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Preparation for Ministry

Open Book Bible Exegesis examination has new structure effective August 2010


Open Book Bible Exegesis examination has new structure effective August 2010

The Presbyteries’ Cooperative Committee on Examinations for Candidates (PCCEC) has announced changes to the structure of the Open Book Bible Exegesis examination beginning with the test’s August 2010 administration. The changes are a result of continuing efforts to respond to areas identified by the PCCEC in its self-study report to the 218th General Assembly (2008).

Based on the findings of the self-study, the PCCEC has sought to restructure the Exegesis exam so as to supplement rather than duplicate work done elsewhere in the preparation for ministry process, primarily through seminary exegesis courses and the exegetical study and sermon required for a candidate’s “final assessment.”  Candidates who take the exam in its new structure beginning in August 2010 will mainly find a reduction in the number of required questions as well as the addition of an essay supporting the candidate’s faithful interpretation of the selected Biblical passage.  Those currently registering for the January 2010 Exegesis exam will be taking the test in its current format.

In language from the description of the new Exegesis exam approved by the PCC, the new structure seeks to assess a candidate’s

  1. “knowledge about the text which leads to and sets limits on the possible interpretations and applications of that text,”
  2. “ability to communicate the substance of careful, academically-informed biblical study, including interaction with the original languages, to those who have not had the opportunity for training in such fields,” and
  3. “ability to develop and support a faithful interpretation of some aspect of the text for application to the life of the community.”

The new structure of the Exegesis examination will involve three major changes from the current exam structure:

  1. The exam will begin with a prescribed ministry context that defines both the situation and the ministry product such as a sermon or lesson plan. That ministry context will inform all sections of the exam. This change brings the Exegesis exam more in line with the structure of exams in the other subject areas.
  2. The new exam will reduce the number of exegetical questions to be answered in the first section of the test from six to four. There will be three exegetical questions required of all candidates, and one question from which candidates will choose either an “A” or “B” option. These four questions will represent three areas of study — the language of the text, historical situation, and scriptural and theological context. At least one question will require working with the assigned passage in its original language.
  3. In addition to a required 50-word “Exegetical Focus” statement, candidates will write a 1,200-word essay supporting their faithful interpretation of the passage presented in the focus statement. Candidates may include in this essay material from their study of the passage not directly addressed in the required exegetical questions, but it must be consistent with their answers in that earlier section.

Description and explanation of the new Exegesis exam structure.


The sample exam is based on passages and questions drawn from the August 2008 and 2009 Exegesis exams to facilitate comparisons between the current and new structures.


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