The Rev. Timothy Cargal, Ph.D., serves as Assistant Stated Clerk for Preparation for Ministry in 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 of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). 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.
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Today the Presbyteries’ Cooperative Committee on Examinations for Candidates (PCC) has officially launched a new resource to assist in preparing for the Bible Content Examination. All inquirers and candidates registered by their presbyteries with the Office of the General Assembly may use their accounts on the exams website (https://exams.pcusa.org) to access a special course on the PC(USA) Training site.
As initially announced in a press release on April 6, this course includes updated guidance from the PCC’s Handbook to the Standard Ordination Examinations regarding the structure of and preparation strategies for taking the BCE, a revised video on these topics, the full-length practice BCE, and an archive of questions developed for the online BCE since the fall of 2009. The practice exam and the archives provide the questions in English as well as Korean and Spanish translations. After new BCE questions are used on the tests, they will be added to these archives.
Inquirers and candidates may access these resources at any time by logging on to their accounts at https://exams.pcusa.org. They will now find a link on their “Profile” page to “Access Moodle Materials.” Clicking that link will open a new tab in their browsers where they will be automatically logged onto the PC(USA) Training “Moodle” website where they can access the “Bible Content Exam Preparation” course. Beginning with the upcoming September 1 administration, the official BCE tests will also be administered using special courses on this “Moodle” site. By utilizing these preparation resources, then, inquirers and candidates will also be familiarizing themselves with the testing platform for the BCE.
The exam question archives are presented in seven canonical divisions utilized in structuring the BCE. Within those divisions, multiple-choice questions are presented in both online and printable-format tables in canonical order according to the primary reference in the respective question. Matching questions (because of their different structure and more limited use) are gathered in a separate division. Along with these tables, each canonical division also includes a quiz incorporating both multiple-choice and matching questions.
While these preparation materials can assist inquirers and candidates in their study and preparation, the questions that appear in the BCE are not limited to topics or verses explicitly treated within these materials. Those preparing for the BCE are encouraged to read widely in the Bible, using these preparation materials as a guide to strategies for study and aids in understanding the types of questions included in the test.
Earlier this month an updated Handbook to the Standard Ordination Examinations was also released (available for download at http://www.pcusa.org/exams). This edition incorporates the PCC’s new guidance to inquirers, candidates, and their presbyteries that “the BCE be taken after at least one year of formal theological education including introductions to both testaments of the Bible” (p. 26). The handbook and preparation materials also reflect the PCC’s decision to discontinue the inclusion of an ordering question within the BCE; the test now includes only questions in multiple-choice and matching formats.
I am pleased that we have been able to make this resource available well ahead of the August 1 target originally announced in the press release. Please let me know if you have comments or suggestions about the site that I will pass along to the PCC.