Credit By Exam

We inspire what you desire. 

Were you talented in your high school classes and believe your noggin has some college-level knowledge? Consider earning Iowa State credit by exam.

Advantages of earning credit by exam:

  • Fulfill basic education requirements with courses from a wider variety of academic areas than most students
  • Gain an advance standing in introductory courses 
  • Accelerate your entire academic career and perhaps even graduate early

Credit earned by examination is not used in figuring out grade point averages. However, it does become part of your official record and may be applied toward graduation requirements. Iowa State will allow a maximum of 60 credits of prior learning credit to satisfy a student's undergraduate degree requirements, of which no more than 32 credits may come from the credit by exam. Please note that you will at least need to have one year of residency for graduation.

If AP or CLEP credit is earned at any Iowa public college or university and is accompanied by at least 12 semester credits earned in residence at the sending institution, it may be transferred directly to Iowa State University.

If your AP or CLEP credit is from any other college or university, your scores must be sent to the Office of Admissions, and credit will be awarded based on our requirements.

The Advanced Placement program allows the College Board to offer national examinations for you to qualify for advanced placement or academic credit at Iowa State. These exams are administered each May. Official scores must be sent to Iowa State University directly from the College Board. For specific equivalencies, see the chart below.

Advanced Placement Exam
AP Exam Score ISU Course Sem. Crs. Awarded
Art History 3-4 Art History 280 3
  5 Art History 280, 281 6
Studio Art-Drawing   No Credit  
Studio Art 2-D Design   No Credit  
Studio Art 3-D Design   No Credit  
Biology 4-5 Biology 100


Chemistry 4-5 Chemistry 177, 178 7
Depending upon the Chemistry Department's review of the student's AP Chemistry lab notebook, students may receive up to two additional credits: one credit for CHEM 167L, or one credit for CHEM 177L, or two credits for CHEM 177L and 178L.       
Computer Science      
Computer Science A 4 Computer Science 127 4
Computer Science A 5 Computer Science 127 and 227 8
Computer Science Principles 4-5 Computer Science 100 3
Macroeconomics 3-5 Economics 102 3
Microeconomics 3-5 Economics 101 3
English Language 3-5 English 150 3
English Literature 4-5 English 100 or 150 3
If you have earned an ACT English score of at least 24 or an SAT ERW score of at least 600, you need not take the English Language/Composition Exam as you will automatically be placed into English 250. If you earn a grade of C or better in English 250 taken at Iowa State University, you will be awarded test-out credit for English 150.      
Environmental Science      
Environmental Science  3-5 Environmental Studies 100 3
Foreign Language      
Chinese Language and Culture 3 Chinese 101 4
Chinese Language and Culture 4 Chinese 101, 102 8
Chinese Language and Culture 5 Chinese 101, 102, 201 12
French Language 3 French 101, 102 8
French Language 4-5 French 101, 102, 201, 202 16
German Language 3 German 101, 102 8
German Language 4-5 German 101, 102, 201, 202 16
Latin/Vergil 3 Latin 101, 102 8
Latin/Vergil 4-5 Latin 101, 102 8
Latin Literature 3 Latin 101, 102 8
Latin Literature 4-5 Latin 101, 102 8
Spanish Language 3 Spanish 101, 102 8
Spanish Language 4-5 Spanish 101, 102, 201, 202 16
Spanish Literature 3-5 Spanish 300* 3
Students who plan to enroll in a foreign language course at Iowa State and who receive a score of 5 on a Foreign Language or Literature AP examination may qualify for foreign language credits in addition to those indicated above.

* Credits earned in Spanish 300 may be counted toward the following requirements: general education requirements in the humanities; international perspectives; requirements for the Spanish major or minor; Latin American Studies Certificate; or elective credit. NOTE: Students interested in applying these credits to the major or minor in Spanish or Latin American Studies should consult with an adviser in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures.
Human Geography 3-5 Social Science 100 3
Government and Politics      
U.S. Government and Politics 4-5 Political Science 215 3
Comparative Government/Politics 4-5 Political Science 241 3
European History 4-5 History 201, 202 6
American History 4-5 History 221, 222 6
World History 4-5 History 100 6
Calculus AB 4-5 Math 165 4
Calculus BC 3 Math 165 4
Calculus BC 4-5 Math 165, 166 8
Note: All students are required to take a math placement exam prior to registering for classes. If the student’s math placement is not consistent with the credits awarded on the basis of their AP Calculus exam (as indicated above), the student should consult with their academic advisor to determine whether they still wish to accept the math credit they have been awarded. Information concerning the math placement exam.      
Music Theory 4-5 Music 224 4
Note: The policies listed below for the AP Physics exams are effective only for those students entering Iowa State beginning Spring Semester 2015 or later.
Physics 1 5 Physics 131, 131L 5
Physics 1 4* Physics 131, 131L 5
Physics 2 5 Physics 132, 132L 5
Physics 2 4** Physics 132, 132L 5
Physics C-Mechanics 4-5 Physics 231, 231L 5
Physics C-E&M 4-5 Physics 232, 232L 5
* Students must also earn a minimum score of 3 on the Physics 2 exam.
** Students must also earn a minimum score of 3 on the Physics 1 exam.
Psychology 4-5 Psychology 101 3
Statistics 3 Statistics 101 4
Statistics 4-5 Statistics 201 4


We will award credit for College Board examinations if you satisfy the requirements of the College-Level Examination Program.

College Level Examination Program (CLEP)
CLEP Exam Minimum Test Score ISU Courses Sem. Crs. Awarded
Financial Accounting* 65 Acct 284 3
American Government 64 Pol Sci 215 3
Biology** 56 Biol 101 3
Calculus 64 Math 165 4
Humanities* 55 Fine Arts 2


Macroeconomics, Principles of 62 Econ 102 3
Microeconomics, Principles of 64 Econ 101 3
Natural Sciences* 66 Biological Science 3
    Physical Science 3
Introductory Psychology 55 Psych 101 3
Social Sciences and History* 63 Social Science 4
    History 2
Introductory Sociology 56 Soc 134 3
French Language** 50 French 101 6

French 101

French 201



German Language** 50 German 101 6

German 101

German 201



Spanish Language*** 50 Spanish 101 6

Spanish 101

Spanish 201



*Excludes engineering majors      
**Excludes biology and engineering majors      
***To develop deeper language proficiencies, the Department of World Languages and Cultures encourages students to enroll in classes rather than take CLEP exams. Students who have not already earned CLEP credits and who complete two consecutive courses at the 200-level or above will be awarded 8 test-out credits. These credits may be applied to graduation.      


In order to award GAC graduates transfer credits, we must receive official confirmation of their completion/graduation by a GAC Academic Transcript.

Course Equivalency Guide for: GAC, AS/A Levels

This program offers college preparatory courses at high schools and colleges in the United States and abroad. These examinations are given by your high school at the end of your courses. You should have an original examination report sent from the International Baccalaureate North America office sent to Iowa State (the CEEB code is 6306). For more information, contact your school counselor or visit the International Baccalaureate website. For specific equivalencies, see the Course Equivalency Guide for International Baccalaureate.

Departmental examinations are offered by many of Iowa State University's academic departments to allow students to earn credit in specific courses. These exams are offered at the beginning of each semester, and they are administered by the department on campus – for a departmental exam fee.

To learn more about the departmental exams offered at Iowa State University, contact the specific departmental office.