Credit by Examination (CBE) and Course Placement

Student Testing Services (STS) coordinates the credit by exam (CBE) program as well as many placement tests within the University. UT Austin students may use qualifying scores on accepted exams to earn course credit and determine the appropriate level of placement for certain undergraduate coursework. Many exams are optional, while others are recommended or required for enrollment in certain courses. Most serve as a basis for both placement and course credit.

Any current, former, or prospective University student may attempt to earn credit by exam for any required or elective undergraduate course, provided the student has neither passed nor failed that course at the University or at any other collegiate institution. The sole exception to this policy is when a student has received transfer credit for a course with fewer semester hours than the corresponding University course carries; in those instances, the student may earn credit by exam for the University course. Additional eligibility requirements may be established by the academic department awarding credit, with the approval of the dean of the college or school. Information about additional requirements is available from Student Testing Services and from the academic department.

Credit earned by examination satisfies degree requirements in many of the same ways as credit earned by passing a course, except that it does not count as credit earned in residence and does not award award any Skills and Experience Flags associated with a given course. Credit earned by examination does not jeopardize eligibility for scholarships that require freshman standing. Credit earned by examination is designated on the student's transcript with a grade of 'CR,' and does not impact the student's GPA. The student’s official transcript does not reflect unsuccessful attempts to earn credit by examination.

A student’s academic dean may approve an exception to the course placement and credit by exam policies for compelling academic reasons. If the exception involves the student’s eligibility to be tested or to receive credit by exam in a particular course, the exception must also be approved by the department in which the course is offered.

All tests administered at the University for course placement and credit by exam require a fee. Information, including the testing schedule, eligibility requirements, test descriptions, sample questions, and the amount of test fees (including a $25 nonrefundable test registration fee), is available on the STS website.

Petitioning for Placement and/or Credit

A student who has earned an eligible score on an accepted exam has the option of using the score to meet a prerequisite requirement, as well as to earn credit for a given course. Course credit is not automatically added to a student's academic record upon enrollment; a student must accept credit for the specific courses they wish to add to their academic record via the course petitioning process. Students may choose to petition for placement or petition for credit.

  • Petitioning for Placement allows a student to "place out" of a given course, as well as enroll in any courses that require the petitioned course as a prerequisite. 
  • Petitioning for Credit allows a student to "place out" of a given course, enroll in any courses that require the petitioned course as a prerequisite, and earn credit for the petitioned course.

If the student petitions for credit, STS reports the petitioned course to the Registrar’s Office and the course then becomes part of the student’s academic record. If the student wishes to use the test score as a course prerequisite without earning credit hours for the prerequisite course (petition for placement), they may use the qualifying score, after consulting their academic advisor, to enroll in the subsequent course. In this case, the student does not earn the hours associated with the course and the course does not appear on the student’s academic record. A student who uses a test score for placement only may later petition for credit, but once the score has been used for course credit it may not be changed to placement only. Credit by examination cannot be reported to the Registrar for former students who are prohibited from enrolling in Texas public colleges and universities due to noncompliance with Texas Success Initiative regulations. Students may not petition for credit by examination while on academic dismissal. 

A fee is assessed for using the test score to earn course credit. There is no fee assessed for using a test score for placement purposes only. The STS website gives complete instructions for petitioning and paying for exam and credit-related fees.

Although prospective students may take examinations to establish their eligibility to receive credit or placement, credit is awarded only to officially enrolled students and former students. Enrollment on the twelfth class day of a semester or the fourth class day of a summer term constitutes official enrollment.

In deciding whether to petition for credit by exam, students should consider the impact of the credit on their eligibility for a tuition rebate; and the possibility that they will be charged additional tuition if they have excessive credit. They should also consider their program requirements and recommendations, future graduate or professional education plans, as well as any residency requirements. It is strongly advised that a student speak with their academic advisor prior to claiming credit by exam. Once credit for a petitioned course is written to a student's academic record, it cannot be removed.

Language Placement Testing

Most of the tests mentioned below are given during various periods throughout the academic year, and in some cases, during the summer session. Scheduled administrations for each exam may vary. General testing periods for the exams listed below may be found on the Yearly Testing Schedule on the STS website.

Foreign language placement tests serve not only to determine the level of work appropriate for students but also as the basis for credit by exam, which normally may be earned in lower-division courses. Credit by exam may be used to absolve a high school unit deficiency or to fulfill degree requirements. Language credit that exceeds degree requirements often may be used as elective credit.

For course placement and credit by examination, the University uses the University of Wisconsin College-Level Placement Test in French; the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) Test in German Language: Levels 1 and 2; and The University of Texas at Austin tests for credit in American Sign Language (ASL), Chinese, Hebrew, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. Information about the language tests and in some cases, sample questions and recommended preparation materials, are available on the STS website and from the STS office. 

Students who have taken either a College Board Advanced Placement (AP) Examination in Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Latin, or Spanish or any International Baccalaureate (IB) Examination in a foreign language do not need to take the corresponding recommended placement test, because the AP or IB examination results can be used for placement. Students should contact STS for information about potential testing options for foreign languages taught by the University but not listed in this section.

Students with transfer credit in a foreign language are encouraged to take the placement test before enrolling in further coursework in that language; however, in most languages, students with transfer credit are not required to take the placement test. 

Students without transfer credit or eligible AP or IB scores but with knowledge of American Sign Language or a foreign language, however acquired, are strongly encouraged and in some cases required to take the associated placement test before enrolling in a course in that language. Please contact STS for additional information.

Examinations Used for Course Credit and Placement

The following tests serve as basis for placement and credit by examination at the University. A complete list of exams, required scores, and course numbers awarded can be found on the STS website.                 

  1. College Board Advanced Placement (AP) Examinations. Credit is granted to students who have earned satisfactory scores of 3 or higher on the College Board Advanced Placement (AP) Examinations in Art (Art History and Studio Art), Biology, Calculus, Chemistry, Chinese, Computer Science, English, European History, French, German, Human Geography, Italian, Japanese, Latin, Macroeconomics, Microeconomics, Music Theory, Physics, Precalculus, Psychology, Spanish, Statistics, United States Government and Politics, United States History, and World History: Modern. The AP Examination in US Government and Politics is supplemented with test items on Texas government; these additional items are administered only at the University. Advanced Placement Examinations are offered only once each year, in May, at specific high schools across the country. More information about AP Examinations is published by the College Board.

  2. College-Level Examination Program (CLEP). The CLEP examinations in American Government, American Literature, Calculus, English Literature, German Language: Levels 1 and 2, Principles of Macroeconomics, Principles of Microeconomics, Introductory Psychology, and Introductory Sociology are used as basis for credit by examination. The tests in American Government, American Literature, and English Literature are supplemented with items prepared by University faculty members; these items are available only on the University campus. Information about locally prepared items may be obtained from STS. All CLEP examinations used by the University as a basis for credit by exam are given on campus on an ongoing basis.

  3. International Baccalaureate (IB) Higher-Level Examinations. Credit is granted by the University to students who earn satisfactory scores on the IB Higher-Level Examinations in Arabic, Biology, Chemistry, Chinese, Computer Science, Danish, Dutch, Economics, English, French, Geography, German, Hebrew, Hindi, History (concentrations in Africa, the Americas, Europe, and Islamic History), Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mathematics, Norwegian, Philosophy, Physics, Portuguese, Psychology, Russian, Social and Cultural Anthropology, Spanish, Swedish, and Visual Arts.

  4. International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma. Students who have earned the IB Diploma and enter the University as freshmen are awarded credit based on scores of 4 or higher on IB Higher-Level (HL) and Standard-Level (SL) examinations as described by Texas Education Code section 51.968. Before petitioning for credit, students should consider the impact of these hours on their eligibility for a tuition rebate; and the possibility that they will be charged additional tuition if they have excess credit. Each student is strongly encouraged to discuss these issues with an academic advisor in their college before claiming credit. The student and advisor should also discuss the student’s academic preparation for subsequent courses based on IB test scores. Credit by exam is awarded as described below to students who have participated in the IB program and submitted scores to the University:

    • Students who earn the IB Diploma and enter the University as freshmen may earn credit by exam for HL and SL subject exam scores of 4 or higher, as well as Theory of Knowledge.
    • Students who enter the university as transfer students or who complete some IB exams but do not earn the IB Diploma and may be eligible for credit by exam for qualifying scores on HL exams. 
  5. The University of Texas at Austin tests for credit in American Sign Language (ASL), Biology, Chemistry, Chinese, Computer Science, Government, Hebrew, Hindi, History, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Math, Physics, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, and Russian. Eligible students can earn credit for specified courses in these fields. Descriptions of the tests are available on the STS website and from the STS office. These exams are offered at various times throughout the academic year. General testing periods can be found on the Yearly Testing Schedule on the STS website.

  6. Placement in rhetoric and writing. A student must have an eligible score on the ACT Writing or the SAT Writing and Language Test to receive credit for Rhetoric and Writing 306 . Students first admitted to UT Austin as freshmen who were first enrolled at the University in the summer 2021 and subsequent semesters may be eligible to use a qualifying score on the essay portion (Writeplacer) of the TSI Assessment (TSIA) to earn credit for Rhetoric and Writing 306 when taken during their first two long semesters of enrollment. A score on the Advanced Placement (AP) Examination in English Language and Composition or transfer credit for Rhetoric and Writing 306  may also be used for credit and placement. Additional information is available from STS.

    International students whose native language is not English must submit satisfactory scores on the Internet-based Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL iBT) for admission to a lower-division rhetoric and writing course.

  7. Other credit by examination. With the approval of the appropriate academic dean and department chair or program director, a student may take an examination in any undergraduate course offered by the University for which they have reason to feel qualified. A candidate may apply to take a Department Administered Exam (DAE) only after registering as a student at the University and obtaining permission from the academic department in which the course is taught. Exams are given at the discretion of the administering department. A student who earns a satisfactory score will receive credit for the course. A student who intends to apply for a Department Administered Exam should obtain a copy of the syllabus for the course or courses for which they are interested; only students who have the equivalent in knowledge or training of that presented in the outline should attempt the exam. After obtaining permission from the academic department to attempt the exam, students should contact Student Testing Services to obtain a Department Administered Exam form.