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Institutional Effectiveness & Assessment

Office of Planning and Decision Support

Faculty/Advisor Guide

Completion of the CCTST is a graduation requirement. A graduation hold is placed on a student’s account until they take the CCTST or receive an approved exemption. The Office of Assessment receives a list of names of students that took the CCTST from the testing company and releases the holds. This may take several days from the time a student completes the test.

Some students qualify for an exemption from the CCTST:

  • Students who have already taken the CCTST;
  • Second degree candidates;
  • Students registered with Disability Services as having a documented disability that the test and/or testing center is not designed to accommodate; and
  • Non-native English speakers.

Most students take the CCTST in the Center for Academic Achievement – Testing Services, located on the first floor of Sherrod Library.  Online and distance students may take the CCTST at an approved offsite location, subject to a small fee.  See for more information.  However, beginning fall 2020, students will complete the CCTST remotely, rather than in a testing center. Our office is currently in the process of implementing the remote version, which should be available within the first few weeks of the fall semester. More information will be provided to students as it becomes available. Thank you for your patience.

Please contact the Office of Assessment at or (423) 439-6712 for additional information or questions.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the CCTST?

The California Critical Thinking Skills Test, or CCTST, is ETSU’s primary general education assessment.  The CCTST is a 45 minute, 34-item, multiple-choice test that evaluates students’ ability to analyze, infer, explain, evaluate, and interpret information. 

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 to meet this requirement.

Students can complete the CCTST after completing at least 96 credits.  Failure to take the exam will result in having a student’s diploma held until this condition is met.

Some students qualify for an exemption from the CCTST.  Students should contact the Office of Assessment at  or (423) 439-6712 if:

  • they have already taken the CCTST;
  • they are a second degree candidate;
  • they are registered with Disability Services; or
  • English is not their 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 a student is graduating from a program that requires a Major Field Test, he or she must complete both the CCTST and the Major Field Test.

What test information is available about the CCTST?

The CCTST allows students 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. Students 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 2015 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 the range of 8-12 are considered Weak; scores in the 13-18 range are Moderate scores, and scores from 19 to 24 are considered Strong.  Scores of 25 or higher are considered Superior.  

How can students prepare to take the CCTST?

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

You can access information and sample questions at:

What should students do if they have completed the test but a CCTST hold is still on their record? 

There is a time lag between when the Office of Assessment inputs names of those who have taken the CCTST 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.  Students with questions or concerns should contact the Office of Assessment at  or (423) 439-6712.

Why should students do their best on the CCTST?

Employers and graduate programs value the ability to think clearly, solve problems, and evaluate arguments.  The CCTST is a nationally recognized exam, and a student’s score provides objective evidence of his or her abilities. Students receive their CCTST score as soon as they finish the test, and can record this information along with standards showing how well they did. 

Students’ degrees mean more when they come from a respected university. By doing their best on the CCTST, students help raise ETSU’s institutional score.   The better ETSU looks, the better our students look.

ETSU benefits from students’ CCTST success.  The Tennessee Higher Education Commission awards funding based in part on CCTST institutional scores.  ETSU could be awarded over $600,000 from the state government based on our students’ performance on the CCTST.

CCTST results are used for a variety of purposes at ETSU.  For example, we may compare student performance on the CCTST to other data such as student age or gender, ACT or SAT scores, GPA, or even course or project grades in an effort to better understand and improve our programs and services.  Instructors can use students’ CCTST scores as a component of course grades, but must inform students if their results will be used for this purpose.

Can I get a copy of my students’ CCTST scores?

The Office of Assessment considers requests for CCTST scores on a case-by-case basis.  We encourage the use of CCTST data for programmatic improvement.  Use of CCTST data for publication is subject to IRB approval.  Instructors can use students’ CCTST scores as a component of course grades, but must inform students if their results will be used for this purpose.  To request information, please contact us at  or (423) 439-6712. 




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