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New York State Regents Exams: What Are They? When Do You Take Them?

Posted by Laura Staffaroni | Dec 16, 2019 6:00:00 PM

General Education

 

feature_nysedregents

If you're in middle school or high school in New York State, chances are that you've heard of the NYSED Regents exams. In fact, all NY public high school students have to take (and pass) a certain number of these exams to graduate from high school.

In this article, we'll discuss exactly what the Regents are and which Regents you'll need to take. We'll also give you tips on how to prep for the NYSED Regents as well as the Regents testing schedule for 2019-2020.

feature image credit: Nicolas Raymond/Used under CC BY 2.0

 

What Are the NYSED Regents Exams?

The New York State Education Department (NYSED) Regents exams are subject-based tests generally taken at the end of the school year in June (although there are also August and January test dates for makeups/mid-year exams). By subject-based, we mean that you aren't just tested on broad categories like "Math" or "Science"—instead, you'll take Regents in specific subjects, like Algebra 1, Chemistry, US History & Government, and so on.

Currently, there are ten Regents exams that most students will encounter:

  • English Language Arts
  • Algebra 1
  • Algebra 2
  • Geometry
  • Global History & Geography
  • US History & Government
  • Earth Science
  • Living Environment (Bio)
  • Chemistry
  • Physics

Each Regents exam is administered over the course of three hours in a single day (rest in 2011, six-hours-over-two-days English Regents exam; you will not be missed).

Depending on the subject, Regents exams will include multiple-choice questions and short-answer questions or essay responses (including document-based questions). Based on your performance, you'll receive a scaled score from 1-100 on each test.

The four Science Regents exams (Earth Science, Living Environment, Chemistry, and Physics) also include separately-scheduled lab practicals; you can read more about these in our articles about the Earth Science, Living Environment, and Chemistry Regents.

Because there are multiple subject-based tests that you'll have to take, the Regents aren't exactly considered a high school exit examination, which tend to be more Math/English Language Arts-focused.

However, you will still have to take at least five Regents exams (and in many cases, eight tests) across grades 9-12 to get your NY high school diploma—if you're in public school, that is. If you go to private school, you're in luck—the Regents are only mandatory for students attending public school in New York.

Now that you have a better idea of what the Regents are, we'll move on to discussing how many Regents exams you have to take.

 

body_howmanyexamsPaul Townsend/Flickr

 

How Many Regents Do You Need to Take?

The requirements for which and how many NYS Regents exams you need to graduate (and how well you need to do on the exams) depend on what kind of diploma you'll be graduating with.

There are three main categories of Regents diploma: regular Regents diplomas, Regents with Advanced Designation diplomas, and diplomas for students with special circumstances (e.g., English language learners, students with IEPs).

Here's a brief summary of the differences between the three categories and how many Regents you need to pass to graduate with each diploma type:

Diploma Type # of Regents to Pass (Minimum)
Passing Score
Regents 5; 1 math, 1 science, 1 social studies, ELA, and additional math/science/social studies/English assessment (or alternate assessment) 65 and above
Regents with Advanced Designation 8; ELA, 3 Math, Living Environment, 1 additional science, 2 social studies (or alternate assessment) 65 and above
Local (students with special circumstances) 5; 1 math, 1 science, 1 social studies, ELA, additional math/science/social studies/English assessment (or alternate assessment) 55 and above

Source: NYSED.gov. For the final word on what requirements you need to meet, refer to the official NYSED Regents guidelines here.

 

The majority of NY public school students will graduate with either a regular Regents diploma or a Regents with Advanced Designation diploma. We'll go through the testing requirements for those two categories in greater detail next.

 

Regents Diploma Requirements

Unless you have an IEP or are an English language learner, you need to meet the Regents diploma requirements to graduate high school.

You'll need to pass at least four Regents exams (get a 65 or higher) to get this Regents diploma:

  • One math Regents (Algebra 1, Algebra 2, or Geometry)
  • One science Regents (Earth Science, Living Environment, Chemistry, or Physics)
  • One social studies Regents (Global History or US History)
  • the English Language Arts Regents

In addition to these four tests, you must choose one of the following six Pathway options:


Unless you choose one of the alternate Pathway options, this means that you'll need to take five Regents exams (and get a 65 or above on each) to graduate.

If you just miss the cutoff on one of your tests (scoring a 60-64), you can appeal to your district to still allow you to graduate; if you score lower than that, or if you score below 65 on multiple tests, however, you'll need to either re-take the test(s) and pass or take another Regents and pass.

If you're looking to challenge yourself, you can aim for a Regents with Honors diploma; the only difference is that instead of only needing a 65 or above, you need to have an average of 90 or above across all your Regents (whether you take four or five).

There isn't really a material advantage to your college applications to getting a Regents with Honors diploma (except possibly if you're applying to SUNY or CUNY colleges), but if your teachers count your Regents exam grade as part of your course grade, it's to your benefit to do well on the Regents you take. (If I recall correctly, I believe that for some of my high school classes, our Regents grades were counted as two test scores when calculating our grades in the final quarter of the year.)

 

Regents With Advanced Designation Requirements

The requirements for the Regents with Advanced Designation diploma include everything you need to do for the Regents Diploma plus passing two to three additional Regents exams, for a total of seven or eight Regents exams.

As with getting a Regents with Honors diploma, unless you're applying to a SUNY or CUNY college which uses your Regents diploma level as a placement or admissions criteria, there's no real benefit in specifically aiming for a Regents with Advanced Designation diploma.

However, if you're taking a rigorous high school course load (honors classes, APs/IBs), you will likely end up qualifying for the Regents with Advanced Designation diploma as a byproduct of your schedule if your school requires Regents to be taken at the end of the year for a particular course.

For example, as an eighth-grader I took Regents Earth Science, which was the honors science class for that grade (vs. regular Earth Science), and so had to take the Regents at the end of the year (because that's what my school required). For other classes, the Regents exams were not only required at the end of the year, but were part of our grades for the final quarter of the year, so it behooved us to try to do well on them.

The "traditional" Regents with Advanced Designation path requires you to pass eight Regents exams:

  • Three math (Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and Geometry)
  • Living Environment and two other science (Earth Science, Chemistry, or Physics)
  • Global History & Geography and US History & Government
  • English Language Arts

Alternatively, you can swap out one of the social studies Regents for a third science Regents, for a fourth math assessment, or for one of the Pathway options listed in the regular Regents diploma section above.

In addition to getting a Regents with Advanced Designation diploma, you can potentially get additional laudations through the following three ways:

  • Mastery in Math: meet all Advanced Designation requirements and score an 85 or above on each Regents math test.
  • Mastery in Science: meet all Advanced Designation requirements and score an 85 or above on each of three Regents science tests taken.
  • Honors: meet all Advanced Designation requirements and score an average of 90 or above across all Regents exams taken.

 

body_regentsschedule2020Marco Verch/Flickr

 

Regents Schedule, 2020

Below, we've created tables with the Regents schedule for January 2020, June 2020, and August 2020. We'll update it if test times and dates change.

Two important notes before jumping to the Regents schedule:

#1: A couple of exams are being transitioned over to new versions, so you'll see separate dates for old (Core Curriculum) and new (Framework) versions of these tests; ask your teachers if you're not sure which version of the test you're taking.

#2: All Regents exams have admission deadlines, aka the latest time you can show up to take the test and still be allowed in. These deadlines are 45 minutes after the time the test administration starts.

For example, let's say you sleep in past your alarm for your 9:15am English Language Arts exam (not that I know anyone who did this). As long as you show up and are admitted to the testing room by 10am, you can still take the test (although you'll still only have until 12:15pm to finish).

 

January 2020

  Morning (9:15 am) Afternoon (1:15 pm)
Tuesday, January 21 English Language Arts Living Environment
Wednesday, January 22 U.S. History & Government
Geometry
Algebra I
Physical Setting/Physics
Thursday, January 23 Transition Exam in Global History & Geography
Global History & Geography II (Framework)
Algebra II
Friday, January 24 Physical Setting/Earth Science
Physical Setting/Chemistry
 

Source: NYSED.gov

Admission deadline: 10 am for morning tests; 2 pm for afternoon tests. If you arrive at the classroom/wherever your test is being held after this time, you will not be permitted to enter and take the test.

 

June 2020

  Morning (9:15 am)
Tuesday, June 2 U.S. History & Government (Framework)

 

Week 1 Morning (9:15 am) Afternoon (1:15pm)
Wednesday, June 17 English Language Arts Living Environment
Thursday, June 18 U.S. History & Government (Core Curriculum) Algebra I
Friday, June 19 Global History & Geography II (Framework) Physical Setting/Earth Science

 

Week 2 Morning (9:15 am) Afternoon (1:15pm)
Monday, June 22 Transition Exam in Global History & Geography  
Tuesday, June 23 Algebra II  
Wednesday, June 24 Geometry Physical Setting/Physics
Thursday, June 25 Physical Setting/Chemistry  

Sources: NYSED.gov

Admission deadline: 10 am for morning tests; 2 pm for afternoon tests. If you arrive at the classroom/wherever your test is being held after this time, you will not be permitted to enter and take the test.

 

August 2020

  Morning (8:30 am) Afternoon (12:30 pm)
Thursday, August 13 Algebra I
English Language Arts
Physical Setting/Chemistry
Global History & Geography II
Algebra II
Friday, August 14 U.S. History & Government (Core Curriculum)
U.S. History & Government (Framework)
Physical Setting/Earth Science
Geometry
Living Environment

Source: NYSED.gov

Admission deadline: 9:15 am for morning tests; 12:30 pm for afternoon tests. If you arrive at the classroom/wherever your test is being held after this time, you will not be permitted to enter and take the test.

 

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Regents Prep Tips

On our blog, we've written several other articles that include specific tips for different Regents tests, including:

However, we also have a few general Regents prep tips that are applicable to studying for any Regents exam.

 

#1: Spread Out Your Studying

Because Regents exams cover a whole year's material (or in the case of Global History, two years'), cramming doesn't work super well, particularly if you're taking multiple Regents exams (plus an AP or two, plus a stray SAT Subject Test).

Start reviewing your material at least two weeks before the test. You don't have to study for hours every night, but giving yourself enough lead time before the test means you'll have more flexibility in the amount of time you spend on each unit. For instance, you might find that you only need to spend a day reviewing US History up through the Civil War, but need to spend a week on Reconstruction.

Spreading out your studying also means you'll be sleeping in between studying, which will help cement your memory of all that information you're reading and quizzing yourself on. Speaking of which...

 

#2: Get Sleep the Night Before the Regents

Remember that fun, not-at-all-something-that-happened thing I mentioned in the scheduling section about sleeping through the Regents? Yeah. While I didn't do this, I know people who did, and rushing to get to school before the deadline and then rushing through the test is not super conducive to scoring well.

Even if you're someone who wakes up at the same time every day without an alarm, though, getting a good night's rest leading up to a test will magnify the results of your studying. Personally, I've found that getting a good night's sleep two days before the test is also critical, but you may find your body works differently.

 

#3: Match SAT Subject Tests to Your Regents

As a NY public school student, Regents are an inescapable fact of life, but you can use them to your advantage.

If you're thinking about applying to any schools that require or recommend SAT Subject Tests, it's really helpful to take them at the same time you're taking a Regents on the same subject. This can help you get your SAT Subject Tests out of the way early on in high school, leaving you more time to focus on the regular SAT/ACT and college apps in junior and senior year.

Plus, the overlap in material between the Regents and other tests means that you often need to just study once, thoroughly (rather than having to study multiple times for each test). For example, I took both the Living Environment Regents and SAT Bio at the end of 9th grade honors biology (and did really well on both—thanks, Ms. Pear!).

The only thing to be cautious of is overloading yourself, particularly if you have final exams in addition to the Regents in a particular subject. Speaking as someone who took the US History Regents, US History AP, and US History SAT Subject Test all within a month of each other at the end of junior year, burnout can be a very real thing.

 

body_dontburnoutDon't overload yourself with tests to the point of burning out.

 

What's Next?

Are you taking the APs as well as the NYSED Regents? What about SAT Subject Tests? Make sure your schedule doesn't get snarled by comparing Regents test dates with upcoming AP and SAT Subject Test dates.

NYSED might not care if you get an A or a C as long as you pass the New York State Regents, but colleges certainly do. Learn what a good GPA is for college and how to convert your GPA to a 4.0 here.

Thinking about what to do this summer after the NYSED Regents? Read through our guides on what high school students should do over the summer (besides summer assignments), including pre-college summer programs, SAT/ACT boot camp, or getting a job.

 

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Laura Staffaroni
About the Author

Laura graduated magna cum laude from Wellesley College with a BA in Music and Psychology, and earned a Master's degree in Composition from the Longy School of Music of Bard College. She scored 99 percentile scores on the SAT and GRE and loves advising students on how to excel in high school.



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