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March 14, 2006

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The Tennesean: August 2001 Vol 5 No 8

Electronic education is increasing in popularity, which is good news for, a local company that specializes in distance learning and provides online courses that allow students to earn college credit by taking CLEP, ECE or DANTES exams. (These proficiency exams are accepted by over 2,800 accredited colleges and universities.) offers self-paced learning, complete with assignments and practice exams. Students buy the courses, study when they'd like, and take the exams when they're ready. The courses cost $149 to $199 each (prices subject to change). While every college treats scores differently, most courses are worth between three to six hours of college credit.

Students will need to buy a textbook for each course. Students can buy the texts from Of course, if students decide to pursue a degree, they'll have testing and college fees. However, federal loans or grants can't be used for courses.

After registering at, students are given access to local testing centers for all exams, their own interactive study calendar, and access to forums for communicating with other pupils. Registration is free.

"Registering is a marketing tool that we use to gather demographic information about our users so we can better understand their needs," Dwight Pittman, vice president, says. "Anyone interested in earning college credit can register and find out how can help them specifically."

The online courses guide students through key concepts designed to make sure they learn the information that will be on their tests. Included with the assignments are sample tests and other study tools.

All of the online study courses are the same format. The only difference is the subject matter. has 57 courses within five major categories: Humanities, Social Sciences, Natural Sciences, Business and Nursing. The actual CLEP, DANTES and ECE exams are all multiple-choice questions with the exception of English and Religions of the World, which have essay sections. The course sample exams are multiple-choice too and the computer scores your results to let you know your level of comprehension.

Each assignment has a question, a reference to a section of the related text, and a place for students to type answers in an online form. Assignment questions and answers can be printed in an open-ended format, if desired.

Each assignment question comes with the chapter reference to help students find the answers quickly. After a question is answered, it can be printed out for study.

A sample exam provides a multiple-choice exam designed to emulate the proficiency exam a student will take. Each online course has a computer application built in that automatically scores the results. Therefore, students can review the questions they missed. They can reset the exam and try it again. In fact, they can take the test as many times as they wish.

Each exam question is designed to help students recall the information they've studied. At the end of each exam, they're shown the questions they answered correctly -- and the ones they didn't, Pittman said. The exam results are designed to help the test takers determine their weak areas, he added.

No instructors are involved as courses are designed to let students work through an entire course without needing outside assistance. However, they do have access to other students working on the same material via the forums. There are forums for adult learners, high school or college students, military, nursing, time management, testing companies, and a general forum for posting comments about distance learning.

The forums let users post questions to the folks who are using the online courses. Once a user is comfortable with the courses and the testing process, they're encouraged to offer their knowledge to others in the forums.

There are two ways to be eligible for the forums.
  • One: when someone registers, they have automatic access to the general forums.
  • Two: when someone buys a course they automatically have access to specific forums related to their courses and other informational forums.
The online courses are completely self-paced. There are no time-limits. "Once you have completed a course and feel comfortable with the subject matter, then you register to take the proficiency exam at a testing site nearest you," Pittman said. "When you pass the exam, you can transfer it to the college of your choice as credit." helps students determine the proficiency exams to take and helps them locate the closest testing centers. After they've passed the proficiency exam, they transfer the score into their college of choice.

Most colleges accept proficiency exams as college credit. However, each college has different requirements on the number of credits accepted and the specific proficiency exams they'll allow so you should check with your university of choice.

For 15 years [Since 1986], Moore Educational Publishers, the parent company of, has developed study guides for CLEP, ECE, DANTES and GRE proficiency exams. With, they've transitioned their products and services to the Internet. Moore Educational Publishers employs 37 people, including the course writers. Eight employees play a dual role in both the parent company and with Since is a private company, they don't need accreditation.

"However, it is very important to make sure the college you are planning to transfer proficiency exams is accredited," Pittman said. "Accreditation is crucial when you're talking about the college where you are going to get your degree from. A student should know what his college's policy is regarding proficiency exams before beginning a course."

This information can be found out by calling the appropriate Admissions department at the college, or by checking out's database of colleges accepting CLEP exams. In most cases, the database verifies which specific exams the colleges accept.
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