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Preparation for Ministry

Bible Content Exam


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The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) considers basic knowledge of the content of the Bible to be an essential prerequisite for ministry. The Bible Content examination is intended to assess one’s knowledge of stories, themes and pertinent passages in the Old and New Testaments.

This page will provide you with important information about the exam that you will need to know to complete the registration process. When you are ready to register, please visit the Registration page.

Exam description

This exam is ordinarily taken in the first year of seminary. The two-hour examination contains 100 questions in multiple-choice, matching, and ordering formats, about the contents of the Bible, using the New Revised Standard Version for all quotations. The exam is currently offered twice a year on the first Friday of February and the Friday before Labor Day. The questions vary in difficulty, but cover the entire Bible as required by action of the General Assembly in 1978.

The examination is available in English, Spanish and Korean.

In order to satisfy this requirement in the preparation for ministry process, inquirers/candidates must correctly answer at least 70 of the 100 questions on the examination. 

Online administration and testings sites

The Bible Content Examination is given at proctored sites using an internet-based testing program. The proctors for each site can provide information about the specific equipment availability and requirements for their location. Inquirers and candidates should confirm these requirements with the proctor at the site before registering.

Download a list of examination testing sites

Persons taking the exam are encouraged to do so at one of these established testing sites. However, those who are no longer in seminary or are not able to travel to one of the testing sites within a reasonable amount of time may want to consider having a special proctor administer the exams. Inquirers/candidates and the appropriate presbytery committee must make arrangements for special proctors prior to registration. Details including the special proctor’s contact information must be entered during the online registration process and approved by the presbytery’s committee before registration can be finalized.

Test results are displayed for test takers at the completion of the examination and emailed directly to the test takers and their respective presbytery committees as well as the PC(USA) contact person at their seminaries.

Special arrangements

Applicants with learning disabilities or physical handicaps and those unable to travel to one of the regular testing sites should discuss special arrangements with their presbytery committees and proctors.  Even in these it cases it is the inquirer's or candidate's responsibility to be sure they can meet the requirements for accessing the internet at the agreed upon testing location. Registrations for the Bible Content Examination involving any special arrangements may be requested using the standard online registration process, but will not be finalized until approved by the appropriate presbytery committee and reviewed by the Coordinator for Preparations for Ministry/Examinations. 

For more information

If you have questions regarding the registration process, or other questions about the Bible Content Examination or to discuss special arrangements, contact Tim Cargal, (800) 728-7228, x5771.

Visit the registration page

(6) Comments

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  1. What would happen if all the lay members of the Presbyterian Church(USA) had to take and pass the Bible Content Exam with a score of 90% or above just to remain a member of the church?What would this do to our churches? I wonder.


    November 1, 2015


  2. I would be laughing at the suggestion that inquirers and candidates should remind and help CPM moderators and liaisons to receive information that the moderators and liaisons themselves ought to be communicating to the inquirers and candidates, but it's much too sad to laugh at at this state in my life.

    by Daniel Williams

    September 4, 2015


  3. Notifications about these changes have been sent to all CPM moderators, along with notices and links to the blog posts that discussed each of them in more detail. Inquirers/candidates may wish to remind their CPM moderators about those messages, as well as encourage both moderators and their individual liaisons to follow the Facebook page ("Preparing for Presbyterian Ministry") for all announcements and links to blog posts.

    by Tim Cargal

    May 4, 2015


  4. What is the best way for inquirers/candidates to educate their CPMs about the testing format? Given the 50+ hour weeks many pastors work, I find that CPM responsibilities are but one of many tasks on their over-piled plate.

    by Robert Drake

    May 4, 2015


  5. Inquirers preparing for the Bible Content Examination should review the material about that exam in the Exams Handbook ( and watch the online video “Understanding the Bible Content Exam” ( Once a registration period closes, those registered for the BCE receive an invitation to take a full-length practice BCE to both become familiar with the program and receive guidance on sections of the canon to which they may wish to give more focused attention.

    by Tim Cargal

    October 28, 2013


  6. As a member of the Western New York Presbytery CPM where would be the best place to advise an Inquirer to study for the Bible Content Exam? What reference?

    by Richard G. Petersen

    October 28, 2013


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