At Yaeger we talk with students who have just taken their exam every. single. day. Unsurprisingly, we tend to hear the same things over and over again, things that students wish they’d known ahead of time or planned more for. Here are five head-slapping "I should have thought of that" moments - things every students should know about before going into Prometric.
1. Testing centers use mechanical/external keyboards
“I work exclusively from my laptop, and that’s also what I studied on. I didn’t realize how much working on an unfamiliar keyboard would slow my typing speed, or how many errors I’d make. On BEC’s written communication I needed every second, so that really threw me.”
If you are like this student, then you’re doing most of your work and studying on a phone, tablet, or laptop. Typing on any of those keyboards is significantly different than the external, mechanical keyboards Prometric centers are equipped with. You'll make more errors due to the difference in keyboard feel and placement, and your typing speed will suffer. All of these things add up, especially if you are planning on taking BEC, with its written component.
Our recommendation: Spend the $15 to buy an external keyboard and practice on it. Followers on Facebook recommend looking for a thrift store or surplus store where these can be found cheaply - there’s no reason to break the bank.
2. Prometric may let you start earlier or later than your official start time
“I was really surprised when I got to the testing center way early and they let me start! I thought I was going to be sitting in the waiting area until my start time.”
We have been told by former students that their Prometric center would let them start testing up to one hour prior to their test window and that they were allowed to start up to 15 minutes AFTER their start time. Obviously, each center is different, so your mileage may vary.
Our recommendation: call your Prometric center and find out their policy for early and late arrivals.
3. Cash is (still) king
“There was an accident on my planned route to the testing center, which meant that I had to take a toll road. I didn’t have any cash on me and they didn’t take cards, so I had to scrounge around in my car until I found a random $5 that had been shoved in the center console. Thank goodness for that $5 bill or I don’t know what I would have done!”
Stories like this are why we always recommend that you carry a small amount of cash on you. You never know when your preferred parking lot will be closed and you have to pay for parking, or there was an accident on the freeway and you have to take a toll road, or, or, or. Even in 2019, not everywhere takes plastic, and especially internationally, sometimes cash is still king. Better safe than sorry!
Our recommendation: carry $10 or $20 just in case you need it.
4. Get there early
“I got to my Prometric center early… only to discover that I didn’t know what building they were in. By the time I found the location, I was barely on time.”
There are so many things that could affect when you get to the testing center. You could get to Prometric and find out that they have 10 other people waiting in line in front of you. You could forget to bring cash for that toll road and have to take surface streets, or get a flat tire, leave your ID at home… there is almost an unlimited number of reasons why getting to your testing center early is a good idea.
When we say “get there early,” we’re not talking about fighting external forces to make sure that you’re on time (see #3). In this particular instance, we recommend getting to the Prometric center early so that you can get into the best frame of mind to rock that exam. No-one starts off on their best foot when they go into a new situation rushing. Even just ten minutes can mean all the difference.
Our recommendation: Arrive at least ten minutes earlier than your scheduled start time so that you can get checked in and have time to breathe (and use the restroom). Who knows, you may even be able to start a little early!
5. Sometimes you can bring snacks and drinks in
“I made sure to bring nothing but my ID, my NTS, and my keys [into the test center]... only to walk in and see that they had a table [inside the secure area] where test takers could set a snack or a drink.”
Yes, some centers allow you to bring snacks in! The exams are long, and blood sugar can drop. Does that mean that we encourage bringing in three energy drinks and chugging them? No- there is such a thing as too much caffeine. Also, eventually you’ll have to get rid of all that liquid, and there’s only one break where the timer doesn’t run. Rather than having to pause for a bathroom break after every testlet, maybe pack a small snack that you can have during your scheduled break to help you conquer the rest of the exam.
As with arriving early or late for your exam, each center is different and your mileage may vary.
Our recommendation: call your Prometric center and find out if they will allow you to bring a water bottle or small snack in.
Hopefully these words of wisdom will help you PASS that exam! As always, if you have any questions, Team Yaeger is here to help.