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Frequently Asked Questions

Students, faculty, and administrators at Austin Peay are committed to the common goal of academic excellence. The results of this exam provide valuable information on our progress toward excellence.  The state of Tennessee requires Austin Peay to give an exam that assesses students’ critical thinking skills. This exam helps to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of general education at Austin Peay and across the state.


Austin Peay uses the California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST). The Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC) recognizes CCTST as one of three approved test instruments that can be used for this assessment. This test is used by colleges and universities nationwide to evaluate the effectiveness of general education coursework. The CCTST provides an objective measure of students’ critical thinking and reasoning skills. 


The CCTST is a 34 question, multiple-choice test similar to other standardized tests taken during your educational career. The questions have a broad range of difficulty. This exam can be taken on any computer, tablet, or phone with internet access via a secure web browser. You can take the exam at any time of day, from any location. You will have 45 minutes to complete the test. We recommend you set aside about an hour for the entire testing experience.


Individual scores are kept confidential and are not recorded on transcripts. Instead, the aggregate results of the Senior Exit Exam  provide important information to faculty and administrators to help Austin Peay evaluate and improve the undergraduate learning experience. Comparing Austin Peay’s scores to those nationwide also allows the university an opportunity to earn additional state appropriations used to further improve student learning and achievement.

Completion of the Senior Exit Exam is required of all students graduating with their first bachelor's degree regardless of major. For a complete list of graduation requirements and deadlines, contact the Graduation area of the Office of the Registrar at (931) 221-7150 or graduation@apsu.edu for further assistance. Students graduating with associate, second bachelor's or graduate degrees are not required to participate. 

No. The Senior Exit Exam is required by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission as a way to measure students’ critical thinking and reasoning skills. The assessment helps to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of general education at Austin Peay and across other state universities.


The First Destination Survey is required by state and federal agencies to track what our graduates plan to do after they leave the university. The survey’s results help us know whether students are planning to enter the workforce, continue their education, or serve in military or civic capacities. The survey can be taken by clicking the link below:



The Senior Exit Exam is not the same as a Major Field Test, which is a separate graduation requirement. Major Field Tests are assessments administered by programs based upon content covered within a specific major. Please contact your program's representative or academic advisor for dates and times when these tests will be offered. Requests for exemptions to the Major Field Test must be directed to the department chair.

 There are no fees charged to students for taking this exam.

The test can be taken any time during a student's final year at Austin Peay. Most students opt to take the test during their final semester after applying for graduation. The Senior Exit Exam is given three times a year (summer, fall, spring). You must complete the Senior Exit Exam prior to the published deadline in the semester in which you will graduate.

Testing ends shortly before finals each semester, so you should not delay testing. It is your responsibility to be aware of the testing deadline and ensure you register for the test and take it prior to the deadline. You should register for the Senior Exit Exam as soon as you apply to graduate, even if you are not sure you will be approved to graduate. You may miss the testing deadline if you apply for graduation late in the semester. Regardless of the status of your graduation application, if you fail to take the Senior Exit Exam before the testing deadline you must wait until the following semester to test. Individuals are not be permitted to take the Senior Exit Exam outside of scheduled testing each semester. 


The Senior Exit Exam can be taken at any time that is convenient for you, day or night, from any location with stable access to the internet. Since the test requires you concentrate and answer questions thoughtfully, plan to set aside an hour of uninterrupted time in a quiet location when you can focus on the questions asked.


Step by step instructions will guide you through testing using a web browser.

You have 45 minutes to complete the test. We recommend you set aside about an hour for the entire testing experience.


The time begins after you have entered your demographic information, as soon as you begin to answer exam questions. You may finish early, but take your time and answer as carefully as possible. Exams that are submitted in less than 15 minutes will be discarded and not considered as valid responses. Your answers will be automatically submitted at the end of the 45 minutes, whether you have completed all the questions or not.

If you have a disability that may affect your academic performance, please contact the Office of Student Disability Resource Center to schedule testing accommodations for the Senior Exit Exam: phone: (931) 221-6230, by TTY at (931) 221- 6278, fax: (931) 221-7102, email: sdrc@apsu.edu

If the internet connection should happen to be lost during a session, a fail safe backup system records answers and test data for later submission via email.

Technical support is available by calling Insight Assessment at (650) 697-5628. 

You are welcome to take the test at campus facilities like the library and computer labs when they are open. However, if these resources are not available, you will need to take the exam on your own device with stable internet access. If you have issues accessing technology or internet to complete this requirement, please contact Distance Education: phone: (931) 221-6625, email: online@apsu.edu.

The Senior Exit Exam measures critical thinking, which is more about how you think, rather than what you know. Insight Assessment has prepared two guides, ”How can I get ready to take a critical thinking test?” and  “How to Prepare for Testing,” to help you understand the purpose of a critical thinking test.


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. 

Unless otherwise specified for specific majors by an academic department, 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 2023-24 Undergraduate Bulletin, University-Wide Degree Requirements, Testing as a Degree Requirement

Each student will receive his or her score upon completion of testing. Your scoring information may be helpful to you in articulating your skills and abilities to employers or graduate schools.



The overall score measures a student's critical thinking skills. Insight Assessment explains the score received and the five subcategories in a two page guide that can be downloaded by clicking the link below.

Information for Understanding Your CCTST Score Report