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What are the Regents Exams in NYC?

As a high school student in New York City, you’ve likely heard whispers about the NYS Regents Exams. These exams hold immense weight, acting as a gateway to graduation and potentially shaping your college prospects. But fear not! This comprehensive guide will equip you with everything you need to understand the NYS Regents Exams and emerge victorious.

Demystifying the Purpose of Regents Exam

The NYS Regents Exams serve a multifaceted purpose. Primarily, they assess a student’s mastery of essential knowledge and skills across various academic disciplines. Passing these exams demonstrates your understanding of core subjects and your preparedness for college-level coursework.

On a broader scale, the Regents Exams contribute to maintaining educational standards across New York State. They ensure that graduates possess a baseline level of competency in critical areas, fostering a qualified and college-ready workforce.

Exam Structure: A Breakdown

Regents Exams are typically administered in June, but in some circumstances, you may be able to take them in January or August for retakes or sickness-based exceptions. Each exam is subject-specific and may consist of multiple-choice questions, short-answer questions, and essay questions. The exams are designed to test students’ knowledge and understanding of the subject matter, as well as their ability to apply this knowledge in various contexts.

What are the NYS Regents Exams in NYC?

The Regents Exams cover a range of subjects, including English, Mathematics, Science, and Social Studies. Each subject has specific exams that students must pass to earn their high school diploma. Here’s a breakdown of the main subjects covered by the Regents Exams:


The English Regents Exam assesses students’ proficiency in reading, writing, and critical thinking. The exam includes:

  • Reading Comprehension: Students must read passages and answer questions that test their understanding and interpretation of the text.
  • Writing: Students are required to write essays that demonstrate their ability to organize and express their thoughts clearly and effectively.


The Mathematics Regents Exams include Algebra I, Geometry, and Algebra II. These exams test students’ knowledge and skills in various mathematical concepts and problem-solving techniques.

  • Algebra I: Focuses on algebraic expressions, equations, functions, and real-world problem-solving.
  • Geometry: Covers geometric concepts, including properties of shapes, theorems, and proofs.
  • Algebra II: Includes advanced algebraic concepts, such as complex numbers, polynomial functions, and trigonometry.


The Science Regents Exams cover subjects like Living Environment, Earth Science, Chemistry, and Physics.

  • Living Environment: Tests students’ understanding of biological concepts, including genetics, evolution, and ecology.
  • Earth Science: Focuses on geology, meteorology, astronomy, and environmental science.
  • Chemistry: Assesses knowledge of chemical principles, reactions, and the periodic table.
  • Physics: Covers concepts such as mechanics, energy, waves, and electricity.

Social Studies

The Social Studies Regents Exams include Global History and Geography, and U.S. History and Government.

  • Global History and Geography: Tests students’ knowledge of world history, cultures, and geography from ancient times to the present.
  • U.S. History and Government: Focuses on American history, government, and political systems.
  • Participation in Government: Assesses students’ understanding of civic responsibilities, political processes, and public policy.

Regents Diploma Requirements

To earn a Regents Diploma, students must pass a certain number of Regents Exams with a score of 65 or higher. The specific requirements vary depending on the type of diploma a student is pursuing.

NYS Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation

The Regents Diploma with Advanced Designation requires students to pass additional exams and demonstrate higher proficiency in specific subjects. This diploma is often sought by students aiming for competitive college admissions.

Requirements: Accordingly to the New York State Board of Regents, “students must pass two additional math assessments and one additional science assessment along with the required 4-5 assessments included in any of the pathways.”

NYS Regents Diploma with Honors

The Regents Diploma with Honors recognizes students who have achieved outstanding academic performance on their Regents Exams.

Requirements: Students must achieve an average score of 90 or higher on all required Regents Exams to earn this distinction.

How to Prepare for the NYS Regents Exams

Preparing for the Regents Exams requires a strategic approach to studying and practice. Here are some tips to help you succeed:

  • Create a Study Schedule: Allocate specific times for studying each subject, ensuring you cover all the material before the exam dates.
  • Use Review Books: Invest in Regents review books that provide practice questions, detailed explanations, and test-taking strategies.
  • Practice Past Exams: Familiarize yourself with the exam format and types of questions by practicing with past Regents Exams available online.
  • Join Study Groups: Collaborate with classmates to review material, discuss difficult concepts, and test each other’s knowledge.
  • Seek Extra Help: If you’re struggling with certain topics, consider hiring a tutor (like us at Khan’s Tutorial) or attending review sessions offered by your school.

Why is New York the Only State with Regents Exams?

New York is unique in its administration of Regents Exams due to historical and educational factors. The Regents Exams were established in the 19th century as part of an effort to standardize education across the state and ensure consistent academic standards. Over time, the exams have become an integral part of the state’s education system, distinguishing New York from other states. However, other states may have their own forms of standardized exams.

Do Regents Matter for College?

Regents Exams can play a role in college admissions, particularly for schools in New York State. Strong performance on these exams can enhance a student’s transcript and demonstrate academic readiness to college admissions officers. However, colleges outside of New York may place less emphasis on Regents scores, focusing instead on other factors such as GPA, extracurricular activities, and standardized test scores like the SAT or ACT.

Are Some Schools Exempt from Regents Exams?

Certain schools, such as private and parochial schools, may be exempt from administering Regents Exams. However, most public schools in New York State are required to administer these exams to their students. Some alternative education programs and charter schools may have different requirements, so it’s essential to check with the specific school for their policies.


Understanding the NYS Regents Exams is crucial for students in New York State as they work towards their high school diplomas. These exams serve to standardize education, measure academic achievement, and prepare students for future success. By knowing the purpose, structure, and requirements of the Regents Exams, students can better prepare and perform to the best of their abilities. Whether you’re a student, parent, or educator, staying informed about these exams can help you navigate the educational landscape and achieve your academic.

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