Skip to main content
Preparing for Seminary

Preparing for Seminary

Whether you have just begun exploring the possibility of attending seminary, have already been admitted to WSC, or are hoping to attend in the future, we have provided a number of resources to help you prepare for your seminary experience. The following guidelines are provided by WSC to assist prospective students as they prepare spiritually and academically for their graduate theological education.

If you have been registered for courses at WSC as a new student be sure to review the new student registration page for important details regarding your next steps in the enrollment process.

Spiritual Preparation

Seek to develop strong relations and personal growth within a Christian church both before and during seminary. It is primarily within this context that students will grow in the knowledge of God’s revealed Word and be built up into maturity. Maintaining a consistent prayer life, study of the scriptures, and involvement with and commitment to a local Christian church is integral and vital to your preparation for seminary and to your own spiritual life in Christ.

Academic Preparation

Cultivate strong academic knowledge in areas related to Biblical studies, such as history, philosophy and language studies. A strong understanding of the liberal arts will assist you in establishing clear, concise, and cogent writing skills that are essential to a seminary education.

Preparing for Seminary Reading List

This resource is provided to introduce various topics that will be covered or referenced during studies at WSC. Please note that this information is provided as a resource only; this reading list is not prerequisite to beginning a degree program at WSC.

Preparing for Seminary Reading List


English Bible Knowledge

Thorough knowledge of the English Bible is expected of all students at Westminster Seminary California. In order to ensure that all students have an in-depth understanding of the Bible, the Seminary has established an English Bible Exam. The examination is administered two times per academic year. All incoming students are required to take the English Bible Exam during their first semester of studies.  Students who take the English Bible Exam and fail it on their first attempt have the opportunity to retake the exam the next time it is offered. Students who take and fail the exam twice, or who fail to take the exam when required to do so, are required to take OT520 English Bible Survey the next spring semester.

A score of 110 or higher out of 150 questions is required in order to be exempt from OT520 English Bible Survey. Students who fail the exam once will be allowed another attempt to pass it. After a second failure, or neglecting to take the exam, the student is required to take OT520 English Bible Survey (which is offered only in the spring semester) as an elective. Each student must pass the exam or OT520 prior to registering for OT601, OT701, OT702, NT601, NT602, NT701, and ST604 and ST605.  Please note that WSC does not provide a sample test for the English Bible Exam. 

Graduate Theological Writing

This propaedeutic course is offered to assist students in developing competency in the organization and composition of essays and papers, correct use of source materials in writing, clarity and style in sentence syntax and paragraph construction, diction, grammar, punctuation, and spelling.  New students registered for their first semester will have an opportunity to obtain a waiver of PT400 Graduate Theological Writing by submitting an academic paper to the Registrar’s office.

For paper requirements, download: Graduate Theological Writing Requirements (PDF)

Oral Communication (M.Div. Only)

All M.Div. students are required to enroll in PT410 Oral Communication during the first fall semester unless a waiver is granted.  Students may obtain a waiver by delivering a brief devotional speech that exhibits adequate oral communication skills (in preparation, structure, and delivery) to representative faculty of the Department of Practical Theology prior to the first fall semester of study. Further information about student speeches will be provided during the WSC New Student Orientation.  If you do not receive a waiver for PT410, you will be required to take this class before enrolling in PT504 Sermon Preparation and Delivery and the advanced homiletics practica (PT603, PT604, PT704, PT708).  Non-Native, English-speaking students should review the Academic Catalogue for additional information regarding the TOEFL score and eligibility for a waiver of the PT410 requirement.

In preparation for the devotional speech, incoming students are encouraged to review the following guidelines: Writing Your First Speech.

Biblical Languages

Although WSC offers thorough instruction in both Greek and Hebrew, preparation in these languages before seminary will be extremely beneficial for you since WSC places a strong emphasis on the original languages.  Students with prior studies in Greek or Hebrew may “test out” of some of the language requirements by taking a placement exam given by the Biblical Studies Department.  A Greek placement exam is held on the day prior to the start of the Greek I course during both the summer and winter terms, and during New Student Orientation in the fall. The Hebrew placement exam is held prior to the start of fall and spring semesters by arrangement with the Old Testament faculty.  Each exam covers the fundamentals of grammar, vocabulary, and translation of selected passages (see the sample exams below).

Greek and Hebrew Texts

These are the primary texts used for language study at WSC:

  • Greek; S.M. Baugh, A New Testament Greek Primer (Third Ed.) and A First John Reader
  • Hebrew; Gary Pratico and Miles VanPelt, Basics of Biblical Hebrew Grammar (Second Edition)

Language Program Information and Sample Placement Exams

Greek Program Information (PDF)
Sample Greek Placement Exam (PDF)
Sample Hebrew Placement Exam (PDF)