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August 13 2008 Us History Regents Essay

U.S. History regents - thematic essays from the past 10 years

thematic essay questions on the U.S. Regents exams from January 2003 - August 2-13
8/2013 Thematic:
Foreign Policy (Cold War)
Following World War II, the threat of communist expansion led the United States to take diplomatic, military, and economic actions to limit the global influence of the Soviet Union and China. These Cold War actions met with varying degrees of success.
Treaty Organization [NATO] (1949), intervention in Korea (1950-1953), the blockade of Cuba (1962), the escalation of the Vietnam War (1964-1973), the visit of President Richard Nixon to China (1972), and the pursuit of the Strategic Defense Initiative [SDI] (1983-1989).
6/2013 Thematic:
Foreign Policy (National Interests)
Throughout the history of the United States, the primary goal of its foreign policy has been to protect the nation's interests. The United States has taken military and economic foreign policy actions to achieve that goal. These actions have resulted in varying degrees of success.

President George Washington's Proclamation of Neutrality (1793), congressional declaration of war against Mexico (1846), acquisition of the rights to build the Panama Canal (1901), United States entry into World War I (1917), implementation of the Marshall Plan (1947), United States entry into the Korean War (1950), escalation of the Vietnam War beginning in 1964, and President Jimmy Carter's efforts to negotiate the Camp David Accords (1978).
1/2013 Thematic:
Government (Congressional Legislation)
Throughout United States history, Congress has passed legislation to address important political, social, or economic issues. These laws have often had a significant impact on American society.

Embargo Act (1807), Pure Food and Drug Act (1906), Indian Removal Act (1830) Social Security Act (1935), Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854) GI Bill/ Servicemen's Readjustment Act (1944), Interstate Commerce Act (1887), Americans with Disabilities Act (1990).
8/2012 Thematic:
Reform Movements (Industrialization)
After the Civil War, the United States developed an increasingly industrialized economy. Industrialization provided many benefits for the nation; however, it also created serious problems that required action by the government, groups, or individuals.

corruption in government, exploitation of workers, overcrowding of cities, establishment of trusts, production of unsafe consumer goods, destruction of the natural environment, and increase in anti-immigrant attitudes
6/2012 Thematic:
Unites States Foreign Policy
United States presidents often make foreign policy decisions in an attempt to deal with international problems. These decisions have had an impact on both the United States and on other countries or regions.

James K. Polk sending troops to the Rio Grande (1846), William McKinley deciding to annex the Philippines (1898), Woodrow Wilson asking for a declaration of war(1917), Harry Truman deciding to use the atomic bomb (1945), John F. Kennedy quarantining Cuba (1962), Lyndon B. Johnson sending combat troops to Vietnam (1965-1968), Richard Nixon improving relations with China (1972), George H. W. Bush sending troops to Kuwait (1990-1991), and George W. Bush sending troops to Iraq (2003).
1/2012 Thematic:
Supreme Court Decisions
Decisions of the United States Supreme Court have had a significant impact on the nation.

Marbury v. Madison (1803), Gibbons v. Ogden (1824), Worcester v. Georgia (1832), Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), Schenck v. United States (1919), Korematsu v. United States (1944), Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954), Miranda v. Arizona (1966), Roe v. Wade (1973), and New Jersey v. T.L.O. (1985)
8/2011 Thematic:
Geography (Development of the United States)
Many important events in United States history have been influenced by geography. Geographic factors or conditions include location, size, climate, natural resources, and physical features. These events in turn have had political, social, and economic impacts on the development of the United States.

Louisiana Purchase, the construction of the Erie Canal, migration to California in the late 1840s, the Civil War, the purchase of Alaska, the building of the transcontinental railroad, the acquisition of the Philippines, the building of the Panama Canal, the creation of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), and the construction of the interstate highway system
6/2011 Thematic:
Change (Constitutional Amendments)
When the Founding Fathers wrote the United States Constitution, they included the amendment process. The amendments that have been passed brought political, social, and economic changes to American society.

13th amendment (abolition of slavery, 1865), 17th amendment (direct election of senators, 1913), 18th amendment (Prohibition, 1919), 19th amendment (woman's suffrage, 1920), 22nd amendment (presidential term limits, 1951), 24th amendment (elimination of the poll tax, 1964), and 26th amendment (suffrage for 18-year-old citizens, 1971).
1/2011 Thematic:
Diversity (Constitutional rights)
Throughout United States history, Supreme Court decisions have addressed the issue of the constitutional rights of various groups. These decisions have limited or expanded the rights of members of these groups.

Worcester v. Georgia (1832), Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857), Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), Korematsu v. United States (1944), Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954), Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States (1964), and Roe v. Wade (1973).
8/2010 Thematic:
Presidential Actions
United States presidents have taken actions that have had a significant effect on United States foreign or domestic policies

George Washington issuing the Proclamation of Neutrality, Abraham Lincoln issuing the Emancipation Proclamation, William McKinley calling for war against Spain, Theodore Roosevelt supporting the Meat Inspection Act, Woodrow Wilson proposing the Fourteen Points, Franklin D. Roosevelt proposing the New Deal, Harry Truman making the decision to drop the atomic bomb, and Lyndon B. Johnson signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
6/2010 Thematic:
Technological developments have had both positive and negative effects on the United States economy and on American society.

the cotton gin, steam-powered engines, the assembly line, nuclear power, the automobile, television, and computers
1/2010 Thematic:
Individuals, Groups, Institutions (Writing and Reform)
Throughout United States history, individuals have used writing as a way to focus attention on issues facing the American people. To resolve the issues raised in these writings, actions have been taken by the government, groups, or individuals.

Common Sense by Thomas Paine (1776), Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (1852), How the Other Half Lives by Jacob Riis (1890), The Jungle by Upton Sinclair (1906), "I, Too, Sing America" by Langston Hughes (1925), The Other America by Michael Harrington (1962), Silent Spring by Rachel Carson (1962), The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan (1963), and "Letter from Birmingham Jail" by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (1963).
8/2009 Thematic:
Supreme Court Decisions
The United States Supreme Court has played a major role in United States history. The Court's decisions have had a significant impact on many aspects of American society.

Worcester v. Georgia (1832), Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857), Northern Securities Co. v. United States (1904), Korematsu v. United States (1944), Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954), Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States (1964), Miranda v. Arizona (1966), Roe v. Wade (1973), and United States v. Nixon (1974).
6/2009 Thematic:
Constitutional Principles (Individual Rights)
Throughout United States history, many different groups have faced discrimination. The federal and state governments have taken actions that have either protected or limited the rights of these groups in American society.
Ex. - Native American Indians, African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans, women, the elderly, and the disabled
1/2009 Thematic:
Movement of People-Migration
The movement of people into and within the United States has had a significant impact on the nation. These movements have been both voluntary and involuntary.

colonial settlement (1600s-1700s), westward expansion (1800s), rural to urban migration (1870s-1920s), European immigration(1880-1910), the Dust Bowl (1930s), suburbanization (1950s-1960s), and illegal immigration.
8/2008 Thematic:
Role of Government in Economy
Throughout history, the United States government has taken various actions to address problems with the nation's economy.

assumption of Revolutionary War debts, building the transcontinental railroad, passage of tariff laws, passage of the Interstate Commerce Act, creation of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, adoption of the Social Security system, passage of federal minimum wage laws, Reagan Era tax cuts, and ratification of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
Throughout United States history, individuals other than presidents have played significant roles that led to changes in the nation's economy, government, or society.

Frederick Douglass and slavery, Andrew Carnegie and industrialization, Jacob Riis and urban life, Upton Sinclair and consumer protection, Henry Ford and the automobile industry, Margaret Sanger and reproductive rights, Martin Luther King Jr. and civil rights, Cesar Chavez and migrant farm workers, and Bill Gates and the software industry.
1/2008 Thematic:
United States participation in wars has resulted in political, social, and economic changes for various groups of Americans. These changes have had varying impacts on American society both during and after each war.

enslaved persons during the Civil War, Native American Indians during the Indian Wars, women during World War I or World War II, Japanese Americans during World War II, and American college students or army draftees during the Vietnam War.
8/2007 Thematic:
Contributions of Individuals to American Life
Throughout the 20th century, individuals attempted to address problems within American society. Their efforts have had a significant impact on American life.

Upton Sinclair, Henry Ford, Langston Hughes, Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie Robinson, Martin Luther King, Jr., Betty Friedan, Rachel Carson, Cesar Chavez, and Bill Gates.
6/2007 Thematic:
Change (Industrialization)
During the 19th century, the United States experienced tremendous industrial growth. This industrial growth resulted in many changes in American life.
Ex. - increased immigration, new Inventions or technologies, growth of labor unions, growth of monopolies, growth of reform movements, and increased urbanization.
1/2007 Thematic:
Influence of Geographic Factors on Governmental Actions
Actions taken by the United States government have often been influenced by geographic factors. Some of these factors include location, climate, natural resources, and physical features.

the Lewis and Clark expedition (1804-1806), issuance of the Monroe Doctrine (1823), Mexican War (1846-1848), Commodore Perry's opening of Japan (1853), passage of the Homestead Act (1862), purchase of Alaska (1867), construction of the Panama Canal (1904-1914), entry into World War II (1941), passage of the Interstate Highway Act (1956), and involvement.
8/2006 Thematic:
Migration of People
Throughout our nation's history, important migrations or movements of people within the United States have occurred. These migrations have had a significant impact on both the people who moved and on American society.

the forced migration of Native American Indians (1800-1880), the westward movement (1840-1890), the migration of African Americans from the South to cities in the North (1900-1929), the Puerto Rican migration to the North after World War II (1945-1960), the westward migration from the Dust Bowl (1930s), suburbanization (1945-present), and the migration to the Sun Belt (1950-present).
6/2006 Thematic:
Change(Turning Points)
Major historical events are often referred to as turning points because they have led to important political, social, and economic changes. Identify two major events in United States history that were important turning points and for each:
-Describe the historical circumstances that led to the event
-Discuss the political, social, and/or economic changes that resulted from the event.

the signing of the Declaration of Independence (1776), end of Reconstruction (1877), Henry Ford's use of the assembly line (1913), United States entry into World War I (1917), Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954), passage of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution (1964), and the fall of the Berlin Wall (1989).
1/2006 Thematic:
Individual, Groups & Institutions/Controversial Issues
Many controversial domestic issues have divided the American people. The United States government has taken actions to address these issues.

placing Native American Indians on reservations, slavery, women's suffrage, Prohibition, the use of child labor, and the policy of unlimited immigration.
8/2005 Thematic:
Cold War
Following World War II, the United States and the Soviet Union were engaged in a conflict that became known as the Cold War. The Cold War created problems that the United States addressed with specific actions. These actions had varying degrees of success.

the postwar economic upheaval in Western Europe (1945-1947), Soviet takeover of Eastern Europe (1945-1948), threat of Communist takeover in Greece (1947), Soviet blockade of Berlin (1948), nuclear arms race (1950s-1970s), and placement of Soviet missiles in Cuba (1962).
6/2005 Thematic:
Reform Movements in the United States
Reform movements are intended to improve different aspects of American life. Through the actions of individuals, organizations, or the government, the goals of these reform movements have been achieved, but with varying degrees of success.
Ex. - the abolitionist movement, woman's suffrage movement, temperance movement, Progressive movement, civil rights movement, women's rights movement, and environmental movement.
1/2005 Thematic:
Foreign Policy
Since 1900, United States foreign policy actions have often been based on national self-interest. These actions have had immediate and long-term results.

Theodore Roosevelt's Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine (1904), Woodrow Wilson's Fourteen Points (1918), the Lend-Lease Act (1941), the Marshall Plan (1947), the blockade of Cuba (1962), the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) agreements (1972), and the Persian Gulf War (1991).
8/2004 Thematic: Reform Movements
Reform movements have been an important part of United States history. Ex.- the abolitionist movement, Populist movement, Progressive movement, women's rights movement, civil rights movement, and the labor movement.
6/2004 Thematic:
Geography and United States Government Actions
Geographic factors often influence United States government actions, both foreign and domestic. Some of these factors include location, physical environment, movement of people, climate, and resources.

Louisiana Purchase (1803), issuance of the Monroe Doctrine (1823), passage of the Homestead Act (1862), decision to build the transcontinental railroad (1860s), acquisition of the Philippines (1898), decision to build the Panama Canal (early 1900s), and passage of the Interstate Highway Act (1956).
1/2004 Thematic:
Constitutional Change
Amendments to the United States Constitution have changed our government and our society.

1st Amendment — personal freedoms (1791), 15th amendment — right to vote (1870), 16th Amendment — income tax (1913), 17th Amendment — election of senators (1913), 18th Amendment — Prohibition (1919), 19th Amendment — suffrage (1920), or 22nd Amendment — term limits (1951).
8/2003 Thematic:
Foreign Policy
During the course of its history, the United States has taken foreign policy actions that have been consistent with the national interest.

President George Washington's Proclamation of Neutrality (1793), congressional declaration of war against Mexico (1846), acquisition of the rights to build the Panama Canal (1901), United States entry into World War I (1917), implementation of the Marshall Plan (1947), United States entry into the Korean War (1950), escalation of the Vietnam War beginning in 1964, and President Jimmy Carter's efforts to negotiate the Camp David Accords (1978).
6/2003 Thematic:
Social Change
Events have influenced social change in American society.

Ex. - passage of the Civil War amendments; development of the automobile; passage of the 18th Amendment [national Prohibition]; passage of the 19th Amendment [women's suffrage]; passage of the Social Security Act (1935); President Dwight D. Eisenhower's decision to send troops to Little Rock, Arkansas; and the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade
1/2003 Thematic:
Constitutional Principals
United States Supreme Court cases have dealt with a variety of important issues that have affected American society.

McCulloch v. Maryland (1819) — federal supremacy, Schenck v. United States (1919) — freedom of speech, Korematsu v. United States (1944) — equal protection under the law, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954) — equal protection under the law, Engel v. Vitale (1962) — separation of church and state, Miranda v. Arizona (1966) — rights of the accused, Roe v. Wade (1973) — right to privacy, Vernonia School District v. Acton (1995) — search and seizure.

In New York State, Regents Examinations are statewide standardized examinations in core high school subjects required for a certain Regents Diploma to graduate. To graduate, students are required to have earned appropriate credits in a number of specific subjects by passing year-long or half-year courses, after which they must pass at least five Regents examinations in some of the subject areas. For higher achieving students, a Regents with Advanced designation, and an Honor designation, are also offered. Students with disabilities or enrolled in an English as a Second Language program are able to earn a local diploma.

Students with low disabilities are generally placed in special education Regents prep courses, that will lead them to either a local or Regents diploma if indicated in their documents. Students with moderate to severe disabilities who are deemed unable to pass the Regents exams can earn a Career Development and Occupational Studies Commencement Credential.[1]


The Regents Examinations are developed and administered by the New York State Education Department (NYSED) under the authority of the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York. Regents exams are prepared by a conference of selected New York teachers of each test's specific discipline who assemble a test map that highlights the skills and knowledge required from the specific discipline's learning standards. The conferences meet and design the tests three years before the tests' issuance, which includes time for field testing and evaluating testing questions.

"At the close of each academic term, a public examination shall be held of all scholars presumed to have completed preliminary studies…To each scholar who sustains such examination, a certificate shall entitle the other person holding it to admission into the academic class in any academy subject to the visitation of the Regents, without further examination."[2][3]

The legislature’s intent in establishing the Regents Examination system is described in the ordinance. The central idea of the legislation was to create an educational control system that could be used to regulate the flow of funds to the well established academy system of schools that existed throughout the state of New York. This goal would be accomplished by:

  1. creating a Regents Examination system, which would measure student achievement through process of examination; and
  2. creating a new and privileged class of students in the secondary schools of New York.

The new class of students would be called the “academic class,” and those students who qualified for admission to it by sustaining a process of examination would be known as “academic scholars.” Academic scholars, and the institutions with which they were affiliated, would receive recognition and privilege under New York’s school funding formula.[2]

The focus of the ordinance was on assessing student achievement in the preliminary, or elementary curricula. In essence, the examinations were being positioned in the primary role of gatekeeper between the primary and secondary schools of the state of New York. The need for a gatekeeper examination system was due in part to the state’s 1864 school funding formula, which allocated public funds to private academies based on criteria that included the number of enrolled students. Typically, the academies used money distributed from the state literature fund to offset operating expenses, and any expenses in excess of funds received from the State were passed on to students and their families in the form of “rate bills.” Under this system, individual academies could realize economic advantages by lowering academic standards and enrolling less qualified students. In 1864, during a time of war, the New York legislature became concerned about this issue of who was and who was not qualified to be enrolled in the common, mostly private academies of the state and also in the rare, public high schools of the state. The timing of the legislature’s concern and actions in 1864 may have been related to two conditions that existed during the Civil War: the military’s need for young men of fighting age and a period of fiscal austerity in school funding.[2]


The first Regents Examinations were administered in November 1866. In 1878, the Regents Examination system was expanded to assess the curricula taught in the secondary schools of New York, and the Regents exams were first administered as high school end-of-course exams.[4] From the original five exams (algebra, Latin, American History, natural philosophy, natural geography), the State Education Department expanded the Regents Exams offerings to forty-two tests in 1879; tests were administered in November, February, and June. Throughout the 1920s and into the 1930s vocational education Regents Exams were approved and administered. These included, but were not limited to, agricultural science, costume draping, and salesmanship.[3] By 1970 the number and types of Regents Exams changed to reflect the changes in high school curriculum: vocational exams were discontinued, and the sheer number of exams were either dropped or consolidated as the curricular emphasis trended toward comprehensive examinations rather than the singularly focused tests of the past. This trend continued into the twenty-first century, with the cancellation of foreign language exams in 2010 and 2011.

In 1979, Regents Competency Tests were introduced for all students - in order to graduate students had to pass the RCT OR the Regents exam. Later, they were offered only to students with disabilities. They were discontinued with the class of 2015. In 2000, New York State Alternative Assessments (NYSAA) program was first administered allowing students with severe cognitive disabilities to complete a datafolio-style assessment to demonstrate their performance toward achieving the New York State learning standards.[4]

Recent and future changes[edit]

2010 changes[edit]

Due to budget cuts, in June 2010 the Board of Regents voted to cancel 7th Grade regents (Integrated Algebra, Geometry, and Living Environment) for students who were in 7th grade Honors/Accelerated Programs in Mathematics or in Science. German, Latin, and Hebrew Regents foreign language exams were also cancelled, and students studying those languages are now allowed to take a locally developed examination to demonstrate competency.[5]

2011 changes[edit]

On May 16, 2011, in the face of an $8 million budget gap, the Board of Regents voted to reduce the number of tests administered. The remaining foreign language exams (French, Italian, and Spanish) were eliminated, although districts may administer locally developed foreign language exams to let students attain a Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation. Tests administered during the month of January were to be canceled. In August 2011, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and five private donors contributed funds to ensure that the Regents was administered in January 2012, although the foreign language exams remained cancelled.[6]

Students that need 3 or less points to pass and came from schools that are viewed as struggling schools, regent scores are invalid and can move on to next course without regent score.

2012 change[edit]

Students graduating in 2012 (who were 9th grade students in 2008) are the first cohort of students required to take all five Regents Exams with a passing score of 65 and obtain a Regents Diploma to graduate.[7] Previously, school districts had been permitted to offer a Local Diploma, with less stringent requirements than the Regents Diploma. Requirements have gradually been increased in recent years.

Test security procedures were heightened in response to the Stuyvesant High School cheating scandal.[8] Effective August 2012, test proctors must collect and hold electronic devices for the duration of the exams; students are no longer permitted to have these devices on or near them.[9] Previously, possession of electronic devices was allowed as long as they were not in use.

2014 changes[edit]

The Regents exams in ELA, and Algebra I were changed to incorporate the Common Core Standards starting in June 2014.[10] Starting in June 2015, the Geometry regents will incorporate the Common Core, and in June 2016, the Algebra II regents will as well. High school students will be allowed to continue graduating with minimum scores of 65 on state exams until 2022.[11] At that point, required scores would rise to 75 on English exams and 80 in algebra—levels deemed evidence of readiness for college.[11]

Future changes[edit]

  • In April 2012 the Board of Regents decided to formally consider a proposal that would eliminate Regents Examination in Global History and Geography as a graduation requirement for some students beginning September 2013.[12][13] Global History and Geography is the most frequently failed examination. Under the proposal, students would be able to substitute a second Regents Exam in math or science or a vocational exam for this requirement. Another proposal under consideration would keep the Global History and Geography requirement, but split the test into two separate tests, one on Global History and another on Global Geography. NYSED accepts public comment and will provide a formal proposal to the Board of Regents. That proposal must be approved by the Board of Regents before the exam requirements can be changed. The proposal had since been denied.
  • In June 2014, Regents Exams in Comprehensive English, Algebra 1, and NYSAA will be aligned to the Common Core Learning Standards (CCLS).[14] In June 2015, the Regents Exam in "Geometry" will be aligned with CCLS. In June 2016, the Regents Exam in "Algebra II" will be aligned with CCLS as well. These standards are a result of New York State's participation in the Common Core State Standards Initiative.
  • In 2015, New York will begin administering computer-based standardized tests.[4][dead link]
  • In August 2017, the Board of Regents approved changes to the Global History and Geography exam. Instead of a comprehensive examination that covers material from two years, the new exam will cover information taught only in the 10th grade (1750-present). The new exam will also have a revised format: instead of 50 multiple choice questions, there will be only 30, but they will still be worth 55% of the grade. The thematic essay and document based question remain unchanged. [15]

Most Regents exams are three hours long. The exception is the Earth Science exam, which consists of a 41-minute (approximate) laboratory component usually given up to two weeks prior to the three-hour written exam. Most Regents exams are structured in the following format:

  • A multiple-choice section (Part I) of usually between 30 and 50 questions
  • A long-answer/essay section (Part II) consisting of either a selection of detailed questions for which the work must be shown (for math and physical sciences), or a set of essay topics, of which one or two must be written about in detail (for the social sciences)

In 2005, the Board of Regents began modifying the mathematics curriculum. An integrated approach that taught topics in geometry and algebra during each of three years, with exams normally taken after a year and a half and again after three years, was replaced by a curriculum that divides topics into Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II/Trigonometry. Each of these take the form of a one-year course with a Regents Examination at the end of the year. The "Math A" and "Math B" exams have been eliminated and are replaced by "Integrated Algebra", "Geometry", and "Algebra II and Trigonometry".

Beginning in January 2011, the English Language Arts exam was reduced from a six-hour exam to a three-hour exam. The exam still contains essay components, but has greater emphasis on reading comprehension and less on writing.[16]

The format of the laboratory practical for Earth Science was changed in 2008. Currently, it consists of three sections, each with a time limit of nine minutes. While administering the test, there are multiple stations for each section. Each station uses different data, but the same task. For example, each section 1 station may have different rocks and minerals, though the task is the same.

List of exams[edit]

The New York State Regents Exams are the following:

  • United States History and Government
  • Global History and Geography
  • English Language Arts
  • Algebra I
  • Geometry
  • Algebra II
  • Living Environment
  • Earth Science: The Physical Setting
  • Chemistry: The Physical Setting
  • Physics: The Physical Setting

For the 2010-11 school year, Latin, German, Greek, and Hebrew language exams were cancelled. For the 2011-12 school year the remaining language exams (Italian, Spanish, and French) were also canceled. Previously, a Regents foreign language exam was an option that would allow for Regents Exam with Advanced Designation. Currently, local school districts can develop their own exams to assess foreign language competency and allow for students to meet the Advanced Designation requirement.

Exam requirements[edit]

Local Diplomas are offered by New York State school districts for students who did not pass the Regents Diploma requirements. For students entering 9th grade in September 2008 and thereafter, the Local Diploma is only offered to disabled students, and the rest of the students must attain at least a Regents Diploma. Advanced and Honors designations are available for exemplary students. In addition to the Regents exam requirements, there are additional requirements for attaining a Regents or Regents with Advanced Designation Diploma, which are described in a NYSED handout titled "General Education & Diploma Requirements",[7] and are codified in Section 100.5 of the Part 100 Regulations of the Commissioner of Education.[17]

Students are must achieve a score of 65 (55 for Special Education students) or higher on Regents Exams to pass. [18] However this only qualifies for a local diploma as long as they compensate with a score of 65 or higher on another Regents exam.[18] Students with disabilities still must earn minimum 55 scores on Regents exams in Comprehensive English and math.[18] NYSED considers a score of 75 to 80 to indicate college readiness,[19] with a score of 75 to 85 being a cutoff for admission for some selective colleges and universities and a score below 75 being a threshold for placement in remediation for some schools, including CUNY schools.[20]

Local Diploma exam requirements and information[edit]

Students with an Individualized Education Program or 504 plan are able to obtain a local diploma through 'safety nets'. Similar to the regents diploma, a local diploma can allow the student to attend college, enroll in the military, and have jobs that require a high school diploma. General Education students can only obtain the local diploma by appealing 2 regents exams. Students with disabilities must still have the appropriate amount of credits to graduate. The safety nets include:

· Low Pass option: Which students with disabilities must earn at least 55-64 on a required regents exam to qualify for a local diploma.

· Compensatory option: Students with disabilities who score 45-54 on a required regents exam, but scores 65 or higher on another regents exam is able to compensate the 45-54 score using the 65+ score. The compensatory option cannot be used to compensate the English or Math Regents exams, but the student can use the English and Math regents to compensate another regents exam scored 45-54.

Regents Diploma exam requirements[edit]

Passing the following Regents exams with a score of 65 or better is required for a Regents Diploma:

  • 1 Social Studies Regents Exam (Global History and Geography or American History and Government)
  • English Language Arts
  • 1 Math exam (Algebra I, Geometry, or Algebra II)
  • 1 Science exam (Living Environment, Earth Science, Chemistry, or Physics)

In 2014, the Board of Regents created the 4+1 option, where students must pass at least 1 regents exam per subject and pass 1 additional exam.

Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation exam requirements[edit]

Passing the following Regents exams with a score of 65 or better is required for a Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation:

  1. Global History and Geography;
  2. U.S History and Government;
  3. English Language Arts;
  4. All three math exams;(Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II/Trigonometry)
  5. Two science exams (Biology/Living Environment, Earth Science/The Physical Setting, Chemistry/The Physical Setting, Physics/The Physical Setting);
  6. Language other than English[21]

Additional honors designations[edit]

The New York State Board of Regents offers the following honors to students with exemplary academic performance:

  • A student who earns an average score of 90 or higher (without rounding) on required exams is eligible for a Regents Diploma with Honors or a Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation with Honors.[21]
  • A student who earns scores of 85 or higher on all of the required mathematics Regents Examinations is eligible for an annotation on their diploma that states that the student has mastery in mathematics.[22]
  • A student who earns scores of 85 or higher on at least three science Regents Examinations is eligible for an annotation on their diploma that states that the student has mastery in science.[23]


Alternative public schools[edit]

During the 1990s, some alternative assessment schools, similar in character to charter schools, were founded in parts of New York in an attempt to provide a way for students to graduate from high school without taking any Regents Exams. Usually, the substitute graduation assessment involved would consist of the review and grading, by a panel of teachers, of an academic portfolio — a collection of the student's best work from all his or her years at the school. From such a "portfolio examination" would be issued a "Regents equivalency" grade for the areas of Math, English, History, and Science, and a "Regents Equivalency" diploma would be awarded to the student at commencement. Students enrolled in these schools do, however, take the English Regents exam as a part of the New York State school accountability system.

Private schools[edit]

Though all public schools are required to follow either the Regents Exam system or some form of alternative assessment, private schools may or may not follow either of these systems. The vast majority of private schools actually do use Regents exams and award Regents diplomas, but some, usually academically prestigious private schools, do not. These schools' argument is that their own diploma requirements exceed Regents standards. Schools run by the Society of Jesus, such as Canisius High School, Fordham Prep, McQuaid Jesuit, Regis, and Xavier and the Society of Mary (Marianists), such as Chaminade and Kellenberg, have not used Regents exams for decades. Additionally, some other schools like The Masters School, The Ursuline School, The Hackley School, The Harvey School, Long Island Lutheran Middle & High School, Manlius Pebble Hill School, and Nichols School not associated with those groups do not use the Regents system.

Allowable substitute examinations[edit]

Some Advanced Placement exams and SAT subject tests are allowable by NYSED as substitutes for the Regents Examination for that subject (e.g., AP American History in place of the U.S. History and Government Regents). NYSED has approved a limited number of allowable substitute exams and has published required scores for the exams.[24]

Regents Competency Test[edit]

Regents Competency High School tests, or simply RCT's,[25] are exit exams given to identified special education students with Individualized Education Programs or students with a 504 plan seeking a high school diploma but cannot pass the standard Regents exams. Like the Regents Examinations, the RCT is provided and overseen by NYSED, and is designed and administered under the authority of the Board of Regents.

Most RCT's can be taken before a student takes the corresponding Regents exam. The RCT's are available for students until they graduate or when they turn 21. If the student still cannot pass all of the RCT exams, an Individualized Education Program Diploma (IEP Diploma) is awarded instead. The IEP Diploma is not the equivalent to a high school diploma, and rather is a certificate given to students who complete the twelfth grade but do not pass the standards based testing. The IEP Diploma is intended only for students with severe cognitive disabilities.[26]

  • Ninth grade
    • Students take the Math and Science RCT in June. This is done in case the students fail the Math and Living Environment Regents or Earth Science Regents which can be taken in 9th or 10th grade. Some students, however, can take Regents in 8th grade.
  • Tenth grade
    • Students take the Math and the Living Environment Regents or the Earth Science Regents in June. Students also take the Global History and Geography exam. Students can take the Global RCT if they failed the Global Regents.
  • Eleventh grade
    • Students take the Reading RCT in January. In June, students take the English and U.S. History Regents. Students can take the U.S. History RCT if they failed the U.S. History Regents.
  • Twelfth grade
    • Students take the Writing RCT in January if they have failed the English Regents.

There are six RCTs that are administered. They can be taken in January, June, and August. The Global and U.S. History Regents Exam is the only exception that does not allow students to take the RCT tests before student fails the corresponding Regents Exam.

Beginning in the 2011-2012 school year, in public schools, only students with disabilities who first enter ninth grade prior to September 2011 are eligible to take the RCTs. Additional information on eligibility for the RCT safety net option has been provided by NYSED.[27][28]


External links[edit]


Test preparation[edit]

  1. ^Diploma debate: LI parents, students press NYS for changes; URL accessed November 22, 2017.
  2. ^ abcWatson, Robert S (2010), Stability and Change in New York State Regents Mathematics Examinations, 1866-2009: a Socio-Historical Analysis, Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Dissertation Publishing, pp. 1–3, UMI 3433796 
  3. ^ abNYSED (1987). "History of Regents Examinations: 1865 to 1987". Retrieved 12 June 2012. 
  4. ^ abcNYSED (2012). "Timeline & History of New York State Assessments"(PDF). Retrieved 13 June 2012. 
  5. ^
  6. ^Otterman, Sharon (3 August 2011). "Private Donors, Including Mayor, Save January Regents". The New York Times. 
  7. ^ abNYSED (November 2011). "General Education & Diploma Requirements"(PDF). Retrieved 12 June 2012. 
  8. ^Chapman , Monahan, Ben, Rachel (June 25, 2012). "Stuyvesant High School caught in cheating scandal on Regents exams". New York: NEW YORK DAILY NEWS. Retrieved 18 August 2014. 
  9. ^
  10. ^"When the Common Core tests will be given". New York Post. 7 April 2013. 
  11. ^ abRegents retreat on some testing, evaluation requirements; URL accessed May 4, 2014.
  12. ^Reide, Paul (1 May 2012). "State considers dropping Regents exam for global history for some students, to Central New York teachers' dismay". The Syracuse Post Standard. Syracuse. Retrieved 13 June 2012. 
  13. ^Gonen, Yoav (24 April 2012). "State considers making too-hard Regents test optional". The New York Post. New York City. Retrieved 13 June 2012. 
  14. ^NYSED (12 March 2012). "Common Core Implementation Timeline". Retrieved 13 June 2012. 
  15. ^NYSED (August 2017). "Global History and Geography II Regents Exam"(PDF). Retrieved 25 January 2018. 
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ abcRegents rule change aids special education; URL accessed November 13, 2012.
  19. ^"Grade 3-8 Math and English Test Results Released: Cut Scores Set to New College-Ready Proficiency Standards" (Press release). NYSED. 28 July 2010. Retrieved 13 June 2012. 
  20. ^"July 28 Slide Presentation: A New Standard For Proficiency: College Readiness"(PDF) (Press release). NYSED. 28 July 2010. Retrieved 13 June 2012. 
  21. ^ ab
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^RCT exams, accessed May 15, 2009
  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^