Standard Ordination Exams
The General Assembly 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.
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 the 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, 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 1.6” on the second page of the downloadable PDF file, or the date "July 2013" on the front cover.
The handbook is currently being extensively revised in conjunction with the move to offering the senior exams on a quarterly basis. The new edition will be available on or about May 1, 2014.
Video Resources for Examinations Prep
The "Examination Preparation Tools" section of the Online Training Opportunities page contains a variety of video training resources to assist in preparing for the ordination exams. Some provide overviews of what is covered in each exam and give tips on how to study for them. Now that all ordination exams are administered online, other videos provide demonstrations of how to use the online exam system and access the practice area. Be sure to also check out our FAQ page that includes some one to two minute video demonstrations of some most asked about issues.
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;
- training and overseeing readers who evaluate the exams;
- releasing exam results to test takers, presbyteries, and seminaries.
ga special committee to review exams
An action of the 220th General Assembly (2012) created a special committee to review the overall preparation for ministry and the role of the ordination exams within it. The committee's recommendations will be presented to the 221st General Assembly (2014) for action. The committee's final report is available for review.