The day before starting classes at Missouri Southern State University, Taygan Brant completed one of the requirements for graduation.

Brant, who is starting her first year as a member of the Yours to Lose – Advanced Medical School Acceptance Program, became the first Missouri Southern student to pass a new, state-mandated civics exam.

The law, which was passed last year, requires colleges and university students to pass a civics test in order to graduate. The Missouri Higher Education Civics Achievement Examination is similar to the test administered by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services division of the Department of Homeland Security.

Each institution must create and administer the test, and students must score at least a 70 percent in order to graduate. The eight test modules of the test, which is administered online, covers issues relating to U.S. history, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Missouri constitution.

“The whole purpose (of the test) is to show students how to become knowledgeable, engaged U.S. citizens,” said Diana Fordham, an instructional designer for the university’s Distance Learning program who helped design the test. “You will have a greater chance of passing the exam if you go through all of the material.

“It was a joint effort by people across campus to create this test.”

Over the weekend, Brant passed the 50-question test with 48 correct answers.

“I heard them announce that we had to take the test during Freshman Convocation (on Aug. 17),” said Brant. “I knew if I didn’t get it done, I might forget about it. I started it on Saturday and finished it Sunday.

“You have to watch a video and take a practice quiz to make sure you understood and absorbed the material. Then you have to take a final quiz.”

As part of the Yours to Lose program, Brant is on an accelerated course of study that has her on track to receive her biology degree in three years before starting her first year of medical school at the Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences.

“I decided to go ahead and take the test when I didn’t have any homework, and I didn’t want to take it around finals time,” she said.

Dr. Paula Carson, Missouri Southern’s provost/vice president of academic affairs, said creating the test was a six-month, campuswide effort.

“Missouri Southern approached this project as something we were privileged to be able to do, rather than something we had to do,” she said. “We believe in the end, completing this process will enable our students to be better citizens not only of the state of Missouri and the country, but also better global citizens where their lives and careers may take them.”