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Competency Exams Revamped

By Danielle Sposato
Staff Writer

Students must complete several competency exams over the course of their academic career in order to graduate. These exams, computer literacy competency, the library competency, the writing competency, and the oral competency, must be completed before students have 60 credits, according to LIU Post website. If a student fails to complete these competencies prior to their junior year, or when they have reached 60 credits, they are required to take either a non-credit workshop to fulfill the needs of the competency, or they must take a course that fulfills the requirements needed.

The system for taking two of the four competencies is being revamped. As of fall 2014, LIU has added the library competency to all College 101 courses, and as of fall 2015, the computer literacy competency will also be added to the College 101 curriculum. “Freshmen will take both the library and computer exam in their College 101 class,” said Patricia Seaman, Coordinator of the Academic Standing Committee. By adding these two competencies to the College 101 curriculum, students will no longer have to worry about completing the exams on their own since they will be completed through their mandatory freshman classes.

Photo by Tia Mona Greene
Photo by Tia Mona Greene

Students view this as beneficial. “I think it’s better that you take the exams through the College 101 class, especially for people like me because I constantly put it off,” said Christina Kotarski, a junior English Education major. Kotarski did not have the opportunity to fulfill any of her competencies in her College 101 class. Students like Kotarski must register online for the library and computer literacy competency exams by emailing

For students who did not take the competency exams through their College 101 course, the computer literacy competency may be completed in several ways. First, a student can sign up for the exam itself and must pass it. These exams are offered every semester, according to LIU Post’s website. Second, students may enroll in the five-week non-credit workshop, COM 101, offered by the Computer Science Department. This once a week workshop normally is the last resort for many seniors. Third, students may enroll and complete classes CLA 6 or CS 6, which are both three-credit courses.

The same rules apply for the library competency. Students must either take the test itself, or enroll in the non-credit library workshop, LIB 101, offered by the school library. This workshop lasts seven weeks, and meets once a week during the semester.

The writing competency and the oral competency are not being added to the College 101 curriculum. Students fulfill their requirement for the writing competency after taking ENG 1 or ENG 2; both courses are a requirement for the core curriculum at LIU Post. Similarly, enrolling in ORC 1, ORC 2, or SPH 5 cover the oral competency exam. If a student is not enrolled in any of these courses, one may register for the oral competency exam through the Communication Sciences and Disorders Department by contacting the department by phone and scheduling an appointment.

Many students face a similar dilemma in that they are unable to pass specific competencies. Other students, however, may have missed the opportunity to take the exams because they have failed to enroll on time. “The exam is offered ten times a semester, and only the last few exams are ever filled to capacity. If students register early, they will be able to enroll in one of the scheduled exams,” Seaman said.

Since maximum capacity for these exams is 28 students per session, students should register early in the semester. “The first three to four exams are usually not filled. The last three exams scheduled are usually booked well before the deadline. The best times to take the exam and be assured a spot are the earlier exams. One shouldn’t wait until the last minute to schedule their exam,” Seaman said.

Students have found that it is difficult to access the information about the tests, including when each exam is held. Many students have found that they missed the opportunity to take their competency exams because they were ill informed, not realizing they had to take them in the first place.

“I found [obtaining] information about these competency exams a very difficult task. There is no information [around] the school that notifies students about these exams, unless you specifically ask your advisor if you decide to meet with him or her,” said Sal Vitale, a junior Marketing major. “Most students I know do not know about the exams until the spring semester of their sophomore year. Although it is achievable by planning ahead and being informed earlier, it is still pretty difficult.”

Seaman, however, said that information about the exams is readily available to students. “The exam schedule is on the website, and paper copies are available in the Library and Kumble Hall,” she said.

Adding a non-credit workshop to a full course workload may be difficult for students to balance. Alternatively, some students have found that it is difficult to pass an exam because they aren’t sure what they are being tested on. Although LIU Post offers study guides for each exam, many students do not know about them, or where to acquire them, and without these study guides it may be difficult to pass.

“When I had to take the library exam, I felt that it was very hard to ask questions regarding where the test was and what time the test was. I felt like I had no guidance [with] this test,” Vitale said.

In order to prevent the confusion as to whether or not it is too late to take any of the competency exams, it is important for students to keep track of the amount of credits they have reached per semester, as well as if they have already fulfilled the requirements for the competency exams or not.

All competency exams are offered in both the fall and spring semesters. If students are struggling to pass one of the exams, they must be sure to acquire a study guide from LIU Post website, or the library, in order to prepare.

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