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Competency Exams, Who Are They Really Helping?

Alex Parker

Every C.W. Post student must pass a computer, library, and oral competency exam before they are eligible to graduate. The purpose of the exams is to test what the University feels are “essential literacys”, according to Nicholas Ramer, Associate Dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences. All three exams are supposed to be completed before junior year. If a student does not pass these exams he/she must adequately complete a workshop in which he/she gains no credit. The other option is take an introductory course in which it is possible to receive credit. Transfer students with more than 60 credits are exempt from the exams.

These competency exams have been part of C.W. Post’s core curriculum for over 20 years and are updated every few years. The Computer Department writes the computer competency exam. On the exam you will find questions about basic hardware, the Internet, operating system software, and basic productivity.  The library faculty comes up with the library literacy exam. This exam deals with understanding different sources of information, the best ways to conduct research, and how to use the school’s library to your best advantage. If you are a Theatre, Media Arts, or Education major, the oral competency requirement is fulfilled within your program.

Maria Wahl, a Junior Early Childhood Education major, passed the library exam, but failed the computer exam and is now taking a computer workshop. Wahl said that she is very frustrated with the workshop and is not finding any of the information useful to earning her degree.

“I feel like this test is overwhelming; it’s five weeks of extensive work on top of my 19 credits. It has no basis for my education, nor my future.”

Transfer student, Brian Arons is an environmental science major who is less than enthusiastic about taking these exams.

“I’ve heard that the library exam was pretty easy but that the questions on the computer test are really hard. I’m nervous about failing it because I don’t have room in my schedule for a labor-intensive workshop right now,” said Arons.

The school does in fact provide study guides for both exams. The study guide for the library exam can be found on the C.W. Post website under the library section.  The study guide for the computer competency exam is available in either Hillwood Commons or Kumble Hall, along with dates and times that the exams are held.

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