Tuesday, January 18, 2011

How to take a Dante’s exam

Dante’s, CLEP and Excelsior exams are Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) Funded for active duty, National Guard members, and Reserves which means they are essentially free. The DANTES exam is a nationally-recognized credit-by-examination program that most colleges accept for credit towards a degree plan. One enormous benefit is to soldiers who may be isolated from military bases such as recruiters who can still take these exams for free at civilian test centers. Any military student with an approved degree plan should be able to use these exams towards their degree plan assuming the subject fits into their approved degree plan. There are 38 Dante’s exams and these can be taken a base education center or at an authorized off base computer testing center.

There are five steps to taking and passing a Dante’s Exam:

Step 1. Find and Schedule
To find a Dante’s testing center go to the link below and type in your location in the city field and the nearest testing location will show up:
Once a testing center is located they must be contacted to verify testing procedures and scheduling for military students. Dante’s exams are designed to test competency in various college-level course materials. The exam is similar to the final exam given in lower level college courses.

Step 2. Download Factsheet
There a few shortcuts to pass a Dante’s that utilize the actual test construction to ensure a passing score. The exams are designed based upon an outline from subject matter experts and the questions are tested for reliability based upon a subject’s knowledge of that particular subject. This method of construction of the exam leads to an exam fact sheet that has extremely pertinent study information. Basically each fact sheet has a content outline that outlines the material and the exact percentages of that material on the exam. Once a student has determined that a Dante’s exam fits into their degree plan and found a testing center the exam fact sheet should be downloaded at: http://www.getcollegecredit.com/resources.html#factsheets

Step 3. Get Book/s
The next step in using the fact sheet is to examine the section named Sources for study Material because this is where the books used to design the test question originate from. Typically an exam lists multiple books for an exam however there is usually a seminal text. For example, in the fact sheet for the exam Principles of Counseling the first book listed is a textbook and would be a primary source for the exam so it must be purchased. The best way to purchase textbook is to search Amazon.com for the book. The book for the exam Principles of Counseling is listed new at $165 however a used copy can be purchased for $26. In most cases the most recent edition need not be purchased as the definitions and theories in the book do not change that dramatically over time.

Step 4. Make Flashcards
Purchase a set of flashcards. Using the exam Fact Sheet, each term listed on the fact sheet outline should be put on a flashcard. Using the exam Principles of Counseling as an example this would lead to a minimum of 34 flashcards. The next step is to put the sample questions from the fact sheet on the flashcards and this would be additional 10 questions for a total of 45 flashcards. Finally all relevant definitions of theories listed on the outline and terms from the book should be put on flashcards this should lead to somewhere in the neighborhood of 90 flashcards total. This set of flashcards should now mirror the content of the exam almost exactly because they are based off of the fact sheet outline. Most students require at least 2 weeks of carrying the flashcards while on duty and memorizing the cards to pass the exam. Some exams are naturally easier than others.

Step 5. Use Your Resources
Some exams are naturally easier than others because students have existing knowledge of the test subject information. A good example would be the Army MOS 31B or military police. The MOS 31b would already knowledge of criminal justice and therefore a student in this mos would have an increased chance of passing the Dante’s exam in Criminal Justice. It is best to take exams that relate to pre-existing knowledge because it will dramatically decrease the learning curve of the information and increase the pass rate for the student. The second step to using resources is to treat the exam exactly the same as the promotion exam. If for example your spouse or office mates helped you to study for the promotion exam by quizzing you on the information than this same academic resource should be used for the exam.

Dante’s are a great method for quickly achieving college level credit toward an approved degree plan. The credit can be earned quicker than a college course and if the exam is failed then there is no tuition assistance that will come out of your paycheck. Take every exam seriously as there are restrictions against re-testing if the exam is failed. To pass a Dante’s exam take the time to prepare, study and then execute the mission.

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