Experience is the ultimate teacher—and if you're a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), you're getting a ton of it. You work alongside doctors, registered nurses, and other medical professionals every day, constantly absorbing the latest knowledge and information, learning from not just your own experiences, but those of your coworkers as well.
Simply put: You're up to speed.
So, when you feel ready to get your own RN credential (and enjoy the higher salaries and wider career opportunities it unlocks), you shouldn't have to waste time rehashing the basics. The traditional, “start from the beginning” approach may be great for a first-year nursing student ... but you don't need it.
What do you need? An LPN to RN bridge program with Credit-by-Exam.
You're probably already familiar with the idea of an LPN to RN bridge. These accelerated programs enable working LPNs to get their RN credential as quickly, as affordably, and with as little missed work as possible. LPNs love them. In fact, the LPN to RN bridge at Achieve Test Prep is our most popular program. We've already helped [insert number] LPNs become RNs—and we're adding new success stories to that tally every day.
What you may not have heard of until now is the “Credit-by-Exam” concept. If that's the case, or if you've already heard the term and just want to know more, brace yourself: This is a game changer.
What is Credit-by-Exam?
Also known as “credit by examination” and “CBE,” Credit-by-Exam is a system that enables you to leap-frog over certain beginner courses whose material an experienced LPN (like yourself) probably already knows. Instead of attending a traditional, 15-week semester of classes—which includes paying full price for tuition, books, and materials—you attend a few review sessions, pass a proficiency exam, and viola! You just “tested out” of a course! It still shows up on your transcript as a completed requirement and you still get full credit for it. It just cost you far less time and money.
Questions? You came to the right place. Below, we'll address common questions LPNs have about Credit-by-Exam.
The Ultimate Credit-by-Exam FAQ
Q: What’s the Advantage of Using Credit-by-Exam?
As mentioned above, Credit-by-Exam's appeal is simple, but powerful: It saves you months of time and a huge pile of money.
A: Time Savings
Completing a single course in a traditional nursing program typically takes 14 or 15 weeks, usually with multiple class sessions per week. Community college classes are just as time consuming. In fact, they may take even longer, because they often have long wait lists for admission and/or the specific classes you need.
On the other hand, LPN to RN programs with Credit-by-Exam capability hardly ever need wait lists. Nor do they require 14 to 15 weeks of classes. Instead, these plans utilize either self-study tutorials or test prep classes with a human instructor—sometimes both—to help students review the material to be tested. Test prep classes tend to take only 4 to 10 weeks(often with only a single weekly session) to complete, and self-study tutorials can be worked through at the student’s own pace.
A: Money Savings
Most colleges charge thousands of dollars per course, and community colleges aren't far behind. By contrast, LPN to RN bridge programs cost far less, and the ECE exams often used by Credit-by-Exam courses cost only around $300 each.
The bottom line is this: Even if you opt to take test prep classes before each exam, an LPN to RN program with credit by examination integration can save you a considerable amount of both time and money.
Q: What Exams do Credit-by-Exam Programs Require?
A: The specific exams you'll take may vary depending on your study goals and the types of exam credits your college of choice will accept. That said, there are a few “usual suspects.”
It's common for students who need general education credits or lower-level subject credits (erg. Intro to Psychology or Principles of College Algebra) to take CLEP (College Level Examination Program) exams or DSST (Dantes Subject Standardized Tests) exams to complete their Credit-by-Exam courses.
For specific nursing courses, the most popular exams are the ECEs (Excelsior College Examinations), which are accepted by hundreds of nursing schools and programs.
Q: How long and difficult are Credit-by-Exam tests in an LPN to RN program?
A: The precise length and format can vary depending on the exam type and subject. But as a rule, the ECE, CLEP, and DSST exams are usually composed of 100-120 questions, most or all of which will be multiple choice, with a time limit of 1.5 to 2.5 hours.
In most cases, the testing organization will provide study materials and/or practice exams for an additional fee. However, many nursing students find that nursing exams are more manageable after completing optional test prep courses, such as those crafted by Achieve Test Prep.
Q: How Many Full-Length LPN to RN Courses Can I Streamline Using Credit-by-Exam?
A: The exact number will depend upon the nursing program you choose. However, considering that more than 150 subjects are now available for the Credit-by-Exam treatment, you may be able to bypass or “test out of” all but two or three of your RN courses. The remaining courses must be completed in person and/or directly through the college from which you will graduate.
Note, too, that there is no option to test out of the infamous 2 ½ day endurance test known as the Clinical Performance in Nursing Exam, or CPNE. However, students who enroll in Achieve Test Prep's CPNE prep class enjoy a 91% pass rate—roughly 30% higher than the national average—so we can definitely help get you through it.
Q: What Happens If I Fail An Exam?
A: You can retake each Credit-by-Exam assessment up to four times, though not more than three times in a single year. For ECE nursing exams, you have to wait at least 60 days between each attempt.
Test preparation courses are not required, but one advantage of taking them is that you can often avoid exam failures.
Q: Which Colleges Accept Credit-by-Exam for Their RN Programs?
A: Credit by examination courses are so widely welcomed that it might be faster to list the few colleges that don't yet accept them.
Thousands of colleges and universities across the US accept CBE credits earned through reputable providers such as the College Board and Excelsior College. Excelsior College's ECE exams for LPN to RN bridge students are approved by the American Council on Education's (ACE’s) College Credit Recommendation Service.
On the downside, not every college handles Credit-by-Exam in the same way.
For example, more than 2900 colleges and universities will accept CLEP test results, but only some give full credit for them. Others give partial credit, give credit only in certain subjects, give no credit but use your scores to help place you academically, or refuse to give credit if the CLEP you took is for a course too similar to one you've already taken or that you previously failed.
So, if you already have a desired college in mind, be sure to contact the admissions office and ask about its Credit-by-Exam acceptance policy. If you're still shopping, take a little time to ask. It can be difficult and time-consuming to find the school that gives you the most for your prior knowledge and experience, but it's worth it.
If that sounds like too much, you can contact Achieve Test Prep, and we'll do the footwork for you. We can find the schools that will benefit you the most, and offers short refresher courses (some as little as four weeks) to help you prepare for any subjects you need to review before taking the test-out exam.
Speaking of which, if you’re still researching which LPN to RN program is best for you, we'd humbly suggest you consider Achieve Test Prep. In addition to being our most popular program, our LPN to RN bridge is one of the most successful bridge programs available anywhere. Our RN bridge students have a whopping pass rate of 94-96%. So you know the program works. Plus, the few students who do fail get free refresher courses and personal tutoring, so they're perfectly positioned to succeed on their next try. We don't leave anyone behind.
Contact us today to learn more about Credit-by-Exam and our flexible LPN to RN bridge programs.
Whichever LPN to RN program you choose, good luck! We believe in you.
*This blog has been updated and republished.