| 9 Tips for Taking Tests in Exam Centers
by Kendahl Cruver
If you plan to apply for graduate school, a specialized program or to
earn a professional qualification such as a medical or real estate certification,
you may find that you need to take an exam in a commercial testing and assessment
These businesses provide the facilities for students and professionals to
take a wide array of exams, in conditions that comply with the guidelines of the
organizations that will evaluate the results.
Depending on your feelings about tests, taking an exam in one of these facilities
can be nerve-wracking to terrifying, especially if your previous experience with
exams was with pencil and paper, rather than the computer-based tests that now
dominate the industry. If it is the first time you've been to a testing center,
those feelings can be even more intense.
For several years, I have provided testing assistance to individuals with
disabilities in professional testing facilities. I have assisted in a wide array of
testing centers, and I've learned a great deal about how they work. I've also picked
up some useful tips about how any kind of test candidate can not only survive, but
thrive on exam day.
1. Preview the facility.
Check with your testing center if you can tour the test center before your exam day.
Some facilities offer special times when exam candidates can view the facility,
learn about the check-in procedure and even try a few practice questions at one of
the testing stations. If your center does not offer this service, it may still be
worthwhile to make a test drive to the facility so that you can be sure of the
location, parking and approximate travel time. Even if you live in a different town
from the testing center, it can be useful to map out the location and try to get a
good idea of how long it will take to reach the facility.
2. Know the rules of the center. In addition to learning about the facility, it can be extremely valuable to know the
basic requirements and restrictions of the testing center before exam day.
Understanding the rules will help you to prepare for the day, in addition to helping
you avoid unpleasant surprises. Some of the most important things to learn about
your testing facility include what can and cannot be brought into the testing room
and the basic rules of behavior for test candidates.
3. Bring exactly what you need. Most test centers will provide you with a locker so that you can store any items
that are not allowed into the exam room. You will often only be allowed to bring in
your locker key, identification and any permitted testing materials to your testing
station. This means that you can bring snacks, an extra sweater, medication or
anything else that might help you through the exam. As there is typically limited
space available in lockers, it is wise to choose carefully when deciding which items
4. Arrive early. Leave earlier for the test center than you think you need to, even if you're certain
you know how to get there. This gives you a cushion in case you run into the worst
traffic jam ever, inclement weather or similarly unpredictable factors. The last
thing you want is to be stressed out before you even get to the facility. It also
pays to arrive slightly early so that you can adjust yourself to your surroundings.
On the other hand, there isn't usually a benefit to arriving more than about half an
hour early. You are not likely to be able to check in earlier and sitting for too
long in the waiting area could intensify your testing nerves.