Credit by Demonstrated Mastery (CDM)

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Earning Credit by Demonstrated Mastery (CDM)

"Credit by Demonstrated Mastery" is the process by which a school shall, based upon a body-of-evidence, award a student credit in a particular course without requiring the student to complete classroom instruction for a certain amount of seat time.

Under North Carolina's Credit by Demonstrated Mastery (CDM) option, uniquely qualified students may "test out" or bypass a course if they have already mastered the content.

CDM provides opportunities for students to learn new content, to challenge themselves with independent study, to move into an advanced course earlier, or to create room in their schedule to explore new fields or pursue enriching electives.  

CDM is available to all students in North Carolina under State Board of Education policy SBE-GCS-M-001, Section 13.


  • CDM Phase 1 - during the testing window, students take an exam to demonstrate that they have mastered many of the essential standards of the selected course. Students with a score of 90 and above on CTE post-assessments, NC Final exams, and locally developed exams and Level V and above for EOCs will continue to Phase 2. Student results will be shared with students and families as soon as scores are returned from the state.
  • CDM Phase 2 - if eligible to continue to Phase 2, students undergo a local evaluation process to demonstrate a deep understanding and knowledge of the content. This evaluation may include compiling a portfolio; creating new artifact(s) such as a written paper or multimedia presentation; giving an oral defense or presentation; and/or participating in an interview. Timelines for Phase 2 completion vary by course, but generally students should expect to complete Phase 2 work within nine weeks. A school-based committee determines the outcome of Phase 2. Results will be shared with students and families.
  • Students must complete and return the CDM Application to their school counselor or the AIG Coordinator. Applications drive local development of CDM Phase 1 exams and Phase 2 projects.

Fall 2021 testing window September 17 - Oct 14, 2021  -- application due Sept 3, 2021

Spring 2022 testing window TBA, generally mid-to-late February

Summer 2022 testing window TBA, generally mid-to-late July  

  • applications for new subjects due March 25, 2022
  • applications for established subjects due May 20, 2022

TCS can develop CDM exams and projects for new subjects if students apply by the "new subjects" deadline above. If subjects already have CDM exams and projects developed, students may apply for the fall, spring, or summer windows.

Courses with no CDM option

Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, Healthful Living, and some Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses are not eligible for CDM. The CDM Overview, linked below, includes the complete list of courses for which students may pursue CDM.

How credits will appear on transcripts

  • Students will not receive a letter grade for the course.
  • Students who successfully complete the process will receive a "CDM" result on their transcripts for the course, and will be eligible to enroll in the next level course in that subject area.
  • Students who do not earn the course credit will not be penalized. Results of the assessment process will not be reflected in the student's grades or school transcript.
  • Students may make only one attempt to earn CDM credit per course. Retests are not offered.


Please refer to the Frequently Asked Questions document below for common topics. For all other questions, contact your school counselor, your AIG teacher, or the AIG coordinator.

Application & Resources

CDM Application

Slideshow for Parents/Families

List of existing CDM exams & projects

Google Class with CDM resources for TCS Students  
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Frequently Asked Questions

CDM Overview

Process Chart

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