CFAA - Office of Assessment

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Student FAQs

Faculty FAQs

Student FAQs

Questions about Major Field Tests

Questions about the California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST)

Questions about Major Field Tests

What is the purpose of the Major Field Test (MFT)?

A Major Field Test (MFT) evaluates students’ knowledge in their discipline of study. MFT results help the department and the university to evaluate the curriculum and make improvements where indicated. Programs typically participate in major field testing for Performance Funding once every 5 years.

Some programs require Major Field Tests for purposes other than Performance Funding; the Office of Assessment is not involved in non-Performance Funding MFTs. 

Am I required to take a Major Field Test?

MFTs for Performance Funding are required of students graduating in fall 2014 or spring 2015 in the following undergraduate majors:

  • Mass Communications
  • Chemistry
  • Social Work
  • Sociology
  • Public Health

Please be advised that failure to take the MFT will result in having your diploma held until this condition is met.

When do I take the Major Field Test? 

If you are required to take the MFT for Performance Funding, you will be contacted by your department with test dates and locations.  If your major appears above and you do not know when you are to take the test, contact your major department.  

Questions about the California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST)

Who has to take the CCTST?  

The state of Tennessee requires students attending state-supported colleges and universities to complete a general education assessment as a graduation requirement.  ETSU administers the CCTST, California Critical Thinking Skills Test, to meet this requirement.

If you have completed at least 96 credit hours of coursework, you can take the CCTST.  Please be advised that failure to take the exam will result in having your diploma held until this condition is met.

Some students qualify for an exemption from the CCTST.  Contact the Office of Assessment at  or (423) 439-4236 if:

  • You have already taken the CCTST;
  • You are a second degree candidate;
  • You are registered with Disability Services; or
  • English is not your primary language.  

Is the CCTST the same as the Major Field Test? 

No.  The CCTST is different from the Major Field Test.   With few exceptions, all  seniors must take the CCTST; only selected majors take the Major Field Test.  If you are graduating from a program that requires a Major Field Test, you must complete  both  the CCTST and  the Major Field Test .

Where do I take the CCTST?  

Most students take the CCTST in the Center for Academic Achievement – Testing Services, located on the first floor of Sherrod Library.  Contact Testing Services at  or (423) 439-6708 if you have questions about testing policies, procedures, or hours.  You must have your ETSU Student ID card to verify your identity and E-number.

Online and distance students may take the CCTST at an approved offsite location, subject to a small fee.  See for more information.

What test information is available about the CCTST?

The CCTST is designed to permit test-takers to demonstrate the critical thinking skills required to succeed in educational or workplace settings where solving problems and making decisions by forming reasoned judgments are important. The CCTST consists of 34 questions and is designed to be completed in 45-50 minutes. To do your best, you should plan to spend the full 45-50 minutes on the test.

The CCTST measures critical thinking in five areas:

  • Analysis and Interpretation
  • Inference
  • Evaluation and Explanation
  • Deductive Reasoning
  • Inductive Reasoning

The 2014 national mean for the CCTST was 17.1 for 4-year college and university level test takers.  CCTST Total scores in the range 0 to 7 do not manifest evidence of critical thinking. Scores in range 8-12 are ‘Weak,’ 13-18 are ‘Moderate’ scores, 19 to 24 are ‘Strong’ and 25 or higher are ‘Superior.’  

How can students prepare to take the CCTST?

The CCTST engages you with questions that require you to apply your critical thinking skills.  Test items might present information or a scenario and ask questions about it.  Test items might require you to analyze or interpret information presented, or to draw a reasonable conclusion based on information.  You may also be asked to agree or disagree with a series of statements.

You can access information and sample questions at:

What should I do if I have completed the test but a CCTST hold is still on my record? 

There is a time lag between when the Office of Assessment inputs names of those who have taken the test and when the Graduation Office removes CCTST holds.  The process can take up to two weeks from when a student takes the test, but it is always completed before the final deadline for graduation.  Should you have questions or concerns, please contact the Office of Assessment at  or (423) 439-4236.

Why should I do my best on the CCTST?

Employers and graduate programs value the ability to think clearly, solve problems, and evaluate arguments.  You’ll receive your CCTST score as soon as you finish the test, along with standards showing how well you did.  You can use this information to show prospective employers and graduate schools you have the abilities they desire.

Your college degree is worth as much as the university that grants it.  By doing your best on the CCTST, you help raise ETSU’s institutional score.   The better ETSU looks, the better you look.

ETSU benefits from your success.  The Tennessee Higher Education Commission awards funding based in part on CCTST institutional scores.  As much as $600,000 could be awarded to ETSU from the state government based on our students’ performance on the CCTST in 2014-15.

ETSU analyzes CCTST results to find ways to improve our programs and services.  

Faculty FAQs

Questions about SAIs

Questions about Program Reviews and Audits

Questions about Departmental Self-Studies

Questions about Program Reviews and Audits

What are program reviews and academic audits?

In order to evaluate and improve the quality of academic programs, all programs in the university participate in either program review, academic audit, or accreditation. Non-accredited undergraduate and graduate programs are evaluated on a 7-year calendar. Departments conduct a self-study, which is one tool that outside reviewers use to evaluate the programs. Site visits of one or two days allow them to gather additional information from stakeholders of the program. The reviewers report their findings through completing the appropriate checklist and writing a narrative including recommendations for improvement.

What is the difference between an academic audit and a program review?

Departments have the option to choose between a program review and an academic audit for evaluation of non-accredited programs. These reviews take place once in each 7-year cycle and involve peers from other academic institutions. Audits focus on the process of teaching and learning, not on disciplinary content. Therefore, auditors do not necessarily have knowledge of the discipline, but instead are trained in the academic audit process. Tennessee auditors are all from within the state. Program reviewers, on the other hand, have no required formal training, but are always professionals in the discipline. Both in-state and out-of-state reviewers are selected for program review. Program reviewers provide feedback from a disciplinary perspective, and therefore explore specifics of curricula, teaching, and resources, with an eye toward disciplinary needs. Both academic audit and program review require that departments write a self-study, but only the audit expects that self-study to include departmental plans for future improvements. Site visits are required for both program review and audit, during which the auditors/reviewers meet with individuals involved in the program and the institution to further gather information on program strengths and weaknesses.

What do reviewers and auditors look at?

Program review and academic audit checklists provide the outline for peer reviewers’ evaluation of programs.

Questions about Departmental Self-Studies

How do we write our departmental self-study?

The Program Review Handbook and the Academic Audit Handbook provide detailed instructions on writing the self-study. Please contact the Office of Assessment if you have any questions.

How do I contact the Office of Assessment?

You can call us at 423.439.7484 or email  .

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