Being the Most Prepared: Earning College Credit in High School

The Scouts have a motto: Be prepared.

They might not have been thinking about college when they coined that phrase, but we believe it still applies.

There are lots of ways to prepare for college. One that you may be doing already is earning college credit in high school. Whether it’s through AP and IB exams or taking classes at a local community college, taking college-prep courses is a great way to get a jump start on your degree.

Plus, coming in with college credits means you can take more electives and graduate sooner, which means more money saved.

PSU offers multiple different ways to earn college credit during high school:

SAT and ACT scores

While not directly earning college credit, SAT and ACT scores can help certain students’ application in other ways.

  • For international students (for whom ACT and SAT are NOT required), these scores can help them meet the English Language Proficiency Requirement required for class placement.
  • These scores can also help  meet admission requirements in the case of a GPA below our minimum requirement (3.0).

Advanced Placement (AP) Exams

If you have taken AP courses in high school you may be able to earn college credit you can use toward your degree at PSU. If on your AP exam for a given class your score is high enough, you may be eligible for college credit.

AP courses are also a great way to get a preview of the kind of academic rigor and content that you may encounter in your college classes.

To request an official copy of your AP transcripts, visit the College Board website.

International Baccalaureate (IB) Exams

Like AP courses, IB classes are a way that you can both gain collegiate-level academic experience and receive college credit by doing well on IB exams.

Students enrolling at Portland State who earn their IB diploma with a score of 30 or above will receive a total of 45 college credits (!) and sophomore class standing. Review this chart to see how your specific exam scores will transfer to PSU credit.

To request an official copy of your IB transcripts, visit the International Baccalaureate website.

College Level Exam Program (CLEP)

CLEP subject exams, like the more general AP and IB exams, can help you enter your freshman year with college credit, the results of which can be seen in this chart.

If you are interested in taking CLEP exams, it is recommended that you sign up for them one month in advance with Testing Services (part of Student Health and Counseling) or with another recognized CLEP testing center.

To request an official copy of your CLEP transcripts, visit the College Board website.


Earning college credit during high school is an investment in your future. Coming in with college credit means that you are more likely to graduate on time and that means saving money! It also allows you to jump into your major and start learning about the things you are passionate about.

Remember, if you want your college-prep courses to count you must send the appropriate transcripts to the Office of Admissions:

Office of Admissions
Portland State University
PO Box 751
Portland, OR 97207-0751

Learn more about other ways to earn credit at PSU!

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