Keystone Exams » Exam FAQs

Exam FAQs

What are the KEYSTONE EXAMS?
The Keystone Exams are state-mandated end-of-course assessments in Algebra I, Biology and Literature. At the high school level, they replace the grade 11 PSSA’s and are used to satisfy the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law.

Each Keystone Exam is divided into two modules. Student scores are based on the total points earned from the two modules combined. The scores are then broken down into the following categories: Advanced, Proficient, Basic and Below Basic. Students must score in the Advanced or Proficient range to show their mastery of the content.

Why are the Keystone Exams important?

Beginning with the Class of 2017, all students are required to score Proficiency on each of the Keystone Exams to earn a high school diploma.

When do students take the KEYSTONE EXAMS?

Students must take a Keystone Exams at the end of each of the Keystone-assessed course.



Algebra I

7th, 8th and 9th Grade


9th Grade


10th Grade

How many times can a student take a Keystone Exam?

Students must demonstrate Proficiency to meet graduation requirements. Once a student scores Advanced or Proficient, he/she has met the graduation requirement and is finished with that exam. There is no limit as to how many times a student can take a Keystone Exam. Students may retake the exam at any time it is offered, even if working on a PBA.

If a student in the class of 2017 and beyond is unable to demonstrate Proficiency on a Keystone Exam, what support will he/she receive in preparation to retake the exam?

Students will receive supplemental instruction in order to prepare for the next attempt at the exam. Supplemental instruction may be in the form of content-based labs, online tutorial programs, academic recovery sessions, in-class support and direct work with specialists. Each building will determine what is most appropriate for each student.

If a student scores Proficient, can they retest to attempt to earn an Advanced score?

No, the Pennsylvania Department of Education does not allow for retests once a student has scored Proficient.

Will my child receive accommodations on the Keystone Exams?

Eligible students, in alignment with the Accommodation Guidelines as developed by Pennsylvania Department of Education, will receive accommodations as outlined within their IEP or 504 plan.

Can my child opt out of the KEYSTONE EXAMS?

As with PSSA tests, parents may review Keystone Exams per state regulations and opt out for religious reasons only. A student who opts out due to religious reasons is still required under state law to participate in the Project Based Assessment. Starting with the class of 2017, all students graduating from a Pennsylvania high school must demonstrate Proficiency on the Keystone Exams or pass a Project Based Assessment.