Proficiency Exam Q & A

Questions and Answers

Proficiency Exam


All matriculated students are required to take the Proficiency Exam during their first semester at SVA. The PE is an exam that tests reading comprehension and writing ability. Passing the PE is both a BFA degree requirement and a prerequisite for taking upper level Humanities and Sciences courses. For more information on the PE, see reverse page.

What is the Proficiency Exam (PE)?


The PE is a BFA degree requirement that tests reading comprehension and writing ability and may be used to place students in writing courses. All matriculated SVA students are required to take the PE during their first semester at SVA.


What if a student doesnt pass?


Failing the exam has no effect on a student’s GPA or transcript. However, students who do not pass the PE by their second semester cannot continue to take upper level Humanities and Sciences courses until they pass the exam. First-year students who do not pass the PE in their first semester may be required to take HCD 0161 and/or HCD 0162, Fundamentals of Writing. • Exception 1: Students who receive a grade of B- or better in HCD 1020, Writing and Literature I, and who have not passed the PE will be allowed to take HCD 1025, Writing and Literature II. • Exception 2: Students who are taking HCI 1020, Writing and Literature I for International Students, will be given two semesters to pass the PE.


What is the format of the exam?


Students are asked to read an article and to respond with a 500-word argument and persuasion essay, demonstrating an understanding of the topic, good sentence and paragraph logic, correct grammar and spelling, as well as correct use of citations.


When is it given?


The PE is given during the first semester in Writing and Literature I classes. It is also given approximately six times a year. The exam may be taken as many times as necessary until the student successfully passes.


How often is the exam given outside of 1st year English classes?


The Proficiency Examination is given approximately six times a year.


Where can I find specific information about this year's exam?


To see a sample test and view this year’s test dates, visit www.writingresourcecenter.com All questions should be directed to the student’s Academic Advisor or Neil Friedland, Coordinator of Writing Services, at the Writing Resource Center nfriedland@sva.edu.