[B-Greek] Greek Exegesis: Distance Learning

John Schwandt jschwandt at nsa.edu
Fri Jul 29 14:11:45 EDT 2005

I'm sorry, but you did not take the National Biblical Greek Exam.  What you
took was merely a sample test to give visitors a feel for the format of the
exam.  The actual exam has 50 questions and provides detailed results.  I
should also mention that the actual exam is rather difficult.  I don't think
anyone achieved a perfect score last year.  On the other hand, one doesn't
have to be a master to pass it.

The exam can be helpful for those who need some direction as to where they
should focus their efforts.  The problem for many students isn't that they
assume that they know everything.  They clearly see that they have
difficulties, but the trick is to determine what those difficulties are so
that they may be corrected.  The sample exam does not offer any evaluation
so you did not see how the exam provides this type of feedback.  I have seen
many students making mistakes and not understand the exact nature of their
problem.  They then have no way to learn how to clear up their confusion
(This is where an instructor comes in very handy.)  The results from the
NBGE help show students where their grammatical and morphological weaknesses
are.  Once they review and study the grammar of their problem areas, often
times those mysterious problems start to clear up.

I'm disappointed that your experience with the sample exam led you to refer
to the NBGE as a "scheme," which often carries a negative connotation.
There are numerous professors involved who are working to make this effort a
success.  It has developed considerably over the past three years and I will
be speaking on standardized testing, using the NBGE as a case study, at this
year's annual Society of Biblical Literature congress.

As with any test, there is no silver bullet that guarantees certification of
complete understanding.  The NBGE is simply one more tool that may be used
as a further testimony to gauge progress through basic grammar and
accidence.  It is also a helpful comparative tool and hopefully will act as
a catalyst for schools and curriculums to glean the best from each other.
This comparative element is also extremely helpful for those who are
learning through non traditional avenues.  I'm also hopeful concerning the
statistics that will be catalogued over the years.  Often we educators must
generalize from our own anecdotal experiences.  It will be nice to have a
few decades of broadly sampled data regarding specifics in Greek education.

I hope this clarification and correction is helpful.

John Schwandt
Senior Fellow New Saint Andrews College
Director of the National Biblical Greek Exam


I just took the National Greek exam and scored 9 out of 9.  I however would
not get your hopes up and let such a scheme measure your competence.
Instead either go to some classical site(s) and use their test preps and
vocab building wares or pick up the Greek NT and read.  Sokrates said "the
wise man is he who knows that he does not know."  You will be a better judge
of what you can and can't do at present than anybody else - both by prepared
texts or cold reading.
In addition the Perseus site has various Greek/Latin texts on line with
lexica and grammatical aids all at your fingertips.
Malcolm Robertson

Eric Biggs <ericb at gracechurchreno.org> wrote:

The National Biblical Greek Exam might be good enough:


Stephen, you might find this site useful as well.

Eric Biggs
zealous student
Reno, NV

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