Standard Ordination Exams
The General Assembly currently requires that everyone who serves in the ministry of Word and Sacrament, whether they proceed to ordination through the preparation for ministry process or are received from another denomination, must complete five standard examinations.
The Bible Content Examination assesses general knowledge of the Bible and its themes. It is usually completed early in seminary training and can be used to direct certain courses of study within the person’s theological education.
The remaining four tests, referred to collectively as the “Senior Ordination Exams,” are designed to assess a person’s ability to integrate academic theological study with the practical work of ministry in a pastoral context in the areas of Biblical Exegesis, Theological Competence, Worship and Sacraments, and Church Polity.
Resources Available for Online Exams
All senior ordination examinations are now administered online. New resources have been added to this website to help those who will be taking the exams to learn about and even try out the system before their testing dates.
Two videos provide demonstrations of how to use the online exam system and access the practice area. Look for the links to “Taking Online Ordination Exams” and “Formatting Online Ords” in the “Examination Preparation Tools” section of the “Online Training Opportunities” page.
A chapter in the Handbook on Standard Ordination Examinations covers and expands upon the information in the videos. The chapter discussing each area of examination has also been updated with the instructions for online exams and the policy changes that now permit use of The Book of Confessions in all sections of the Theology exam, and use of both The Book of Confessions and Book of Order in all sections of the Worship and Sacraments exam. To be sure you have the latest release, look for “2013/2014 Release 1.5” on the second page of the downloadable PDF file, or the date "March 2013" on the front cover.
Please click on the below link to read about these changes.
Handbook on Ordination Examinations
The "Handbook on Standard Ordination Examinations in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)" is designed to serve as a resource for inquirers/candidates, presbytery committees, and ministers of other denominations who may be taking the PC(USA)’s ordination exams.
The Handbook contains basic information about ordination exams — the purpose of the five examinations, how to register for exams, dates of administration, testing sites, fees, etc. It also offers helpful materials for those preparing to take the four senior ordination examinations, such as instructions for the exams, tips on preparing for and writing exams, resources to be used, sample copies of evaluation sheets, an outline of the evaluation process, and the process for appealing the final evaluation of an exam.
To be sure you have the latest release, look for “2013/2014 Release 1.5” on the second page of the downloadable PDF file, or the date "March 2013" on the front cover.
Presbyteries Cooperative Committee on Exams
The Presbyteries’ Cooperative Committee on Examinations for Candidates (PCCEC) is a permanent committee of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The committee is responsible for:
- composing the five standard examinations for ordination
- establishing the process for administering the exams
- organizing and working with reading groups to grade exams,
- recording the scores,
- distributing the scores to the student’s proctor for exams, seminary, and presbytery.
All of the above is done on behalf of the presbyteries. (See Book of Order, G-2.0607d)
Examinations Task Force
As part of its recommendations following from its self-study to the 218th General Assembly (2008), the PCCEC has established a task force to “explore new models of national ordination examinations.” Learn more about this task force and its work.
Self-Study report for PCCEC
Report of the Presbyteries’ Cooperative Committee on Examinations for Candidates, to the 218th General Assembly (2008)
After a registration is confirmed by the appropriate presbytery, testing site locations can only be made by contacting the Office of Preparation for Ministry / Examinations. Changes to another standard testing site may be made up until one week before the exam. The Office must receive approval from the presbytery before any changes can be made that involve a special proctor.
Once one has registered to take an exam at a certain test site, can one change their test site? Thanks you.
I thank you for a chance to proclaim Gods word to the masses without having to go through a lot of politics.