English majors gear up for MFAT exam

English majors gear up for MFAT exam

During finals weeks, senior English majors will have one more test to take before they can graduate. The Major Field Achievement Test, along with their senior project, will help to assess Simpson’s English Department.

The MFAT is required for senior English majors as part of their senior project. The MFAT is a standardized, ACT-type test. It will not affect the students’ grade for English 360, but it is necessary for purposes of departmental assessment.

“The MFAT is a multiple choice test very, very similar to the SATs or the ACTs,” Todd Lieber, professor of English and chair of the English Department, said. “Unlike the SAT and the ACT, which come at the end of high school, the MFAT comes at the end of college.”

Lieber was quick to point out the exam’s similarities to the Graduate Record Exams.

“The difference between the GRE and the MFAT is that the GRE is intended to assess a student’s ability to undertake graduate study,” Lieber said. “The MFAT on the other hand, is designed to assess accomplishment in the undergraduate major, recognizing that not all undergraduate majors are interested in graduate school.”

Lieber said the MFAT is used in combination with the senior project to assess the students and the department.

“We have used it for close to 10 years as an assessment tool to measure not so much what our students are doing but how we as a department are doing,” Lieber said.

Senior Ali Jepsen said she is not too worried about taking the MFAT.

“To me, it’s not too big a deal,” Jepsen said. “A few weeks ago they sent out an e-mail giving us some warning. Word has kind of gotten around the department that we are going to have to do it but people are just more confused – it’s this big ambiguous test – but I don’t think anyone is too worried. To me, it’s just one more thing I have to before I graduate.”

Not all students share the same the same opinion however.

“I have a negative opinion on this test,” junior Amanda Vetter said. “I am glad that it does not affect our grade, but the school will still have the record. I do not do well on tests, and I know that there are others who do not perform their best on tests.”

Senior Beth Hansen said she is focusing on her senior project and graduating in May and taking another test isn’t causing any added anxiety.

“If the Simpson College English Department believes it the MFAT to be beneficial to the variety of English majors on campus, I have no problem taking the test,” Hansen said. “I don’t have much of an opinion on whether or not it is being graded because I feel confident enough in the education I received at Simpson and the English department to take the test and move forward. Currently, my focus is on senior project and graduating in May, so another test isn’t creating more anxiety by any means.”