Whether you're a brand new nursing student or the proud holder of a two-year Associates Degree in Nursing (ADN—and congratulations, by the way) it's likely you've considered going after a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. Why? Because as great as an ADN is, once you get your BSN....
- You'll have greater upward mobilty and more varied career options
- You'll enjoy increased job security (more and more employers, and even some states, actually require nurses to have a BNS degree)
- You'll make $12,000 more per year on average  
Simply put, a BSN is a fantastic degree. What's not fantastic is the time and expense you have to sacrifice to get it. At the risk of sounding like a late-night infomercial, wouldn't it be great if there was a faster, more affordable way to get your BSN? Spoiler alert: There is! It's called Credit by Examination.
Credit by Examination, also known as Credit-by-Exam, or testing-out, is the fancy formal name for what are basically aptitude tests. Instead of spending precious time and money slogging through a particular course—Anatomy and Physiology, for example—you take one exam instead. When you pass the exam, you get full college credit for the course that would have taught the information covered on that exam. It's a completely valid and accepted shortcut to earning your BSN.
The appeal is obvious. For example, would you rather take two full semesters (30 weeks & 60 classes) of English Composition I & II course work,(all the quizzes, group projects, and college busy work)—or test out of it after just 8 short test prep sessions and one exam?
(Speaking of test prep sessions, if you need help reviewing for a particular exam, Achieve Test Prep offers a wide range of live and on-demand/streaming exam prep classes. (Click here for more info)
Sound good? Then read on, and learn about our:
Easy 5-step roadmap for completing your BSN sooner using Credit by Examination.
Step 1: Organize your past credits
The first step in determining what credits you still need is figuring out which ones you already have. Collect your past school credits, work experience, professional licenses, and military training into one comprehensive archive.
Step 2: Choose your BSN program
Time to decide where you want to get your BSN degree. Take your time, do your homework, and choose the BSN program that is best for you.
Be warned: Course length, program availability, class flexibility, and support will all vary from school to school. Every college and university has its own unique set of advantages and disadvantages. For example:
- Different colleges offer different credits for past experience. Have your list from Step 1 ready and find out exactly which credits are transferable and which are not—you don't want any surprises down the road.
- Some have clinical components near you, but others do not.
- Some colleges have better name recognition.
- Some colleges offer discounts to in-state residents.
- Some colleges offer a MSN (Masters of Science in Nursing) path.
Note: If this step seems just a bit overwhelming, contact us and learn how our patented Degree Planning Analysis Report can help you find the college that will give you the most credit for your past experience.
Step 3: Learn your Credit by Examination options
Match up your chosen schools' required courses with your list of past credits and determine which courses can you can test out of with Credit by Examination.
This will vary from school to school, so don't be afraid to shop around. It may save you a ton of time and money later. Also, locate your nearest testing center.
Step 4: Take optional prep classes and ace your Credit by Examination tests
Time to take some tests. Here's the plan you should follow:
- Take any test prep classes you need (optional, but if you want prep classes, Achieve Test Prep has you covered)
- Register for the equivalency exam at testing center (Note: Exams are developed and credits are awarded by either CLEP, DSST, UExcel, or accredited colleges)
- Take exam. Get a great score
- Get college credit and see yourself that much closer to you BSN degree
- Brag to your friends about all the time and money you saved [optional, but tough to resist]
Step 5: Enroll in your college and take your remaining nursing classes.
Time to earn the credits you couldn't get via Credit by Exam. Head onto campus (or online), hit the books, and finish strong.
Congratulations! You just got your BSN!
Moreover, because you used the Credit by Examination system, you did it faster and more affordably than you ever imagined. Great job, nurse.
Money and Time Saving Examples:
- With college, you must attend two semesters of Anatomy and Physiology. With credit-by examination this is typically just one 10-week class.
- With colleges, tuition costs are often between $1200 & $3000 per credit course. With credit by examination, your tuition cost per test-out can be as low as $795.
If you’re serious about earning your BSN, learn how our patented Degree Planning Analysis Report can help you find the college that will give you the most credit for your past experience.
*This post has been updated and republished with current information.