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  • DTP Success Team

3 Ways Military Members Benefit From DSST Exams

Updated: Nov 16

You're in the military and want to get a college degree.

But you need more time to take regular college courses.

With all the demands of deployment or work in a field that requires a lot of commitment, earning a degree may be challenging.

DSST (formerly DANTES Subject Standardized Tests) are among the most popular placement tests available to active-duty personnel.

College-level placement exams permit you to skip some beginning college courses if you can demonstrate a firm grasp of the topics.

You must take a standardized test to show that you have enough knowledge.

DSST exams are the answer.

DSST exams allow you to demonstrate that you already know the material.

Table of Contents

#1. The Department of Defense Pays for Your First Attempt for Each DSST Exam as a Military Member.

 The Department of Defense pays for your first attempt for each DSST exam as a military member.
The Department of Defense pays for your first attempt for each DSST exam as a military member.

As a member of the military, your first try at each DSST Exam is covered by the Department of Defense.

Here's the catch.

If you don't pass your exam on the first attempt, you're responsible for paying the $100.00 exam fee on your second try.

For example, let's say you take Introduction to World Religions.

Since it's your first attempt, DANTES covers the $100.00 fee.

If you don't pass and decide to retake the exam, you're responsible for the DSST exam fee.

You can take each DSST exam for free - only once.

DANTES will not fund additional attempts at a failed exam.

If you fail your exam, you must wait 30 days to retest.

For these reasons, it's essential to create a study plan and try to pass your DSST exam on the first try.

#2. DSST Exams Apply to Your CCAF Degree.

DSST exams apply to your CCAF degree.
DSST exams apply to your CCAF degree.

To acquire a CCAF (Community College of the Air Force) degree, you'll have to complete around 34 credits in the following subjects: oral and written communication, mathematics, social science, humanities, program electives, and military studies.

Military members typically receive 15 credits from basic training and technical school (combined).

Airman leadership school and skill level advancements can earn you another 8-12 units depending on your branch.

So it's safe to say that some military members already have around 25 units after their first year of service.

DSST exams can help you earn additional college credit for knowledge you've acquired through military experience.

For example, if your military occupational specialty (MOS) code is law enforcement, you might consider taking Introduction to Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice.

If your MOS is related to the healthcare industry, then Health and Human Development and Substance Abuse would be excellent exams to challenge.

If you pass your DSST test, the time saved from not taking a traditional college class can help you earn your CCAF degree faster.

Additionally, the money saved from tuition won't dwindle into your tuition assistance benefits.

So technically, you could use your tuition assistance (TA) benefits for your upper-level units and take DSST exams to meet your lower unit general education requirements.

Degree requirements may vary depending on your MOS and degree major.

Some technological specialties give more credits than others, so you must speak with your education officer about your options.

Meet with your base education officer and see what DSST exams you qualify for.

#3. DSST is an Approved VA National Testing Program.

DSST is an approved VA national testing program under the post 911 G.I. Bill.
DSST is an approved VA national testing program.

DSST is an approved VA National Testing Program under the Post 911 G.I Bill (Chapter 33).

If you decide to test out later and separate from the military, your Post 911 G.I Bill will cover your DSST exam fees.

The G.I Bill covers a wide range of education costs - including DSST exams.

You may use part of your benefits to pay for tests required to obtain a professional or certified license and apply for college or training courses.

The VA will reimburse the DSST exam fee ($100) and the testing center administrative fee (amount varies per location).

Visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for more information.


graduation ceremony.

Testing facilities are found worldwide, mainly in the United States.

Active duty military personnel can take the test in person or online across more than 500 locations worldwide that are offered to you with internet access, so it's easier for active members to get credit and credentials even if they're already deployed.

So, now what?

Which tests should you take?

It is debatable.

What degree program are you interested in, and how many credits will it require?

Because the answers to these questions differ considerably, the first step should be to visit your local education center, where a counselor can assist you in determining the appropriate answers.

Good luck, and feel free to contact us if you need any assistance.

Student Resources

Flag of the United States of America.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Post 911 G.I Bill Benefits

DANTES Website

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