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. IGJ

    Oh yes, the GRE, which my two teenage daughters helped me with, in advance, of course. Also the MAT; I actually loved that one. I know, I needed a life. Bravo, Carrie!

    Like

  2. Anne Chia

    Wow! Pediatricians in the US just won my vote of confidence! Sounds like a grueling couple of hours. What would happen to people who are terrible at IT and fiddle with the computers?

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      They would run out of time… 😉

      It was two, 2-hour sessions so 4 hours in all. Is tough to stay focused that long, but I think I managed. The center provides testing for all sorts of professionals, and some were still there after me! I felt sorry for them…

      Like

  3. 4amWriter

    Ugh. I am a really horrible test-taker to begin with, and conditions like that would freak me out. The tissue thing would be tough to deal with, especially because I’d be crying the whole time knowing I’m failing the test.

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      Haha, nothing like going into the center with a positive attitude. 🙂

      But yeah, tissues are kind of like the bladder emptying thing for me–a necessity. Guess that means I’m officially an old lady…

      Like

  4. Aelish

    Ugh, that’s worse than the GRE’s! At least I didn’t have to get felt up by security before taking the test. Of course, I did wear a hat – like some kind of total idiot (apparently)! They did have to remove it, thereby foiling my plot to sneak the 800 pages worth of GRE material by them on my head.

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      Too bad it wasn’t a magician’s hat. Then you could’ve made everything disappear only to reappear again… 😉

      I don’t know how one could cheat on these tests anyway. There’s far too much material to have cheat sheets for!

      Like

  5. Britt Skrabanek

    Dude! Totally laughing my ass off. Step 1 is my go-to plan for anything.

    Can’t say I’ve ever gone through these security measures for a test before. Nothing like a strip search to get you on your game for an exam! Congrats on pulling it off.

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      Thank you! (And thanks for the Twitter share!) I serve as endless amusement to my sons for my frequent potty stops. They don’t seem to understand that having 8-pound fetal bundles bouncing on one’s bladder has a later consequence…

      Like

  6. gdkonstantine

    I’m totally with you on Step 1. Anyone who has gone to the movies or a ball game with me can testify to that. It has been over 15 years since my last standardized test (GMAT); nervous before the test, very focused during the test and extremely happy after test. (Both with test being over and my score.) I hope you ace it!

    Like

  7. Lucky Wreck

    What a spot on and hilarious description! I love how cube 13 neutralized the luck of locker #7 😀 Those things always enter my mind in pressing situations, whether I want them to or not!

    Congratulations on knocking this one off your to do list! 🙂

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      Thank you! I was kind of surprised when he led me to #13 considering I was the first one in the room. Just didn’t seem like a good sign. 🙂

      Like

  8. writerwendyreid

    Hi Carebear. I’ve taken my fair share of exams during my lifetime, but never one that prohibits body piercings and crib sheets. I think someone needs to chill out and relax a little. xo

    Like

  9. 1pointperspective

    I was one of the last classes of physical therapists in New Jersey to take the state boards on paper in a giant lecture hall in beautiful downtown Newark. New grads now take the exam on computers in sterile little cubicles in generic test centers. While I wouldn’t look forward to taking any exam in a cubicle, the giant lecture hall wasn’t much better. There were several women who quietly sobbed during the exam, and one or two who just wept openly. Noise cancelling headphones and the privacy of a study carrel would have ruined the experience.

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      Wow, I’ve heard physical therapy was tough–crying through the test? Poor things. I hope they passed. No criers in my area. Not that I noticed anyway.

      I wonder if in PT you’ll have to take a recertifying exam in the future. Seems a lot of fields are going that route. Maybe you’ve been at it long enough you could be grandfathered in. Not that I’m saying you’re old. 🙂

      Like

      • 1pointperspective

        I don’t know that the exam was so tough, but there are a sizeable number of people who don’t test well, who somehow make it through to advanced degrees anyway. The board exam just can’t be skirted by doing lots of extra credit work and kicking ass in class participation.

        Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      Surprisingly no. Someone else said they were fingerprinted when they took the GRE. Maybe next time I’ll have to.

      Happy to make you laugh. Thanks for reading!

      Like

  10. the curtain raiser

    No fingerprinting? Wow, that’s some sort of vetting. Have never heard of candidates being “wanded” before an exam. You could write a whole new post, Tales From Booth 13. Would make for a great Halloween post :).

    Like

  11. Kylie

    I’m speechless. Wow.

    This is exactly the opposite of college where they let us take our blue books wherever we wanted and just sign an “honor pledge” or whatever it was called promising we didn’t cheat.

    What price, freedom?!!

    Like

  12. benzeknees

    This sounds like torture! Glad you made it through & now we get to have you present in the blogisphere more! Yeah!

    Like

  13. Lori D

    Glad it went smoothly for you, Carrie. Me, test? Nope. I’m not near as smart as you. I’m one of those people who gets test anxiety and does not do well even knowing answers. My anxiety gets the best of me every time. I’d probably have a very loud panic attack in the place you described. Sounds like I wouldn’t have to worry about disturbing anyone though, because of those germ-laden, noise-canceling headphones.

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      Oh, you’re plenty smart. Having test anxiety has nothing to do with brain power. 🙂 But it can be really crippling for people. I wonder how they accommodate them, because you’re right, that environment doesn’t exude calmness. I’m sure there’s something in place (maybe more time to complete the test, scheduling at off times), or at least I hope there is!

      Like

  14. aFrankAngle

    Congratulations on getting that done … .and for not stopping for donuts! …. but I hope you went straight to Skyline instead. 😉 … Meanwhile, no testing for me!

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      Oh, I forgot about Skyline since our last conversation! Must secure it in my brain to try the veggie chili this weekend. Thanks for reminding me. Good grief, if I have to start putting things like that on my calendar, then I’m really in trouble. Guess I used all my brain cells on the test…

      Like

  15. frederick anderson

    I confess I’ve never been ‘wanded’ – and now I feel I’ve missed out somehow: “Oh dear boy, why didn’t you just ask?” I think I’d demand to see it sterilised.

    The thoroughness puzzles me, given the situation. Surely there’s an invigilator hanging about the room somewhere? Assuming you do have a vital ‘crib’ concealed in some dark place about your person (unspecified, you see? I don’t want to seem vulgar) how on earth do they think you are going to access it? Or do those cubicles afford more privacy than appears?

    BTB, my ‘like’ button has gone AWOL, so apologies for not liking this excellent post.

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      That’s a good point about accessing any cheating material. The proctors walk through the small room, and I assume there are cameras all around, so it would be pretty hard to pull something over on them. And a tissue ban? Really? By pulling one out of my pocket and putting it to my nose I might appear to be cheating?

      Oh well, I guess I admire their thoroughness. I suppose you can’t be too careful. There’s always someone who will try to get past the system.

      Like

  16. Jilanne Hoffmann

    Sounds like the TSA has taken over exam testing. Glad you made it through without any of the more invasive searches.

    Don’t they do oral exams anymore, or is that done on a separate day by a more “friendly” group of people?

    Like

    • Carrie Rubin

      Some medical specialties like surgery and radiology have oral exams, but pediatrics doesn’t. Phew, cause I can get tongue tied. I don’t know if when those specialties recertify they have to take an oral exam again or just a written.

      Like

  17. Perfecting Motherhood

    Well, congratulations on completing these stressful hours of exam and weeks of study. I haven’t taken an exam like that for a while but I can’t imagine the level of security you had to go through. I guess the testing center wants to be thorough not to be blamed for any cheating. Sign of the times…

    Like

  18. mummylovestowrite

    That is a pretty hectic procedure. I have had formal tests at university where bags etc weren’t allowed – but no-one was ‘wanding’ me or checking my socks! I think you deserved a Donut 😉

    Like

  19. Let's CUT the Crap!

    OMG. Stressed before you even begin. If someone tells me I can’t wipe my nose of pee 50 times in two hours, I won’t last the first 15 minutes.

    You are indeed a strong woman. 😀

    Like

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