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What is the Senior Exit Exam?

What is the Senior Exit Exam?

Austin Peay uses the California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST) as its Senior Exit Exam. This test is used by colleges and universities to assess the effectiveness of their general education programs. It is a tool used to improve the quality of instruction and learning. The CCTST provides an objective measure of critical thinking skills and engages students reasoning skills.

The CCTST assumes students have completed most or all of the general education or core curriculum requirements at their institution. The questions have a broad range of difficulty; some are quite easy, others are more difficult. It is an objective test which uses a multiple-choice format of 34 questions. The test is timed and must be completed in 45 minutes.

Why is it given at Austin Peay?

Students, faculty, and administrators are committed to the common goal of academic excellence at Austin Peay. An exit exam provides the standards by which our progress toward excellence is measured. The Tennessee Higher Education Commission requires all state universities administer a Senior Exit Exam.

Test results help us in curriculum design and high scores bring additional state funding to further improve our programs. You, as a student, play a crucial role in this process of assessment at Austin Peay. Your participation is required so that other students, faculty, and administrators can benefit from your knowledge and experience. Group scores are reported and evaluated to satisfy state requirements and to provide us with research data. Individual scores will be kept confidential and will not be recorded on transcripts.

Am I required to take this test?

Taking the Senior Exit Exam is required of all seniors graduating with their first Bachelor's degree in any major. A hold may be placed on your diploma until this requirement is met. For a list of graduation requirements and deadlines, please contact the Office of the Registrar at (931) 221-7150 or visit their website. Students graduating with Associate's or Master's degrees are not required to take this exam. Students receiving their second Bachelor's degree are encouraged to contact IRE to make sure their status shows correctly in our records.

When in my senior year should I take the exam?

Typically, the exam is taken during a senior's final semester before graduation. However, the test can be taken any time within a senior's final year especially if he or she plans to complete an internship, clinical rotation or study abroad during the final semester.

What if I am not sure that I am going to graduate or I apply to graduate late in the semester?

Testing ends shortly before finals each semester. Students waiting to see if they will be allowed to graduate should go ahead and take the exam early instead of waiting for a determination or final grades.  

How does the Senior Exit Exam compare to other tests required?

The CCTST is a multiple-choice test similar to other standardized tests you have taken in your educational career. However, it is a separate test from the Major Field Test, another graduation requirement. Major Field Tests are exit exams administered by programs. Please contact the Departmental Representative for your major for dates and times these tests will be given. Exemption requests for the Major Field Test must be directed to your academic advisor.

If I receive an exemption from a Major Field Test, does that mean I am automatically exempt from the Senior Exit Exam?

All requests for Senior Exit Exam exemptions must be made in writing to IRE explaining in detail the circumstances why an exemption is requested. Requests must be submitted by email to before testing for the semester concludes. Each request will be evaluated and a written response will be sent to student email accounts only. Exemptions granted by departments for Major Field Tests do not apply to the Senior Exit Exam.

What if I take classes online?

Senior Exit Exams are a paper and pencil test that cannot be given online. The test must be administered and proctored in a classroom setting. If you take classes online and live outside of the Middle Tennessee/Southern Kentucky area, please notify our office by emailing from your campus email address with your name, A # and explanation of circumstances. Your situation and student records will be evaluated to see if you qualify for an exemption. Please check and update current mailing address information through AP OneStop before requesting an exemption. Our office will send responses to official student email address only.

What if I have a disability?

If you have a disability that may affect your performance, please review the Disability Policy so we can accommodate your needs.

When and where do I need to take the exam?

The Senior Exit Exam is offered in numerous morning, afternoon and Saturday test sessions throughout each semester. Dates and times for the exam are listed under the Schedule of Test Sessions. The schedule is posted at the end of the previous semester. These will be the ONLY dates offered so please plan ahead. Our office does not schedule individual appointments for testing.

The number of participants in each session is also limited due to the size of the classroom used. Once the maximum number of students allowed is reached, a session will close. To sign up for an available session, please click on the Registration Form tab. Unfamiliar with the location of the classrooms being used for testing? Click here to view a campus map or information about the Austin Peay Center at Fort Campbell.

Is there any cost involved?

There are no fees charged to students to take this exam.

What do I need to bring to the exam?

On test day, please arrive at least ten minutes early to the session you choose. Dress comfortably and make sure you have your APSU ID card or another form of photo identification. You will be asked to show your ID during the sign-in process before being allowed to test. Pencils will be provided. Only test booklets, answer sheets and pencils are allowed on desktops during testing.

The following items are prohibited in the examination room during testing:

  • calculators
  • scratch paper
  • dictionaries
  • books
  • compasses
  • rulers
  • food and drinks
  • children

What if I am late to the exam?

Students who arrive late will not be allowed to test. The proctor will direct any late arrivals to exit the room and register for another session. If another exam is scheduled for that day, students can opt to go to the later session without completing another online registration form.

Should I guess at the answer?

This test is scored based on the number of questions answered correctly. There is no penalty for guessing, so you should try to answer every question. It is better to guess at an answer than not respond at all. If you have some knowledge about a question and can eliminate one or more of the answer choices as wrong, your chance of selecting the right answer is improved.

What score do I need to earn to graduate?

No minimum score or level of achievement on senior assessments listed in the baccalaureate degree requirements is required for graduation. Participation in testing is a graduation requirement for all students, and a commitment to performing well is expected.1

1 2015-16 Undergraduate Bulletin, Testing as a Degree Requirement

What should I do if classes are canceled due to inclement weather or I miss the session I registered to take?

Please sign up for AP Alert or monitor APSU's home page if inclement weather threatens. Please register for another upcoming test session if a test is cancelled due to a university closure or you miss a session you previously registered to take. 

How can I obtain my score after taking the exam?

Scores are available upon request by contacting IRE approximately one month after testing has concluded for the semester.