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The Rev. Timothy Cargal, Ph.D., serves as the Coordinator, Preparation for Ministry/Exams for Mid Council Ministries of the Office of the General Assembly.

“... the Land that I Will Show You” is the blog of the Office of Preparation for Ministry/Examinations of the Presbyterian Church (USA). This blog is designed to serve as a resource for those discerning and preparing for a call to the ministry of Word and Sacrament as ordained teaching elders of the church. It will also provide a place for reflecting on and dialoging about the changing context of pastoral ministry in the early 21st century.

For quick announcements about changes or developments in the preparation process, dates related to exams or other key events, discussion boards, surveys, etc., you can follow us on Facebook at “Preparing for Presbyterian Ministry.”

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March 19, 2014

Quarterly Senior Ordination Exams to begin in July

Online Exams LogoIn May of 2013, the Presbyteries’ Cooperative Committee on Examinations for Candidates (PCC) announced its plan to move to quarterly administration of the “senior” ordination examinations beginning in the second half of 2014. They also announced at that time that there were some changes to the Bible Exegesis, Church Polity, Theological Competence, and Worship and Sacraments exams that would be necessary to accommodate the more frequent offerings. In order to avoid any confusion regarding the 2013-14 program year exams, they held off announcing those related changes. Now that the results of the Spring 2014 exams have been released, it is time to fully unveil the new exam models.

The pages on the denominational website related to the exams (http://www.pcusa.org/exams) have been updated, and revisions to other resources (including the exams handbook) are in the works. In the meantime, here are the five most important things to know about the new exams and their scheduling:

There are, of course, details related to each of these changes that candidates will need to know (such as how start times will work for the Theology, Worship and Polity exams since there will not be a proctor). That information is on the updated webpages and is being integrated into updated editions of the exams handbook and other training materials.

Also, be aware that the offerings of the Bible Content Examination (BCE) remain unchanged. It will continue to be offered twice a year (as it has been since 2009), on the Friday before Labor Day and the first Friday of February.

This increased availability of the senior ordination examinations answers a significant concern of both candidates and presbyteries regarding those who may be delayed in the process by a need to repeat an examination area. It is made possible by the move of the exams to a totally online administrative process. I will be publicizing the release of other updated resources as they become available.

Categories: Ordination Exams, Ordination Process


  1. Presbyteries will continue to elect readers to evaluate the exams. The PCC is currently reviewing survey results of readers regarding their preferences related to evaluating exams during two periods each year (but with more readers and fewer hours commitment in each cycle) or only one reading period each year (with fewer readers and more hours commitment). A decision as to which approach will be taken should be released soon.

    by Tim Cargal

    March 20, 2014

  2. This sound good, however, I feel that the Polity exam may also be a multiple choice.

    by Sunday Etsekhume

    March 20, 2014

  3. Will the process for recruiting and training readers remain the same? Will readers be asked to serve for more than one exam?

    by Margaret C. Mielke

    March 20, 2014

  4. As someone going thorough the process now with half of the exams finished, I think this is a really wise and helpful move on almost every level. Thank you all for your hard work and wisdom. I know these kinds of changes take a lot of work and time to put into place. Us young (future) ministers appreciate it.

    by mike

    March 20, 2014

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