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Kendahl Cruver9 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 center. 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 to bring.

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.

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