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Preparation for Ministry

Senior ordination exams


Bible content examSenior ordination examsExams scheduleRegistration for exams | FAQ

Standard ordination exams home

The focus of the senior ordination examinations is to assess one’s entry-level readiness for ministry in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The exams present pastoral challenges whereby candidates can demonstrate how they integrate faith and theological education in practical ministry.

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

Exam description

The senior ordination exams cover the areas of Biblical Exegesis, Theological Competence, Worship and Sacraments, and Church Polity. These tests may be taken only with the permission of the presbytery’s committee/commission that is supervising the person’s discernment and preparation for ordination as a teaching elder. These exams are designed to be taken near the end of a candidate’s preparation as an assessment of readiness to begin ministry. Descriptions of the individual examinations are available in the downloadable “Handbook on Standard Ordination Examinations.” 

The Church Polity, Theological Competence, and Worship and Sacraments exams require test takers to use the published and/or PDF (Adobe Acrobat) editions of the Book of Order and the Book of Confessions as appropriate.

The four senior ordination exams are available in Spanish. The Theology, Worship and Sacraments, and Polity exams are also available in Korean. Candidates whose primary language is Korean may write responses to the Exegesis exam in Korean. The language in which the exams will be completed must be selected during the registration process.

Online administration
Senior ordination exams are administered using an Internet-based testing system.  A maximum of nine hours is permitted for completion of the Theology, Worship, and Polity examinations. The Exegesis exam is given over a period of roughly five days.  For more information, visit the Exams Schedule page.  All sections of the tests are open book.  Candidates may use whatever resources they have available, but they must give credit for any resources used. 

Special arrangements

Candidates with learning disabilities or physical handicaps should discuss special accommodations with their presbytery committees.  Registrations for the senior examinations involving any special accommodations 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 Manager for Preparations for Ministry in the Office of the General Assembly. Even in these cases it is the responsibility of the inquirer or candidate to be sure they can meet the requirements for accessing the internet during the testing periods.  

For more information

If you have questions regarding the registration process,or other questions about the senior ordination examinations or special accommodations, contact Tim Cargal, (800) 728-7228, x5771.

Visit the registration page

Examination archive - spring 2023

Worship and Sacraments Adoración y sacramentos 예배 및 성례전에 대한 시험 (Worship Exam)
Theological Competence Competencia teológica 신학적 소양 (Theological Competence)에 대한 시험
Church Polity Política eclesiástica 교회 정치(Church Polity)에 대한 시험
Bible Exegesis Exegesis de la biblia