Senior Exit Exam (CCTST)

The State of Tennessee requires students attending state-supported universities to take a Senior Exit Exam as a graduation requirement. ETSU administers the California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST) to meet this requirement. Students can take the exam anytime following the completion of 96 credits. Please be advised that failure to meet this graduation requirement will result in having the student's diploma held until this condition is met.

Students take the exam at Testing Service in the Center for Academic Achievement located on the first floor of Sherrod Library. For hours or directions, please follow the "Testing" link at

Please note that the Senior Exit Exam is different from the Major Field Test. All seniors must take the Senior Exit Exam; 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 Senior Exit Exam and the Major Field Test.

The CCTST takes approximately one hour to complete. Bring your ETSU Student ID card to verify your identity and E-number. Scratch paper and a calculator are available during the exam upon request.

Call Assessment and Teaching at (423) 439-7484 if:

  • you have questions;
  • you have already earned a baccalaureate degree in the state of Tennessee;
  • English isn't your primary language;you have a documented disability and need accommodation;
  • OR you're completing your degree online or at an off-campus site and want to take the CCTST at a testing center near you. (A fee, to be paid by the student, is required for off-campus proctoring.)

Why You Should Do Your Best on the CCTST

  1. Your college degree is worth as much as the university that grants it. By doing your best on the exam, you help raise ETSU's institutional score. The better ETSU looks, the better you look.
  2. ETSU analyzes exit exam results to find ways to improve our programs and services.
  3. Employers and graduate programs value the ability to think clearly, solve problems and evaluate arguments. You can use your CCTST score to show prospective employers and graduate schools you have these abilities. Because you'll take the CCTST online, you'll receive your score as soon as you finish, along with standards showing how well you did (upon request).

About the Test

The California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST) measures critical thinking in five areas:

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

The CCTST Total Score is the most valid measure of overall strength in critical thinking (purposeful reflective judgment). To score well overall, the test-taker must excel in the sustained, focused and integrated application of analysis, interpretation, inference, evaluation, explanation, deductive reasoning and inductive reasoning. This score predicts the capacity for success in educational or workplace contexts demanding reasoned decision making and problem solving.

The 2012 national mean for the CCTST was 16.71 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 to Prepare for the Test

The makers of the CCTST offer the following advice on how students can get ready to take a critical thinking test:

"A critical thinking skills test engages you with questions that require you to apply your skills. Typically a critical thinking test will present some information or a scenario of some kind and then ask questions about it, but the questions will invite you to analyze or interpret the information presented, or to draw a reasonable conclusion based on that information. A critical thinking dispositions measure typically invites the person to agree or disagree with a series of statements."

Sample questions are available at

Information for Distance and Online Students

Sometimes students who are in online programs or who are finishing their degrees mainly online may have difficulty traveling to campus in order to take the CCTST at ETSU. Note that the CCTST will be administered as a computer-based test. All costs associated with the administration of the test at a testing center other than ETSU's must be borne by the student.

Please follow the procedure below for arranging to take the CCTST at sites other than the main campus in Johnson City, Tennessee.

  • Locate an institution to administer the CCTST. A list of cooperating institutions can be found at
  • Once you have located a testing center to proctor the CCTST, complete the Request to Proctor Exam Form. The form will be submitted to an ETSU Testing Tech, who you can contact at for confirmation.
  • After confirming your information, the Testing Tech will send an email to your chosen testing center asking them to fill out an online form that confirms their participation. The Institution/Instructor Request Form is what your testing center will submit; they can also contact for confirmation.