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h > Prospective Students > Adult Learners > Advisement & Registration > Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)

Adult Learners: Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)

At Armstrong we realize the value of real-world experience and that learning takes place in various formats. The university works with students from diverse backgrounds to evaluate their prior learning and determine if it is commensurate with the standards and requirements of college-level learning. A total of 45 semester hours can be earned through any combination of CLEP, credit by departmental examination, portfolio assessment, International Baccalaureate credit, and advanced placement credit.

What is Prior Learning Assessment?

Prior learning assessment, or PLA, is a process where

Credit by Examination

Currently Armstrong recognizes the following examinations for college-level credit, with additional opportunities in the works:

College-Level Examination Program (CLEP)

DANTES Subject Standardized Test (DSST)

Independent and Distance Learning Exams

Departmental Challenge Exams - In some courses, where no CLEP option exists, a Departmental Challenge Exam may be given.  Please contact the office of Academic Advising and Support to discuss whether or not a Challenge exam may be an option.

To Schedule an Exam

Testing Services
Memorial College Center, Room 204
Fax 912.344.3475

Credit for Military Experience

Through evaluation of your ACE transcript, you may be able to earn additional, non-PE credits for your military experience.  Once your transcript is submitted to the VA coordinator, you may request an evaluation of specific military coursework for credit.

Joint Services Transcript and ACE Transcript Evaluation for Military 

Credit by Portfolio Assessment

The PLA portfolio option is a process through which students identify areas of relevant learning from their past experiences, demonstrate that learning through appropriate documentation in a portfolio, and submit their materials so that they can be assessed. This assessment determines whether academic credit will be awarded at Armstrong. The university determine if it is commensurate with the standards and requirements of college-level learning. After consulting with the office of Academic Advising and Support, a studemt may be approved to enroll in a 2 credit hour course (PLAE, PLAH, PLAL or PLAS 2000) that walks the student through the portfolio development process and subsequently allows the student to submit the portfolio(s) to the Department for final assessment for credit.  Evaluations within Departments are performed by train PLA evaluatiors.  Credit for the desired course is not guaranteed, even after enrolling in PLAX 2000. 

Standards for Assessing Learning

As a member of the ALC, Armstrong adheres to the CAEL standards.
The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning (CAEL) provides ten standards for assessing prior learning acquired outside a traditional academic experience. These include: 
  1. Credit or its equivalent should be awarded only for learning, and not for experience.
  2. Assessment should be based on standards and criteria for the level of acceptable learning that are both agreed upon and made public.
  3. Assessment should be treated as an integral part of learning, not separate from it, and should be based on an understanding of learning processes.
  4. The determination of credit awards and competence levels must be made by appropriate subject matter and academic or credentialing experts.
  5. Credit or other credentialing should be appropriate to the context in which it is awarded and accepted.
  6. If awards are for credit, transcript entries should clearly describe what learning is being recognized and should be monitored to avoid giving credit twice for the same learning.
  7. Policies, procedures, and criteria applied to assessment, including provision for appeal, should be fully disclosed and prominently available to all parties involved in the assessment process.
  8. Fees charged for assessment should be based on the services performed in the process and not determined by the amount of credit awarded.
  9. All personnel involved in the assessment of learning should pursue and receive adequate training and continuing professional development for the functions they perform.
  10. Assessment programs should be regularly monitored, reviewed, evaluated, and revised as needed to reflect changes in the needs being served, the purposes being met, and the state of the assessment arts.

Taken from Assessing Learning: Standards, Principles, and Procedures (Second Edition) By Morry Fiddler, Catherine Marienau, and Urban Whitaker, 2006. Chicago, Kendall Hunt Publishing Company.Source:

Contact Information

For Advising, Prior Learning Assessment, Challenge Exams and CLEP Information

Office of Academic Advising and Support
Student Success Center
Fax: 912.344.3418