A-to-Z Index

Information Literacy Competency

General Introductionthe ISST
 Transfer Student Information

See Testing Lab Schedule for lab operating hours.
Contact Dale Kennedy at (540)568-6855 or kennedad@jmu.edu

Photo - Harrison Hall

General Introduction

Incoming Freshmen and most incoming Transfer students are required to successfully complete the Information Seeking Skills Test by the end of their first academic year at JMU.  

Information Seeking Skills Test (ISST)

Introduction to the ISST

James Madison University believes that the fundamental knowledge and skills you need to find good information are necessary both for successful completion of your university classes and for life after graduation. The ISST requirement helps to ensure that all students develop the necessary knowledge and skills early in their university career. All students enrolled in General Education Cluster One are required to pass the Information-Seeking Skills Test (ISST) during the freshman year.

Information-Seeking Competencies

Students are required to demonstrate the following competencies by passing the ISST:

  • Identify and locate library services and collections.

  • Formulate and conduct an information search that includes a variety of reference sources, such as encyclopedias, library catalogs, indexes, bibliographies, statistics sources, government publications, and resources available on the Internet.

  • Evaluate information in terms of accuracy, authority, bias, and relevance.

  • Employ efficient database searching techniques, such as use of Boolean operators, truncation, phrase searching, nesting, and field-specific searching.

  • Identify the bibliographic elements essentials for properly citing an information source.

  • Apply appropriate ethical guidelines to the use of information.

Information-seeking skills are taught in Cluster One courses. Students will learn these skills by completing:

  1. Go for the Gold, a web-based instruction program consisting of eight self-instruction modules with online exercises.  http://www.lib.jmu.edu/gold/default.aspx The Go for the Gold exercises are not the ISST.
  2. Course-related assignments that require students to find information.

Passing the ISST

After you have completed Go for the Gold, you must go to Ashby Lab L7 to take the ISST. It is a web-based test that is composed of 53 questions. The standards for passing are:

  • Advanced: a score of 595-800
  • Meets Standard: a score of 513-594

Successful passing of the ISST will be noted on your transcript. Students who fail may study Go for the Gold or attend a library workshop and then retake the test. Students who do not pass by the deadline will have a registration hold placed on their academic record.

Transfer Student Information

As a transfer student, you are required to take complete the Information Literacy Competency requirement which is the ISST.

PHOTO - Students Working on Computers

In some cases, transfer students are exempt from the requirement if they fall into one of the following exempt categories:

  • Transfer student entered JMU before the Fall semester of 1999
  • Transfer student has the appropriate Associates Degree which waived the General Education requirements (see page 12 of the Virginia Community College Transfer Guide)
  • Transfer student has German Arbitur credit

If you are not certain if you fall into one of these categories, check your JMU catalog, the Virginia Community College Transfer Guide or contact your advisor.

Transfer students who do not meet one of the exempt categories listed above are required to complete the ISST competency exam.

The ISST is administered in Ashby Lab.  For lab availability see the lab schedule. Students failing to successfully complete the exam by the deadline will have a registration hold placed on their academic record. Students are now able to view their passing scores via myMadison.