For students who are learning independently, credit-by-exam programs like CLEP and DSST are a popular way to earn college credit for their studies. As they're offered in a wide variety of subjects, it's possible to get the entire core curriculum of a bachelor's degree done through these exams, or to earn an associate's degree this way. These exams can save thousands in college tuition. However, one disadvantage to the CLEP exams is that they're only offered for lower-level courses, as are most of the DSSTs, although 11 of the DSSTs are for upper-level credit.
Anybody who wants to test entirely out of a bachelor's degree is not out of luck. There are a number of ways of gaining upper-level college credit by testing.
There are numerous Excelsior College Exams (ECEs) for gaining upper-level credit through testing. At $240 for a 3-credit exam, they're more expensive than the CLEPs. However, they are offered in a number of specialized subjects. Excelsior's website lists exams ranging from Anatomy and Physiology to World Conflicts Since 1900. An abundance of nursing exams are offered.
Another option for gaining upper-level credit-by-exam are the GRE tests. The General Test is mainly for business students, and the subject tests include Biochemistry, Biology, Chemistry, and Computer Science. A number of colleges offer undergraduate credit for these exams, including Excelsior, which offers 30 undergraduate credits if you finish in the 80th percentile, and Charter Oak State College, which offers 24 credits if you finish in the 40th percentile. The exams are offered in October, November, and April. If you live outside of the US, they seem to be offered more locations than the CLEPs. This option is also economical at $140 in the US and $160 in other countries. How much money would 30 credit hours cost at a brick-and-mortar university?
Another option which is offered by some colleges and universities is "challenging" a course, in which the student can take the final exam without taking the whole course. Even though this option is sometimes expensive, it still offers the advantages of doing the course through independent study. One distance college which offers this option is Athabasca University in Canada. A major advantage to this option is the number of courses which are available for challenge. It would be easier to list the number of courses at Athabasca that aren't avaiable for challenge.
Although testing out of upper-level courses is more expensive than testing out of lower-level ones, it's still possible and can save a fortune in tuition fees. Especially if somebody has been studying independently for years, ie home schoolers, this is probably a better option than attending classes, as one can study when they want to and at their own pace.