FAQ on Regents Tests

Monday, June 10, 2013 - 04:00 AM

The Regents tests administered by the New York State Education Department begin on June 11. The full schedule is here. SchoolBook interviewed Kim Nauer, the education project director at the Center for New York City Affairs and contributor to Inside Schools, on what parents need to know about the tests that determine if a student may graduate from high school.

Why does the state give the Regents tests? What is the goal?

We actually have one of the oldest exams systems in the country. It was always meant to be an exit exam so that we know that students have a certain amount of knowledge before leaving high school. And it's still that. In fact that role has become more important because with the focus on standardized testing the Regents are essentially the standardized tests for high school. They are a series of tests that gives the state confidence that we’re actually graduating students with a minimum level of knowledge to succeed in the world.

What are the minimum and maximum numbers of Regents a student can take?

In New York State there are five Regents exams you are required to take. You must score a 65 or over to pass. The exams include English, which kids typically take in their junior year, one mathematics exam, two social studies exams -- Global History/Geography and U.S. History and Government -- and then one science exam. Usually, kids take Earth Science or Living Environment. That’s typically what kids do in New York City and they graduate with what’s called a Regents Diploma. They can’t graduate without it. There are exceptions or accommodations for some special education students.

Is the Regents diploma the highest diploma a student can receive?

No. There is a more prestigious diploma. The Advanced Regents Diploma goes to students who got a 65 or higher on all the ones we talked about plus they did two more Regents in mathematics and one more exam in science and one in a foreign language Regents of their choosing. A lot of us in the field feel like the Advanced Regents is the one that truly means something in terms of college preparation. It’s a good thing to see many high school students graduating with Advanced Regents. It means their schools use college preparatory curriculum, the courses are there and the kids are passing them.

Can we see what a Regents exam looks like?

Yes. The nice thing about the Regents exams, as a parent and student, is you have a nice wealth of material you can work from in terms of preparing for it. The tests are a mix of multiple choice and essay questions.

Which is the hardest test?

The one people fail most often is Global History because, I think, it’s just a lot to memorize. In terms of those higher tests which college-bound kids take, they get harder and harder. Each step is somewhat more rigorous.

What if you fail a Regents?

It’s not a big deal. You’re allowed to keep taking them. This is something many many kids in New York City public schools deal with and is part of my expertise. I watch these kids’ test-taking patterns. So you can take it again and take it again until you get a score that you like. The two things that we’re emphasizing is, yes, you have to keep taking it until you reach 65. And the other important thing we're saying to all students is that 65 is not good enough anymore. You really want to get a 75 on your ELA and an 80 on your math Regents exams because that will exempt you from having to take remedial courses at CUNY.

If a middle school student takes a Regents test will they have to re-take it in high school?

No. If you complete Algebra, for example, there is a series of other mathematics Regents exams a student can take in high school.

How big a problem is cheating on the Regents?

I don't know exactly what the state and city have been doing lately. I know there is computer technology to spot cheating (erasure marks and suspicious patterns), so it is within the state's power to spot and reduce problems of teachers and administrators doctoring the tests. The state has also started to require that teachers do not mark their own students' tests, as they have in the past. And principals have told me that there are much stricter record-keeping, handling and delivery requirements, so that it would be easy to figure out who doctored a test, if this was discovered.

As for student cheating, there are rules restricting cell phones and other things in the test room. Parents should talk to their principal about the rules and procedures ahead of time.

Is there a push to change which Regents exams are required?

The Regents exams have been fairly stable in recent years but that’s going to change big time. The Common Core learning standards are being introduced to high school as we speak. And then the first set of Common Core-aligned Regents exams are going to start next June. So this June the kids are all going to take normal exams but by next June they’re going to be taking Common Core-aligned English and Algebra I exams, followed by the others shortly thereafter. We haven’t seen any samples yet of the aligned exams but they are supposed to start releasing samples imminently.

Are you foreseeing an end to the Regents exams?

It’s the big question that everybody asks. People are really waiting to see what the PARCC (the 22-state consortium working on shared education standards and tests) develops but they’ve been putting a lot of work into these tests and so I suspect, if I had to bet my house, we’ll adopt the PARCC assessments unless there’s some really overwhelming reason not to. That said, when I look at some of the sample questions for the 10-grade English exam they are so far and away more rigorous than what we have today that it makes me wonder if it would be wise. That is sort of down the road but the big next story is what are the next high school assessments going to look like?


Comments [30]

Anastasia from New York

Is it possible to skip a regents course? Somebody on the bus said that a person that they knew skipped Living Environment.

Dec. 23 2014 05:18 PM
Karen from NYC

Juanita - you do not have to take the Geometry Regents again unless you want to earn an Advanced Regents Diploma. Algebra is the required Math exam to graduate with a Regents Diploma.

Laura - your daughter does need to make up the Global class. Students need to pass the NY State Regents and they need to obtain a specific number of credits in each subject area.

Mark - you can only attend high school until you are 21 years old. After 21 you can not graduate from high school and will need to get your GED.

Peg - your child should go to as much tutoring as possible - every day if possible. GED's are not easy to get either - it is a test that involves Math. If your child is having trouble with the Algebra Regents, she may also struggle with the GED test. Tutoring!!! The school probably provides it. Contact the school and see what they can do. If she earned a 62 or above and has good attendance you can also request that the school asks the superintendent for an exception. If the superintendent says yes, she can earn a local diploma.

Ari - some people have a harder time on tests than others. It does not make them stupid.

Jose - first thing you can do is request that your most recent regents exam is re-graded. You need to do this in writing to your principal (or your parent should do it). Then, if that regents is still not a passing score, you should re-take the exam (go to tutoring!!! The Global Exam is the most challenging to pass). If you still do not pass, you can request that you are able to graduate. There is a new exception that allows students who have taken the test at least three times and have earned between a 62 - 64. However, you need to have a 95% attendance rate.

March - Taking the US History Regents does not give you a pass from taking the actual course. You need to pass the exam and earn the credits in the class. It is better to take the class before the exam so you can earn a better grade on the exam.

Sher - only your highest score is seen on your transcript. You should take it again. Colleges would love to see a 75 or higher on that exam.

Kristine - see above for the exemption on the regents - if she has earned between a 62 and 64 she can appeal to get a local diploma. However, she should really go to tutoring - intense tutoring if she needs it. Colleges do look at their exam scores - even ones outside of NYC. Admissions always looks at the whole transcript.

Sep. 03 2014 06:37 AM
cathy from Clarence, New York

My niece failed commom core Algabra, however passed the NYS regents. She is finishing summer school and now they are telling her she must take the NYS regents again. NYS better get rid of Regents or many kids will be dropping out of school due to anxiety issues.

Aug. 11 2014 04:04 PM
Juanita Bernal from New York

Hi my name is Juanita and I was a sophomore this year and I took the Geometry regents and failed them, but last year I took algebra and passed them with a 80 do I need to retake the Geometry regents this year or can I just leave it like that?

Aug. 07 2014 06:05 PM
ahouva from brooklyn NY

hello my daughter just finished 10th grade and has failed the global history regent. she has a p3 provider from the board of education. i would like to know what is the failing mark for such a case with a p3

Jul. 14 2014 09:39 PM
laura from seaford ny

My daughter is a Jr in HS she had to take global 10
She failed the class BUT PASSED THE REGENT EXAM.
Would she have to take the class again?
Please help

Jun. 29 2014 11:29 AM
Mark from New York

Hi I'm currently 31 years old. In high school I passed all my classes and all my regents accept my math regents so I never got a diploma. Is there any way I can just take math regents so I can get a diploma? I don't wanna go and get a GED considering math regents test only thing I failed I passed the course. Thanks.

Jun. 28 2014 02:52 AM

Question: My daughter is a senior and has failed the algebra regents three times. She is scheduled to take it again in August. If she fails the exam again, does this mean she should give up and get a GED?

Jun. 25 2014 07:34 PM

If you are in 9th grade and you fail the regents global 1 exam what happens

Jun. 25 2014 06:24 PM
Ari from NY

I think you're stupid if you've failed a regents, I never gotten below an 85 on them they're fairly easy.

Jun. 25 2014 03:41 PM
anon from nyc

What a band of whiners! In order to graduate and get in to CUNY, I was required to take a full set of Regents exams, and English four years was given at the end of senior year. I was required to take a three year Spanish Regents, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics Regents; Algebra, Geometry, and Trig exams, plus Geography, World History, and US History Regents. We took nonRegents electives in math amd social studies senior year. Along the way we were also required to complete mandatory nonRegents gym, health, Latin, typing, art, and music classes.
I disliked a lot of it. My parents kicked my butt. I finished with a fabulous education. I grew a lot of new brain cells. I possessed, I earned, the most respected diploma in the entire United States.
What is being done today with special ed kids is unconscionable. But for the average kid blessed with a normal brain, get off your phone, save the snarky comments, quit yer bitchin', and get busy and learn!

Jun. 24 2014 09:34 PM
Anonymous from Ny

Well lets se here. Obviously we ALL HATE AND WANT TO REMOVE THE REGENTS EXAMS. no others states take them so why should we? Im a student and have failed. If kids keep failing then theres a problem with the teaching. So minus the tests and increase the teachers ability to learn and teach the kids. But that dosent mean add MORE TEST LIKE THE COMMON CORE TO TESTS TO THE TEACHER; no!... thats stupid. All the ppl deciding on wheter to give or not to give these tests should step in our shoes (teens) and go through the over weelming of stress that we have to cram in all this junk to just pass these test. Ik many ppl in who have grown up and didnt have to take regent and didnt have to graduate with the Fancy diploma!... And they are doing perfectly fine in life. Some ppl have issues like not testing well and anxiety issues and ect. including me. It should be if u pass the class then obiously then yr smart enought to graduate. Regents shouldnt exsit

Jun. 24 2014 04:22 PM
Curlylockes from Ronkonkoma, NY

This is ridiculous! Many NY independent and private school students do not have to go through the hoops of taking regents exams, but instead take a combination of their school's final exams and the SAT's /ACT's. My children were homeschooled on and off over the years, and my two oldest were never officially given a diploma by their NY State high school on Long Island. HOWEVER, both were accepted to multiple colleges based on their transcripts, SAT's, and admissions application! BOTH graduated from out of state colleges! Don't let these regents hold you back... CHECK WITH THE ADMISSIONS OFFICE OF THE COLLEGE where you intent to apply. And don't give up!

Jun. 22 2014 09:14 PM
Christina from New York

No no it's okay these fuckin tests are just holding adults back from starting their lives. They're only making high school students even more fuckin depressed and suicidal. It's only putting even more pressure on teachers who aren't teaching us, just preparing us for these shitty ass tests that ONLY MATTER HERE. These tests aren't preparing us for shit, no one besides the NYS schools even look at these shitty tests. Seriously, these are pointless, and I have an "advanced regents diploma" as if it matters at all. These tests should be tossed out, they are the most useless sons of bitches ever. Fuck New York State education department, you're all a bunch of fuckin retards who don't know shit about life in a class room. Maybe that's why everyone leaves this shit hole of a state. BULL. SHIT.

Jun. 22 2014 04:37 AM
Alexis from Queens

I was suppose to graduate in 2012 failed the gh regents so much times I lost count. I passed all my classes have all my credits I'm now 20 years old & I can't go to college because of one stupid regents. It's holding me back from starting my life I just want to move on I'm so frustrated & completely over this test can you please help me

Jun. 17 2014 09:16 PM
kia from new york

I'm very confused I'm in high school, I go to an independent school and I did not take regents exams . My exams were administered by my teachers and made by my teachers and got my results within a short period of time . My finals (that's what they were called ) were there for me to see on my last day of school on June 9th. I never took anything called a regents exam. Can someone clarify for me ?

Jun. 16 2014 12:23 AM
Mich from NYC

I took Earth Science regents, but didnt finish, so I only got an 88 which sucks to me. I couldnt go to a retake in August, I was away. Can I take it again at all?

May. 09 2014 08:19 AM
Melinda Gay from Willsboro, NY

For those of you struggling with NYS graduation standards, please join my campaign to make a change!! I am the parent of a child with a disability, and there needs to be change! We need to raise awareness. I have 100% support from Senator Little and permission to say so. You can find the cause and information at

Mar. 24 2014 02:44 PM
olivia from queens ny

Im now a senior for the second time my mom has done everything but these tests are really getting the best of some of the nyc students I mean I go to a yabc Program because Im just too embarrassed to go back to my old school and Ive seen kids who's about to be 21 and just need one more regents even there grades close and can't graduate It's just not fair for these kids and myself..please look into this

Feb. 09 2014 11:07 PM
Jose Oliveras from Bronx, NY

I got a 63 last year and recently a 64 my Global History Regent. Is there anything i can do, a regrading or something?
Jose from NYC

Feb. 04 2014 11:14 AM
Gabriella from Queens,NY

I am a B+ student and I have not passed the algebra regents and i am a senior in high school, if I took the test four years already with no progress don't you think the teachers aren't helping at all. I don't think it's fair that NY has to take these regents, if I don't pass I will never graduate which is degrading actually, these regents should be taken away. The high school graduating rate is already low enough, regents are not helping at all. The New York school system of education has no idea what it is like, they believe it will help us in the future for college yet colleges don't even look at regents. It ridiculous, it is completely not fair for the students.

Feb. 03 2014 01:09 AM
March from NYC

Is it possible to take a regents exam without taking the class? I am a freshman at a high school in NYC, and I was wondering about that because I feel that I can take the US history regents and pass with high grades without taking the test. Also if I take the exam, then I have enough periods to take a class I wish to take during my junior year.


A concerned student

Jan. 31 2014 04:08 PM

So i took the algebra regents last year and got a decent score of 73 ish, if i take it again this year and fail it or get a lower score, will they take the score that is higher ?

Jan. 26 2014 11:08 PM

my son who is currently a senior wants to take physics and chemistry regents but his pvt school does not offer regents. how can he register for the two jan2014 regents. do not want to go thru the school district he belongs to

Dec. 16 2013 09:00 PM
Kristine from Queens

Please i am looking for some advice, My daughter is a junior in high school here in ny city. So fr she has passed all of her required regents except for the math. She has taken it 3x already and failed. Since grammar school she has always been poor in math and every city test that they give she scores very low. What can be done? If it was not for math she is a straight B student? Its not fair the her graduation is in limbo for the math regents!!
Colleges out of Ny dont even really look at the regents...
I am so upset and frustrated, any help would be appreciated!

Sep. 18 2013 09:44 AM
Bob from New york

If i fail the regents and pass the class do i stay in the same class? Or advance to the next course

Aug. 29 2013 08:39 PM
April from Lindley, New York

I took my US history exam and scored a 84, is that passing or no because my school's making me retake the class over. I'm suppose to be a high school graduate.

Aug. 25 2013 10:19 PM
Woafa said from Schenectady, ny

I go to Schenectady high school and I failed the gh tests twice. I am really upset!!!!!!😢😢😢😢 I really love school!!! I want to go to college. It's upsetting on how you fail a regents exam more than one time. I'm going to 11 grade this year. My question is can I do vo tech this year even though I failed the regents!!! This sometimes makes me depressed because I am a straight a and b student!!!! Please just email back and give some advices!!!!!! Thank u

Aug. 20 2013 04:21 PM

my son got a 64 on his chem regents at south side middle school , rockville centre, LI.

he has a consistant 90+ in the course for the year,
the problem is , he doesn't test well, he has anxiety issues.
the school is telling us that he needs to repeat the class and take the test this coming year??

they would not give him the 1 point?

pls advise, what the law?


Aug. 12 2013 08:33 PM
Dee Washington from Portchester NY

What to do if my son took the global 6 times and fail, we did everything to get him prepared. Tutoring .......,he wasn't allowed to walk, and now if he don't pass in August 2013 he will be not be able to start college. Please anyone give me some advice on what to do, it just not fair. We went to the school, and the superintendent of the school and nobody can help.

Jul. 10 2013 01:24 PM

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