Prior Learning Assessment

Prior Learning Assessment (PLA) is a process by which you can earn college credit for learning that you have achieved through life and work experience (such as owning your own business or managing a business, training courses offered through work or the military, extended volunteerism, or independent study). Prior Learning is assessed by faculty with expertise in the subject matter, and is only awarded for learning and not for experience alone.

Your participation in one or more of the PLA options described below can benefit you in several significant ways.  Here are just a few of those potential benefits:

Earning credit through PLA can shorten your time to degree completion.  You may be able to graduate sooner, or to take a lighter credit load each semester if you are able to earn credits through PLA.

Earning credit through PLA can reduce your college costs.   The costs associated with completion of the various forms of PLA are less than the per-credit costs of courses.  You may save money on texts.  You may also lower the cost of your college degree by being able to graduate sooner, thus enabling you to start earning more through employment sooner.

The process of earning credit through PLA is in itself educational. You will enhance your learning through the process of reflecting on your learning and through articulating your learning through speaking and writing.  

Earning credit through PLA may increase your self-efficacy, which helps you meet your academic goals.  The validation of your learning by faculty with expertise in the subject matter helps build your confidence in your ability to learn, and to demonstrate that learning.  Self-efficacy may play a significant role in your persistence to degree completion, especially when you are confronted by tough academic and personal challenges. 

For more information on Lewis-Clark State College’s policy on Credit by Prior Learning Assessment: Policy 2.118 Credit by Prior Learning Assessment

Prior Learning Assessment Options

The Advanced Placement Program (AP) is a testing program of the College Entrance Examination Board. High school sophomores, juniors, or seniors who have participated in an AP program during high school, or who have developed an equivalent background through self initiative, may take tests in any or all of the following areas: biology, calculus, chemistry, economics, English, US government, US history, music theory, studio art (drawing and general), physics, and psychology. AP examinations are given in AP approved high schools during the third week of May. Further information on this program is contained in:

Guide to the Advanced Placement Program
College Board Publication Orders
Box 2815
Princeton, NJ 08540

For more information:  Advanced Placement LCSC Equivalent Courses

Step 1:  Request that an official AP transcript be sent to the Registrar for evaluation of any LCSC equivalent courses.

Credit for military training and experience is available to degree seeking LCSC students or post baccalaureate students currently enrolled at LCSC.  The assessment and transcription of credit for military training and experience is consistent with the established standards for credit evaluation and award based on standards such as the American Council on Education (ACE) Guide.

For more information:  LCSC Policy 2.120

Step 1:  Contact the Registrar's Office to request an evaluation of your military training and experience.

A Challenge Exam assesses your mastery of college-level learning outcomes designated for specific LCSC courses.  Under guidelines approved by each division, currently enrolled, degree-seeking students may challenge courses in which they believe there has been substantial prior learning. Exams may include a variety of formats, such as multiple choice questions, short answer, essay questions, oral interviews, or skills demonstrations.

For more information: Challenge-Exams

Step 1:  Contact Dovie Willey at [email protected].

Many areas of learning have vertical content in which higher levels are dependent upon skill and knowledge acquired at lower levels. Students may complete a “Competency Credit” form to receive credit for sequential courses. If lower level learning can be demonstrated to the satisfaction of faculty who offer these courses, such as mathematics and foreign languages, students may request to enroll in the higher level or advanced course. Students who earn a grade of “C” or better in the higher level advanced course may be awarded competency credit for the bypassed lower level course by securing faculty and Division Chair signatures on a Competency Credit form and then submitting the Competency Credit form to the Registrar & Records Office for processing. Competency credits will be posted to students’ transcripts in the term in which they completed the higher level course and will be designated with a “CC” prior to the course title. There is no fee for filing this form.

Competency Credit Form

Step 1:  Contact the Chair of the Division that offers the course for which you hope to receive Competency Credit.

The International Baccalaureate (IB) offers high-quality programs of international education to a worldwide community of schools. The Programme helps develop the intellectual, personal, emotional, and social skills to live, learn, and work in a rapidly globalizing world. The IB Diploma Programme is a comprehensive, internationally recognized curriculum and assessment system for students in their last two years of secondary school.

For more information:  Minimum Required Scores and LCSC Equivalent Courses

Step 1:  Ask a Diploma Programme coordinator to submit a transcript request to the IB on your behalf. Transcripts should be sent to the Registrar for evaluation of any LCSC equivalent courses.  Contact the LCSC Registrar if you have any questions.

Placement exams are used to determine what Math and English classes a student can start their college career in.  Students over the age of 21 without SAT or ACT scores, students under the age of 21 that want to attempt to place into a higher class than their SAT or ACT scores put them into, or students going into a Career and Technical Education Program can take the placement exam(s).

For more information:  Math Placement Exam-ALEKS

English Placement Exam-WPE

Step 1:  Speak with someone in Admissions or your advisor for more information on what test you need to take.

CLEP, DSST/DANTES enable students to earn college credit by examination. Students interested in earning credit through the respective program should contact the Registrar & Records Office .

For more information:  Minimum Required Scores and LCSC Equivalent Courses

Step 1 if you plan to take a CLEP Exam:

  1. Register for your CLEP Exam- CLEP fees and LCSC Testing Center fees apply.
  2. Make an appointment for your exam with the Testing Center.  Fill out the online form or call 208-792-2100

Step 1 if you have already completed CLEP exams and wish to have your scores evaluated:  Request that your scores be sent to the Registrar directly from:

Educational Testing Service
Princeton, New Jersey, 08541

A Portfolio is a formal means of requesting assessment of your prior work/life experience from which you have developed sufficient college-level learning to earn credit for a specific class.  Portfolio Assessments are particularly appropriate for learning that occurred through work experience, such as owning your own business, managing a significant project, or long-term volunteering for an agency.

For more information: Portfolio Assessments

Step 1:  Contact Dovie Willey at [email protected].