In order to get your bachelor’s degree at NIU, you must show that you have skills and knowledge in three foundational areas: oral communication, writing composition and mathematics. You can meet these requirements by taking classes, by transfer or Advanced Placement (AP) credit, or by taking competency exams. These exams don’t result in course credit, and you can only take them once.
You can meet the Foundational Studies oral communication requirement by passing COMS 100, by transfer credit or by passing the oral communication competency exam. You can only take this exam once.
The two-part exam tests your listening and speaking skills. First, you’ll listen to a persuasive speech and answer 20 multiple-choice questions. If you do well enough, you’ll be asked to prepare and present a 6-8-minute persuasive speech on a provided topic.
If you want to take the exam, contact the Department of Communication early in your first semester. You cannot be enrolled in COMS 100 when you register for or take the exam. You should take it at least one year before graduation.
You can meet the Foundational Studies writing requirement by passing ENGL 103 (or 103P) and 203, or by passing ENGL 204. You can also meet it with transfer or AP credit, or by passing parts one and two of the writing composition competency exam. Part one of the exam also serves as a placement test you can take to improve your initial English course placement.
The first part of the exam is a one-hour writing exercise. If you do well enough, you’ll be invited to take part two, a two-and-a-half-hour reading/writing exam.
You can meet the Foundational Studies mathematics requirement by passing certain math or statistics classes. You can also meet it with transfer credit, Advanced Placement (AP) credit or CLEP Subject Exam credit, or by passing the mathematics competency exam. You can only take this exam once.
The exam consists of 40 multiple-choice questions, and you’ll have 90 minutes to complete it. You can use a non-programmable calculator. In addition to basic skills and facts, the exam covers:
Understanding of elementary probability, statistics, logically correct arguments and equivalent statements
Use of elementary algebra and geometry in problem-solving
Demonstration of strategies and techniques in problem-solving and the ability to estimate, approximate and judge the reasonableness of answers to problems