Keystone Exams

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Keystone Exam Information and Resources

Keystone Exams Prep Website

What are the Keystone Exams?

The Keystone Exams are end-of-course assessments designed to evaluate proficiency in three content areas: Algebra I, Literature and Biology.  Federal and state law require all students to take each exam at least once, unless the student has significant disabilities that would qualify them to take an alternate test called the Pennsylvania Alternate System of Assessment (PASA). The Keystone Exams are also one component of the high school graduation requirements for students in the state of Pennsylvania.  

The results of the Keystone Exams factor into our school’s Future Ready Index rating, which is issued annually by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. They also factor into the evaluation ratings of teachers, administrators, and other professional staff members.

When do students take the Keystone Exams?

Students take each exam at the conclusion of the associated course in which the eligible content for the exam is taught. Students in the East Penn School District are administered each exam as follows:

  • The Algebra Keystone Exam is administered in the spring of the year that students are enrolled in Algebra 1 (Note: Students who are enrolled in Algebra 1 in middle school also take the exam).
  • The Literature Keystone Exam is administered in the spring of the students’ tenth grade year.
  • The Biology Keystone Exam is administered in the spring of the year that students are enrolled in Biology 1 or Honors.

How are the Keystone Exams scored? When can I expect to receive my scores?

Keystone Exams are scored by the state. Individual student score reports are then shipped to the school. We typically receive the score reports three to four months after the exams are administered. Upon receipt of the individual score reports, they are mailed to students’ home addresses at that time. Students earn an overall score of “Below Basic,” “Basic,” “Proficient,” or “Advanced” on each exam. 

Do colleges or employers see the results of my Keystone Exams?

The highest proficiency level earned on each exam is printed on students’ transcripts.

What happens if I do not earn a score of “Proficient” or “Advanced” on all of my Keystone Exams?

The East Penn School District may require students to participate in retesting. Additionally, some students may wish to retest if they did not score “Proficient” or “Advanced” on one or more of the Keystone Exams. Our research shows that students scoring a 1490 or above on their first attempt often earn a score of “Proficient” after retesting. We strongly encourage students scoring in that range to take advantage of the retest.  

What happens if I was scheduled to take the Keystone Exams during the 2019-2020 school year? What are my options?

Keystone Exams were not administered to students in the state of Pennsylvania during the 2019-2020 school year due to the pandemic. Therefore, students in this circumstance are not required to take the exam for which they were scheduled during the 2019-2020 school year. Instead, this cohort of students shall be deemed “Proficient,” provided that they received a passing grade for the course associated with the exam, and that this was the first time they were scheduled to take the exam.

Students in this cohort may opt-in to take the test if they wish to do so. Below are the circumstances under which students may wish to take the exam:

  • To achieve a score of “Advanced” or
  • To ensure that they will be able to meet the graduation pathway requirements if they are in the graduating class of 2023 or beyond. Students deemed “Proficient” under this category are not assigned a numerical score and therefore, will need to meet the PA Act 158 Graduation Pathways requirements through other means.

What is PA Act 158?

PA Act 158 Graduation Pathways requires that all students in the state of Pennsylvania demonstrate proficiency on all three Keystone exams, or through an alternate pathway, in order to meet the statewide graduation requirement. This requirement now applies to students in the Class of 2023 and beyond.

Students in the Class of 2023 and beyond who do not score “Proficient” or “Advanced” on all three Keystone exams must take further action to demonstrate proficiency and meet the statewide graduation requirement per Act 158 and also, by completing their Career Readiness Portfolio, which is already a requirement for all Emmaus High School students. 

In addition to the coursework associated with the Keystone Exams, are there other exam resources available?

Below you will find resources to aid with studying for the Keystone Exams.




Who can I talk to if I need further assistance?

If you have any questions about the Keystone Exams, they can be directed to your school counselor or Mrs. Lisa Lucchesi-Wood, Testing Coordinator, at or by phone at 610-965-1650.

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