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Institutional Effectiveness & Assessment

Office of Planning and Decision Support

Student 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. 

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. 

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.

What test information is available about the CCTST?

The CCTST allows you 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 2016 national mean for the CCTST was 17.1 for 4-year college and university level test takers.  CCTST total score 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 I 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; require you to analyze or interpret information presented; or 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 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.  Should you have questions or concerns, please contact the Office of Assessment at  or (423) 439-6712.

Why should I do my 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 your score provides objective evidence of your abilities. 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 degree means more when it comes from a respected university. 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.  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 your performance on the CCTST to other data such as your 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.  Some instructors even use students’ CCTST scores as a component of course grades; your instructor should inform you if your results will be used for this purpose.



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