Frequently Asked Questions
Provided below are short responses to some of the most “frequently asked questions” about the process for using the Internet-based testing platform for the ordination exams in Theology, Worship and Sacraments, Polity, and Exegesis. The responses do not go over all the instructions or information you need to know about taking these examinations. For that, you will need to review the appropriate sections of the Handbook on Standard Ordination Examinations.
Click on any of the questions below to go to the related response. You can use your browser’s “Back” button to return to the list. Beside some of the responses you will find the word, “VIDEO”; clicking on that word will play a short YouTube video demonstration.
How can I recover my “Username” or reset my password?
What if I no longer have access to the email account in my user profile?
How can I update my email address or other personal information?
Can I try out the exam system before the testing date?
What types of computing devices may be used for taking the exams?
Does the online exam provide a “spell check” function?
Can I use my own word processing program and upload my responses to the system?
Can I use non-English alphabets in my responses?
How can I “save” my work while working on an exam?
How can I move between the different pages of an examination?
How are time limits for the exams controlled?
How are the time limits enforced by the system for the Theology, Worship and Sacraments, and Polity exams?
How do the time requirements work for the multi-day Exegesis exam?
What should I do if I lose my Internet connection during an exam?
How do I submit my completed exam?
How can I confirm that the system has received my finished exam?
How will I receive my examination results?
How can I recover my “Username” or reset my password? VIDEO
Most importantly, do not create a new account if you forget your username or password. Having multiple accounts will mean your results will not be consolidated and you may not be able to access exams at the time for them to be administered.
To recover a “Username” or reset a password, go to http://exams.pcusa.org and click on the “Login to Your Account” button. When the “Login” page loads, click on either “Forgot your password?” link (one in the column at the left, the other immediately below the login fields). You will then be asked to provide the email address associated with your account. Once you “submit” the email address, a message will be automatically sent that will include your “Username” and provide a coded link to a page where you can setup a new password.
You must have access to the email account associated with your profile in order to use the “Forgot your password?” link. If you no longer have access to that email account, you will need to contact the Coordinator for Preparation for Ministry for assistance in updating your profile.
How can I update my email address or other personal information? VIDEO
After you have logged in, you will see your “Profile” page. In the column at the left you will find the option “Edit My Profile Information”. You can visit this page at any time to update mailing or email addresses as well as some personal information. Once you have entered the changes in the appropriate fields, you must click on the “Submit” button at the bottom of the page to forward the updated information to the servers.
Can I try out the exam system before the testing date? VIDEO
From the “Profile” page, clicking on the “Answer Entry Practice” option from the list in the left-side column will open a special page with the response entry field. This page runs on exactly the same program that is used to administer the tests; the only difference is that it does not “save” information to the servers. You are encouraged to test out your computer’s settings and familiarize yourself with the editing options before your scheduled exam date.
What types of computing devices may be used for taking the exams? VIDEO
An advantage of the exam system being built on web technology is that it works on any widely available operating system and in any standards-based Internet browser (such as Explorer, Safari, Firefox, or Chrome). You do need to be aware, however, that browsers that run on so-called “mobile” or “tablet” devices (like the iPad) do have some differences from their computer operating system-based siblings. If you plan to use a tablet device for taking the exams, we strongly suggest that you have a physical keyboard to use with it.
Does the online exam system provide a “spell check” function? VIDEO
Depending on the configuration of your computer and its browser settings, you may have the benefit of a basic “spell checker” within the response box. When active, the spell checker will underline with a dashed red line unrecognized words and may offer or make automatic corrections for some commonly misspelled words. On some computer configurations “spell check” will default to being turned on, for others the user would have to activate it in each window by clicking on the icon, and on yet others spell checking may not be available at all (so the icon will not even be displayed). But again, all these things depend on the specifics of how your browser interacts with other settings on your computer. Try them out in the “Answer Entry Practice” area before the exam date.
Can I use my own word processing program and upload my responses to the system? VIDEO
While it is possible to use other word processers, it is not as simple as a “cut and paste” operation within or between documents in the same word processor. Since all the work in the online exam system is displayed within a web browser, all the formatting must be done according to web standards. Word processing programs usually have their own, program specific formatting codes that include many options that are not available on the web. Consequently, when material is “cut and pasted” into the exam response box the word processor’s codes must be replaced with web formatting codes. That translation is accomplished by clicking on the “Word” clipboard icon when “pasting” the copied material into the exam system. A special window will open into which you “paste” the copied material and then click the “Insert” button.
When deciding whether to use a full-feature word processor or the exam system’s response box, there are a couple of important things to keep in mind. First, even though there is a special “clipboard” for this purpose there is some formatting that simply does not transfer from word processors to the response boxes. Second, any text that is only in the word processor cannot be automatically transferred to the exam system every three minutes and cannot be “pasted” in if time has expired. Working only in the response box assures at least a partial answer will be saved for the readers.
Can I use non-English alphabets in my responses? VIDEO
If for any reason you need to include characters from a “non-Roman” alphabet such as Greek, Hebrew, or Korean, you need to remember that the online exam system is Internet-based and operates on World Wide Web standards. The good news is that means it can handle “non-Roman” alphabets whether or not another user (say, a reader) has the same fonts installed on her or his computer that you do. But this requires that such text must be entered as Unicode. If you have activated an operating system keyboard for one of these languages on your computer (and your computer is no more than a few years old), it will almost certainly use Unicode in conjunction with that keyboard. If you will be using “non-Roman” system keyboards, you are strongly encouraged to use the “Answer Entry Practice” option from your account’s “My Profile” page to confirm that your system configuration is functioning properly within the online exams environment before the scheduled time for your exams.
How can I “save” my work while working on an exam? VIDEO
The exam system performs an automatic background “save” of whatever is in the response box every three minutes and at any time when a navigation button at the bottom of the page (“Previous”, “Next”, or “Go To Page”) is clicked. If at any point you want to be sure what you have just written is saved, you can click the “Save and Remain” button to transfer your work from your computer to the exam servers. The screen will be refreshed, which is your indication that your work was saved.
How can I move between the different pages of an examination? VIDEO
You should only use the "Previous", "Next", or “Go To Page” buttons at the bottom of each page to move between pages of an exam. Using your browser's "Back" or "Forward" button could result in the loss of information entered in the question response boxes. When you click the “Go To Page” button, a selection list displays showing each section of the exam; simply click on the name for the section to which you wish to move. This option is especially helpful for moving between the many portions of the Exegesis examination.
How are time limits for the exams controlled? VIDEO
The exam system itself strictly enforces the time limit for all tests. Although the screen will not display the time remaining throughout the entire exam, a warning clock will be displayed on the screen between the question and the response box to countdown the final five minutes of your particular exam period. When you see that timer, you need to quickly wrap-up work on your exam. Once time has expired the test will be automatically submitted and you will not be able to make any further changes to your responses.
When the first question for the Theology, Worship and Sacraments, and Polity exams is displayed, the system automatically “starts the clock” for the time permitted for you to complete the test. Any breaks taken during the exam period are counted as part of the overall time permitted.
Access to the exam becomes available at 3:00 p.m. Eastern time on the Saturday the test begins for everyone taking the test (regardless of the particular time zone where they are located), and all work must be submitted by 12:00 noon Eastern time the following Thursday. The start and end times are determined by the exam server’s clock, not by your computer’s system clock.
What should I do if I lose my Internet connection during an exam? VIDEO
Should you lose your Internet connection while working on the exam, when you click on any of the navigation buttons at the bottom of the question page you will get an error message. Before doing anything else you must click on your browser’s “Back” button (this is the only circumstance when you should use your browser’s “Back” button). That will recover from your own computer’s local memory what was in the response box. Then, without closing the browser, re-establish your Internet connection. Once back online, click “Save and Remain” to transfer the answer to the servers.
How do I submit my completed exam? VIDEO
When you click on the “Next” button at the bottom of the last question page, you will be taken to a Final Review screen. If you have left any required responses blank or if you have included text in the response boxes for both option A and B questions, you will see warning notices asking if you would like to go back and correct those problems. Simply click on the link to go back to the page you need to work on.
You will notice that the review page does not have a “Next” button; instead, it has a bright red “Submit answers” button. That button is a visual reminder to you of a very important point: once you click on “Submit” your responses are closed and you can no longer make changes to your answers—even if you have not yet reached the end of your allotted time for the exam. The “Submit” button is a ‘point of no return’; only click on it when you are certain you have finished work on the exam.
After you have clicked “Submit,” you will see a page indicating, “You have completed this exam.” Using the link in the upper right portion of the window to "Return to profile" page, click on "Log-Out" from among the menu options on the left of the screen. Finally, close your browser. Leaving the browser open (or having multiple exam sessions open in browser tabs or windows) may cause problems with previously submitted work.
How can I confirm that the system has received my finished exam? VIDEO
After you have “submitted” any exam, you will find a "Completed Exams" heading on your “Profile” page with a link to "View" those exams. Clicking on those links will display the questions and answers for the current exams. If the answers displayed do not correspond with what you believe were submitted, you should contact the Coordinator for Preparation for Ministry immediately. Material previously transferred to the servers can be restored, but answers from word processors or other sources that had not been uploaded during the period when the test taker was logged in to the exam cannot be added.
How will I receive my examination results? VIDEO
Once the readers have finished evaluating all examinations for a particular testing period you will receive an email notice letting you know that results are available. Login to the exams site and go to the “Completed Exams” section. Click on the “View” link for the exams you want to review. The readers’ evaluations and comments will be displayed along with the exam questions and your submitted responses. You can also receive a report of your exam history at any time by clicking on the “View My Transcript” option in the left-side column of the “Profile” page.