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The Communication Design Art Test (NA)

The Art Test is no longer required for entry into the major.

As of January 7, 2017, The Art Test is no longer required for entrance into the Communication Design (CMD) program at Buffalo State. The information below is for REFERENCE ONLY for those who have taken the Art Test in the past.

All incoming students and transfers will be required to take the CMD Art Test for entry to the Spring 2014 - Spring 2017 semesters. Following your acceptance to Buffalo State, the Admissions Department will send you the Art Test or you may download it right now and get started on it! When this is completed and submitted to the Communication Design Department, it will be reviewed. You will be notified regarding your acceptance into the CMD program according to the schedule outlined below.

The Art Test is comprised of five elements. All artwork must be done by hand. (specific subject matter may change each semester) The following is NOT the art test - this is an explanation of the questions that are on the Art Test and WHY we ask them.

  • A letter of intent that states WHY you want to study Communication Design at Buffalo State and what you hope to get out of your education here. We want students who are engaged and willing to put in the effort it takes to excel in the program.

  • A one page letter to a prominent historical figure in the design field. This shows your ability to do pertinent research, organize thoughts, and express ideas.

  • A pencil or charcoal drawing that shows you understand perspective, lighting, and composition. It also shows your technical competence.

  • An advertisement or promotional piece that shows you have a grasp of creative problem solving, typography, color, composition, balance, message, and target audience.

  • A self portrait that shows imaginative visualization, personal expression, and creativity applicable to the communication design field.

Submitted Artwork and digital files will not be returned. You should copy or photograph any work submitted for your own records

Please call 716 878 6032 if you have questions.


Why do we have an Art Test?

The Art Test is used as a screening tool, much like an SAT score or audition in music or theater. The Communication Design course sequence is extensive and demanding, requiring the incoming student to have a well-developed artistic sensibility at the outset. The Art Test allows the faculty to judge a student’s talent and skills as they relate to the curriculum: aesthetics of presentation, innovation and strength of ideas, and depth of exploration.

A student wishing to enroll in the Communication Design program should apply to Buffalo State as early as possible.

Beginning FALL 2013
After admission to the college the prospective student will be provided with the Art Test. The student must submit the Art Test by the deadline for the upcoming semester. (schedule below) The student will be notified if they have or have not passed the Art Test. When a student passes the Art Test they are accepted into the Communication Design program and will be notified by a letter of acceptance.

Dates for Art Test Submission

Art Tests may be submitted at any time, but will be marked on specific dates. For example; all Art Tests received and postmarked between now and the next deadline will be reviewed at the same time and results sent out two weeks later. What does this mean for you? Submit by the earliest deadline possible to make sure you have a seat in next semester's class! We look forward to seeing your work.



January 6, 2017 (postmarked)
Art Test submission deadline.

January 13, 2017
Notification of Pass/Did not Pass

No Art Tests will be accepted after January 7, 2017.
Exciting changes are in process and will be updated here as they become available.

Apply early to have the best chance to become part of our dynamic program!

Missed Deadlines or Re-Submission

A student missing the entry deadline for the Art Test will be notified by the Buffalo State Admissions Office. The student will be admitted as a BA in Art and must submit their Art Test by the next deadline. The student will be able to enroll in classes that will contribute to this degree. These courses include the following:

FAR101 Drawing I
FAR104 Themes and Issues in Contemporary Arts
DES101 Introduction to Design 2DI
DES103 Introduction to Design 3D 1
FAR250 Art History I
FAR251 Art History II

Every CMD major or prospective major must attend a Communication Design advisement session during orientation at the beginning of the semester to discuss course selection.

If a student does not pass the Art Test and plans on re-applying, they submit the current version of the Art Test by the nearest deadline for the following semester. (Maximum of two Art Test submissions allowed)

In addition, the freshman student will continue to take Intellectual Foundations (General Education) courses (CWP101, COM100 and BSC101).  The transfer student may enroll in courses unique to Buffalo State to fulfill these requirements. (Diversity, Oral Communication (SPC205), and Writing Intensive credits, or other courses in the IF, (Intellectual Foundations).

To be considered for internal transfer a student must have a minimum overall GPA of 2.75 at Buffalo State and submit work from the current version of the Art Test by the appropriate deadlines. If a student was not accepted in an earlier application, they must complete the latest version of the Art Test.

Examples of Successful Submissions


When preparing a drawing for the art test, reviewers are looking for several specific artistic abilities. Your drawing should show a strong sense of value — the ability to accurately render and utilize light and dark in an image to establish the nature of forms and the way light interacts with those forms. Your drawing should show an accurate understanding of perspective to give the drawing a realistic illusion of space and depth. It should also accurately depict various textures such as cloth, wood, steel and leather - or whatever you have chosen to draw. Simple contour (line) drawings are insufficient. Below are some successful examples of drawing submissions.



Self Portrait - Montage

The self portrait  - montage portion of the art test requires you to think about a design problem from an unexpected angle. You need to make a self portrait, but you must do so with images from things about you, but not necessarily from actual pictures of you. Successful works show thoughtful use of composition, color and texture and usually have a surprising element or unique quality that makes them memorable. Those can be from novel use of composition, materials, or other imagery.


The poster requirement for the art test requires you to create a concept that is relevant and meaningful to a broad audience. The poster should communicate your concept effectively through a well-composed combination of writing, typography and imagery. A successful poster not only says something clearly, it also creates an emotional response in the viewer using humor, surprise, metaphor or a clever juxtaposition.


The two writing portions of the test are critical. Successful writing requires you to do more than a simple Google search on the subject. Go to the library and read a book or watch a documentary video about your subject. Read closely what other people have written about your topic and try to develop some unique thoughts and ideas. Use the appropriate vocabulary and terminology and pay attention to grammar and spelling. Good designers are always good writers, so take these parts of the art test very seriously.

How to approach the Art Test

Take your time with the Art Test. Have other people look at it before your turn it in. Allow yourself to make multiple versions of each section - then turn in the best one. As a general rule, good design requires its maker to be fully immersed in its creation. In other words, try hard and make it fun for yourself. If you're bored or uninterested while you are creating it, the reviewers will likely find it boring as well. If you're having fun making it, the reviewers will enjoy seeing it. When in doubt, email or call us and ask for clarification or assistance. We're invested in your success.

~The Faculty of Communication Design

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Buffalo State •  1300 Elmwood Ave  •  Upton Hall 402
Buffalo, NY 14222  •  Phone: (716) 878-6032 •  Fax: (716) 878-4231