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Exam Purpose

The BU Exams (available for free below) provide a complete, structured, well designed, and challenging "pool workout" you can use to develop and improve your game to reach the next level. They also provide an accurate assessment and rating of overall pool-playing ability. More information concerning the design of and rationale for the exams can be found on the BU Assessment Philosophy page.

Exam Instructions

Detailed instructions for taking the BU playing-ability exams, determining your BU rating, and earning a diploma can be found in the BU Exam Instructions document. The following video also provides an overview:


See more details and
watch Shane Van Boening, Mark Gray,
and other top players take the Exams
on the video demos page.
Here's Shane taking Exam I:

Exam I - Fundamentals

The first exam covers fundamentals including aiming, stroke, stop/follow/draw control, and cue ball position control. Here are the documents you need to complete the exam and track your progress over time:

Your score on Exam I determines which Exam II you take based on the following ranges:

Exam I score 0-49 50-69 70-100
Exam II Bachelors Masters Doctorate

Exam II - Skills

The second exam assesses important pool skills including aiming, position play, rail cut shots, safeties, kicks and banks, jump and masse shots, and the break. There are three different levels of Exam II (Bachelors, Masters, and Doctorate). Your performance on Exam I places you into the appropriate Exam II. The difficulty level and number of available points increases with Exam level. Here are the documents you need to complete the exam and track your progress over time:

Exam III - Advanced Shots

The third exam is optional. It is designed to challenge even top players with 25 tough shots that sometimes come up in game situations. These advanced pool shots are fun to practice and can help you get out of jams and win games:

Here are demonstrations of all of the shots in BU Exam III:

And here are Examples of Pros Using these Shots in Real Game Situations.

BU Score

Your BU score is the sum of the first two exam scores (Exam I + Exam II). The score determines your rating and playing level according to the BU rating chart, which also provides comparisons to more-traditional rating and handicapping systems. Your BU score also determines if you have earned a pool diploma according to the following ranges:

BU Score 55-84 85-99 100-124 125-139 140-179 180-200
Bachelors Bachelors
with Honors
Masters Master
with Honors
Doctorate Doctorate
with Honors

If you qualify for a diploma, you can apply online and be officially recognized by the BU.

Video Resources

Step-by-step online video demonstrations are available to help guide you through the process and to show examples of the exams. A 3-volume video series is also available to provide advice and guidance concerning how to practice and learn strategies to help you achieve the highest BU rating and diploma possible.

Here are online videos providing overviews of each BU Exam:


BU Exam Challenges

Periodically, the Billiard University offers cash prizes for Exam Challenge contests. Here are results (scores and videos) from past challenges:

Why You Should Practice the BU Playing-Ability Exams