The DSST (formerly known as the DANTES Subject Standardized Tests) is a series of exams created to measure a student's knowledge of typical college coursework. The tests were originally designed by the U.S. Department of Defense as a way to award college credit to military personnel. Though they still serve this purpose, they are also available to civilians interested in earning college credit and are administered by Prometric.
The DSST exams are offered throughout the academic year. Test schedules are determined by individual testing centers.
Each DSST exam is two hours long.
Each DSST exam costs $80; however, individual testing centers may charge an additional administration fee. Contact your nearest testing center directly for more information about specific fees. Payment must be made online by credit card for first-time test takers. Active-duty members of the military, eligible spouses and some retired military personnel can take the DSST exams for free at fully funded testing centers.
The DSST is offered in many locations across the country. Testing centers are typically located in colleges and universities. To find a convenient testing center, search online by region and testing center type. Standard testing centers are for all test takers, while DANTES test centers are for military personnel utilizing their benefits to take the test for free.
Interested students are encouraged to contact their universities to confirm that credit will be awarded for passing the DSST before registering. Online registration is required for first-time test takers, but you will need to know all your individual testing center information before completing online registration.
What Is On the DSST Tests
The DSST is a multiple-choice exam consisting of 100 questions. All exams are taken on a computer at the testing center. The content of questions varies depending on the exam's subject matter.
Some DSST exams include an optional essay. The essay is not scored but is sent to colleges as a writing sample. Students should check with individual colleges to see if they require the optional essays for credit to be awarded.
How the DSST Tests Are Scored
The DSST has been recently updated to use a 200-500 point scoring system. Most colleges require a minimum score of 400 to award credit, but students should check with individual universities for credit requirements. Students receive their unofficial scores immediately after the exam.
There are no penalties for leaving a question blank or for incorrect answers, and all questions carry the same weight. This means that students are encouraged to guess rather than leaving any answers blank.
Retaking the DSST Tests
Because college credit for passing the DSST is awarded on a pass/fail basis, there's no advantage to retaking the DSST once you've achieved a passing score of 400. Students who do not score above a 400 are eligible to retake the test after a 90-day waiting period. Scores on retakes are treated separately; they are not averaged together, nor is a cumulative score report sent to colleges.