At its fall meeting in Pittsburgh on September 11-13, the executive committee of the Presbyteries’ Cooperative Committee on Examinations for Candidates (PCC) gave final approval to a plan to move from four to three administrations each year of the senior exams (Bible Exegesis, Polity, Theology, and Worship and Sacraments) beginning with the 2019-2020 academic year.
The exams previously announced for October 2018 and January and April 2019 will be offered as scheduled. The exam cycle will then shift to administrations at the end of September, January, and April, with readers from specified regions of the presbyteries evaluating them beginning on the first Mondays in October, February, and May, respectively. Exam results will continue to be available ten days after the submission of the Exegesis exams.
Through most of their now over 50-year history, the senior ordination exams were offered twice each year (in late August and January). With the move to online administration of these exams in 2012 and the related phase-out of sequestered reading groups, it became possible for the PCC to consider providing more opportunities for candidates to take the exams. So in July 2014, they began to offer these exams on a quarterly basis (in late July, October, January, and April).
Offering the exams twice as often meant that presbyteries were required to provide readers to evaluate the exams twice as often as well. The 170 presbyteries of the church are divided into six regions for exams purposes. Historically, each region had been responsible for providing readers during one exam administration cycle each year. With quarterly administration, each region is responsible to covering two cycles each year.
The demands of offering the exams four times annually has placed a strain on presbyteries in recruiting readers to cover these additional administrations, and especially on readers of Korean- and Spanish-language exams. The new three-administrations schedule will permit a return in the 2019-20 academic year to presbyteries supplying readers for only one reading week of each year (with two regions assigned to each administration).
Seminarians will still have opportunities to take the exams on three occasions during their final year of study, as compared to the two opportunities before exams were moved online.
The Bible Content Exam will continue its current schedule of being offered twice a year (on the Friday before Labor Day and the first Friday of February). It had only been offered once a year prior to its move to online testing in the fall of 2009.