Is That A Security Wand Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?

Well, it’s done. My board recertification exam is officially off the to-do list. At least for another seven years. Though I can’t share exam specifics lest an evil pediatric lord descend upon me and pelt me with diapers, I would like to offer twelve steps on how to navigate a formal test-taking center should your life-journey ever plop you there.*

Image credit: prometric.com

Image credit: prometric.com

Step 1: Empty your bladder.

My first step for everything.

Step 2: Blow your nose.

Nothing but your brain, ID, and locker key are allowed in the central testing room. That includes your own tissues. So if you planned on smuggling in test answers on boogers, you’re out of luck.

Step 3: Arrive naked.

Or as close to it as you can. No watches. Empty pockets. Nothing tucked inside your socks (yes, they’ll check). If you wear a sweater and later get hot, tough. You must keep it on or leave the testing room and deposit it in your provided locker.

Step 4: Secure a locker and deposit your valuables.

I chose #7 for good luck.

Step 5: Get searched before entering testing room.

Pull pockets inside out to prove they’re empty. Lift pants to show your ankles are free of contraband. Stand soberly in front of attendant, legs spread, arms splayed, and allow stranger to pass his wand over your front and back side to ensure you’re metal-free. This may be your biggest thrill all day.

Shouldn’t you buy me dinner first? (Image credit Microsoft Clip Art)

Shouldn’t you buy me dinner first? (Image credit: Microsoft Clip Art)

Step 6: Enter testing room and follow attendant to your assigned cubby: desk #13.

Locker #7’s good luck is now neutralized. Wonder briefly if a black cat and broken mirror will follow.

Step 7: Get situated.

Position mouse. Put on ill-fitting noise-control headphones. Try to not be a Sheldon and think about the festering organisms on said mouse and noise-control headphones. Tune out all the nervous testers getting situated behind you.

Step 8: Take two-hour exam, section one.

Self-explanatory. If not, you probably won’t pass anyway.

Step 9: Take allotted break in small waiting area.

Leave testing room. Pee. Eat snack to avoid stomach grumbles that would only add to the coughs, sneezes, grunts, squeaks, throat-phlegming, and keyboard-tapping occurring around you despite the noise-control headphones.

Step 10: Return to testing room.

Get wanded for the second time. Don’t forget to pull out your pockets and lift up your pants. Ooh la la.

Step 11: Take two-hour exam, section two.

Try not to become blubbering monkey from question overload and blindly click responses.

Step 12: Leave center.

Drive away without looking at the Dunkin’ Donuts across the street, even if you think you deserve it.

Image credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Image credit: Microsoft Clip Art

Have you ever taken an exam at a formal testing center?

*As always I jest. Despite the draconian measures, the Prometric staff was efficient and the process smooth. Even with desk #13.

226 Responses to “Is That A Security Wand Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?”

  1. List of X

    This sounded very much like a test I took a few years ago – and then I saw the name “Prometric”, and remembered that they were the company that was administering the test. So I guess I had the same experience.

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  2. michellejoycebond

    I teach in NJ, and my elementary school students are going to be moving to a state-mandated, computer-based test next year. It won’t be in a center, but the stress level goes up along with eye fatigue etc. with these types of assessments. I would love to pass out donuts in the end, too, but I’m now not aloud to give them any food. Sigh–perhaps a field trip to Dunkin Donuts. 🙂

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    • Carrie Rubin

      Computer-based tests do tend to raise the stress level a little. Guess it makes it seem more real. And a field trip to Dunkin’ Donuts might just make you teacher of the year. 😉

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    • Carrie Rubin

      Thank you. Not sure why he thought I looked like suitable #13 desk material, but apparently I did. Luckily no whammies impeded my exam. 🙂

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  3. El Guapo

    The first IT cert I took was a similar check-in procedure. I went to a different center for the second, wherein the following two things happened:
    1 – they reminded me to go back and get my textbook so I had it if I needed it.
    2 – the other person testing in the room was having difficulty on a question so the proctor told him to ask me, since I probably knew the answer.

    Sadly, that lace has long since closed. Fortunately, I take the certs seriously and know the material before I test.

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    • Carrie Rubin

      Well, a textbook would certainly come in handy. Then again, one might spend so much time looking up answers, he/she doesn’t finish the test. Sounds like that last center had ‘laid-back’ as its middle name.

      Hope you had a fun time away!

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  4. Pam Huggins

    I read your post in my email last week and was amazed that the testing center even had a desk #13! I know it’s nuts to be worried about a number, but being tested involves mental preparation and the #13 might just knock some folks off course.
    Obviously, it did not phase you! But then, you had locker #7 in your corner. Smart.
    Glad you got through it and thanks for making the process fun for your readers too!

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    • Carrie Rubin

      Thank you! I’m not superstitious, but I did find it interesting that I was the first one led into the room, and he still gave me desk #13. If hotels don’t have a 13th floor, then surely a test center can do without a desk #13. 😉

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  5. Madame Weebles

    Mazel tov on your board re-certification! Was the attendant who inspected you good looking, at least? I mean, they should at least make sure the person who invades your privacy is a hottie. It’s just good manners. ANd I laughed at the part about how the good luck from locker #7 was now neutralized by desk #13.

    That’s nice that you get noise-control headphones, at least. The ambient coughing, throat clearing and sneezing would drive me apesh*t.

    And I think you should have rewarded yourself with a donut or two on the way home. Because I’m here to enable.

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    • Carrie Rubin

      Well, he wasn’t not good-looking. However, had they had Daniel Craig there to do the wanding honors, I would have exited and re-entered the testing area on many more occasions. Who cares if the clock still ticks on the test?

      I was the first one the attendant led into the room, and yet I still got #13. I told him he must be very confident in my abilities to give me that number. He gave me a courtesy laugh and moved on…

      Hope you’re doing well, Madame!

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  6. Betsy at Parenting is Funny

    Wow. That sounds pretty intense. The last big test I took was my SATs. I’m pretty sure we didn’t get wanded or had to empty our pockets then. Maybe they should have done that. It would have at least made the torture of the event more exciting!

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    • Carrie Rubin

      Times have certainly changed. Gone are the tests for which I just brought two sharpened pencils and pockets full of tissues. Now I have to pray I don’t sneeze…

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  7. Joanna Aislinn

    Bathroom breaks and snacks are of utmost importance but the sweater and sock deals? Wow. Do the auditoriums of yesteryear when a pen and test with bubbles next to answer count as a formal test center? Best wishes dear. I’m sure you did well.

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    • Carrie Rubin

      Thank you. I actually just found out today I passed. They said it would take 2 months, but apparently it happened in 10 days. Whatevs, as my kids would say…

      Yes, gone are the pencils and bubble answers. Sigh.

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  8. K. Lyn Wurth

    Atta girl. Glad that’s behind you for another 7 years. When I took my PA cert exam, there was no wand or patdown…I was single at the time, so I might not have minded. Glad those days are behind me, too! Welcome back to the writing world.

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  9. acflory

    Congratulations on surviving the gulag! It’s been close to 40 years since I had to do one of those kind of exams. -shudder-

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  10. Kourtney Heintz

    LOL. I took the GRE back in 1999 in a formal testing center, but it was not nearly as intense. I kinda feel like I missed out on something. 😉

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  11. daniheart21

    It sounds like an awful thing to have to go through. No I guess I have not been to such a test anywhere. There must be many who would cheat if they have to take all these measures to prevent such activity. I loved the Sheldon reference. I could just envision it. 🙂 So glad you are done with that for a bit.

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    • Carrie Rubin

      You and me both. 🙂 And yes, I suspect these measures came about from too many people cheating and bucking the system (not necessarily for medical board exams, but for all sorts of professional exams since this center caters to all), because things have come a long way from when I first took my boards!

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