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Office of Assessment & Institutional Research


Ross Norman, Assessment Director & Institutional Research Officer
Graham Hall 104
1200 S. Jay St.
Aberdeen, S.D. 57401
Phone: 605-626-2433
Marilyn Zimmerman, Testing Coordinator
Graham Hall 105
Phone: 605-626-3290
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Proficiency Exam





Each test requires 40 minutes to complete. The Proficiency Exam is administered in one time block in the following order: Writing Skills, Mathematics, Reading, and Science. The questions are numbered and the answer choices for each question are lettered.


South Dakota Board of Regents (SDBOR)

Proficiency Exam Information




This 72-item test measures your understanding of conventions of standard written English in punctuation, grammar, sentence structure, strategy, organization, and style. Spelling, vocabulary, and rote recall of rules of grammar are not tested. The test consists of six prose passages, each of which is accompanied by a set of 12 multiple-choice test items. A range of passage types is used to provide a variety of rhetorical situations. The student must decide which response is most appropriate.



This 35-item test is designed to measure your mathematical reasoning ability. It assesses the ability to solve mathematical problems encountered in many postsecondary curricula. It emphasizes quantitative reasoning rather than the memorization of formulas. The content areas tested include pre-, elementary, intermediate, and advanced algebra, coordinate geometry, trigonometry, and introductory calculus. A subscore through college algebra only is reported.



This 36-item test measures reading comprehension as a product of skill in referring, reasoning, and generalizing. The test items require the student to derive meaning from several texts by: 1) referring to what is explicitly stated; 2) reasoning to determine implicit meanings; and 3) drawing conclusions, comparisons, and generalizations beyond the text. The test consists of four prose passages of about 900 words each that are representative of the level and kinds of writing commonly found in college curricula. Passages are selected from published sources on topics from prose fiction, the humanities, the social sciences, and the natural sciences. Each passage is accompanied by a set of nine multiple-choice test items.



This 45-item test measures your abilities and skills in scientific reasoning. Its contents are drawn from biology, chemistry, physics, and the physical sciences. The test emphasizes scientific reasoning abilities and skills rather than recall of scientific content or a high level of skill in mathematics or reading ability. It consists of eight test units, each of which contains scientific information and a set of multiple choice questions. Three different formats are used in the test: Data Representation which presents graphic and tabular material similar to that found in science journals and texts; Research Summaries which provide descriptions of one or more related experiments; and Conflicting Viewpoints which is designed to measure the ability to understand, analyze, and compare alternative viewpoints or hypotheses.



Effective spring semester 1998 for baccalaureate degree-seeking students and fall semester 1999 for associate degree-seeking students, the South Dakota Board of Regents has mandated that all students attending a state university in South Dakota and seeking their first undergraduate degree take and pass the Board of Regents Proficiency Examination. Baccalaureate degree-seeking students will sit for the exam upon completion of 48 passed credits at the 100 level or above, and associate degree-seeking will sit for the exam after successfully completing 32 credits at the 100 level or above. Enrolled students who have already earned a baccalaureate degree are exempt from the requirement.


Proficiency testing is offered on Assessment Days in the fall and spring semesters. Students who fail to sit for the exam when required to do so will not be allowed to register for courses at any of the state universities for two academic terms. This is a Board of Regents policy.


Consequences of noncompliance failure to sit for the examination as scheduled, whether initially or following a deferment, will result in denial of subsequent registration at all Regental institutions. Students who have been denied registration due to failure to take the proficiency examination may apply for readmission after two academic terms (fall, spring, or summer). If readmitted, they must sit for the examination during the next administration. Failure to do so will result in immediate administrative withdrawal.


SDBOR Proficiency Exam Policy


Students failing to achieve the minimum proficiency level on one or more components of the exam will be allowed to retest. Retesting must occur within one year after initial testing. During that year, students may continue to enroll in courses. As preparation for retesting, students are required to develop, in collaboration with an academic advisor and/or remediation advisor, a development plan for remediation to be completed within one year. Students will be able to retest twice during that year and a fee may be charged to cover the cost of testing.


Students will be informed by the University-Wide Assessment Office when they are eligible to test. Students will receive the results and an explanation of how to interpret their achievement approximately 4-6 weeks after testing. Students who fail to achieve an acceptable score within one year from initial testing will not be permitted to continue their registration. An appeal process for certification of proficiency using alternate methods is available to those students.


Accommodations are available for students with certified disabilities.


If you are an NSU student, please check myNSU for specific information.