Core Competency Exams - NIU - Testing Services

Student Testing and Exams

Core Competency Exams

In order to graduate from NIU with a bachelor's degree, all students are required to satisfy core competency requirements in oral communication, English, and mathematics. These requirements may be met by enrolling and successfully completing these courses at NIU, by transfer credit, by Advanced Placement (AP) credit, by CLEP Subject Exam credit or by passing NIU core competency exams. For more information about NIU's core competency exams including registration requirements, review our New Student Testing brochure.

Core competency exams are optional. A passing grade on a core competency exam reduces the required number of general education hours but does not reduce the number of hours required for a degree.

Oral Communication Foundational Studies Competency Exam

A passing score on the Oral Communication Foundational Studies Competency exam fulfills the requirement for COMS 100. The exam may be taken only once, and a student is advised to take this exam at least one year before graduating from NIU. Students interested in registering for this exam should read the requirements in the New Student Testing brochure and then contact the Department of Communication early in their first semester at NIU.

Writing Composition Foundational Studies Competency (WCFSC) Examination

Students whose ACT composite scores or ACT English score is 22 or above; students whose SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing Exam scores is 550 or above; or students who have excelled in writing in high school are encouraged to register for the WCFSC exam. A score on the Writing Composition Foundational Studies Competency Exam I results in one of three scenarios:

  • placement into ENGL 103
  • placement into ENGL 204 (a one-semester advanced composition course that satisfies the English core competency requirement)
  • an invitation to take WCFSC II (a second reading/writing examination to determine whether students meet the entire Writing Composition Foundational Studies competency requirement)

For more information, read the New Student Testing brochure and contact Testing Services before enrolling in first-year composition courses at NIU.

Mathematics Core Competency

Students may satisfy core competency in mathematics in several ways including a grade of C or better in one of several math courses. For specific course information read the New Student Testing brochure. Register for the mathematics core competency exam online.

Related Links

  • Test Registration (for New students, CHANCE Testing, Accountancy Qualifying Exam (AQE), College of Business Exemption Exam, Grammar Exemption Exam, Miller Analogies Test (MAT), Math Core Competency Exam, NIU Proficiency Exam, Reading Accuplacer, Kishwaukee Math Proctored/Correspondence Exam, Graduate Foreign Language Reading Translation Exam (GFLRTE)
  • New Student Testing brochure (PDF)
  • Credit by Examination
  • Placement Exams