty at the institution and credit is awarded based on their assessment of the portfolio. Each institution in Tennessee currently has its own policies and practices, and in some cases, these vary by departments and programs as well. Please check with your institution for details.

Timewise allows you to earn credit for things you already know. It saves you from having to take courses in subjects that you already understand. This means you can progress more quickly to obtaining your degree. Also, you may not have to pay full tuition for courses you skip, either.

Timewise is Quick: Some forms of Timewise can earn you credit much faster than even the most accelerated college courses. For example, an institution may award credit for military or work training based on an ACE transcript. Once this transcript is submitted to an institution, credit is awarded almost immediately without any additional steps. You can show proficiency in a subject area by taking one of hundreds of exams for hundreds of subject areas. This means you can take a one to three hour exam and be awarded up to 12 credits of course content all at once. You could spend a semester or more earning that many credits in a traditional college classroom!

Timewise is Inexpensive: Nearly all public colleges and universities in Tennessee award Timewise credit at a lower cost than tuition. In some cases, an institution will charge no fee at all. This means, for example, that you could pay $80 for a CLEP examination and earn three credit hours. It could cost you $500 or more to earn the same credits in a traditional classroom.

Timewise rewards you for what you already know: Many adults find it challenging to start a college degree. Is it worth the time? Will your experience be the same as someone right out of high school? Timewise allows you to jump-start your college experience. A lot happens in life after high school. You've learned a lot and gained a lot of experience through work, the military, or volunteering. This knowledge and experience may mean that you do not need to start from scratch. Timewise can reward you for this and it may mean that you are much closer to your degree than you realize!

Timewise is not automatic credit for past experiences. We have all had many experiences in our lives, but many of them do not merit college credit. Furthermore, students cannot simply turn in resumes or work histories and expect to be awarded credit. Students must prove that they learned something and prove that what was learned is at the college level. While this site can help you determine if your past experiences might be worth college credit, faculty and staff at colleges and universities also can help you determine if your knowledge is at the college level. It is also important to understand that the burden is on the student to prove that they deserve credit, whether this means passing a test or discussing knowledge gained through a written portfolio. Furthermore, the credit must be relevant to the degree. Timewise is not free credit. Timewise can often save you time and money because the costs of Timewise are dramatically lower than playing the tuition for traditional courses. However, there are still costs and fees associated with Timewise.