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NYS Regents Exams Overview

New York State offers the Regents Exams, a series of tests that were developed by the Education Department of New York for many high school subject areas.

The Regent Exams were designed to ensure and measure that in New York, high school students have developed some degree of knowledge and specific educational skill sets that are covering the equal amount of study material when they move on to college.

Regent Exams Passing Score

In 2013, Regent Exams were brought in line with the Common Core standards. To pass the exams, students now (2017) must achieve a score of 75 or up in English, and 80 or up in math to pass the exams. Before 2017, they were required to attain a passing score of 65.

In New York State, students are required to pass at least five NYS Regents Exams to earn their high school diploma, but the good thing is that they are not obliged to take all these five exams in one academic year.

Students start taking one or two of the Regent exams by the time they complete their freshman year, to continue doing so every year throughout their high school education.

Length of Regents Exam

The Regent Exams last for three hours and are taken as the final exam for that particular high school course. An exception is the subject area of Earth Science. This exam comes with a 40-minute lab part where students are tested on their skills and knowledge. This Earth Science component usually is taking place a couple of weeks before students have to take the written part of the test.

All written Regent Exams follow one type of format: there are a few multiple choices, and there are some short answer/essay topics questions.

The tests’ multiple choice part takes anywhere from 30 to 50 minutes to complete, including questions that are testing the students’ knowledge on topics that every student must have learned at high school. The short answer/essay topics section may differ slightly, depending on which subject is addressed.

Details of the Regents Exams

The Science and Math NYS Regents Exams include a short answer section that requires students to solve a few technical problems, and they must demonstrate how they did that. When students are not familiar with this type of test questions, they may need some time to do so, and it looks like the sort of questioning method that’s used at several SAT questions.

On the subject area Social Sciences, the essay or short answer questions are focusing on a limited number of prompts, and students need to choose one or two and write about these subjects in length.

Not all of New York City’s schools are requiring students to take and pass the Regents Exams. It all depends on the school, and quite a few private schools are not requiring the NYS Regents Exams at all.

A pretty good rule of thumb learns that the more prestigious or specialized a school is, the smaller the chance is that they will use the exams. At practically, all New York public schools are students required to take the Regents Exams for several subjects, and generally at the end of that year that students took that particular high school course.

Public schools are requiring students to attain passing scores on no less than five of all available Regents Exams to earn a Regents Diploma and graduate from high school.

Test Dates

Most Regents exams are offered every January, June, and August.

List of Regents Exams

There are the following New York State Regents Exams:

  • Global History and Geography
  • United States History and Government
  • English Language Arts (Common Core)
  • Geometry (Common Core)
  • Algebra 1 (Common Core)
  • Algebra 2 (Common Core)
  • Biology/The Living Environment
  • Earth Science/The Physical Setting
  • Physics/The Physical Setting
  • Chemistry/The Physical Setting

Regents Diploma exam requirements

To earn a Regents Diploma, students must pass the following Regents exams with a score of 75 or higher (80 for math). Before 2016, the minimally required score was 65.

  1. U.S. History & Government
  2. Global History & Geography
  3. Common Core English Language Arts
  4. Any one of the Math exams (usually Integrated Algebra)
  5. Any one of the Science exams (usually Living Environment/Biology or Earth Science)

Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation exam requirements

If students want to earn a Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation, they must pass these Regents Exams with a score of 75 or better (80 for math):man-with-certificate

  1. U.S. History & Government
  2. Common Core English Language Arts
  3. All three Math exams
  4. Two Science exams (one Life Science and one Physics)
  5. Language other than English

NYS Regents Exams and Common Core

The Common Core Standards is a relatively new set of nationally introduced and predominantly accepted academic standards for English Language Arts (ELA)/literacy and Mathematics skills. The learning goals as described in the Common Core are precisely outlining what students must learn (or have learned) in each grade.

The Common Core clearly indicate what students must master during each year of their education. The Common Core is the list of all the things that you must learn in each grade.

These standards are also referred to as the ‘College & Career Readiness Standards,’ which is emphasizing the fact how crucial these new goals and criteria are. They can be helpful to indicate if a student is on the right path towards college and even further, even at times when a student is still years from that stage in life.

The new Common Core ELA/literacy standards are covering literacy basics like grammar, reading, and writing, but they are also aiming to enhance students’ reading and text interpretation skills. This last objective is often not emphasized enough in quite a few schools.

Teachers now increasingly want their students to understand what certain texts say, or to be able to answer questions about those documents, instead of putting an emphasis on learning what text mean, particularly when they are placed in their larger contexts.

This new focus on better and greater understanding of texts will imply a substantial conceptual shift in the content of various exams. It will lead to fewer questions with the obvious ‘right/wrong’ answer, and more issues that require answers with more thought and depth.

Why the Common Core matters

One of the primary goals of the Common Core is to come up with new approaches and to teach students to think about problems and how to solve them, rather than just to teach students how to spit out easy answers best.

It goes without saying that most students would prefer with easy-style answering, but there is a general understanding that this is not the optimal way for fostering the concept of ‘learning.’ This new design may result in less ‘teaching to just pass the test’.

Because teachers will be preparing children for more ambiguous and open-ended question and answers, students will not so easily find a right ‘formula’ for success. All test results will be depending on students’ capacity to think carefully and deep about what a text passage could mean.