Photo from Seminary and Institutes of Religion
“Tests? In Seminary? Tests in Seminary?” As a seminary teacher, that’s what went through my mind when I heard the announcement of the new Seminary graduation requirements. And if you have a student in Seminary and didn’t think about it before, you might be thinking that now. Along with a few other questions, like, “What does it all mean? How can you help your student graduate from Seminary? Is there a study guide for the test? What happens if they don’t pass it? How can I help my student be ready? What exactly does my student have to do to graduate?”
Let’s see if we can tackle a few of these questions.
In the past there were two requirements to graduate from Seminary: show up and don’t mess up. Okay, it was a bit more complicated than that. Here is the official wording:
- Attend 75% of classes each term (and in Released-time Programs, no unexcused absences)
- Receive a priesthood leadership endorsement from your bishop or branch president
Those two requirements are still continuing. Attendance at Seminary and living the Church standards are still critical elements for Seminary.
Now for the new stuff. Here are the two new requirements that are starting with the Doctrine and Covenants course year for 2014-15:
- Read the assigned book of scripture (this year that's the Doctrine and Covenants and Joseph Smith History)
- Pass a learning assessment with a score of 75% or higher
There is a simple two-part action plan for these new requirements.
1. Start reading! Your child will need to read the entire Doctrine and Covenants by the end of the school year. You might want to help out by joining with them in a reading schedule. You can encourage them to get three versions of the scriptures in order to maximize their opportunity to read:
- A paper set of scriptures
- The scriptures on a tablet, computer, phone, or other electronic device if you have access to it
- Audio scriptures, which you can get through the Gospel Library app. Or check out the library in your ward or branch building—they often have an audio copy.
The key is to get them to start reading if they haven’t already.
2. Prepare for the tests. Yes, tests. There are actually two assessments through the year that students need to pass with a score of 75% or higher.
The test is composed of multiple choice, matching, and an essay question. Some questions refer to specific scriptures and the doctrines taught in them (they are all Scripture Mastery scriptures) and others refer to general doctrines taught in the Doctrine and Covenants like the Atonement, Revelation, the Sacrament, or Repentance. There is also a belief survey at the end of the test that lists the core doctrines of the Church and asks students to rank how they feel about that doctrine and how important they think that doctrine is.
Special Hint: As a reader of LDS Living, we have a special hint just for you! Full copies of the tests (yes, the actual tests used!) and the answer keys are available for download at si.lds.org. Login using your LDS Account and the Church provides the entire exam. (And because si.lds.org is a Church website, you aren’t even cheating!) You can download this and talk with your child about the questions they are going to get. This serves as an excellent study guide to help your child prepare.
What If My Seminary Student Doesn't Pass?
As lds.org explains, there's always another chance. “Students can take the assessments as many times as needed. The desire is that students learn the material in the course of study. But if students do not score 75% or above on the first attempt, they can retake the assessment using their scriptures and, if needed, receive help from their teacher or parents.”
What that means for you and your child is that if they don’t pass the assessment the first time, they can take the test again with your help, help from the scriptures, or even help from the instructor (as directed by the instructor). Your child will be given every opportunity to pass the assessment and receive credit.
So you can take a deep breath and have confidence that if you work together with your student and the teacher, the assessment can be a positive opportunity to make sure they learn the core principles of the Doctrine and Covenants.
Additional Study Helps
Some of you may suddenly feel like I did when my 6th grader comes to me with math homework! “I have to help with this homework? I don’t remember this stuff!” If you are feeling that way about helping with a Doctrine and Covenants assessment, it is a great time to get the student study guide from the Gospel Library app or from lds.org and start your own adventure of personal study through the Doctrine and Covenants.
For additional help studying the Doctrine & Covenants, check out these helpful resources:
|Looking at the Doctrine & Covenants Again for the Very First Time||The Essential Doctrine & Covenants Companion||Doctrine and Covenants Reference Companion||The Doctrine and Covenants Made Easier, Part 1|