The Proficiency Profile

multiple choice answer sheet for a testimage courtesy of albertogp123 at

ETS, the same fine people who bring you the SAT, also have other standardized tests. A popular one for the college crowd is now called the Proficiency Profile, and it’s used to measure how proficient students are in so-called general education areas: math, writing, reading, and critical thinking. Some schools even use this exam to demonstrate that their teacher preparation programs give students a sound background.

You can read more about the test here:

The results of the 2003-2004 test, which was given at hundreds of schools (including Prairie View A&M), found the following:

  • Eight percent of college seniors are “proficient” at level 3 math (the highest level), up from 5 percent of freshmen
  • Eleven percent of college seniors are “proficient” at level 3 writing
  • Six percent of college seniors are “proficient” in critical thinking, while 77 percent are “not proficient”

What’s going on here? Is the test just ridiculously hard? Go to and examine the 4 pages of sample questions.

The Proficiency Profile is one of just three standardized exams considered reliable in measuring student learning outcomes: skills expected of people who finish a particular class or program. This is what employers expect from college graduates, that you can perform basic mathematical calculations; examine an article you’ve never seen before and identify any errors in logic; write grammatically correct sentences…

Colleges usually want to see a high school GPA and SAT or ACT test scores for admissions; they require certain minimums, too. What if an employer wanted to see your Proficiency Profile or required at least level 2 proficiency to even apply for a job?

Works Cited

College Learning for the New Global Century. Association of American Colleges and Universities. 2007. Web. 2 Sep. 2011.


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