Greenlee Language Primer Course

Poynter Institute Exam (PIE)

Passing the Poynter Institute Exam (known in Greenlee as PIE) is a prerequisite for JL MC 201. The exam is offered as part of an online course, Iowa State University Language Primer Course Pack (Spring 2018), offered through Poynter’s News University. Students must receive a score of 78 or above to pass the PIE.

Although you can work through the course and the practice drills from any browser, you must take the exam in Hamilton Hall during a testing day for your score to count. You can only take the exam once per testing date.

Spring 2018 Testing Dates:

  • Friday, Feb. 9
  • Friday, Feb. 23
  • Friday, March 30
  • Friday, April 13
  • Friday, April 20

To sign up and study for the course:

  1. Create an account at Use your Iowa State email address to register. Students who are not registered through will not be able to complete the final exam.
  2. Log into your account, and search for “Iowa State” in the “search for courses” bar.
  3. Enroll in Iowa State University Language Primer Course Pack (Spring 2018). Be prepared with a credit or debit card to pay the $14.95 fee.
  4. Work through the course and related drills at your own pace. DO NOT take the final exam outside of Hamilton Hall. Tests must be taken in Hamilton Hall on a testing day. Tests taken online outside of the Hamilton Hall will not count and you will have to pay $14.95 to retake the test.

To take the final exam:

  1. Arrive at Hamilton Hall 10A/10B on one of the assigned testing dates listed above.
  2. Tests will begin on the hour between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. (9 a.m., 10 a.m., 11 a.m., noon, 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.). Students do not need to sign up for a specific time. Students should arrive 10-15 minutes to log in to the exam.
  3. Students will need to log into the exam using their username and password. It is highly recommended you write these down or remember them to easily log into the course on the day of the exam.
  4. Students may only take the exam once per day. Students have 5 attempts at the exam each semester.
  5. You are not allowed to use any notes or assistance for the exam. Students with disability accommodations should contact Kelsie Poe at

Students must receive a 78% on the exam to be qualified for JL MC 201 in Summer/Fall 2018.

All questions should be directed to Kelsie Poe at or 101 Hamilton Hall.


I took the test last semester, do I have to sign up again?

Yes. Students need to enroll in the course each semester. Students can use the same account, but will need to pay the fee for the current semester.

If I’ve taken the test once this semester, do I have to pay the $14.95 again?

No. Students only have to pay the fee once per semester. You are welcome to take the final exam 5 times in Hamilton Hall before you need to repay.

Do I have to sign up for a specific time to take the exam?

No, you do not have to sign up for a specific time to take the exam. Students are welcome to come once per day for each of the assigned testing days. Tests are first come, first served, so it is recommended you arrive 10-15 minutes early.

How can I use my SDR accommodation for the Language Primer test?

Please contact Kelsie Poe at to arrange accommodations.

How do I study for the exam?

Poynter offers essays, practice drills and other resources through the course pack. After a student has enrolled in the course, they are able to access all study materials. Practice drills are reported as the most helpful, but students can also use the Purdue OWL or Grammar Monster for additional assistance.

What is the average studying time for the exam?

Most students report they study 6-10 hours before passing the exam. Time depends on students’ familiarity with the topics tested and individual differences.

How many students pass the exam?

75% of students pass the test each semester. Only about 30% pass the first time they take the exam. The average number of attempts to pass is 2, but some students will take the exam up to 5 times.