CUNY Policies for the CPE

Regulations and Guidelines Governing the CUNY Proficiency Examination (CPE)

Colleges should make an intensive effort to acquaint students with the CPE early in their college careers, alerting them to the courses that will best prepare them for the examination, and providing them with information about the regulations governing CPE test taking.

Multiple Attempts

Students may take the CPE three times.

Students Who Have One CPE Failures/Forfeits

Colleges should contact students who have failed or forfeited the CPE once and require them to meet with trained advisors designated by the college to plan preparation for the exam. The advisors will discuss the results of the exam with students who have failed and help students to plan a program that may include one or more of the following activities: tutoring, workshops for students repeating the exam, writing course or discipline specific writing intensive course.

Students Who Have Two CPE Failures/Forfeits

Students who have taken and failed the test twice or have not passed the test by the end of the extended semester in which they have completed their 60th credit will receive a registration stop. ("Extended semester" refers to the fall or spring semester and the subsequent winter intersession or summer session.) These students must meet with an advisor, who will discuss the results of the exam and help the student to plan a required program that may include a writing course or discipline specific writing intensive course, a workshop or other appropriate instruction, in addition to any taken previously. The instruction should be completed by the end of the student's next semester of attendance. Students will not be allowed to sit for the CPE again until they document that they have successfully completed this instruction.

Students who have accumulated two forfeits or a failure and a forfeit will also receive a registration stop and will be required to meet with an advisor. Each college should develop appropriate guidelines and interventions for such students.

Students Who Have Three CPE Failures/Forfeits

Students who have taken and failed the test three times may not continue to register in an associate or baccalaureate program at The City University of New York. These students may, however, appeal for an opportunity to attempt the test a fourth time. In evaluating such an appeal the committee should weigh the student's history of participation in writing interventions, academic record in writing courses and in other course work, performance on the test, and other pertinent information. Permission, if granted, will require an additional intervention. The appeals committee has discretion to permit continued registration until this testing has been completed. Under no circumstances may a matriculated student take the CPE more than four times.

Colleges may consider for readmission former students who have failed the CPE three or more times. Before applying for readmission, a student must take the examination (with the permission of the appeals committee) and pass it.

Students who have accumulated a combination of three failures and forfeits (other than three failures) will receive a registration stop and will be required to meet with an advisor. Each college should develop appropriate guidelines and interventions for such students.

Transfer Students

New transfers to a senior college from a non CUNY college who enter with 45 or more credits must take the CPE in their first semester at CUNY and are subject to the rules governing re takes outlined above. This provision also applies to students who transfer within CUNY from non degree to degree status with 45 or more credits.

Senior colleges may provisionally admit CUNY students to a baccalaureate program if they have completed all requirements for the associate degree except passing the CPE. Like other transfer students, these provisional transfer students must take the exam during the first semester of baccalaureate study and thereafter as required. The CPE is a requirement for the associate degree, and therefore students will not be given regular status or granted the benefits accorded by the Articulation Policy of 2000 to associate degree recipients at the senior college until they pass the CPE and are awarded the associate degree. Except for those students just described, CUNY students pursuing the associate degree who have earned more than 45 credits but who have not yet passed the exam may not transfer to a baccalaureate program.

Colleges are strongly encouraged to offer the examination in July to successful candidates for fall admission and to provide appropriate instruction during the summer to those who fail.

Students With Disabilities

Accommodations based on disabilities will be granted to comply with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Students who require such accommodations should contact their Disability Coordinator and the Testing Office.

In rare instances a student with a disability may not reasonably be accommodated within the framework of the test as currently administered. Such students may demonstrate proficiency through an alternative means, to be determined by the academic administration of the college in consultation with the disability coordinator. Students who wish to receive such an accommodation should request it in writing from the appeals committee at least one month in advance of the test administration that the student wishes to attend.


After they have taken and failed the examination for the first time, students may request permission to defer a required examination. Students seeking a deferral must state in writing to the appeals committee the reason for the request and agree to take the examination at the next administration (counting July and January administrations). The committee should take into account the student's previous experience with the CPE, exposure to writing instruction, and academic record in deciding whether to grant a deferral. Acceptable reasons for a deferral include weak preparation, insufficient opportunity to benefit from appropriate instruction, part time attendance, and exceptional circumstances beyond the student's control. The college should limit the total number of deferrals that a student may receive.

Outside transfers who enter with 45 or more credits and whose English language skills are weak should be directed to meet with an advisor and to apply for a deferral if warranted.

Fall 2003

As of September 1, 2003 all students pursuing an associate or baccalaureate degree at CUNY will be subject to all CPE requirements, except for students who already have earned a bachelor's or higher degree from an accredited program.

All previously exempt students who by September 1, 2003, have completed 45 or more credits must take the examination during Fall 2003, unless the appeals committee agrees to a postponement. As of September 1, 2003 previously exempt students become subject to all of the rules governing the examination.

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Still Confused?

Got Questions?  
Dr, Susan Young
CPE Liaison

E 103 L (718) 482-5671

Maggie Arismendi,
Assistant Director of Testing 
C428 (718) 482-5109