If you are already proficient in a language other than English, consider testing out of the lower-level courses by taking a College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) Test or a Challenge Exam.

College-Level Examination Program (CLEP)

CLEP exams are standard exams for French, German and Spanish only and, depending on the score received, can give a student credit for 101, 102, 201 and 202 (at NAU these courses are 4 credit hours each, maximum 16). Students must have graduated from a high school where the primary language of instruction was in English (see NAU Policy 100810) to receive credits at NAU by taking this exam and can do so instead of registering for and attending actual classes. Students who pass the CLEP exam are given credit only for the course(s) that are covered by the exam. Since these exams carry no letter grade, the student's GPA will not be affected. See the university policies and equivalency scores for CLEP. 

CLEP exams are now, again, being administered by the NAU Testing Center in the W. A. Franke College of Business. The link to the CLEP exam on their site will take you to the website where you will first set-up an account and register for the exam (as required by the College Board). After you register for the exam you will receive a receipt for $80 and a Ticket ID. Once you have these, please contact the NAU Testing Center at 928-523-2358 to arrange a time to take your exam and to pay the $35 administration fee.

If it is easier for students to take this exam at another AZ location, here is a link to some other choices: AZ CLEP Exam Locations. Please be aware that the administration fee may vary by location.

If a CLEP test is not offered for the language you wish to receive credits in, you should then consider retrocredits or challenge exams. Please keep in mind that students must have graduated from a high school where the primary language of instruction was in English (see NAU Policy 100810) to receive these 101-202 credits at NAU as well. However, challenge exams that are for 300 level course credit and above are exempt from this policy.


The retrocredits process allows you to receive credit for NAU Language courses by passing a higher language course with a grade of B or better. The process, policies, and application procedures are described here. HARD COPY APPLICATIONS ARE REQUIRED before the deadline (see the link for details). Go to the Placement Exams link and READ the directions very carefully for information on how to enroll in a class that has a pre-requisite.

Challenge Exam

Here is some basic information to get you started:

  • Currently enrolled NAU students may take Challenge Exams for credit.
  • Challenge Exams are locally prepared by NAU faculty.
  • Students must have met the pre-requisites for the Challenge Exams they wish to take and/or stipulate they wish to take the exam to show proficiency per their degree requirements. 
  • Challenge Exams cost $30 per unit (101-202 classes are 4 units so $120 for each Exam / 300 level and above are usually 3 units so they would run $90 for each Exam).
  • You must review the Credit by Exam Policies before taking an exam.

Challenge Exams Available: (please review current catalog for descriptions of courses offered or contact the name provided for specific EXAM questions. Note: Some of the Challenge Exams are in languages not currently offered as courses at NAU. Procedure questions should be directed to Alexandria McConocha.)

Go to Credit by Exam Policies to Proceed