When your four years of high school are up, you are ready to graduate. In most American states, graduation is as simple as leaving your senior year with a decent grade point average; after that, you never have to do another high school class again.
But if you are a student in New York, you must take and pass the Regents Examination, an achievement test that sees how well you performed according to New York’s learning standards.
What is the Regents Exam? And more importantly, what happens if you fail the Regents Exam? This article is here to help you avoid the worst-case scenario.
What to Expect in Regents Test?
The New York State Regents Examinations are significant standardized tests for the core high school subjects of Mathematics, English, Science, and Social Sciences. Created and proctored by the New York State Education Department under the Board of Regents, a Regents Exam tests what a New York student has learned from their four years of high school.
The Regents Exam is not as significant as any advanced placement tests–that is saved for the version of the Regents Exam dedicated towards Advanced and Honors students (we will elaborate on that in a moment)! While the Regents Exam is definitely made in favor of students who paid attention in high school, it is not the most demanding test.
To get ahead of ourselves: if you are expecting and have prepared yourself for questions that seriously test your critical thinking skills, you should have no problem passing the Regents Examination.
However, we feel that statement is not enough to encompass the sheer girth of these exams. Before you know what happens if you fail the Regents Exam, then you first need to know what the Regents Exam consists of in the first place.
What is the Regents Exam?
As we’ve stated, the most important thing you need to know before you know what happens if you fail the Regents Exam is to know what the Regents Exam is at all.
To earn a Regents Diploma, a student must pass four Regents Exams–one per general subject–and an additional exam in any subject.
To clarify, the Regents Exam focuses on the core subjects of high school classes. Keep in mind that as part of the Regents Examination, these subjects may involve different answers and scenarios than a regular high school lecture or exam would.
- Algebra–split into an Algebra I exam and an Algebra II exam–includes questions on arithmetic, polynomial functions, and word problems;
- Chemistry includes questions on elements, compounds, and other aspects of living things;
- Earth Science is a subject that deals with the study of the planet Earth, including geology, meteorology, and environmental science. The Earth Science exam also includes a significant laboratory examination separate from the written exam;
- English Language Arts includes all of the questions on grammar, speaking, and spelling;
- Geometry contains questions dealing with right triangles, sines, cosines and tangents, area, and perimeter;
- Global History and Geography is a subject with questions on the history of the world and its states, nations, countries, and continents;
- Living Environment (which might be more recognizable as Biology) tests a student’s knowledge of cells, genetics, evolution, and ecology;
- Physics is the subject of various fundamental laws such as work, torque, energy, mass, etc.;
- Finally, in United States History and Government, students are tested on the history of the United States as well as how its government functions.
To earn a Regents Diploma, students must score 65 or higher on:
- The English Language Arts exam;
- One of the Algebra I, Algebra II, or Geometry exams;
- One of the Chemistry, Earth Science, Living Environment, or Physics exam;
- And one of the Global History and Geography or United States History and Government exam.
For the fifth exam, the student can take an exam in any subject or pass a state-approved supplementary exam.
Each of these subjects (including Algebra I and Algebra II) has exams with multiple parts consisting of multiple-choice or open-ended questions. The Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, and Living Environment exams have four parts, while the other exams are made of three parts.
Students who want to earn a Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation or Honors must score 65 or higher in all three math regents, Living Environment and a physical science regent of choice, and both Global History and Geography and United States History and Government. Additional honors designations can be earned by exceptionally high scores.
Students have three hours to complete their exams, with the sole exception being the Earth Science exam, which has an additional 41-minute laboratory exam that takes place before the written exam. Exams are taken in January, June, and August, except for the Physics exam, which is only taken in June.
Phew! That is a lot of information to keep in mind. It may seem daunting to complete so many exams just to be able to get a diploma. How hard are these exams anyway?
Is the Regents Exam Hard?
Before we talk about just how challenging the Regents Exams are, let us be reminded of what it entails: the average student would only need to complete five exams across four general subjects, each three hours long, and available to be done in three different months.
Failing a single exam is not the end of your chances at gaining a Regents Diploma. The Regent Exams are mainly devised to test your general knowledge of subjects across four years of high school. With ten exams and at least two exams in each subject, you have multiple chances to find the five exams you can pass. The contents of the exams are also not particularly difficult for high school students.
In the grand scheme of things, the Regents Exam is not difficult to pass. But a better idea of what passing the exams would entail is getting a better idea of the required passing grades.
What is the Passing Grade for Regents?
As we have stated before, a student must get at least a 65 on every one of their chosen exams in order to pass and receive their Regents Diploma. This score is rather generous for high school students, as a 65 in a class subject in high school would be lower than the threshold for making a D.
The passing score and percentage can be scaled for the year’s group of tests. For example, for the Algebra I exam on January 2019, a raw score of 27 out of 86, or 31% of questions correct, would be given a scaled score of 65, a passing grade.
If you want to compete for additional honors considerations, the threshold requires a score of 85 or higher on particular exams. As a reward, you get an annotation that you have mastered the subject.
After much beating around the bush, we finally get to the main course: what happens if you fail the Regents Exam?
What Happens If You Don’t Pass the Regents Exam?
It should be evident at this point, but if you do not pass the Regents Exam, as in, you fail to get a 65 on five different exams, then you will not receive a Regents Diploma, and as a result, you will not be able to graduate from high school. Thankfully, this is not the end of the world.
If you fail the Regents Exam, it is not like you have to retake high school classes. Your success in high school grades is retained. You simply have to retake the Regents Exam.
There are prep classes for students who are unable to pass the exams. You can also transfer to another school if your high school’s curriculum is the issue. However, moving to another state negates the need for the Regents Exams.
If, for some reason, a student cannot or does not want to retake the Regents Exam, it is possible to earn a diploma or GED through other means, such as simply going to another state.
The final question on your mind may be: how many times can you take the Regents Exam?
How Many Times Can You Take the Regents?
Failing the Regents Exam is quite a significant blow to your ability to graduate from high school and should be avoided at all costs. However, if you do happen to fail, you can retake the Regents Exam as many times as you need to pass.
Wrapping Things Up: What Happens If You Fail the Regents Exam?
The Regents Exam is the last obstacle for a New York student to move on to the world of adults and secondary education. We have described what the Regents Exam is, what it takes to pass them, and how hard it would be to do so. What happens if you fail the Regents Exam? Then the obstacle has blocked your path forward.
The Regents Exam is an obstacle. But it is not insurmountable or impossible. Study the subjects and retake the Regents Exam as often as you need. Your hard work will eventually pay off, and you will graduate from high school with a fancy Regents Diploma that proves you meet New York’s standards!