What is DSST Exam?

What is DSST Exam?

The DSST is an extensive series of examinations developed by the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) program of the United States Department of Defense. DSST exams allow candidates to earn college credit and are traditionally offered to military personnel but are now open to civilians as well. 

These tests are often used in tandem with CLEP (College Level Examination Program) exams by students seeking college degrees in non-traditional formats. While CLEP tests are almost primarily used for lower-level credit at regionally accredited institutions, DSST tests are applicable for both upper and lower-level credit. 

What does DSST stand for?
DSST stands for DANTES Subject Standardized Tests. It is developed by the Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support (DANTES) program of the United States Department of Defense.

What is on the DANTES subject standardized tests (DSST)?
DSST tests are perceived to be a preliminary learning assessment in which you can test your knowledge of a particular subject without actually taking the actual college-level course. This alternative method can save you both money and time, significantly reducing the timeline and the expense of obtaining a college degree. There are currently more than 30 DSST tests, all of which are listed below.

DSST Exam List
Subject Areas Courses
Business
  • Business Ethics and Society
  • Business Mathematics
  • Human Resource Management
  • Introduction to Business
  • Management Information Systems
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Money and Banking
  • Personal Finance
  • Principles of Finance
  • Principles of Supervision
Humanities
  • Ethics in America
  • Introduction to World Religions
  • Principles of Public Speaking
  • Principles of Advanced English Composition
Math
  • Fundamentals of College Algebra
  • Principles of Statistics
  • Math for Liberal Arts
Physical Science
  • Astronomy
  • Environmental Science (formerly Environment and Humanity: The Race to Save the Planet)
  • Health and Development (formerly Here’s to Your Health)
  • Principles of Physical Science I
  • Introduction to Geology
Social Sciences
  • A History of the Vietnam War
  • Art of the Western World
  • Criminal Justice
  • Foundations of Education
  • Fundamentals of Counseling
  • General Anthropology
  • Introduction to Geography (formerly Human/Cultural Geography)
  • Introduction to Law Enforcement
  • Lifespan Developmental Psychology
  • History of the Soviet Union (formerly Rise and Fall of the Soviet Union)
  • Substance Abuse
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
Technology
  • Fundamentals of Cybersecurity
  • Technical Writing
  • Ethics in Technology

If you are a military, you may take a limited test list at a Prometric testing center that includes:

  • Principles of Supervision
  • Computing and Information Technology
  • Ethics in America, Health & Human Development
  • Introduction to Business
  • Introduction to World Religions
  • Substance Abuse

How much do DSST exams cost?
The DSST credit by exam program is used to earn a form of college credit. Each DSST exam costs around $85, not including any expenses for the testing center. 

In certain cases, additional charges may be charged at the testing site where an individual is going to take the DSST exam. Individuals must check with their desired testing site to see if they will be faced with additional costs for the test.

DSST Test Format

DSST examinations are available in both paper-based and computer-based formats. Each examination requires about two hours to finish. The bulk of tests consist of 100 multiple-choice questions. Each examination costs roughly $85, not including other expenses for the testing center. Active-duty military personnel and veterans may have DSST test fees financed or compensated as part of their military benefits.

Participants can use their DSST scores to obtain credits at about 2,000 colleges and universities. Participants can choose from about 30 exams in the academic fields of technology, social sciences, physical science, mathematics, humanities, and business.

DSST Scoring System

DSST tests are scored using one of two methods of scoring: Norm-Referenced or Criterion-Referenced Standard Setting. The use of scoring methodology depends on the title of the exam and the date that the exam was taken. One method isn’t better than that of the other — they’re just different ways to get to the same place.

  • Norm-Referenced Standard Setting

Traditionally, the DSST exams were scored using the “norm-referenced” method to determine the pass/fail mark for each test. Using this approach, the cut-off score is calculated on the basis of the assessments of the groups of test participants; it sets out the proportions of each group that should pass or fail. The results of the DSST norm-referenced score vary between 20 and 80, with passing score settings ranging between 44 and 49 (C-grade), depending on the exam title.

  • Criterion-Referenced Standard Setting

The scoring method used for all updated and new DSST tests is called “criterion-referenced.” This approach sets scores based on decisions on individual test items or the test as a whole. This helps determine how many of the test items have to be answered correctly in order to pass the test. Criterion-referenced DSST scores are based on the test-takers’ knowledge, not how they performed against each other in the same pool. Criterion-referenced scores vary from 200 to 500, with a passing score set at 400 for all tests.

DSST Score Grade Conversion

DANTES DSST tests Scoring Range C-Grade Equivalent (passing) Score B-Grade Equivalent Score
Criterion-referenced 200-500 400 434
Norm-Referenced 20-80 44-49 (score range) 48-54 (score range)

DSST Pass Rates for Military

Subjects DSST Exam Pass Rates
Principles of Supervision 87%
Introduction to Business 81%
Technical Writing 81%
Computing and Information Technology 78%
Fundamentals of Cybersecurity 76%
Health and Development 75%
Personal Finance 75%
Criminal Justice 72%
Management Information Systems 66%
Principles of Public Speaking 65%
Foundations of Education 64%
Introduction to Law Enforcement 63%
General Anthropology 63%
Introduction to World Religions 61%
A History of the Vietnam War 61%
Substance Abuse 60%
Human Resource Management 58%
Business Mathematics 55%
Money and Banking 54%
Ethics in America, Health & Human Development 54%
Business Ethics and Society 54%
History of the Soviet Union 52%
Astronomy 52%
Environmental Science 51%
Lifespan Developmental Psychology 48%
The Civil War and Reconstruction 44%
Principles of Advanced English Composition 43%
Organizational Behavior 39%
Introduction to Geography (formerly Human/Cultural Geography) 37%
Principles of Physical Science I 35%
Principles of Statistics 27%
Principles of Finance 25%
Fundamentals of Counseling 24%
Art of the Western World 19%
Fundamentals of College Algebra 10%
Math for Liberal Arts 5%

DSST Retake Policy

Individuals who have to re-take a DSST examination may do so after a full 30 days after the previous DSST examination. Individuals must ensure that they complete the waiting period in order to have their scores counted for credit. Those who need to take the exam again will be required to pay for the re-test. The test cost of $85 per test is standard. Many test sites impose additional testing charges (usually about $25), but these are exempted for military test-takers who sit for a test at a testing center that is fully funded. Test centers, like Prometric sites, generally accept payment through credit cards or debit cards.

Score Reports and Transcripts

  • DSST Score Report

Score reports will be sent to the school/institution that you selected on the exam day. The school/institution should receive your score report within 90 days after the date of the exam. Delayed scores may be the consequence of incorrect institution code. If your score report has been delayed, call or email your school directly.

When to notify the DSST Test Team:

  • You did not provide a school code when you registered for your test.
  • You want a copy of your score report for personal records.
  • You want the scores of an exam you had previously passed submitted to another school/institution.

You can contact the DSST Exam Team via email at getcollegecredit@prometric.com or through phone at 1.877.471.9860.

  • DSST Transcript

When to order a transcript:

  • Your school/institution requested an official sealed transcript of your DSST tests.
  • You like a copy of your transcript for personal records.

How to use the parchment online ordering service: 

  1. Create an account or log in to an existing account.
  2. Select the documents.
  3. Enter your order details.
  4. Submit/pay for your transcript.
  5. Keep track of your order.

Note: Transcripts may not be available for order until 3-5 business days after the date of the test. For more information about the DSST standardized test, you may visit the DSST official website at www.getcollegecredit.com

Frequently Asked Questions

How many items are on the DSST?
Most of the DANTES DSST test is made of 100 multiple-choice questions each and would take at least 2 hours to finish.

What are the DSST tests like?
DSST tests are computer or paper-based, multi-choice formats. Testers are given two hours to take the 100 question examination. DSST tests must be carried out at approved testing centers, mostly on colleges and universities.

What kind of ID do I need to bring to the test venue when I take the DSST exam?
Before the test administration, all examinees must provide current and valid photo IDs such as a passport, driver’s license, or student photo ID. DANTES-funded qualified military test takers must provide a valid Common Access Card (CAC).

What things can I bring to the test center?
If your test involves the use of a calculator, you can bring a calculator that satisfies the requirements. You can also bring No. 2 pencils with an eraser and black ballpoint pens for paper-based examinations. Irrespective of the test method, you are NOT allowed to carry reference or study materials, scratch papers, devices such as cellphones, personal mobile devices, cameras, alarm wristwatches, or tape recorders to the test center.

How do I know if my school is accepting DSST examinations for credit?
You can check the list of schools that allow DSST exams at www.getcollegecredit.com/search. Make sure to consult your counselor to ensure that the test you want to take suits your training needs and is accepted. When you can’t find the school of your preference, contact your academic counselor or your school admissions officer.

If I’m in the military, what code do I use if I don’t have a score report sent over to another school?
For those who are in the military, they may enter the code for their department’s Transcript/Score Report service if they are not going to send their score report to another school/institution. You may use the following department code:

  • Community College of the Air Force (CCAF): 7992
  • Army/American Council on Education Registry Transcript System (AARTS, now JTS): 7965
  • Ships and MALS (Marine Air Logistics System) Automated Reconciliations Tracking System (SMARTS, now JTS): 7964
  • Coast Guards (Now JST): 7968

DSST Sample Questions

Question #1
Which type of employee appraisal is an evaluation by a direct supervisor that is based on the completion of previously agreed-upon goals set by management?

  • management by objectives (MBO)
  • 360 degree feedback
  • top-down appraisal
  • Self-assessment

Question #2
Which of the following is NOT an opioid drug?

  • Cocaine
  • Morphine
  • Codeine
  • Heroin

Question #3
In a five paragraph essay, where should the thesis be located?

  • At the beginning of the first paragraph
  • At the end of the first paragraph
  • At the beginning of the second paragraph
  • At the end of the fifth paragraph

Question #4
This is an autoimmune disease that leads to weakness of voluntary muscles. It is known as:

  • type 1 diabetes
  • Lupus
  • multiple sclerosis
  • myasthenia gravis

Question #5
According to Gilligan, the field of ethics is more focused on ethics of justice because of which of the following?

  • Because women have not been a part of the discussion on ethics
  • Because men have not been a part of the discussion on ethics
  • Because ethics of justice impacts the majority of people in a society
  • Because actions against children are a growing problem worldwide

Question #6
Which of the following amendments affected education by forbidding students from being discriminated against?

  • 2nd Amendment
  • 12th Amendment
  • 14th Amendment
  • 10th Amendment

Question #7
In order to write effectively with _____ structure, never mix forms, tenses, or passive and active voice.

  • Formal
  • Correlative
  • Parallel
  • Comparative

Question #8
What is a productivity suite in the context of software applications?

  • Automated workflows to increase productivity of employees
  • Specialized software applications that track productivity of employees
  • Commonly used software applications that are bundled together to facilitate how they interact with each other
  • Software applications that automate repetitive tasks